sensitive racial questions/ choosing schools - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 25 Old 07-07-2004, 10:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hi,

I have been homeschooling for two years and am considering putting at least one of my children in school. However, I live in a troubled urban school district so my choices for school are imperfect at best.

My children are Hispanic, but, all of them except one appear white. They don't speak Spanish either, so for all intents and purposes, they are white, except for my one daughter that is a little darker. People sometimes think she is half Asian or Indian. Why do I mention this, you might ask. Because the three schooling options available to them have very different racial make-ups.

The public school is 50% Hispanic, 25% Black, 25% White. That seems like an ok mix as far as I'm concerned, but the test scores at that school are so-so (anywhere from 30-50% at level in math and reading, meaning some classes have 50-70% kids below level) and 90% of the children qualify for free lunch. In other words, most come from very poor families.

Then, there are two private school near me that I would consider. One is 95% black, 5% white. The other is the reverse. 95% white, 5% minority. I am reluctant to send my kids to a school where they will be in the racial minority, because I don't want them to be picked on. In the black school, they would be treated as though they were white. But I'm worried that in the white school, my darker daughter might be picked on.

So do you think I should opt for the racially mixed but poor public school, or choose one of the private schools? Between the two private schools, the white school has higher test scores, but both are better than the public school.

TIA!!
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#2 of 25 Old 07-07-2004, 11:19 PM
 
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I made this mistake when DD entered Kindergarten. I sent her to the most expensive (Grandma was paying ) school mainly b/c it was the most öbviousely" diverse. I looked at several factors but my kids (I have 2) are like yours. (One is assumed white while the other is assumed Latino or black. They have varied ethnicities but DH is PR/Dominican and speaks Spanish but the kids don't.) The school was awful AND I realized the teachers held much racism/prejudices of their own and it showed!!!

Anyway, go with the best school you find. Sure, diversity IS important but look at everything. Then weigh it all out. Also, go with your gut!

BTW, DD is now in a less diverse public school with a better education record and so much more to offer! In the end, it is our job to bring our kids up properly and teach them about life and how to deal with many issues. it can be tough, but we can do it!!
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#3 of 25 Old 07-08-2004, 03:41 AM
 
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It all depends on the individual schools and the individual teachers, you can't choose only based on ethnic makeup/test scores, you know? I made that mistake. My ds1 has attended two highly rated, well-off schools, and they were so awful I pulled him out and homeschooled him. I was nervous to send him to a school EXACTLY like you described (low test scores, 90% free lunch), and he had a fantastic school year there. My ds2 is now in 7th grade and has been homeschooled some years and in public school some years- I take it year by year, as it really depends on the teacher, some are just awful.

What you need to do is go and meet the office staff, teachers, etc. Sometimes the more "poor" schools have more programs, the one my son attended had tons of free afterschool enrichment classes, and a very well supervised and structured after school care.

Good luck!

Kristi

"Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen." Ralph Marston

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#4 of 25 Old 07-08-2004, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks both for your input.

I am being tormented by these decisions. First, whether or not to stop homeschool and send them to school (well, we'll always be learning here at home, so homeschool won't really "stop," but most of their energy will be spent at school I imagine). Second, which school do I put them in? I am losing serious sleep over this.

My kids want to go to school. I am the one who wants to continue homeschooling. I am trying to make the decision for them, not for me. I would also hate to put them in school, then freak out for whatever reason, warranted or unwarranted, and pull them out.
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#5 of 25 Old 07-08-2004, 11:48 AM
 
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Stats and test scores can be so mind-boggling. I think that in the end you have to go with your gut - visit the schools, talk to the teachers and administrators, get a feel for the hallways and classrooms (busy, happy, purposeful?), ask about programs, orientation, curriculum, priorities. Talk to parents of children at the different schools, and when you're deciding what to do with their input, consider if they're 'your kind' of people philosophically or not.

Test scores in particular can be so deceptive - they don't generally measure children's improvement over time, take account of where they start from, or what level of commitment and creativity their teachers show. That really only comes from conversations and observation.

So far as diversity goes, ask the private schools about it - I understand your concern, see how they foster it, see what kind of history they teach and what kinds of cultures they celebrate.
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#6 of 25 Old 07-08-2004, 12:19 PM
 
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I'd add, afer you visit, get the standard tour and mostly decide what seems right for you, go back and hang around for a day (or as long as they'll tolerate you hangin' around)! I learned this from having my DD in daycare. It didn't help me much to just visit the place, I only felt comfortable with leaving her there after I spent a good chuck of time just hangin' around, observing. I'll now be sure to do the same with wherever she goes. It takes time so see things from different angles, don't let anybody rush your visit. Ask to be a mouse in the corner & just sit there for good, long while with your eyes wide open.
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#7 of 25 Old 07-14-2004, 10:41 AM
 
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I went through this with DS also. He's biracial (black/white) and is very dark. I'm on the border of 2 puclic school districts, one is about 90% black 5% white and 5% other minorities, the other is 95% white. I did visit the schools and unfortunatly the school with the higher minority population just didn't feel right. It seemed that every teacher or adult we saw on our visit was in the midst of some type of discipline for bad behavior. The other school seemed a lot more positive. DS now attends the mostly white school, and is doing terrific. The only downside that I've found, and this is not super important I guess....because of the limited minority population, they kind of "ration" the minority kids out. They want to make sure there are 1 or 2 in each class (just like the monitor the boy/girl ratio) DS made friends with another biracial child in daycare, and they will most likely never be in the same class because of this. DS has lots of other friends though and sees the other kid at recess and afterschool. I'd say visit the schools first and then decide.
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#8 of 25 Old 07-18-2004, 07:05 AM
 
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Our kids go to a public school similar to your public school-- I think the breakdown is 50% black, 10% latino, 5% native american, and 35% white. We are white. So many kids qualify for free lunch that the lunches are free for everyone. It is called a Title I school, and qualifies for lots of extra funding (and programs) because of the poverty level.

We *love* this school The teachers and principal are great. There are extra teachers (a reading teacher and a math teacher) who just go around and help out in the classroom. There is some partnership with the local university, and as a result, there are lots of young volunteers from a variety of education classes.

My children don't need any interventions. We supplement alot at home (the typical stuff; reading, travel, foreign language acquisition, etc). They do very well at school. Our oldest struggled for a while in first grade, I think mostly with developmental issues. She just wasn't ready to read yet, developmentally (she is also one of the youngest in her class). So we pulled her out half days and homeschooled the reading and the math for most of that year. It made all the difference in the world. Our school district is VERY good about working with homeschoolers and their families. They allow home schooled children to go to school on a part time basis, on a schedule worked out by the parent and teacher together. This might be an option in your district.

I had no problem putting my kids in public school. 1) my dh is a public school teacher. I see how dedicated he is, and how there is no teacher in a private school that is any better or more dedicated than he is. His students win academic awards, and go on to do extremely well in his subject matter in college. He teaches German and Spanish, and no matter what sort of school his students attend (ivy league or state college), they always end up quizzing out of 4-6 semesters of language, and usually of many other subjects as well. This leads em to reason #2: if kids put any effort into it, they can enter college as a sophomore or junior. Our school district is very good, oneof the top in the state. So although our kids' school is lower performing for the district, it is a million times better than any school *I* ever went to, and better than most in the state. 3) There is more to school than academics. My kids are interacting with children that they would not have had we homeschooled. Our homeschool group and our circle of friends is very liberal, very educated, and very white. At school, they are learning how to handle all sorts of people, cultures and behaviors. The school social worker goes around to the classrooms and teaches conflict resolution; these are some of the lessons our kids talk about the most, especially my youngest. She encorporates this at home and I assume at school. 4) I simply feel more comfortable at the school. When we went to an upper-middle class school for a while, I hated it. I'm sure we were the only people who didn't have a nintendo, anSUV, and a mama who didn't wear make up. The teachers didn't discipline (or rather, the principal didn't back them), and so privileged little brats, oh, I'm sorry, I mean mommy's little angels were everywhere. My oldest had several in her class. That school closed (due to budget cuts). At our new school, lots of people walk or ride their bike to school. Lots of mamas don't wear make-up. There is a huge variety of funky people in the area who send their kids to school there. The discipline problems remain, I think, in a different form, driven more by the opposite of spoiling. The school has some great policies in place to help kids out, to learn good behaviours, to intervene when theings aren't going well at home. We fit in much better here.

Good luck with your decision. I agree with the others who suggest you hang out at the school, talk to the teachers. Maybe your kids can even go for a day, to see what they think.
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#9 of 25 Old 07-18-2004, 07:12 AM
 
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sorry i have no advice since i haven't been in your situation, but i'm learning a lot from reading this, and lori, your defense of public school rocks!
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#10 of 25 Old 07-18-2004, 11:05 AM
 
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Can you tell us what state and/or city you are in? You are very lucky.
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#11 of 25 Old 07-18-2004, 11:50 AM
 
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Lawrence, Kansas! Whenever anyone asks where to move, I'm always begging you to all to come here. It's an oasis in the midwest, for many reasons. I mean, it is still Kansas; but that has it's advantages, as well!

Lori
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#12 of 25 Old 07-18-2004, 10:19 PM
 
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I have always heard that Lawrence was an oasis in the midwest! I am from the midwest and I couldn't wait to leave after college! Not sure I could handle the flatness, the heat or the snow anymore!
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#13 of 25 Old 07-19-2004, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm happy to get more replies, it helps so much to hear of others' experiences. To visit the private schools, I'll have to wait till fall when they have open houses.

I had bad experiences in school, which is one of the main reasons I homeschool. But I have been feeling since early this year that I should put them in school, that we gently need to move away from homeschooling. There are many wonderful things about homeschool, but, I am starting to wonder if many of my fears about public school are unfounded.

I really don't want to start an argument with anyone, so if there are any homeschoolers reading this, please forgive me. But my experience with homeschoolers is that there is a sort of elitism-- "My kid is too good for school--" mentality, or the belief that your kids will be absolutely ruined intellectually, socially, and spiritually in public school. I started out homeschool with these things in mind, but since, I've managed to take a few steps backwards and re-examine the situation.

I do love homeschooling, but I want my kids to embrace life and get out into the world. Something about homeschooling doesn't quite do that, at least not for us. Sure, we can go out on lots of "field trips" and they can follow their own interests as much as they want, but it still feels like we're walking around in a bubble.

Also, DH is adament that we continue homeschool. I wish our public school were more flexible, that there could be some kind of part-time arrangement.

thanks again, so much
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#14 of 25 Old 07-19-2004, 07:03 PM
 
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Leave race out of it. Send them to the best school. Period.
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#15 of 25 Old 07-19-2004, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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But I don't know how to determine what the "best school" is-- do I go just by test scores, class size, proximity to our house? Or by the feeling I get when visiting a school?
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#16 of 25 Old 07-19-2004, 09:43 PM
 
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Where are they going to get the best education?

They can always learn about sensitivity and all that from you.

They'll need to learn how to read and write properly, how to add and subtract, etc. and the basic workings of what any human being needs to thrive in this society.

So if you see writings from students at one school which are written similar to this one here, and the writings at the other school are

so i went to like the docterr and he seid things were ok yo and their ok really

Choose the one where the students are literate.
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#17 of 25 Old 07-27-2004, 03:52 AM
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I am an african american mother of two little girls. I live in the Asheville, NC area and I have been researching the preschools in my area. Not only do I want to find a school that has smaller class sizes, great curriculum, and good creative teaching methods, but it's important to me that my daughter attends a preschool that is racially mixed. I dont want her to feel different than everyone because she is the only black child in her class. I also want her to experience meeting new friends of many different cultural backgrounds. Alot of the montessori and charter schools I've found in asheville happen to have very few, if none at all, black students. If anyone here resides in Asheville, please let me know of some good preschools with a good racial balance.
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#18 of 25 Old 07-27-2004, 08:22 AM
 
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Welcome lox! There are pretty diverse (geographically) members here at MDC. I'm wondering if you might also want to post the question in Finding Your Tribe because folks from Ashville might go there to find others with similar values. Let's keep it here too though! Thanks for joining us.

 
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#19 of 25 Old 07-27-2004, 02:55 PM
 
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T

Lori -

I lived in Lawrence for four years and I LOVED it!! It would be my ideal to raise my daughter there but we're very happily set up in West Des Moines, IA now and it's also a GREAT place to raise a family.
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#20 of 25 Old 07-27-2004, 03:45 PM
 
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RE: Not only do I want to find a school that has smaller class sizes, great curriculum, and good creative teaching methods, but it's important to me that my daughter attends a preschool that is racially mixed.

I appreciate this. But worry about whether or not the kids can read, write, etc. They can get all the hippie creative teaching methods and racial harmony tolerance stuff from you. Find somewhere that has the best teaching, period.

This is your kid's education, don't waste it on political correctness.

Don't worry about your kids not hanging around racially diverse people. That'll happen soon enough.
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#21 of 25 Old 07-27-2004, 06:56 PM
 
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My elementary school was 90-95% white. It was middle to lower upper class students. I recieved a horrible education.

My last high school was 95% black. Often times I was the only white person in the room. I got a far better education. It was a very poor school, my senior year we did not have a year book because nobody could afford it.

You set the racial standards in your home that will go further than what is taught in school.
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#22 of 25 Old 07-27-2004, 09:17 PM
 
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Marsupialmom, as your post points out, good education is not always related to money in the district, or test scores. Well spoken!

 
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#23 of 25 Old 07-28-2004, 03:26 AM
 
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#24 of 25 Old 07-28-2004, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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"maybe you could just change the way you homeschool
(charter, ISP, dif support groups, enrichment, methods, co-ops)"

I wish I had these options. There is a sizable homeschooling community around me, but it is a fundie Christian group that only accepts people who sign a statement of faith. We're not Christian, so we can't join. So just to hang out with other homeschoolers is difficult, let alone start a co-op.

I've thought of sending them to school and then after-schooling them-- we don't spend much time on academics anyway, an hour or two at the absolute most.

I may just send my younger one to school, and continue to homeschool the other one.
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#25 of 25 Old 07-28-2004, 08:02 PM
 
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if you don't mind sharing where you live - I can help you find like minded hsers in your area
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