Why? Because it's Catholic School Week, and she asked me to go. And how could I explain to her that everything else in my life is more important than church right now when I'm sending her to Catholic school?
Which resurrected the nagging, internal discussion I seem to have over and over in my head - why am I sending my child to Catholic school? What am I hoping she'll achieve there that she may not achieve by attending our public school?
I went to public school from kindergarten to graduation. No issues here, unless you count that time in Virginia, but the warrants have been dropped. Oh never mind that for now.
But seriously, education isn't something I take lightly. It's one of the most important things that I believe you can give your children as a foundation for success. And I'm not just talking monetary or professional success - I'm talking about success as a person capable of making good, smart, solid decisions that not only affect you, but everyone around you. I remind my kids all the time, this isn't your world, you share it with everyone you meet so be considerate.
So, why Catholic school? Well, outside of the obvious opportunity to learn about Catholicism (which is fascinating to me as an adult learning it all over again), here are some of the reasons that helped us in our decision:
1. Class size. First and foremost is the basic criterion that there are only so many slots, and only so many desks, and even with desired growth there will be children waiting to attend instead of being crammed into a room. Expectations are similar to college - you pay to go but if you can't muster the grades or follow the rules, you're out. You don't get to just take up space.
2. I hate the MCAS. I believe teachers should be allowed to teach to help children learn, not to test well. I think there are plenty of other standards that could be put in place to help with the changes in education. I am NOT a school educator but it just seems that stressing kids out over their MCAS tests can't be effective. And sadly, our teachers aren't making nearly the salaries they should be and are expected to keep every individual child on track. Getting off topic here, sorry...save it for another day.
3. Morals. I want my kids to respect adults, their peers and the value of life in general. With the separation of church and state such a hot button in public education (and trust me, I don't advocate kids praying in public schools), I think it's more difficult for public educators to teach morals and proper values simply because some parents will inevitably challenge them on it. So I pay extra for morals to be taught to my kids. Odd, I know. I also believe a majority of those values have to come from the home and with the school and families expected to work together, it's harder to be lax on that in their early years (the reason I attended Mass today is a perfect example of the two in motion). Where we fail with kids and morals in the public system seems to be evident from examples like this, recently.
4. Uniforms. Man I love those uniforms. I really can't say enough about that. Some public schools in our area have instituted them as well and I think it's fantastic. I wish we had them as a kid. Probably would have saved me a ton of angst searching for parachute pants and Calvin Klein jeans that actually fit me back in '82.
5. Curriculum. Art. Music. Computer lab. Library. English. Math. Social Studies. Science. Language. Sports. School newspaper. Swim club. Ski club. Latin club. Chess club. Basketball. Yup, looks like a good curriculum to me. And there is little risk of losing any of it due to grant or budget cuts. Supplies are stocked. Computers work. Extra-curricular school activities are available.
6. I've seen it work. I think having friends that graduated from Catholic schools, and knowing parents and kids who attended the same school as my kids was a big influence on me. They are all solid, kind, smart people. The kind of people I'd love my kids to emulate.
I also think part of the decision can be summarized by something my colleague said to me once, "My job was to raise respectable adults and I feel like I did my job. That's the best I could do. It's up to them now." So while I'm extremely hypocritical in that I can't follow a Catholic Mass to save my life; don't insist the family goes to church every Sunday; haven't confessed a sin since, well, um, forever, why should that prohibit me for wanting a better education for my children? I've enrolled my son to start there in the fall and we're looking forward to seeing what our children can become. Which education choice is best for your children? Are you happy with your school options or have you been thinking of making a change?