I have so many questions about the school district we live in, and the public schools my daughter has the option to attend when she is old enough. (She's only 18 months old now!) I suspect that the schools are not as bad/soul-crushing as I imagine, but I'm sure they aren't places I'd LOVE to send my daughter (or any child!). However, I really believe in the idea of free public education, and rather than just run away from it (and the many people who have little choice but to send their children to our public schools), I'd like to see if there's any way I can influence the schools in my area, starting NOW.
We live in an area where all of the schools are highly rated according to standardized tests, but that means almost nothing to me. I care more about things like, what problem solving approaches are used in the classroom? How much are worksheets relied on? How much is cooperation emphasized over competition? How much say do kids have in their own projects? (I agree with a lot of what Alfie Kohn says about optimal learning environments.)
Any ideas on what I might do to learn more about schools in my area and get involved (without, for example, running for school board or something...)?