Tuesday, April 1, 2008

angst over school choices

Man - who knew I would feel so conflicted over where to send our kids to school?

And - who knew I would be agonizing about it 2 years ahead of the actual start of school? Not me!

The catalyst for all this was that my friend and my brother both have daughters who will be 4 in the fall. They both applied to put their daughters in private preschools in the area and were both told the classes were already full (!) and put on a waiting list.

Actually, I wasn't even really considering private school for our kids, but it got me thinking and I decided to check out the schools, public and private, in our area. I got a dose of reality when I saw the statistics for our local public school: 95% white, 2% black, 2% hispanic, and 1% Asian. Hmmmm. Of course, the private schools are also 95% white, so if we have any more hope of greater diversity, we will either have to move or hope to get in to a school closer to the city. There is a school with nearly 20% Asian kids (the highest it gets in Utah) on my way to work, but rumor has it there are 500 applicants for about 6 spots at that school every year. (It's public, so preference goes to kids living in that district.)

The other schools with any kind of diversity are mostly filled with Latino students, which is fine, but how much does that really help you if you are Korean? Also, the test scores at these schools are considerably lower than those near us - not the biggest factor, but it seems I have the choice of either good academics (and generally better environments, more extracurricular activities, more parent involvement, higher parent ratings) - or more diversity. It may be impossible to get both.

The other big factor - and the one that pushes me closest to considering a private school - is that many public schools are dominated by one religious majority (LDS). Our kids are already minorities, and they will feel this more and more as they grow up in white-dominant Utah. If they are also in the religious minority - will they feel like TOTAL outsiders?

Ugh. Part of me wishes the world really was "color-blind" - and I think race issues really aren't very big in Utah - but how would I know? I'm in the racial majority and always have been. I do know that if I were the only one of my race in my elementary school class, I would feel it. I don't want to put my kids in that situation.


Mommavia said...

I toured a pre-school today and the whole time I was counting the kids to see how diverse it was! One thing that we have going for us in our lifestyle...the military lifestyle forces you to be a little more diverse in your thinking. It's hard not to when you are able to live all over the world. So even if the class is 80% caucasian, chances are many of those kids were in the minority at their parent's last duty station.

I don't remember being told during our homestudy how hard it would be for selecting a school for our children!

Anonymous said...