This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to our church (a United Methodist Church) Women’s Retreat. It was the first time I’d been away for a whole weekend from my children in four years! I had an awesome time eating, praying, and loving, but one of my favorite things to do was listening to what other mothers’ thought of the public schools in our area. Everyone had different experiences and insights, for the most part positive.
As a teacher myself, I’ve always been a big believer in public schools for so many reasons. I think it is 100% possible to get your child a five star education in public schools, that can rival what the best private schools have to offer. I know this because I benefited from such an education myself in the Seminar program of the San Diego Unified School system.
But not all schools or districts are created equal. I’ve worked in a good school district, and an extremely bad district. That taught me that I would rather rent the tiniest apartment in the best district possible, then buy a beautiful house in a school zone we couldn’t be happy with. Luckily where we live now, housing is reasonably if not affordably priced, so we don’t really need to make those tough choices.
At the retreat this weekend, I especially enjoyed hearing what the women had to say about their child’s public school experience because right now I am volunteering as a board member of our school district’s education foundation. Our organization raises money to support 22,000 students in five communities. As a member of the grants committee, I’m reviewing 83 grants and am wishing desperately that we could fund them all. The educators who wrote these grants have gone above and beyond the call of duty, like so many teachers do, and have imagined innovative and creative ways to inspire student learning. I wish that every child could have access to teachers like these.
I know that there has been a lot of public school bashing in the news recently, but I would hope that people can keep their faith in public schoosl. Voting yes on school bonds/levies, and supporting your local education foundation are all great ways that you can help the children in your neighborhood, whether you have kids in public schools or not.
Bruce read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit with my husband last month, and so it was my turn to do bedtime read aloud with Bruce. Sometimes we let Bruce pick the book, but sometimes my husband or I choose as a way of introducing him to new material. This time, I chose Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, a book I had in my collection but had never read. http://www.artemisfowl.com/
We are about 100 pages into it, and it is right up Bruce’s alley. There’s magic, blaster weapons, an evil kid-genius master mind, and lot’s of spying. There are also a lot superfluous references to Disneyland, attributed to the fact the publisher is owned by Disney, I think. So far, the book is pretty entertaining, but nowhere nearly as good as Harry Potter.
The first night we were reading Bruce tried his usual trick of reading ahead several chapters by himself after he was supposed to go to bed, but the next night he asked me to go back and read from where he left off. He said he didn’t really understand what was going on in the pages he read. So today I looked up what Guided Reading Level Artemis Fowl is, and it is level Y, which means 6th grade. No wonder it was too hard for the little guy!