January 12, 2014

Finding the Right School

Moe does not currently attend school. He is homeschooled, and we have crafted a program that we think best meets his needs right now. As I have written about before, our district program is not appropriate for him. They do not agree. If we want him back in school, we either have to move; send him back to his old school, allowing him fail so miserably it is obvious he needs a non-public placement (which we are not willing to do); or sue the school and hope we win. We're trying for the first option but the Bay Area home market is nothing short of ridiculous now.

But this is not news.

Now we have another challenge. Jelly starts kindergarten in the fall. Our district has some great schools but our home school, which is just at the end of our block, has a mediocre reputation. Still, we hoped that would be a good option for Jelly. Friday, Jeff and I went on a kindergarten tour. And we quickly realized that this is not the school for her.

There are several reasons, but it is enough to say she won't be going to our home school.

Like with Moe, we also have three choices: we can move (see above fact about ridiculousness of Bay Area home prices); try to get into the district's charter school, which we'll be visiting on their tour date later this month; or send her to private school. And while the cost of private schools around here is roughly equivalent to buying a new car every year, it is probably still less insane than the housing prices.

So we've been touring private schools. Some of these schools are remarkably beautiful. Some have chefs, as you'd expect for the children of Google and Facebook employees. Others have wonderful philosophies but are tiny, without a decent social atmosphere. And others are, well, specific. There are several bilingual immersion schools, Waldorf and Montessori schools, several religious schools, and even one based on mindfulness.

But what strikes me most is that we have a choice. With Moe, all our choices have, in effect, been taken away from us. And while we want to make the right decision for Jelly—we take it very seriously, in fact—we do know that she will be probably do well anywhere. And if we choose a school, and it isn't right for her, we'll change. There are options.

Why is it that the kids who have the greatest need, for whom the stakes are so much higher, have so few options? That the kids who truly need a specialized, individualized education, receive little more than lip service to that effect? When it comes to Jelly's education, we get to find what is best, while with Moe it is only what is appropriate?

Ponder that for a while. I'll be filling out kindergarten applications.


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