The Private School Snob Celebrates Public Education
I am a card-carrying private-school snob. Those "cards" include two framed degrees from Ivy League schools and a "fact card" for my independent high-school alma mater for which until recently I was on the Board of Trustees. I appreciate the flexibility and forward-thinking that independent schools can provide, particularly as released from the standardized testing and expectation that all students must learn in the same way. In the current public school system, the aim is to address weaknesses rather than to celebrate strengths.
One mission of my high school alma mater is to be a private school "with a public purpose." The outcome of this goal has been reflected in founding the Bay Area Teachers Center in partnership with San Francisco State University, and fostering the development of Aim High Academy, a public SF school which grew out of Aim High's summer program. Our goal hasn't been to be elitist, although I understand how independent schools can become such. I recall one interesting evening when I sat with friends from Book Club who questioned the need to go to college, much less to obtain an Ivy League degree. It certainly made me think.
But considering private school for college is a much different question than considering it for high school or elementary school, and yet, it is the early years that are the most critical. With this in mind, I was particularly concerned about getting it "right" for my son.
My son went to two different preschools. He was asked to leave the first. As I was employed by that preschool, I lost my job at the same time, by default.
Although the second preschool was excellent for the first year, his second year was rather dramatic. It was before his final year of preschool that we finally got the official pdd-nos diagnosis both from our HMO and our local regional center. As I witnessed the increasing chasm between my son's social skills and those of his neurotypical peers, I worried about his transition into kindergarten. After all, that was "the big one" that had been looming for awhile. I imagined he'd "catch up." After all, he was academically gifted, so I figured he would learn how to behave socially, even if done from a more analytical standpoint than an innate one.
But I worried.
Meanwhile, a friend I met at a local moms' club told me about the private school her daughter attends. Her daughter is very similar to my son in behavior, so I took notice when my friend gushed about the school. Indeed, the school showed very well. It has an organic garden with an emphasis on healthy eating. The headmasters even know about Feingold Diet and recommend it to kids with sensory-integration issues. During my tour of the school, one of the headmasters noted that they had served kids on the autistic spectrum and that their school used to be one of the "options" kids in the public school system could select if a public education wasn't appropriate for them.Continued on the next page