We’ve only got one kid and we have a pretty good start on saving for her college. Ed is studying for the Chief’s exam so the future looks good. We do our own house cleaning and gardening. The cat is neutered. We’re in our forties and the expensive traveling is behind us until we retire. (Of course that doesn’t include dad’s promise to take the one kid to Disney World and “anywhere you want to go on the globe” for her sixteenth.) So, should we budget ourselves for private schooling?
I’ve interviewed and researched a bit on the subject of private vs. public schooling and get caught up every time in the emotions. Is it really any better? Is it fair? Are the teachers, some with fewer credentials, working any harder? Will it pay off for my kid?
Ed and I originally wanted to be on our public school’s site council so we could learn more. And the more we learn the more our morals and beliefs are challenged. While the public schools, and council members, are looking at the education of all the children we parents are concerned with the education, in most part, and to be totally fair to ourselves, of just our own children.
And therein is where the dilemma lies. Should Americans concern themselves with the education of all or just their own? And whom should their own children work and live alongside? Does dividing our schools re-enforce dividing class distinctions?
While Samantha is one of half her class that is disruptive I worry that she is missing important instruction time. Other parents are quick to remind me that the other ten well-behaved kids in class are missing that instruction time too. I look forward to going back on track Monday to see what her teacher will be trying next as she told me she was going to spend her entire off-track time finding a solution for her kids. I reciprocated by giving Samantha math and English workbooks, a homemade journal and two books a day to read so she could remain focused on her off-track time.
On the other hand I’m told that some private kindergartens have only ten kids in class. (It could still be ten disruptive ones.) Some kids are learning Spanish in preschools. In first grade a friend of Samantha’s is working on her second book report!
So at our recent council meeting it was very positive to hear that our White and Hispanic (The term Hispanic including everyone with a Hispanic surname as well as the first time English Language Learner.) API’s had increased from the year 2000 to 2001 in some areas as much as 96 to 121 points! Our principal stressed that this was all due to the programs our teachers were volunteering to do. Twelve teachers had used their own time to run AM and PM intervention programs as well as Intersession classes. The success we gained through these initiatives, proven by the student’s higher API scores, will provide our school with additional funds from the state for future programs!
The Open Court Reading series from McGraw-Hill that were introduced previously to first graders are currently being introduced in kindergarten. So our five-year-olds will be reading sooner than the students before them did!
With this positive data highlighting our thoughts we delved into what the future may hold. One of my council-mates mentioned that many elementary and middle school parents may not be voting yes on Measure V because it doesn’t affect them. (Yet!) In this very short time on our school’s council I have learned how long it takes for a new school to get through all of the red tape and ground to be “broken”. I figure by the time we get our two new elementary schools in Newhall up and running, and get off multi-track, it will be just in time for our children to return to multi-track in middle school! So if you agree, vote! Isn’t that less out of your pocket than paying monthly tuition to a private school?
The other issue nagging at me is about the new Pico Canyon school: I circulated a few copies of Dr. Winger’s proposed letter to SCOPE a month or so ago and some parents didn’t like the idea of having to approve another Stevenson Ranch (or any) development to get a new school. I questioned Dr. Winger and here is what I found out that you may not have read before: On the proposed development in Stevenson Ranch, when looking at the last five years of data, condominiums bring .147 of a child, single family units bring .452 of a child, apartments add an additional .170 of a child and senior housing of course is .0. So with this math we get about 130 kids that come with the development, the remaining will be divided amongst our over crowded Newhall district.
So I think I’ve narrowed the gap a little, at least for myself, between public and private schooling as I’ve written this column. I’m comforted to know that our public schools are trying, some at their own cost and time, to find solutions for all of our children. Coming back from where I started I can live with myself, and Samantha can live with her friends too, by caring for the well being of every whole child.