Friday, February 11, 2011

The Illusion of Choice

This time of year find us navigating the public school system. We love everything about where we live, the neighborhood, the easy access to the freeway, the close proximity to Brandon's office.  The one thing we do not love are the schools.

Our neighborhood school is fine. There is nothing wrong with it but when asked to describe my feelings about this school the answer is "eh". It's fine, just fine. It is a little on the big side, and with budget cuts, class sizes are growing but that is the same everywhere.  The best answer I can give about why I am not in love with this school is what a friend said to me, "It's not my people". Now, please don't take that the wrong way. Although, I am not sure there is a right way to take that.  It is when I sat in the auditorium surrounded by all the other parents and felt completely out of place.  I know that is a generalization and that one open house is not a true representation of the population. It is just my feelings.

We went to a second open house at a school Brandon LOVES. Like, let's move to get a better chance of enrolling, loves.  I am once again on the fence. I like certain things about this school, specifically the way they approach theme learning, but there are some BIG concerns also. One thing I can not get over, is that the students call the teachers by their first name.  This may not be a big deal to many of you, but as a teacher, I really struggle with a classroom full of kids saying "Amy" all day long.  At this open house I felt more of a kinship to several of the families there but also felt a very "hippie" vibe from some. Again, not a bad thing, just I'm not sure that is what I want to sign on for. Also, this school requires 40 volunteer hours PER parent. That is a lot of time to dedicate to a school when I still have two other kids at home.

We have one more school tour to attend. I will admit, this is the school I really like. A big part of it is because it is a K-8, but last year when we were deciding what to do we went to the tour and I was really happy with it. As with everything, this school has some pros and cons, one of them being the early start. I'm not sure I can be on time to a school that starts at 8:00 every day. We are just getting out of bed at 8:00, and by 'we', I of course, mean the boys. I've been up for HOURS.  Really, I have!

What frustrates me most about this idea of school tours is the illusion of choice it gives you. The 2nd school tour we went on, felt very much like a sales pitch. Here are 10 things to love about our school, choose our school and you won't regret it, kids from our school are multi-millionaires! (Okay, I made that last one up). Yes, those things sound good, and yes, if it was up to my spouse we would be going to this school. But now you tell me I am fighting with all of Seattle for a chance at 30 Kindergarten spots??! What? Even with the new rules and guidelines, option schools are still open to all of Seattle.  Siblings have first choice, then people who live in a "GeoZone" and then everyone else.  If I was a mathematician I am sure I would have an amazing statistic to impress you with. But I'm not. All I know is that it doesn't matter how much I love your school I don't stand a freakin' chance of getting in! This was the 3rd school tour and it had at least 40 parents there. The majority for Kindergarten. Not a good ratio, I am sure.

With most decisions in our marriage, my husband and I approach the decision making process very differently.  I have talked and talked and talked about this with my circle of friends. Brandon is searching for houses in the above mentioned GeoZone for us to move to.

The one thing I do know is that Jack will be fine. Whatever we choose, and wherever the lottery places him, he will be okay. This extra year at home has helped him become more confident and sure of himself.  For that I am thankful.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

School sucks. Sorry, Mrs. Lonac! I hated the first open house we went to for Kindergarten. It was crazy crowded, the teachers barely said anything and I did not want to send my baby to school. But, I did and who knew I was going to LOVE our school so much that even now that my kids are long past elementary, I go back to volunteer at carnival. For me personally, it was less about connecting with the other parents, and more about connecting with the school and the teachers. After that, it was a perfect fit.