My oldest daughter, turns 5 this summer. That means it’s time to start kindergarten. Before we were married, my wife and I had discussed schooling. I was raised in public schools and thought they were excellent. She was raised in private schools, and the only thing she had heard about public schools were all the problems reported on the news. Still, I had told her at the time that I wasn’t saying ‘No’ to private school, I just wanted to consider all the options. Especially since we now live in an area that has excellent (nationally ranked) public schools. People move to our neighborhood so that their kids will go to the local elementary, junior, and senior high schools.
After we were married and had our current two daughters, and I started becoming more religious, I saw more value in the private schools. Not so much because of problems with public schools (I still think they are very good), but because I wanted my girls to get a richer Jewish education than I had received. They are both in the local Chabad preschool, and are quickly absorbing material that I’m still struggling with myself. (e.g. http://jdmdad.blogspot.com/2007/11/who-knows-one.html)
So now come the hard decisions. Where we are located, there are basically 4 choices for schooling:
1) Public school – No Jewish education, and would have to do the “Kids need Yom Tovs off, no food other than what we provide, etc.” dance pretty often.
2) Local Jewish Day School – There is a local Jewish Day School. However, it was developed by many people in the area and while it’s a good school, it’s not at as high a religious level as what we wanted for our kids.
3) Send to more religious Jewish Day Schools – There are a few Jewish Day Schools that are more religious, but they are not as local. The travel time during “rush hour” is about an hour each way, assuming no major incidents. Our neighbor does this with their current kindergartener, but others in our community wait until the kids are a little older before putting them through such a commute. On the other hand, the neighbor’s son does seem to learn a great deal there.
4) A new school – A few families in our community are working with our shul to see if we can start up a new program, initially at the kindergarten level, maybe to go up to first or second grade. It would be a more religious focus than the local JDS, but a smaller group of people, an untested program, and is currently still struggling to get organized.
We are still working on deciding what we will do. The application for the local JDS is due this month. We haven’t even checked when applications are due at the schools farther away, but really don’t want to see our 5 year old commuting that long. Our best hope is with the new school, and we are participating in meetings and all, but are afraid of putting all our eggs in one incomplete, untested basket. We’ll probably apply for the local JDS, but if the new school does fly, go over there. Hopefully we would know before the various payments are due.
I usually try to have a nice neat conclusion/learning experience at the end of my write ups, but this one is still very open ended. However, if anyone has suggestions/comments, I welcome them.