Character vs. Knowledge: Where do I send my daughter for school?

Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 in Chicago Public Schools, Faith, Family, Parenting | 2 comments

Who would have thought the decision on where to send my daughter to kindergarten would be so difficult? I feel like I am scouting colleges or something. Last week Crain’s Chicago Business wrote an article about how slow home sales are forcing parents to find the right school in the city. For my husband and I, us leaving the city was never an issue, we decided long ago to raise our family in the city. But I’ll be honest, I have been quite ignorant about my where my daughter will be going to school. Thankfully I have friends that have kept me in the loop. Skinner West built a brand new school less than a mile from where my husband and I have been living for 1o years. It is a fantastic school and neighborhood moms rave about it. (Skinner has both classical and neighborhood programs, in which we qualify for neighborhood program).

In December at my daughter’s PreK Christmas celebration, moms were telling me the deadline to apply to the magnet programs was that day. I freaked out, my husband was out of town for work and filled out the forms to get the postage stamped. I did not realize it was NOT test the kids. I was applying for the lottery. *sighs* But there is something I did not mention, I absolutely LOVE my daughter’s preschool and they are adding a new year each year. I have invested much of my time in volunteering at my daughter’s school, heading up the PVO (which some of you may know it as the PTO/PTA) and I feel part of a wonderful Christ-loving community. The director has been so instrumental in helping me with my son’s Sensory Processing Disorder. When I broke down and cried from being so overwhelmed, she prayed right there for me. I felt strength again. That is powerful. This is where I want my daughter (and eventually my son) to go.

BUT…last week, we got our “acceptance” letter from the schools we had chosen. While denied the lottery for Skinner’s classical, she was accepted to both Andrew Jackson and Galileo, both within 2 miles from our condo. (yes, we have quite a few schools within a 2 mile radius) Again, both fantastic schools. The thing I really wanted to do was to tour the schools and get a feel for where my daughter may fit best (My heart already knows) . One school was super friendly, real nice to me and said to stop on in whenever, the other school was flat out snooty. And I was very, very disappointed and felt let down because this school is in my neighborhood. No excuses, no matter what your front line tells a story…

Part of my problem is that I feel I am getting WAY to caught up in the academic part of where she goes, where my husband is more concerned about her character development. We are not on the same page right now, our taxes goes to a top 10 school which is free for us. Or we can pay for an excellent private school in which my college tuition costed me 16 years ago. It is not a decision to be taken lightly.

There are pros and cons to all the schools, I won’t lie, each school excels academically. But the kindergarten homework rumors scare me in CPS. How many 5 year olds do you know that get 1.5-2 hours of homework each night? Yes, they do and some have already instilled a longer school day, which is a hot topic for our teachers right now, if you oppose it, check out their site The other issue is the rumors of a possible 30-day strike this fall because of contract negotiations.

Living in the city is great and have enjoyed seeing it grow in the last 10 years, especially my own neighborhood, but the decisions we make affects her future, where she goes to high school even, because all kids will have to test to get into a good high school. No, we don’t have a neighborhood option.

It is not that easy, my suburb friends just don’t get it when I explain it to them. My best friend’s kids go to kindergarten for 2.5 hours per day. My daughter is in PreK 3 days per week 4.5 hrs each day, eating lunch there and all. It is competitive in the city and it makes me sick to my stomach. I am choosing step away because I do not want to get caught up on “where” my daughter goes to school. Like it is a Harvard or something. I know I’ll look back and shake my head, the grades won’t matter, test scores don’t measure one’s success in life. After all, it is how my husband and I choose to raise her and teach her to be compassionate, humble, kind, loving, caring, joyful, spirited, giving and how she treats every human of every race, because you can’t give that a grade later in life. And we don’t get that opportunity to teach that later in life either.

Daughter's First Day of PreK 4

Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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2 Comments

  1. Jasmine, I love this post, and I love your heart! (I wish I had read this before I met you today!) I’m a kindergarten teacher, and I’ve taught both in the public schools and at a private Christian school. I’ve wrestled with my calling at both places, and I’ve watched parents wrestle with the school decision. Just know that God has the perfect place chosen for next year. Stay in prayer. The school placement may change when His purposes for your family changes. (I never dreamed that God would call me BACK to the public school after 6 years at a beautiful Christian school.) Love to you and your precious family!

    • Thank you so much Heather for your encouragement. So glad God put our paths together. :)

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