Friday, May 2, 2014

Better than prison . . .

So, for the past semester my sons have been going to a nearby private school that I'll just call the Quaker Local School.   This seems like an odd choice for a Miser Mom.  After all, a huge huge huge part of why I became so gosh-darned penny-pinching in the first place was having an allergic reaction to my step-daughters' very expensive private school.

I've been a strong advocate of public schools all my life.  I've been on panels at our church where I talked about the value of sending kids to public school, standing proudly alongside my home-school-mothers friends and christian school family neighbors.  I've tried to be as active as an employed parent could be in my kid's school -- in fact, I was the PTO vice president and then secretary at my son's school.  I love the diversity of our public schools, and I value the connection I get to the community and politics that comes from diving headlong into a school that is subject to all the vagaries of taxes, mandates, funding cuts, etc.  That sounds like I'm joking, but I mean that; I think it makes me care about my community in a way I wouldn't if my kids were not in the public schools.

So, why are we shelling out the big dough for a private school now?

Well, it's not because my boys need an extra-challenging curriculum.  In fact, both boys struggle a lot with schoolwork.  N-son, now in an 8th grade algebra class, still frequently uses his fingers to add "10+7".  J-son attends a dyslexia program after school.  Neither of them are headed for the Ivy League.

Our public schools have a lot of support for the boys; I've been impressed at the enrichment programs they've gotten to be part of.  But the regular classes are large and full, and because my boys struggle so much, their classes were largely full of other students who struggle a lot.  And a class full of 8th grade kids who aren't good at school -- well, there are a LOT of behavior problems.  As my sister (who teaches high school in another state) told me, "You want to give a kid a quiet corner, but sometimes a classroom just doesn't have enough corners."

Last fall was an awful one for our family, what with the Horrible Week and with J-son's behavioral problems.  So when my husband returned from his army school and got to see the boys' classroom first-hand, he went frantic.  And the Quaker Local School is the result.

The school hasn't solved all our problems, but things are definitely much calmer now.  I know the administrators of the school aren't going to adopt my slogan for their own:
"The Quaker Local School:  It's better than Jail!"
But the slogan is true.  My boys have made friends there (often, other refugees from the public school), and the friends they make don't spend every other day in the principals office, or disrupt class.  J-son's stealing problem hasn't gone away entirely, but he's much better than before (and much more willing to take responsibility for his stupid impulsive actions).

Possibly when high school kicks into high gear -- when those randy middle school hormones die down a bit -- we might be able to return the kids back into public life.  But for the next year at least, we'll be spending lots of money so that my sons can go to a place where their classes are orderly, where the kids more-or-less actually do their work, and where we can keep J-son away from kids who will tempt him down the road to prison.


  1. Each family has to have the freedom to choose what is best for their own children. There is no one-size-fits-all school. Thank God you found somewhere that works for you. The outcome (educated, civilized adults) is what is important, not a political ideal. We're talking about real, flesh and blood children who have needs! Keep up the good work.

  2. We love our private school. Our publics don't have the problems you're discussing (those are in the next town over) so I can't even feel guilty taking our kids out and not being involved. They're not bad, they just have different priorities than we do and really care about the average kid and not the tails. Our school is *really* good with the tails on both ends. And all the kids are really nice, even the ones who moved because their behavioral problems weren't being addressed in public school. It's amazing what those extra corners can do.

    I'm so glad that our private school is *there* and I wish I had enough money to make it an oasis for more kids via financial aid.