I lived in Michigan for 2 years and in that time my son started Kindergarten at the local state school. He loved riding to school and back on an American yellow school bus. He also loved his Kindy teacher; she was lively and fun. 🙂 The school he went to was in a low-socioeoconomic area and did look old from the outside but inside it had been freshened up with colour.
It was in Michigan that I first encountered the “where are you sending your child to school?” question. My children were obviously too young for this type of question to be asked when we were living in Canada, and I keep wondering if this is as common in Canada now too? There were many kids in this area of Michigan that were driven (by parent) to private schools; we were living in a well-off/lake-side community. I remember feeling like I had made a school/parenting-mistake when my neighbours grilled me about my school choice. It was then that I started reading, learning and talking to other parents about schools and the pressures that some parents feel to put their children in private schools. It was also then that I realised and saw how a community could be fragmented by school-choice.
Neighbours snubbed other neighbours and belittled them just because they decided to not put their children in private schools. “Can you not afford it?” or “You do know that all the poor kids go to that school?” or “Your setting your child up to fail in the future!” – all statements that I heard from some of the neighbours! Luckily there were a few open-minded parents on my street who had kids that went to that school and they were very happy with the school and their kid’s education.
Fast-forward a couple of years and we’re now living in Australia, my original home, the place that I completed most of my schooling. Australia, the community-driven, social-minded and mostly public-run country that I had idealised for years and years during very, very cold Ontario and Michigan winters! We move into our first Aussie home and start to get to know the neighbours and one of the first questions I hear is “where are you sending your child to school?”…..the local school….”oh, where are you sending them for high school? You better start thinking about that now because the local High School is BAD!” What? Really? The sad point is that I hear this a lot and have heard it more and more in the past few years. I did my first teaching professional-experience at this local school and I didn’t think it was that “bad”, I did think that the hours should be changed (and supposedly they’re looking at changing that now).
What’s the problem here? I can’t help but wonder if this is not solely the schools fault. Imagine, you are told over and over that you’re bad….well, it would be pretty hard to change EVERYONE’s perception of that right? Well, I think that’s what’s going on here with this particular school. My argument is that if we STOP putting OUR local school down and start sending our GOOD kids to it then maybe we can CHANGE perspective!!!! Of course, who knows, the pressure might be so great that in 3 years I’ll be sending my kid to some expensive private school; you never know! 🙂