Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Back to school

In the spring, one of the local papers did a ranking of all the area elementary schools, by 3rd grade test scores. Daughter D's school was second to last, of all the schools

For us, that's no big deal. A good percentage of the population was taking the 3rd grade tests in a language they'd only been exposed to for 3 1/2 years. I took 7 years of French lessons, myself. And if I had to take a series of standardized tests in French - I'd flunk. So, the test scores are a bit misleading. For us.

But as the "back to school" discussions in the neighborhood start, and we realize, once again, that we are the only family on our entire street (or block, for that matter) who goes to public schools, one does start to wonder...hmmm....would a school with higher test scores be a better place?

I discovered a writer named Penelope Trunk when I was researching my job-sharing proposal. She lives in the city that I do and writes about career/work/balance, etc. Some of the time, I think she is completely full of hot hair (this woman blogs about her marriage problems! Frankly, I don't want to read that!) But yesterday's post resonated:


She's writing about college, but for some reason, our elementary school came to mind to me. There is a huge focus on helping others at the school. Not because the people who go there are more altruistic. There is just a lot of poverty at the school. I have come to the conclusion that you just naturally help more when you see the problem every day.

Occasionally - very, very, very occasionally - I"ll have a split second moment of thinking "OH NO - D. isn't being exposed to Japanese and Calculus in 2nd grade! She's not being challenged!"

But reading things like this confirm my belief that the generosity and empathy and general view of the world she is exposed to on a daily basis at her current school will be the best preparation for her life to come.

Either that or she'll resent us forever for not being exposed to Japanese and early Calculus.


Oh, The Joys said...

I struggle with these questions of equity in education, what is right for my children, opting in vs. opting out... I believe in public education and want to be a part of it.

LisaS said...

"would a school with higher test scores be better?"

what's more important for a ten-year-old to know:
1. japanese and calculus
2. how to take standardized tests flawlessly
3. that people who are different from you in color, religion, language, and income level are okay.

japanese and calculus can come later.

another thing to consider about this "better place"--is it a better enough place to justify your adding more work hours to pay for it, thus seeing your children 12 hours (or however many it is for you) less?

you know what I think.