This time next year, Simone will be counting down to her first days of kindergarten. By then, we will have come to a decision about this thing called school. Ken and I chose our latest home with the school district in mind. There’s a school nearby, and it’s one of the best in our area. Still, I have an issue with its diversity and have scoped out two schools – one of them church-based – as possible options.
I can’t believe I’m even considering a private school. Ken went to public school and is a graduate of Christian school. I am a product of public schools and spent the majority of my journalism career covering them. I am all too familiar with the intricacies of desegregation, standardized test scores, and school funding. We know parental involvement plays a role in a child’s success and understand reading is a gateway subject. Armed with that knowledge, public school would be the best choice.
Still, sending the girls to a private school would mean we could keep them together. Private schools have more flexibility with curricula and tend to have fewer discipline problems with students. On the downside, sending the girls to one of the schools would guarantee Ken and I would never buy anything for ourselves ever again.
Diversity is weighing heavily in the decision. Some private schools are poised to offer a more diverse student body, one that represents the world. I am not convinced diversity is something that can be taught; you have to experience it. As a child, I lived in seven states and two countries, Germany and Iceland – the effects of which cannot be measured. I broke piñatas with kids in Texas, ate Ysa – the best fish I’ve ever tasted — in Iceland, and left a pair of shoes outside my door in Germany so that St. Nick could fill them with candy. My mom never met a stranger during her short life, which means I’ve been to more authentic cultural sit-downs at Filipino, Thai, Mexican, Puerto Rican, German and African homes than I can possibly count.
I grew up on military bases, where I played with boys and girls of different races and ethnic backgrounds and then attended public or Department of Defense, or DoD, schools with them. Our parents weren’t afforded the opportunity to choose their neighbors, and kids, at least back then, played with pretty much anyone who had a jump rope.
I can’t replicate any of these experiences for Simone, though I would like to take her and Nadia to as many far away lands as we can afford. I can, however, put her in a diverse setting, offering the opportunity for such experiences. We’ve got a year to make up our minds.