Smile Politely

Choosing a Kindergarten Just the Beginning of the Battle

We just got word that the Pre-Schooler will be promoted at his day job; his new title will be Kindergartener. This happens next fall. As such, the Pre-Schooler will have to find a new office to work in. We’re hoping for the one in the corner by the water cooler with the windows.


Pre-Schooler is currently enrolled at University Primary School in the mornings and Early Learning in the afternoons. He thrives in both locations and we love both schools, especially Early Learning where he has basically grown up. That daycare is like a second home to us: so warm and with such a wonderful family atmosphere. Early Learning is a reason to have another child!


But now it’s time for us to decide where we want to chance the Kindergarten. I grew up in the north shore of Chicago’s suburbs public school system and The Husband grew up in the western suburban one. I went to Washington D.C. for class field trips, our choir went to Mexico and Spain, I learned to canoe in the school’s pool, and had two semesters of calculus before I got to college.The Husband came here even more prepared than me. So we’re huge proponents of public schools.


However we both had a tough time socially in our public school upbringing, and that is something we do not want for our child. So the hysteria we hear from the parents who currently enroll their children in the private schools around here also plays on our minds.


The Husband has been carefully researching and has attended the first of the school meetings. The old consent decree which balanced schools by skin color — and ONLY African-American vs. non — expires in 2009 and is being modified to balance schools instead by socio-economic status. There are instances of schools in this town that have equal parts African-American and non-African-American children and the school still is filled with the most underprivileged children in the town. The new partitioning is an attempt solve this problem.


We live equidistant from three of the best schools, a mile or two west of campus. We also live equidistant from every private school in town, philosophically. It is a hard decision to make and it seems we are set on a different solution each day. Good friends of ours swear by public schools and other good friends speak equally compellingly about the wonders of private schools.


Here is a list of comments and concerns I have and some I’ve heard from parents around here.


  1. It doesn’t matter what the public schools teach him; we’re here to augment and complement his knowledge.

  2. We want the parents at his school to care about their children and OUR child.

  3. We want the school to be a warm, learning atmosphere.

  4. I am very freaked out by the “Top 10 list” that the Kindergarten teachers sent out recently, that puts “FOLLOWS DIRECTIONS” as the number one important successful characteristic of a Kindergartner; #4 was “excited about school.”

  5. What if my child is bored in Kindergarten and starts to hate school?

  6. I had a terrible time (socially) in school, with no one to help me, and I still turned out “fine.” But it was a lot of years of pain.

  7. What if my child goes to a school where no one looks like him?

  8. What if my child goes to a school where everyone looks like him?

  9. What if my child learns sex in school?

  10. What if my child learns religion in school?

  11. What if my child doesn’t learn religion in school?


Anyone have any experiences in or thoughts about the Champaign School District Unit 4 that they’d like to share?




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