Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hot topic: He says tomato, she says tomah-to

An SF K Files visitor suggested the following forum topic:

"My question is about what happens when you and your spouse disagree about the school decision. One really wants private, one isn't sure; one really likes one school and the other hates it. One really thinks a summer-birthday boy should go to any school that will have him, one thinks he should red-shirt for a year. I suppose the way families deal with these questions is emblematic of many other family dynamics, but I would still love to hear any responses or thoughts."

15 comments:

  1. This is a great topic. When I went through the process last year, my husband and I had so many arguments. I would love a school and he would hate one. He would want private one day and I'd want public and then the next day we would flip-flop. I so often felt like my friends and their partners were always on the same page. And I started to worry about this. I have to admit that I even spent a few nights on the couch through this school process because I was so mad at my husband for not agreeing with my school choice. But in the end, we both came together on the same page and it has entirely worked out. I think you just have to be sure to talk and share the process together (if you both are interested) and not worry too much if you don't agree. I do think it's important that you go with a school that you're both comfortable with--but often I think there's one of you who is more passionate about the process and who did more research. I do think that person has a little more say.

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  2. We also went through the process last year. We talked about what we wanted our child to get out of school, what the school should offer (in the broad sense), and made a roughly prioritized list of how that translated into what to look for and questions to ask re: each school.

    After making this mutually prioritized list of things to look for and questions, our discussions became much simpler because we were talking the same language and had a better understanding of what was important to us as a family.

    It did help that we both went to each school visit. This eliminated one layer of "translation" from one parent to the other about what happened at each visit.

    End result: We came up with a ranked list of schools fairly painlessly (let's not talk about the time spent though). More importantly, our child is a happy and thriving K student.

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  3. With my husband and me, our search was 12 years ago and all wound up well in the end, but even today there are moments!

    My husband went on his own to look at Alvarado, which was then viewed as turning around but still had the basic amenities it has today. (Their open house was on a Saturday morning and I had an obligation at our co-op preschool, so he had to go alone.) He rejected it out of hand, so flatly that I felt it would be an act of open combativeness even to go visit.

    In high school my son became good friends with a boy his age who attended Alvarado (Spanish Immersion). I commented to my husband on why we hadn't considered Alvarado, and he got mad at me for blaming him -- so it was still a bit of a contentious issue 11-12 years later!

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  4. I am more open to more public than my husband. After comparing our daughter's experiences in the supposedly great Lafayette (East Bay, not the SF elementary school) elementary and middle public schools and Convent for high school, I know his deep-down attitude towards public is "never again." But I've been the one that has to come up with the lion's share of the money to pay for it and do far more investigation than he does, so he's somewhat deferential to my ideas and we're not inclined to argue anyway. We ended up doing another year of private for a variety of reasons and it's worked out fine but we'll be trying the lottery again for 09-10.

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  5. My husband and I never saw eye to eye on this topic, but we came together in the end, having found common ground on one topic: Immersion. We were looking at public and private, but once we identified our priority (it immersion program) it threw out the private schools and narrowed our list of public schools. it may take a few months, but your priorities will eventually align.

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  6. Our discussions are always fairly heated. My husband definitely has a bit more of the elitist to him than I do. He's not against public schools, but he is a product of privates and he wants his kid to have the benefits he had. If we don't get a public with all the bells and whistles already established I'm not sure how he'll react. I'm not certain a "hidden gem" or "up-and-comer" would satisfy him. It's tricky.

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  7. DH and I started out at opposite poles on this topic but ended up agreeing. I (a product of private schools) initially assumed that privates were better; DH (a product of public schools) assumed that public school was the wiser choice. We toured both private and public schools, liked some and not others from both categories, and pretty much agreed on which private and public schools we thought would work for our DS. Although our top choice was a private school located walking distance from our home, DS (who has a later summer B-Day) was waitlisted there and at all the other privates to which we applied. He was, however, assigned to one of our top choice SFSUD schools in Round 1. We both felt comfortable sending him there, and he seems to be thriving.

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  8. My partner and I fought alot about which 7 schools to list & even how to approach the list. We both went on almost all of the 20+ tours. The months of touring and then creating the list were probably one of the roughest times ever in our relationship/family life. I wanted language immersion, she thought it was nice but not paramount. I wanted to "pad" the list with a few schools we'd never get, so as to do better on wait lists (the 0 for 7 tier). In the end, because we have twins (a definite disadvantage in the SFUSD enrollment system) I went with her plan to put at least one non-immersion, mid-range school on the list (so as not to end up with 0 for 7). Of course, we got that school in RdI and at that point I realized I could not accept it (or rather I could not give up on the idea of immersion). I insisted we try for a less desirable immersion school on RdII. We got those slots and now that is where our kids are. Unfortunately for me and our kids, it is proving not to be a good experience (the school not the language). So I am seriously in the "dog house" as it were. My partner has not said "I told you so" more than a few times but I feel the weight of my actions everyday when my kids cry about going to school and complain about the lack of art, music, outdoor time, etc. Yes, they are learning another language VERY well and very quickly (and excel at it), but at what cost to them, and us? Is the language acquisition worth the sacrifice of virtually everything else? I was certain that it would be, but now that we are in it, I am very doubtful. I was hoping this year would be one of peace and moving forward with elementary education. Instead we are stressed, feeling trapped, at odds with each other, sad for our kids and will probably move out of SF this summer(something this 3rd gen native never contemplated before). I hope my relationship will heal from this experience but I think it will always be a sore spot.

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  9. What school? My husband wants immersion no matter what, but I'm not sure I'm willing to give up on the arts, etc.

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  10. 12:10

    That sounds utterly drear. How can any school justify having no art, music, outdoor time in kindergarten for goodness sake?

    And yes, please name the school because we're going to have at least one immersion school on our list.

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  11. It is easier to supplement the arts than to provide enough language instruction after school to make a child fluent.

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  12. That may be true, but I met most kids get more joy out of art, music, and outdoors than they do learning a language.

    The whole language thing is the parent's deal. Yeah, it's a great thing to be multi-lingual, but let's not kid ourselves which the kids would pick if it came down to that and it was up to them.

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  13. Yeah, memorizing grammar rules in high school language classes-- with no hope of ever becoming fluent -- is so much fun!

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  14. Don't your kids get art, music and outdoor time at home? Mine do. Lots.

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  15. 12:10, I'm so sorry to hear what happened to you and wish you, your partner and your children well.

    Six hours a day, five days a week, without art, music, or outdoor playtime is a lot to ask of kindergarten children and sounds downright unhealthy to me. I'm not an expert, but don't kids actually learn better when school provides a mix of physical and sit-down, right-brain and left-brain activity? Of course I do creative and physical activity with my kid after we get home from work/school, but I think he'd be miserable if he went six straight hours a day without any of it. One of the things I love about our private is the way in which each day's schedule mixes academic, creative and physical activities.

    I happen to have enjoyed learning a language for the first time in high school. The grammar was the sort of puzzle I liked to solve and I was drawn to subjects where a relatively high capacity for memorization was helpful. I don't practice enough to even be competent anymore but I used to get by OK. At least I know something about another language and culture. Some people on this blog are really rabid that early immersion is the one and only way and otherwise you may as well not bother. That's probably true for 99% of people who want native-like fluency, and yes bilingualism enhances many kinds of intellectual development, but that doesn't mean you should not ask what you are sacrificing to get it.

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