School Without a Prayer

I have four children who attend public schools,

I have four children who attend public schools, two in junior high and two in grammar school. My wife (especially) and I also volunteer quite a bit of time to the classroom. But as our oldest child heads toward high school next year, we are leaning toward a Jesuit school.

I fear making a series of sweeping pronouncements about public education, for I deeply respect many dedicated and innovative public school teachers. The struggle to make the right choice for my kids is more personal, though I must admit that as I share my stories with other parents, I find patterns emerging.

Everything I needed to know about school I learned in my parent-teacher conferences.

"We are only six weeks into the school year, and already your son has aced the math proficiency exam for his grade level," a teacher for one of my grammar-school sons told me in our session this fall. I was pleased, of course, but the report also gave me some reason for concern. How will my son now advance his math skills and not be bored silly for the next eight months by reviewing material he obviously knows well? The teacher admitted that she did not want any of her students "working ahead" of the rest of the class. Surely, she advised, there’s no harm in your son "drilling down on the fundamentals."

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Sojourners Magazine January 2005
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