Aaron and I live in a lower class area. Well, it’s actually some what odd. It’s lower class and right next door is middle class and out of the middle of no where in the neighborhood will be an enormous house. But, the school that he is zoned for has 92% of students receiving free or reduced lunch. It has a population in which 50% of the students move two or more times a year (and since the zones are somewhat small, I’m assuming the majority of the 50% are transient students). Also almost two-thirds of the population is Hispanic. Do I care that John would be a minority? No. But it does impact learning as most students are having to learn English.Midvale Elementary is also a Title One school. That’s not necessarily bad, because Title One is mostly concerned about family incomes and not necessarily test scores (except for showing improvement) but the test scores are pretty low. Finally, Aaron and I got to know a 6th grader who attended the school when we first moved in. He told us on several different occasions about some of the discipline problems and even gang-related problems. And while I’m sure the gangs aren’t that serious, it’s still a point of concern.
My son currently attends Children’s Christian School. It is a small, very affordable Christian school. We’ve enjoyed our time there and I will more than likely have Lydia attend preschool there as well. There is also another Christian school in the area (however that one is a lot more pricey) as well as Challenger, which is an amazing school academically, from what I hear. Bottom line, we just can’t afford having two, maybe more, kids in private schools. Even if we could, is that the best use of our money? I feel like the money I’m spending on education should go toward their college funds or something. I don’t know. I think we could make it work, but with other options out there, I’d just rather not pay for the kids’ education.
I honestly love the idea of homeschooling. I really do have a teacher’s heart and I get all excited over the fun things (curriculum, not even field trips) I could do with the kids. Not to mention the freedom it allows in visiting our families that live 2000 miles away. But that’s the thing. I love the idea of homeschooling. My son is very strong willed and I tend to lose my patience quickly. (However, the Lord is continuing to sanctify me in this area.)
There are other issues too, like me being an introverted person and the thought of never having down time freaks me out. And I’m lazy. At this point in time, I don’t have a good enough structure to actually implement homeschooling into our home. I do realize these are excuses and could be worked out. But they’re also the thoughts running through my mind.
Last thought: I’m a high school math teacher, the thought of teaching John how to read gave me the heebie-jeebies… until it became something we just started doing. Like today…
“Let me get the jar of peanut butter.” Me
“Jar.” The sound j makes several times. “Jar starts with j.” John
“That’s right! What about the ahhh sound?” Me
(Etc. until we spell jar.)
I mean, that’s teaching kids reading, people. Teaching letter recognition, and then letter sounds, and then combing those sounds to words and spelling. Why was I so scared of it? Because I’ve never done it before.
So, in the end, I am confident of my ability to home school my kids. I think I could do it, especially since so many families in our church home school and there would be lots of support.
Finally, charter schools. We have LOTS of charter schools in our Salt Lake Valley and I can think of 14 off the top of my head within a 20 minute drive from my house. So I have some options here. The major problem, however, is that you have to rely on the lottery to get admitted to the school. I researched all the schools and picked about six or seven (although one school had 3 campuses, so 3 lotteries) to apply to. So far we’ve been rejected from three schools. Each of the schools I applied to would be a better school (for us) than our local elementary school. However, I do have a top choice within the charter schools I’ve applied to and we were not chosen in the lottery for it. There is still a chance that John will be able to attend, however. See here.
At this point in time, if we are not chosen in the lottery for any of the other schools we will begin home schooling. However, because of John’s age, we can try for all of the lotteries again next year, or my first choice (between the charter schools) is planning on opening a 4th campus around the corner from my house and we could put him in the lottery for first grade there as well.
(Note: There’s about a 50% chance of getting picked in a lottery for Kindergarten. There’s a seemingly 1% chance for other grades, do to sibling and employee priority enrollment. These are VERY loose numbers, however, it’s about what I’ve encountered.)
If you know me, you know that I am a Christian. And you may have noted that Christ-centered teaching didn’t enter into my decision making process (at least much). The reason for this is because I feel like the Bible gives me, the parent, the responsibility to raise my child in such a way that he will glorify God and enjoy him forever. It does not give specifics on HOW to educate your child, but that you should. Afterall, the reason a lot of schools were started was so that all children could learn to read… the Bible. Regardless, I feel like a good education is very important. And no matter where John attends school his religious education is MY responsibility. I definitely think I would slack off in that area if he attended a Christian school. However, if he’s home schooled or out in the public sphere, I want to be the one training him and teaching him the ins and outs of what our family’s religious beliefs are. I want to be one to help shape his interactions and decisions as he begins to manuever the world.