The Letter: School assignment in San Francisco

Filed under: Big Kids, Day Care & Education

Last Saturday, the letter came. A plain and simple missive that, despite its meek appearance, sought to determine the course of Jared's education for the next seven years. Who would have thought that such an innocuous thing could have such a huge impact on one person's future? How can something so pedestrian inspire such despair and disharmony? In our house, it did.

For 69% of San Francisco's incoming class of kindergarten students, that same letter brought cheers of joy and happiness, sighs of relief and excited phone calls to family and friends. We, however, were part of the 18% that got one of their choices, but not their first choice. That put us in a tizzy for pretty much the whole weekend. (Apologies to those who waited breathlessly with us and all weekend for the results.)

Had we gotten our first choice, a school three short blocks from our home, the whole process would be over for us, save for actually enrolling him at the school and showing up on the first day of class. Had we gotten our third through seventh choice or one not on our list, our path would be clear as well -- we would put Jared in the waiting pool at our first choice, file a family hardship appeal, and follow the advice of the local chapter of Parents for Public Schools.

Instead, however, we got our second choice. Jared was placed in a little known school that has been doing extremely well in recent years. We put it on our list because one of the other parents from Jared's preschool -- a teacher Rachel has worked with and whose judgment Rachel trusts -- raved about it. There are lots of student enrichment programs, plenty of parent and community involvement, and a cohesive, experienced staff. It's right next to a library and a playground. At least three of his friends from preschool will be going there. And it's about three miles away.

Rachel and I wouldn't be able to pick him up after school and my sister-in-law, who would otherwise be taking care of him would not either -- her son gets out of school at the exact same time -- at the school right by our house. So to go to this school means enrolling Jared in the afterschool care program, something she's very opposed to for a kindergartner. It means a lot of extra work for us and for my mother-in-law (who would pick him up once or twice a week). It would plenty of driving and trading favors with other parents and money -- plenty of money.

So, do we appeal and try for the neighborhood school, or do we stick with what we've been told is the better school? Rachel is going to the school this morning to check it out and enroll Jared. If she thinks it's as good as we've heard, we'll go for it, but if it's about the same as the one down the street, we'll appeal. It's not over yet!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.