Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Movement: School Bells Are Ringing

Settling the eon long conflict in the middle east. Solving the energy crisis and our dependence on foreign oil. Choosing a president. Choosing the right school for intelligent, verbal, quirky five year olds. All serious questions facing us in our life time.

I am a product of Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) mostly overseas in Germany. I attended no less than 8 different schools before graduating high school. I did not have the typical American school experience.

My husband, on the other hand, attended the same school system with the same class from nearly birth onward. He experienced bussing integration and a school's shift from largely middle class white to largely middle and lower class African American.

I taught in the public school system for over 6 years. I have worked at the public state education agency level and been involved with implementing No Child Left Behind legislation in Washington DC schools. I am an advocate for public schools in that they take everyone. Charters, private and other schools do not take everyone. These private schools are self selecting or their tuition does the selection for them. I believed they did not welcome nor choose to support children with learning or behavioral challenges.

I also know public schools are a black hole of fraud, waste and abuse. I have witnessed an urban junior high school resemble more of a prison than a place for learning. I have attended meetings on curriculum/programming/anything and never heard the words 'student' or 'learning' be uttered.

My first baby is going to kindergarten. My husband and I are committed to faith based education. Faith based meaning a school interested in not only test scores but in the spirit, character and integrity. Unfortunately, the public schools are neither interested in nor choose to spend any of my tax dollars on building the whole child. They will, however, build a new field house for a losing football franchise. They will, however, fire an entire department despite demonstrated results for kids and families. They will, never, have the opportunity to educate my sons.

So we are in the midst of the Movement. Refugees not yet settled on a home or neighborhood. Yet, the hands of time march on and we must make a school decision. Fortunately we can make a choice. We can cut into the budget whatever it takes to pay for the best opportunities for our kids. A new car can wait. The new house can wait another few months. Learning cannot.

We are charismatic, apostolic, prophetic protestants. We are sending our son to a very, very, very catholic school. It is has the best in education, enrichment and spiritual nurturing we have ever seen. The school adminstrator held my son's hand as we toured, and he let her. My husband, ever mindful of the checkbook, was ready to sign him up immediately after the tour. It costs as much our car payment. It's worth it.

It may cost us in other ways. We go to a very conservative church. The majority of parents home school or send their kids to a conservative protestant school. They will not understand how we can send our protestant baby to a catholic school. As if the Virgin Mary will rise up and grasp our son in her clutches. Oy.

This part of the Movement has been the most difficult. It means my mothering is now changing. I must share my beautiful boy. I will remain his first and best teacher. However, someone else will become his teacher too.

I know, he's been in childcare before. At 10 weeks he was in 40-45 hours a week. I surely shared him then. It's different now. I am only beginning to embrace this mothering role of mine. I am only now feeling less like a woman trying to walk across the rocking deck of a freighter and more like I'm on solid ground. I want another chance to get it right, to do better.

The truth of it is, I do not have another chance to get it right or to make up for the mistakes of PPD past. I can only do what my LaMaze class coach advised us so many years ago. She said, "You do the best you can with the information and resources you have at the time. When you know more, when you have more, you will do more."

I am doing more than ever. I'll learn more as the school bells are ringing.

"I wike dat school. It has toys!" he said when I asked.

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