Recently I put down my spreadsheet and got fuzzy. At a tour of at a top-performing school, the principal advised families not just to look at metrics but to consider our own values, and to look for a school that matches our values.
I looked at the underlying values for my criteria and was surprised. My central values were that a school
- Foster a sense of belonging without having to deny parts of oneself, and
- Be academically challenging.
- People who look like my child. Being around people who look like you matters. I didn't move to SF for my child to be the only Asian in his class.
- LGBT family-friendly
- Other middle class and upper-middle class families
- Diversity valued and present, not just for the good reasons already discussed on this blog. A culturally homogeneous school, where even small differences stand out, can lead to more pressure to conform and "fit in." Racially or culturally homogeneous schools off the list, with the exception of language immersion.
- Diversity of religious and spiritual beliefs. I don't want my compliant child to feel obliged to conform with a particular set of religious beliefs at school. Parochial schools, off the list.
- To continue to enjoy the company of the opposite gender, and to feel able to cross gender lines. Single-sex schools, off the list. Bring on the shoot-em-up tea parties!
- Academically rigorous.