Next year, after six years at our neighborhood elementary school, Longfellow Elementary, our daughter will be attending middle school at a private school, the Polytechnic School.
It may seem self-absorbed to be writing such a long (really long) blog post about why we made this decision. Maybe it is. But people have been asking me for months, and it turns out people have been asking our friends for months “what David and Kristin are doing for middle school.”
Why would anyone would care what we do or why? For the past 10 years, we’ve been deeply involved in public education in our community. Seven years ago, my husband and I co-founded with friends the Pasadena Education Network (PEN) to promote parent participation in and family enrollment in our public schools. In addition, I’ve served on local committees, donated my facilitation services, and worked professionally through a variety of foundations to support our District and others like it across the country.
As a result of our involvement, we know plenty of people are genuinely interested in our perspective on this decision. We’re not naïve though. We also know there are people who will choose to judge us for this decision. I decided I’d rather that both those groups have the story straight from us. So here it is.
From the time we started Kindergarten at Longfellow people would ask us, “But what will you do about middle school?” We always answered, “We’ll do the same thing we did for elementary. We’ll assume the best of our public schools. We’ll visit our neighborhood middle school and several other public middle schools. We’ll visit private schools if we feel the need. Then we’ll make a decision that is best for our family.” This is what PEN recommends all families do, and that’s what we did over the last two years with PEN’s help.
We’ve been visiting most of our public middle schools off and on for two years now. The changes at our public middle schools over the last two to three years as a result of the Excellent Middle Schools initiative are remarkable. Literally every six months, I could see more progress – addition of an advisory period, advanced math options, the start of a foreign language program, new extra-curricular options, and a rise in test scores corresponding to the efforts.
As we visited, David and I both felt that this time around, we also needed to consider private schools. Continue reading