Saturday, April 24, 2010

School Daze

What makes a good school "good"?

I am touring the elementary schools in the area where we'll be moving in June. Unlike LAUSD, which stretches practically from heaven to hades, the small area surrounding Agoura has not one but TWO school districts and there are three elementary schools (actually, there may even be a couple more hidden in the rolling hills) within a three minute drive from our new house. Not only that, but there are ways to get inter-district permits to transfer, intra-district permits, etc., etc. No magnet points to consider. Something called "School of Choice," another thing called "District of Choice," Blue Ribbon schools, California Distinguished Schools, higher API scores than I've ever even heard of... My head is spinning. The good news is that each school is better than the next so I know the girls will do fine.

The problem is my internal gluttony - if THIS school is good, then what about THAT school? If our new address is zoned for a school that's "just fine" -- and my kids already go to a "just fine" school in the Valley -- then we're making a parallel move. But... why can't they go to a "better" school? And what would a better school look like? Would I know it if I saw it?

I toured one school yesterday that literally knocked my socks off. I tend to go to school tours with one eye open and one eye dreaming of possibilities, but this one had me with both eyes open and dreaming awake. Picture rolling hills of green grass adjacent to a public park with tennis courts. Upper grade kids (4th and 5th grades) changing classes for math and reading to get the feeling of middle school. A "smart board" in each classroom. A very accessible, experienced principal. Very sweet, informed, helpful office staff. The sun shone. The birds sang. I fell in love.

It's out of our new district. I don't know if I can make it happen for my kids next year - maybe down the road. But now that I've seen it, I kind of feel like it's what I want for them.

And then I wonder if I'm being too snobby. I feel like our family has not only been happy at our neighborhood school (which no one else in our neighborhood sends their kids to), but we've thrived and been involved. Who's to say that ANY school would be fine for us? It's not the school that makes a community, it's the community that makes a school, isn't it?

But... the nagging voice says Don't you think it's time to fight for better? Don't you think your kids deserve it?

1 comment:

  1. That feeling cannot be denied. I do think there can be X factors in schools, too; whether it be one phenomenal Principal or a kick-ass can just feel the difference. Of course, your kids could be fine in the neighborhood school, and if that's what happens, so be it. But why not reach for the stars? After all, isn't that what we want our kids to do?