Meet the bloggers
Learn how to choose the right preschool for your child, the ABCs of IEPs and more in our Education section.
My three-year-old doesn't apply for CPS schools for another year and a half. And I'm already dreading it.
The process itself is grueling enough. We went through it last year with our firstborn, sending applications to over ten schools (a combination of test-based gifted/classical schools and lottery-based magnets), getting tested (sounds like some awful airborne disease, doesn't it?), and waiting anxiously for The Letter. Fortunately, he was accepted into a kindergarten program at a school we thought would be a good fit for him, and he loves everything about it.
Not everyone can say that, though. We're not in the clear, either; what if we're not so lucky the second time around? So much of it is just that, too: luck. If our little guy doesn't get enough sleep the night before the test, or eats something funny, or is just plain "off", that can affect his performance. And tenths of a percent do matter when schools determine who's in and who's out.
If I sound a little jaded, I am. Don't get me wrong: CPS has its many redeeming qualities. My five-year-old is thriving, and the quality of his education is more than I could have hoped for. I myself grew up attending CPS schools that shaped who I am, how I think, and what I value. My positive experiences are a big reason why we're willing to jump through these hoops and not flee to the 'burbs.
But the growing achievement gap-and the fact that well-intentioned parents contribute to it, myself included-concern me. And being reminded of my hand in it is what I dread. In a culture where we wait in line at 3am on registration day to nab a spot at a coveted preschool, enroll our tots in tutoring classes, and fudge about our residence to fall within a certain attendance boundary, are we teaching our kids to run this rat race before they can even walk? Are we inadvertently harming the next generation in our attempt to do what's best for our kids? Are we missing out on an opportunity to fix a broken system because we assume it's beyond repair?
These are just honest questions I've been asking myself lately, not the platform for a soapbox. And when I pick up my kindergartner's report card today, I'll have more to think about than just his grades.