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If we lived in France, it would be a no-brainer. Schools in France are almost universally
excellent. Because the system is
centralized over there, children in the French boonies get, more or less, the
same quality education that the kids in central Paris receive. That is—unless they don’t go to a public
school. A French friend once told me
that the only way to get a bad education in France is to attend a private school. Wish that we had that problem!
But whatever. This
The sad reality here in the U.S. is that the system sucks (forgive my candor).
I got so frustrated with the testing, overcrowding and
lockdown drills that I took my daughters out of their highly ranked and, in
many ways, lovely Brooklyn public school and went off the grid. Last year, they attended a home-schooling collective (don’t
barf). My husband and I thought of it as
“poor man’s private school.” Tuition for
two at most real private schools in Brooklyn is more than I bring in working
each year, but we decided we had to try something different for our kids. Public school was bringing us all down.
For the record, although this home-schooling collective is very unFrench, it isn’t as hippie-dippie as it sounds; we banded
together with another five families and hired a teacher. We had regular school hours, and I didn’t do
any of the teaching myself—think of it like a one-room schoolhouse.
I love, love the concept of public education, and I often feel like a traitor to society for leaving it, but our broken system was taking a toll on my children.
The results of our little experiment were mixed. My girls had a great year. They are still young (1st and 3rd grades last year), and they both—especially my older daughter—rediscovered
the art, and joy, of play. Instead of
being taught how to take a test, they went to museums and wrote poetry. On the other hand, mathematics instruction
simply didn’t happen.
As our educational scene here is so berserk and public schools
far from homogenous, it’s possible that you are slated for a really great one
(I have no idea from the message you sent—again, so short!). I love, love the
concept of public education, and I often feel like a traitor to society for
leaving it, but our broken system was taking a toll on my children. Recently, I
taught writing at a summer program to middle and high schoolers. Some of the students, who have attended
public school here for nearly a decade, cannot write in complete sentences. That is not right. I keep telling myself that
my girls can return to public school any time. I hope they do, because that will mean that things have improved.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that I would look at
your options very carefully. The French
model won’t be very helpful because this isn’t France, so I’m going straight
with personal opinion. If you find that your public school isn’t cutting it but
you can’t imagine a way out, financially or logistically, keep thinking. We did.
Oh, and there is one bit of French wisdom that I remind my kids
about every day—respect for the teacher. Even if you disagree with your child’s instructor, don’t vent in front
of your child. Deference to the teacher will
most likely translate into an increased reverence for education. Our teachers need it right now.