The blackboard jungle

I’m sure that the Sunday NYT article “About His Deposit…” will be emailed back and forth across the country this week.  It’s about parents deciding whether or not to keep their kids in private school, and it’s already attracting a range of responses, from “I can’t believe I’m expected to care that some rich jerks can’t afford private school anymore” to “I refuse to sacrifice my precious children to our inadequate public school system,” and pretty much everything in between. 

At Starfleet Academy, there have been rumblings that some families may not be returning next year, which is not surprising in this economy.  Applications (which were due in December) are up, but the expectation is that there will be more competition among private schools for the top students.  I guess we’ll know more in a couple of months as enrollment contracts are returned and admission offers are made.

The kids who attend Starfleet Academy tend to live in one of three school districts–Massive City District or one of two Smaller, More Affluent Districts.  For those who live in the latter, a transition to public school would likely not be too difficult to contemplate (setting aside, of course, that most of the students probably don’t want to leave their friends and the familiar setting of SA).  In fact, those public schools are so well regarded that it might be hard to make the case for private school for kids who live in those districts–although obviously all the families did at some point decide to send their kids to SA, and might disproportionately value those qualities that really distinguish SA from the top public schools–among which, I’m guessing, are its smaller size and the personal attention and flexibility that come with that. 

Massive City District is a huge system–among the 25 largest in the country.  It is chronically underfunded, of course.  But like many of the other giant systems, it has large areas of both competence and excellence.  There are multiple desirable programs and tracks, and for students and parents who are able to navigate the system, there are a number of different options. 

When we enrolled the Snork Maiden in elementary school, for example, we talked to neighbors, visited our neighborhood school, and decided to submit applications to three other elementary schools ranging from 1 to 5 miles away.  Each had a different process (lottery, first-come-first-serve, application), but all had room for children from other neighborhoods.  She ended up at the one we liked best, and all is going well–except that there are now 30 children in her class, which is a major reason that I’m looking forward to moving her to SA for middle school. 

However, if I hadn’t started working at SA and become eligible for the hefty tuition discount, we would have continued to negotiate the Massive City District system.  In fact, we still might–but the likelihood is that she’ll go to SA and have 15-17 students in each class.  And although I realize there are some pitfalls to having your child at the school where you work, I’m really looking forward to having her there.

Last year, as you may remember, I taught in a concurrent enrollment program offered by NCC at one of the huge local high schools, and used primarily by honors students.  As a parent, I found that teaching there built up my confidence that my child could do well in the Massive City system: the students were from diverse backgrounds, generally well prepared, intellectually curious, and obviously headed to a good range of colleges.  Just as I was coming to that conclusion, of course, I started teaching at SA, and our plans started to tilt toward having the Snork Maiden go there.  Academic excellence, a supportive atmosphere, small classes, and convenient for me–all at half price?  I think so.  (But we’ll have to see, of course, if practice works out as well as theory.)


3 responses to this post.

  1. The applications to FGS are also up from last year, but it remains to be seen how many parents actually decide to send their daughters there next year. I just learned in the last month that FGS is the most expensive private school in the Adventure City region, and I’m sure there will be parents who ultimately decide that it’s simply not affordable, or at least not financially wise, to pay that much. And we’re in the same position that you describe; some of the public school districts right around FGS are very good and certainly a sound alternative to FGS, although the big Adventure City school district itself is not well-regarded. I think one of the advantages that FGS will have in the looming competition for scarce resources is that it’s a single-sex school, which is clearly not something that the public school district, or indeed most other private schools, offers. Everyone is very aware of enrollment this year, of course, as we keep our collective eye on the dodgy budgeting for next year.


  2. Posted by RaiulBaztepo on March 28, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo


  3. […] that her daughter had decided to leave SA for high school in favor of a public school in one of the Smaller, More Affluent Districts in which some of our families live.  I know Natasha has been somewhat discontented at SA of late; […]


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