You may find this post ironic, given my possibly controversial post on diversity yesterday.
As much as all of us who are sending our kids to kindergarten next year talk about schools, there is so much that we don’t say to one another. We don’t want to offend or judge others for their priorities. I have really cherished my closest friends during this process, the ones who I can say anything to. I pour my heart out to them and they know that I am not judging their choices. Deep down, we all know that school selection is a very personal process, and that what is right for your kid and your family will not be right for everyone. At the same time, we are anxious about this choice, which for many of us is the most important decision we have ever had to make on behalf of our child. We second guess ourselves throughout the process and change our minds regularly. Hearing someone else criticize or dismiss a school can understandably create anxiety.
As I have been publicly documenting my experiences in this process, I have been reminded of this problem perhaps more than most. The last thing that I want to do is offend anyone or create controversy. I have constantly sought to write objectively on topics that I am very passionate about. I am not a trained journalist, though, and I know that a bias is coming through. I have been keeping my ‘short list’ private, and I have tried my best to refrain from criticizing specific schools on this blog. This is not artificial, either. I visit schools that are of interest to me. If I am visiting a school I have a pretty good sense that it is a decent school, and a top choice for someone out there. At the same time, I have heard people criticize literally every school that I have researched. There is no school that is perfect that does not have room for growth.
I was reminded of this topic over the weekend when I attended a gathering of parents of my kids’ Jewish preschool for the express purpose of discussing a specific private school option for our children. Several representatives from that private school (administrator, parents, student) were in attendance. The preschool parents (including me) asked some pretty pointed questions, many pertaining to Jewish identity at a decidedly non-Jewish school. Though I know some of the parents well, some I was meeting for the first time. Yet, it was quite refreshing to speak openly about my concerns and hear others air their concerns openly. It was great to learn that I shared some of the same misgivings as my peers, and to hear them addressed directly by school representatives. The group agreed–we are already continuing the conversation online and another similar meeting is being planned to discuss a different school. If you are going through this process, I strongly encourage you to organize or attend a meeting of this type. It can help alleviate the concerns about sharing that you may have in an open and hopefully nonjudgmental environment.
At the very least, we should all keep in mind that it is OK if we make different school choices, and it doesn’t mean that you are being judged as a parent if you don’t come to the same conclusions about schools.