Thursday, September 28, 2006

Trepidation of Heart

Earlier this week, I posted about Lizzie and our impending middle school choice. At that time, I was 100%, unequivocally going to send her to a school other than our neighborhood school. Today, I have reconsidered.

I have a theory: If everyone who open-enrolls to another school invested time and energy into making their neighborhood school a better place, would BVSD be as polarized as it is today? I think some of the neighborhood schools that are doing poorly would do better because students would be attending school with the people who live in their neighborhood all the while creating a real sense of community.

Neighborhood schools remind me of my own educational experience - small and friendly. But, the educational playing field has changed. Children as young as twelve years old are taking the SATs. Twelve! As parents, it is our responsibility to equip our children with the tools they need to succeed in this world. And, if that means the academically rigourous school ten miles down the road - then so be it.

Honestly, my biggest gripe about our neighborhood middle school is the lack of advanced or honors classes in subjects other than math. Sure, Lizzie is advanced in math so she will get the benefit of the advanced class but she's also advanced in Language Arts and has a keen interest in science. And, I know she's not the only student nor I the only parent who feels this way. Our TAG coordinator will be scheduling a parent coffee because so many of us parents are uncertain about the challenges - or lack thereof- that our children will be asked to face in middle school.

Really, the local middle school curriculum ought to be expanded to include advanced offerings in those subjects, too. When I spoke to the school administrator about my concerns and compared our school to another middle school - in a neighboring district - she simply replied: that's not our district. I know it's not our district! That's my point. Our schools consistently outperform their district on state assessments yet their schools are the ones implementing advanced classes at the middle school level. Soon, they may pass us as we remain mired in the "middle school is for social growth not academics" mindset. I have another plan: to attend the upcoming school open houses and ask these tough questions. Face to face in a room full of other parents who probably have some of the same concerns. If I like the answers I get, we'll enroll on the spot. Otherwise, we're scouting out other schools.

I want Lizzie to stay with her friends. I don't want to drive her to a school outside of our neighborhood. But, I will. And, if all else fails, I may just nominate myself to teach an Advanced Language Arts class.

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