Friday, June 7, 2013


It seems odd that the wife of a public school teacher who is also the daughter of a public school teacher chose to send her child to private school. And perhaps even odder that Hopper also made that choice.

We believe in public education. We believe that it should be there for everyone. We believe that it should be fully funded, and that teachers should be paid more than they are so that we can get and keep the best and the brightest in the profession. We also believe that schools should be fully funded so that they have sufficient support staff--Social Workers, Psychologist, Special Ed Teachers, and so on--so that every kid in this country has a fighting chance at an education.

As parents, though, our one job was to find the right school for Boo. When she was four, we enrolled her in a Montessori school two towns away. It's the perfect match for her. We kept her there because they have all-day kindergarten (which our local public school does not) and then we had to make the big decision for first grade.

It was tough. Our local school was good. The Principal was organized and thoughtful. She knew the children when she took me on a tour. She knew the philosophy of each teacher, and was willing to experiment with different set-ups to see what worked best for different kids. There was a looping class (that stayed with the same teacher for two years) in first and second grades. The beautiful library had a full-time Librarian. The cafeteria had hot food. There was instrumental music starting in fourth grade and either French or Spanish starting in Kindergarten. The first grade classes had between 15-17 students per class. It was a really good public school.

But I love Montessori. Boo's school has the most amazing feeling when you walk in. It's quiet and calm, and every child knows exactly where she is supposed to be and what she is supposed to be doing. The children are taught to take responsibility for their own work. They have jobs inside the school, helping out with younger children, delivering lunches, or collecting compost to take out to the bin. They are in multi-age classrooms, which I think is one of the most brilliant ideas that has ever existed in education. Why are so many people opposed to multi-age classrooms? Boo has learned so much about helping younger children and getting along with older ones. She has had the opportunity to stretch by working with older kids on things that come easily to her, and to practice ideas that are harder for her by teaching them to younger children. When she's one of the older kids in the room, she gets to practice her leadership skills. And when she's one of the youngest, she struggles to learn the social rules of the game and how do deal with kids who are more sophisticated than she is.

So we decided to send her to the private school.

And then Chris Christie got elected. Now, the public school has no Librarian. The principal left. Teachers were let go and the first grade had 25 kids per class the year Boo would have started. The looping class was cancelled. French is gone and Spanish starts in fourth grade. And don't get me started on testing.

For that reason, and many others that have come up over the years but which I'm keeping confidential to respect Boo's privacy, we're so glad we chose the private school. It's the right thing for Boo. And we're her parents, so it's our job to do what's best for Boo.

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