Monday, August 18, 2008

Joyous Milestones & Unfortunate Circumstances

The family went by my son's kindergarten classroom this evening to check things out (which desk is his, meet other families, etc); it was adorable. All these little kids jumping into the big education pool. I can't wait until Wednesday; his first day of school.

We opted for public schooling in the Boulder Valley School District for our son (and daughter by extension over time). Overall we're very pleased with the schools and teachers in BVSD (the district administration/body itself is another story, and another blog post). We noticed something odd at the school tonight however. At least half of our neighborhood families/friends who have kids in public school weren't there. They'd opted to Open Enroll in other BVSD schools. Open Enrollment boils down to your child[ren] being able to attend the school of your choice (e.g. not your neighborhood school) if said school isn't full. Several of those families were fighting hard to keep our previous neighborhood school open just before BVSD shuddered it a few years ago (yet another, separate, blog post topic), generally on the grounds of it being a "neighborhood" school. So, it's feeling hypocritical to now not be attending the new "neighborhood" school.

We knew some of our friends were not going to be attending their neighborhood school for awhile now, but it really sunk in this evening now that school is actually starting. The closure of our previous neighborhood school literally tore the neighborhood apart in the end. Families are scattered all over town now. Walking, biking, driving, busing their kids all over. Close friends that we'd anticipated walking/biking to school with, over the course of the next several years, will not be part of that experience now. Sad.

My reasons for being upset over our initial neighborhood school being closed in the first place, are further solidified now. I'm a proponent of choice in systems, and Open Enrollment is something I still believe in, though I'm questioning it for the first time. I would have appreciated those families that were standing side-by-side with us on the "neighborhood schools are what matter" platform, to have stayed true to their colors. In the end however, we, as parents, all make choices we believe are best for our children, and I can't blame anyone for those decisions if they differ from mine (we all have our own criteria). I do continue to blame BVSD for continuously making bad choices. The district is simply too diverse and large for one body (the puppet Board which simply ratifies a bloated administration/staff/consultant agenda) to effectively manage. I'm a supporter of a Boulder group seeking to split the district into more localized, attentive, districts, and I'd encourage you to get involved as well; http://www.bvsdcape.org/.

All that aside, and back to where I started on this post, we are overjoyed about our neighborhood school. Our interaction with its staff has been positive thus far. We love the facility itself. The teachers, at least those we've interacted with, are great. It's part of the International Baccalaureate program which takes a global view on education (e.g. "civil war" occurs all over the world, and has many flavors/outcomes), as opposed to the fiercely U.S. centric view that pervades public education in general. We look forward to being a part of our neighborhood school, and welcome everyone else in our neighborhood to join us. We are ecstatic to be with the neighborhood families attending as well.

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