Monday, September 19, 2011

School Choice: Part 1

Everything I learned about school choice, I learned trying to get into kindergarten.
By Leslie Crawford, Senior Editor

Finally! My daughter got into a school! True, not until eight days after school started and having a nervous breakdown (read here and here on my public school nervous breakdown), but Molly is in kindergarten. The school wasn't my first, second, third or even fourth choice, but I'm hopeful it will be a good fit.

But who knew school “choice,” well, wasn’t. Ultimately, I didn’t have a choice about where (or when!) she went – the school district decided that for us. I didn’t have a choice that school would start and Molly would miss the first week and a half of kindergarten - missing the first days when all the kids were welcomed into school, given the lay of the land, and started making friendships. I also didn’t choose to be at the mercy of a bureaucratic, somewhat well-meaning but enormously frustrating and flawed public school system in San Francisco that leaves hundreds of families without a school for their child – days, weeks, and even months after school has started – and sends so many running for the suburbs. Many still don’t have a public school for their child. Some are taking drastic measures since the promise of “choice” has of left them with little of it: home schooling, moving away, quitting their jobs and home schooling, taking out a second mortgage and begging their way into a private school.

So I’m more than grateful that this torturous process of “gutting it out” for a public school is over. During those tough couple of weeks when our daughter didn’t have a school to attend, I learned so much that I wish I’d known months earlier. Like a homeowner who after buying a house learns she should have had the foundation checked and asked first what the neighbors are like, now I know what I should have, could have, would have done differently when it comes to applying for a public school in a challenging and highly competitive school district:

Come back tomorrow and see Leslie's first 3 tips in picking a school for her child.


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