(cross-posting this with School/education)
I moved to Europe 15 years ago, and since then married and had 2 kids. We go "home" for 3 weeks every summer, and while the children are in a local school, are completely bilingual, etc., our house has always been "little America". We speak English at home, watch movies and read books in English. I'm proud of my American qualities, and have tried to teach my children to be proud of being 1/2 American as well.
My husband has an opportunity to move back to the States (he's French) with work, to New York City. We are really struggling because we never imagined to live in New York, and now after looking, we don't know what to do. With his salary, we know that we could never afford to live in New York City (we need 3 bedrooms- the children are too old to start sharing a room at this point), and at least initially, we 4 would be living off of his one salary. The kids now are in a local school that is based on Waldorf principals- I looked at Waldorf schools in New York and they are 25,000 dollars a year!! We pay the equivalent of around 6000 a year now. If we move, the children will have to go to public school. I've been reading everything on this and other boards and I just dont understand the school system. I've determined that charter schools would probably be the best (the children are both also Gifted (tested on WPPSI and WISC IV) but their stregnths and interests are different from each other. Ive read so many horror stories about testing and scoring in the States- I dont want my children to go through that. I feel that they've had a really rich education up until now, and are so curious about so many things- I dont want to plunk them into this rigorous "testing" environment. But for charter schools, it seems that its all about lotteries and waitlists. How do you decide where to live, for instance- in the town of the school that you're wait-listed IN, or in the town with the mediocre school that they'll attend while they're being waitlisted? How long are these waitlists? What is the criteria for getting into these schools?
As for towns- we don't know anyone on the East Coast. My husband will need to come into Grand Central Station- can anyone recommend any affordable towns that would be less than 40 minutes commute from Grand Central? We're looking for laid-back, diverse towns- something with a Berkeley feel that has good public schools. Is that a dream? Can anyone make any suggestions? Thank you.
Look for towns off the Metro-North Railroad (http://www.mta.info/mnr/html/planning/schedules/). They are the commuter train that ends in Grand Central. There are 3 different lines. You can also look at school districts compared against each other using this site that the New York Times made (http://projects.nytimes.com/new-york-schools-test-scores). It's based on test scores but it's pretty accurate as to which school districts are good and which aren't so good.
Pretty much, the further away from NYC you are the cheaper the housing. The school districts are touch and go.
Best of luck! I've always been a jersey girl and love the diversity, close beaches, mountains, and now the country roads to cycle on in my adult years. Jersey clearly has a bad rap but if you stay off the turnpike you'll see it can be a pretty state with lots to offer and generally excellent public schools.
Momma of twins born in May, 2011. 32 weekers. Loving every minute. Breastfeeding still going strong as toddlers after crazy rocky beginning with bottle feeding in NICU for a month. Would love to share any information about how we made it to breastfeeding today with anyone in need of support