“Worry is like a rocking chair—it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere” –Dorothy Galyean
I had dinner with some graduate school classmates from UC Berkeley the other day, and after two minutes of social pleasantries, we of course launched into our favorite topic: The Public School System. We are all school psychologists. Some of us work in fancy schmancy districts where the district has to employ detectives to make sure kids really live in the district boundaries, and some work in districts like mine where finding a working copier is a real treat.
We got to talking about our own kids—some just entering preschool, some about to graduate from high school—and my own children I don’t have yet, but have great names already picked out.* I admitted that I am pre-worrying about sending my future children to public schools and have tremendous guilt about being a public school employee who may not be able to walk the walk when it comes to my own kids. Ideologically, I want them to go to public school. But I admit, I worry about the gamble. The mid-ground has been that my fiancée and I are already calculated our next move to coincide with living in a “good” public school district.
But what is a “good” public school district, anyway?
I’m glad you asked. I want my kids to have caring and competent teachers, a safe environment, a positive school climate, diversity of staff and student body, be developmentally appropriate (no shoving inappropriate standards-based curriculum on my kids, thank you very much), have opportunities for parent involvement, but not support the intrusive parenting culture (where all things are monitored, including every move the teacher makes and children’s consumption of glucose), high standards, but not too high that the average kid feels dumb, learning goals over performance goals, and within walking distance to my house. Oh, and that house needs to be under a million dollars in California, because c’mon, I’m a public servant.
After my diatribe about the type of school I want to send my not-children to, I sighed, and wondered if my pre-emptive worry is jumping the gun a bit.
Then, I worried that my pre-worry traits will make me become one of those hyper-involved helicopter moms who will swoop in on all educational matters.
Sigh. If you need me, I’ll just be here in my rocking chair for the next 4-18 years. Anyone care to join me?
*This is such a difficult task for an educator, because we’ve heard every name there is, and have our own associations. I have worked with some hell-on-wheels kids who have ruined perfectly good potential baby names.