I usually try to have helpful advice or insights in the articles I write. I wish I could do that for you here, but I can’t because I am just starting the kindergarten admissions process, and I am overwhelmed. If you’re in the same boat as me, let’s hold hands and go through it together. If you’ve been through it before, talk me off the ledge, will you?
Public, private or parochial? And which ones? How do I find out what all my options are?
How much will the schools cost, if not in tuition, then in expectations for fundraising through the PTA?
How many schools should I tour, and how many hours will I spend lining up those tour dates?
How big will my tracking spreadsheet be to remind myself of everything I’ve researched?
How much money will I spend on babysitters and how much time will my husband have to take off, so that we can visit these schools at the personally inconvenient times they’re offering their tours?
What is the chance we’ll actually get assigned to one of our top public school choices? And what happens if we don’t?
Some of these concerns are minor and some are big. All are running through my head as I try to educate myself on the education options in the city. And as the questions swirl in my head, I think about whether I can just keep my daughter in preschool for another year to delay this process. She’ll be young for her grade, so there could be some justification for it, but I can’t do it. Red shirting her would do her a disservice. We’ll bite the bullet and wade into this messy and frustrating process right here, right now.
I’m trying to set my own expectations as we begin. There’s a good chance we won’t get into the public schools that we want or that her school assignment will be up in the air right until the start of the next school year. Or, there’s a chance I may go against my own philosophy of supporting the public school system by putting her in a private one, if we really get screwed in the public school lottery.
My friends who’ve already moved to the suburbs use the San Francisco school conundrum as extra leverage to entice me to move to their towns. They love to remind me that I wouldn’t have to do all this if I lived somewhere else, but the fact is, we don’t want to live anywhere else. The only reason we would consider it is because of the schools, but I’ll be damned if I let this one (albeit, important) reason overshadow all the wonderful things about raising a family here, and I’m optimistic that we can make this work.
So, I’ll attend the public school enrollment fair. I’ll go to a Parents for Public Schools workshop. I’ll ask every parent of older children I encounter how they navigated the process, and I’ll be thankful for the seminar my children’s preschool puts on to make sense of all of this. We’ll all figure it out one way or another, knowing, for better or worse, we’ll be on the other side by this time next year.