One of the goals of this blog is to help people lower their anxiety level related to school selections. Unfortunately, due to the paradox of choice, sometimes I feel like the impact that I make is quite the opposite. Last week I spoke to a group of moms about the school choice process, as I have done several times in the past. More and more when I lead these discussions, I am finding that at times people are actually getting whipped up into more of an anxious frenzy. On the one hand, parents are hearing about the complex process of identifying schools for the first time, which is anxiety inducing by itself. Pepper that with a few folks in the crowd floating horror stories (often rumors at best and downright false at worst), and I feel the tension in the room rising each passing minute.
Well this post is a reaction to that. If you read this blog, you have nothing to worry about. I’ll say that again. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. Seriously.
How can I say this?
First and foremost, it is widely documented that the best predictor of a child’s educational success is their family, not their school. I feel confident in saying that since you are reading this blog, you are dedicating energy to your child’s education before it even begins. You are an involved parent. Once your child starts school, you are more likely to pay attention to you child’s school. You are more likely to check homework assignments. You are more likely to reach out to your kids’ teachers. You are more likely to show up for parent teacher night. You are more likely to call the principal if you feel that there is a problem in the school. This is critical to your child’s success, whether you are at the most resource-strapped public school or the richest private school.
Which brings me to my second point. Please don’t get sucked into the sensationalist headlines (yes I am guilty), because those headlines often jump the gun (guilty again). In other cases, they focus on negativity instead of real progress that is being made all over the region. You read this blog, so I think that means you can think for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Visit schools. Talk to teachers and administrators. Connect with grassroots parents’ organizations working to improve schools. Once you are comfortable that any given school will be a safe environment, I think that you’ll find that there are a LOT of good teachers and good administrators out there, in all types of schools. The reality is that there are also problems that will come up at your school. Even the wealthiest private school will have issues that arise. And, going back to the first point, as an involved parent, you will work actively to get that issue resolved.
So let yourself relax a bit. Yes, this is anxiety inducing process, but if you bookmark this site (*wink*), you and your kid(s) are going to be just fine.