Anna has started Kindergarten this fall at a “good” public school in our area, but I am still wrestling with the question of what criteria truly account for a “good” school. How can I really, fairly evaluate the effectiveness of a school in educating, challenging, motivating? So I go to www.greatschools.net and compare their school ratings, which are based on test scores within a particular state. But test scores seem inadequate… don’t we have to look at who is taking the tests? And all I can come up with is that schools with more “economically disadvantaged” students score worse than other schools. For whatever reason, but there it is. So the “wealthier” students get huddled together by their well-intentioned parents in certain school districts and neighborhoods, or withdrawn from the public school system altogether as is so common here in Savannah, and the other schools suffer for the lack of diversity.
Isn’t it entirely possible to have a great school/teacher doing their best with kids who just don’t score well on tests – whose parents aren’t involved or who have bad attitudes or who live under the burden of poverty? And isn’t it possible to have so-so teachers/schools churning out great test scores simply by virtue of the kids they have to work with – motivated kids with involved parents and/or resources? The private schools don’t even take the same tests or release the results, and each state takes different tests, so you can’t truly compare public vs private or across state lines. How do you really know if a school is “good?” Maybe look at its graduates – where do they go from there? How motivated and “successful” are they?
And then I wonder about even the good public schools. Can I trust the textbooks? The teachers? Will someone with an agenda try to indoctrinate my kids into their way of thinking? Not to sound paranoid, but people’s worldviews affect their presentation and interpretation of everything, deliberately or not. Who will be teaching my kids what?
Probably, with all these questions, the easiest thing to do is to go the private route if feasible financially. Or to homeschool (I couldn’t possibly!). But I went to public school and turned out alright. And I value the experience of different cultures and want my kids to appreciate that, too. Now I know times are different, but I also know God is the same, and maybe, just maybe, I can trust him with my little ones even when I don’t have all the answers the way I would like. So for now our best option is the public school, and we will give it a chance. We will be involved and monitor things closely and pray fervently and go from there.