It's what happens after that that makes me nervous.
Jay and I are both products of public schools. I attended my neighborhood elementary school, magnet school for 5th and 6th grades (the only one in Nashville at the time!), and neighborhood junior high and high schools. At the time, the high school I attended was one of the best in the city. I've heard recently, however, that it's not so much anymore. Jay attended a public high school unlike any public high school I've ever seen. It puts most private schools to shame, but he swears to me that it's a public school. To top it off, both of my grandmothers and my mother are/were public school teachers.
So here are our options as I see them:
- Public School. The public schools in our city have a pretty bad reputation within the community, but I'm not sure whether that reputation is legitimate or not. Our Kindermusik teacher, a self-avowed advocate for public schooling and former public school teacher herself, told me last week that she refuses to send her children to public school in our town. A recent op-ed piece in the local paper shamed city residents for their lack of support for the public schools given that some of them have made some pretty impressive achievements. Again, I think this is going to take some research. To make matters worse, I'm eventually going to read this book.
- Magnet School. There are lots of magnet schools in town. It seems the options are endless. My concern with this option is that, even at the elementary level, I sense an element of of tracking. Out of six elementary magnet schools, two are math/science-focused, one is Montessori, and one is a microsociety (which seemed harmless at first, but do I really want my kid learning that western society is the only legitimate way to do things?) On the other hand, the magnet school closest to our house is a multiple intelligence school, which is promising. However, Jay's been keeping up with the magnet school system and from what he's read the magnet schools in our town will most likely run out of federal funding by the time Joshua's old enough to darken the door.
One of the drawbacks pointed out by our Kindermusik teacher is that some of the magnet schools are in "bad neighborhoods." This is not a concern of ours. The magnet school I attended was in one of the most "dangerous" neighborhoods in Nashville. I never felt unsafe or threatened in any way, and my parents obviously weren't terribly concerned or I wouldn't have gone there.
- Private School. I've started to assume that any kid not wearing a school uniform is either home-schooled or a dropout. That's how many private schools there are in town. And to make things more interesting, most of them are church-affiliated. Very little scares me more than a church-affiliated private school in the Bible Belt. There's only one independent private school in town, and Jay and I have long since talked about sending Joshua there. I'm having second and third thoughts, though. First of all, the racial/ethnic diversity is basically nonexistant. Second, how are we going to help Joshua grasp the concept of "privilege" if he's surrounded only by people that look like him? Third, I can't afford a Lexus SUV and country-club membership. (To my readers who attended private school, please do not take offense. I realize that not all private schools are this way. This one is).
- Homeschool. Oh, yes. I have considered it, to the chagrin of my mother and best friend (who is a public school teacher, as well). It's helped that I've met some folks (online and otherwise) who homeschool, not out of fear that the Godless public schools are going to turn their children into drug-using/alcohol-drinking/sex-having atheists, but because they really feel that's the way their children learn best. Of course the drawbacks to this are endless. I am not a pedagogue and I think it is insulting to those amazing teachers out there to claim that I could educate my child as well as they could. I am not a terribly patient person and I'm not sure I could provide the nurturing learning environment I want my child to have. The list goes on, but I have to come clean. I have considered homeschooling.