Tuesday, May 19, 2009

school choice **updated**

is a bunch of hooey. Unless you are choosing to send your child to a public school that may not be able to accommodate your child's ability and desire to learn. But this post isn't a rant about public schools. Or a love letter about homeschooling. Although I do love homeschooling. It's a post about what has become my reality. Trying to find a school where a gifted student can thrive- one that costs wayyyy less than the $18,000 a year one that I really want them to go. Because here's the thing; In staying true to my unschooling theory- to let the girls take the lead- I have come to recognize two very important things: 1) Mackenna is a social butterfly who needs the attention and company of people all of the time and 2) Shaye, in addition to being a gifted student, avid reader, lover of all things math and science, she is a born leader and longs to have peers to lead. She is missing participating in group projects, interest fairs, etc. and is starting to verbalize wanting to go back to a school setting but is adamant that she does not mean her old public school.

I have been researching private schools and have found several non-religious private schools that offer what we are looking for at a price we could never afford and some other schools that fit our budget, offer what we we need but are... Catholic schools. We have narrowed it down to two, and by we I mean me, because the girls' and John have a clear favorite, but it is the one of the two that puts way more emphasis on the the Catholic part of being a Catholic school than I am comfortable with. My husband and I were both raised Catholic. I attended a Catholic school for a time in my life. I was confirmed and married in a Catholic church. I baptized my first two daughters in a Catholic church. But as an adult, I didn't practice "my religion". While I believe in a higher power, I never went to church and I don't agree with a lot of the Catholic positions. I got divorced. Remarried. Had two more daughters that were not baptized (although this still bothers my husband, even though he doesn't practice "his religion" either). I have used birth control, and now my tubes are tied. I support gay rights and am pro-choice. You see my dilemma.

This first choice school is wonderful- offers an amazing academic program, great extra curricular activities, the cutest uniforms ever- at a very reasonable price, BUT also daily religion classes, plus morning and afternoon prayers, with extra prayers thrown in at the teachers' discretion, and the principal stressed on our visit that the girls would be prepared for all upcoming sacraments, and baptism, but them actually receiving them is something we would need to search our souls about. Talk about peer pressure. If we stick to not wanting to choose an organized religion for the girls when they are children, they will surely feel left out. I kind of feel like I have to sell my soul for an affordable, good education for my daughters- even if it is to the right side of purgatory.

What do you think?

**UPDATED 5/20/09** In an interesting turn of events, I have been contacted by the public school system that, despite (or maybe because of) all of my harassing advocating for my daughter for them to meet her accelerated needs for months, this past Fall offered no other options to us than the advice to try homeschooling or find a private school that would offer an individualized study course. It seems now they are open to "possibly testing her" to "see about the possibility of placing her where she is academically rather than by age". Hmmm. We meet with them tomorrow to see what exactly they mean by this vague offering.


Ashley said...

I'm in agreeance with you on your views on religion. Higher power and all that jazz, and I do all those things that make me not religious even though I consider myself to be.

That being said. I don't think being exposed to organized religion ever hurt a child or kept them from believing what they wanted to as an adult. It's just another life experience for them and if they're getting a good education to boot, then why not?

Kat said...

I can empathize with a lot of what you just said there, and I can feel your stress in the decision making. We had to find a new solution to education in our family last year as well because of some of the same issues. We were very lucky (blessed) to find a charter school that was just opening. It is an Expeditionary Learning School. It is publicly funded, but has a much different approach to education than our neighborhood schools. One of the biggest sellers for me is in-depth study with MANY student led learning opportunities. Do you know if you have anything like that in your area? You can read about the objectives of our school here: www.venturelearning.org/educationalprogram.php

I know there are public, magnet & charter schools all over the country that use this style of teaching.

This is the expeditionary learning website: www.elschools.org It looks like it is designed more for administrators that want to implement that type of learning into their school rather than parents trying to find a school, but maybe it is a start.

I know that didn't even touch on the religion issue...just thought I'd throw out a possibility for a different solution.

gina said...

Kat- thanks for the input. I'm going to look into that..

and Ashley, true. And I'm all for life experiences. :)

Kelly said...

All I have to say is school choice is SO hard to figure out. I went to private school, hubby went to public school-- see our conflict! We finally found a great Charter School that met all our needs! Best of both worlds in our view! Good luck... It is so hard to find the right choice for your baby!!

Tan Family said...

It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of searching for the perfect place. Meditate on this and trust your gut...intuition means a lot when it comes to hard decisions like this! Have you taken a look at Waldorf schools? Gifted children can thrive in an environment that is rich with art, music, nature and hands-on science. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

That's a tough one. I am not comfortable with faith-based education. I think it's good for children to learn about different religions and ways of life but they won't get that at a Cath school - they'll get ONE point of view and they're get it CRAMMED DOWN THEIR THROATS on a daily basis. Unless, that is, you want your children to become members of the Catholic church. Clearly I have a strong opinion about this. I think it would be great if a reasonably priced secular education existed but no matter where they go to school the curriculum will have a Christian slant to it (ESPECIALLY in the South). If everything else about the Catholic school is great then I say sign them up for a year and see how it goes.

Heather Benza said...

My son is 2 and I'm already stressed about this. I have no advice to offer but plan to stay tuned to what you come up with to store away in my memory banks for when I actually have to make a decision too.

Jules said...

This is such a tough one. Sending them to the Catholic school makes you feel like you would be compromising your own belief system, but the other options are unaffordable or sub-par. Yuck.

I don't know what to tell you, except that I remember what my mom told me when Derick made me put the kids in PS that time. She told me that no matter what they are exposed to at school, or out in the world, home is still their main base. Home will still be where they learn values and morals and a frame of reference for the rest of it. Reinforcing what you and John believe, over and above what the school teaches, will still give the girls a great place to start from.

I don't know about the sacraments stuff. If you are really opposed to it, then that may make the girls feel like they are the odd ones out if everyone else is doing it. Is it something that you could let them do and just not get all wrapped up in it? That's a tough one - and then there's always the guilt factor - if you haven't "searched your soul" properly. :)

Sorry to be of no help at all! Good luck with the decision! ;)

Hair Bows & Guitar Picks said...

I can so relate to everything you just said. Trust your gut and do whats in your heart and you will be fine.

Good Luck....

Shona said...

what a great mama you are to be weighing this so carefully. I'm with you on the religious thing, I have no problem with my children being educated about any certain religion just not indoctrinated. (I also agree with what was said about home being the main base) Thank-you for sharing, You'll still be taking pics of your cool projects for us though won't you!!? :D good luck

gina said...

Thanks for e=all of your encouragement and two cents- every different angle helps me! And Shona- thanks and YES! Things have been slow on the blog front because 1) A lot of my energy is going toward packing, solving this situation, etc. AND 2) Since we are living unplugged from the TV, I am trying to spend less time on the computer right now to set a good example. Plus me going on starts them all fighting to go on and I'd rather they do something else. :)

Don't worry, I'll have lots to share- before and afters, etc. as soon as we close on the new house and start making it our home.

Susan said...

There are lots of ways to find social outlets for homeschooled kids. Shaye and Mackenna could do team sports, you could form a co-op. My kids go to a 5 hour nature class one day/week. You may be able to organize a class like that. Some school districts allow part time school. Shaye might be able to go to school only for a part of the day. I am interested to hear what the school comes up with for her! Good luck.

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