Sunday, April 25, 2010

Are These People Crazy? Part II

First... ok, seriously, I know, we need a wireless router around here.  I have my fun little netbook friend, but can't get on-line at home with it.  And when I blog, I also like to make a few rounds and see other blogs.  And that takes for-ev-ah.  And there's a wonderful man upstairs hanging out alone in my living room.  He looks familiar, like I may know him or something.  I need a wireless router so that I can be in both my cyber- and real-life worlds at the same time.  Working on that......

In the meantime, we made a decision.  I went to the Open House for new families accepted into Are You Good Enough For My Little Girl? Elementary School.  I pored over every.single.line of the school's curriculum, which they kindly posted on-line.  I listened to the principal explain that they will have the same budget struggles, student-teacher ratio issues and having to scrap for funding as the rest of the system.  I did the school tour, looked carefully at each and every bulletin board in the hallways and the classrooms, peered over a few small shoulders doing their work and took four pages of copious notes and shared every word of them with a forever-patient Urban Dad. 

And while I found it to be a lovely little school, my heart just wasn't into the idea. 

Another factor was my intimidation about teaching science and technology (future posts about this to come, i'm sure).  At AYGEFMLG? Elementary, the 5th and 6th graders were preparing to go to the U of I in Urbana-Champaign for a Science Fair.  They had built nifty contraptions that were shooting tennis balls down the hallway.  And I knew that they were over my head. 

And I wondered what was wrong with me that I still wasn't more excited about the idea of this school.

But God provides, right?  I recently met another Classical homeschool mom -- turns out that our daughters are in soccer together and became fast friends.  And I was so excited when this mom carefully asked me one day, "Ummm, is my daughter right? Do you homeschool? 'Cause we do, too...."  Anywhoooo, this lovely lady is all tapped into the underground of urban homeschoolers.  (And durned if private little me may need to start networking a bit as the Urban Kids get older.)  She was so wonderfully interested in our decision-making process and so fantastically reassuring of the array of resources out there, that there is no need to re-invent any wheels here.

I flipped carefully through the pages covering science of  The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.

Oh, and my attempts to subtly ask Urban Kid 1 what her thoughts were about school.... what have been her favorite and least favorite things this year... does she wonder about going to "real" school..... was met with her finally shouting, "MOM!  WHY do you keep asking me this? I do NOT want to go to school!"

Oh. Um. Ok.  Hey! Don't shout at your mother, young lady!

And then the kicker:

Urban Dad contacted the former principal of Great Big Urban High School (not the current one, who couldn't offer us much insight of any kind).  He gave us his impression of AYGEFMLG? Elementary -- that they're rather snooty, but it's earned, so whatever.  And he was enthusiastic about homeschooling.  In fact, about 15 years ago, there was a group of homeschooled 8th-graders applying for CPS's selective enrollment high schools.  Those In Charge were all britches-in-a-bunch because there were -- imagine this -- no test scores! They hadn't been tested! (imagine me pretending to wring hands here)  This former colleague of ours stood up and said, "I'll solve this problem. GBUHS will take them all."  And he did.  In addition, our former principal is now officially retired from CPS, but returns to various schools as a consultant for this-or-that.  After a long and successful career with CPS, including being principal of one of the largest high schools in America, his final thought on the whole topic?  "I don't know Urban Dad, what can I tell you?  The longer you can keep your kids out of the system, the better off they'll be."

It cemented in my head what I already knew in my heart.  I was done with the process, signed the rejection form and mailed it the next day.

Oh, and one more thing.  I downloaded all of that curriculum from AYGEFMLG? Elementary's website.  Thank you, AYGEFMLG? Elementary!

(LP, if you're reading, you know how i feel about the work that you, your husband and several others at GBUHS are doing!)