Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Edumacation, part 2

We have mostly come to a decision about kindergarten for K next year. I did some research on the public elementary school K would be going to, and it's really not that bad. We're in a fairly solidly middle-class area, so even if our school doesn't get any more money, the parents have more ability to be involved than schools in poorer areas, which can make a significant difference.* They also have an active music program, one of the areas I was worried about with public schools (she could start learning the violin in first grade!), and they have both a library and a librarian. With books. And I'm not being funny when I say that - there are schools in Philadelphia where they have a beautiful library room that was endowed, but with no books for it. And the early childhood education is in a separate building from the rest of the school, so although this school seems relatively safe, we have even less to worry about because the little kids are kept separate from the rest of the school. And as I said before, it's more the middle school and high school years that I worry more about in regards to safety. She's unlikely to get knifed in the first grade.

It doesn't look like even the cheapest Friends school will be financially feasible next year, so we'll hold off on that for at least a year, and maybe pull it out as an option if we get unhappy with her current situation. This is where I get mad at the mayor once again, because B was supposed to step up in pay in January, but since his union is working without a contract while it's in negotiations, the mayor is claiming that the city doesn't have to give step raises. That's $200 a month we could find plenty of good uses for. It should come through eventually, along with a nice chunk of back pay, but I'd rather have it now. The car is going to be paid off in August, which will free up more money. And while I don't want to go back to the online job I left in June, I found a similar one recently that has a lot more flexibility in the number of hours I would have to work and when (my biggest problem with the last job was having to work four hours a day, every day with no flexibility, which made for some exhausting days when I worked both that job and at the library on Fridays). If I could only have taken Fridays off, I would probably still be working there). So I have to take a test to qualify for that, but I'm not terribly worried about passing, and hopefully that will bring in more money.

There's a long shot compromise option - there's a nearby charter school we've applied for. Charter schools aren't necessarily better academically than regular schools here, but there would be smaller classes and involved parents. They also have a big emphasis on community building and conflict resolution, which is a lot of what I wanted from a Friends school. Unfortunately, there'a a lottery to get in, and even if we do really well in the lottery, they have sibling preference. So I would be shocked if we get in.

Of course, the real question here is when did my baby get old enough for kindergarten?

*I've realized that there's no way to talk about this without sounding like an elitist asshole who doesn't want my pwecious snowflake around those icky poor people. But as I've said before, there are my ideals - that all children have an equal right to a quality education and it feels unfair to leverage my privilege to get K in an advantageous situation - and then there's the fact that I have a real, concrete responsibility to the non-theoretical child in front of me to prepare her for the world in the best way I can. And that means not sending her to school that would give her a bad education if I can send her to one that won't. It's unfair, but so is the entire system.

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