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    Posted November 8, 2010 by
    Beverly, Massachusetts
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The search for good schools

    Seriously, this much agony for kindergarten?


    We live in Massachusetts, the leader in educational standards in the nation.  But when recent reports have been highlighting the United States' declining performance in educational standards at the international level, am I supposed to take solace in the fact that I live in the "smartest" state in one of the increasingly less intelligent countries in the world?  Our daughter's future hangs on our ability to ensure that she learns the fundamentals of reading, writing, math, science, problem-solving and language skills. As her parents, we are responsible for giving her the opportunity to have the best education that we can find. Thankfully, we can at least check the box for giving her a loving, supportive and healthy environment at home. 


    The timing of the release of this academic testing data, combined with the film "Waiting for Superman" has been unsettling.  We didn't think that picking a kindergarten program for our daughter was this monumental.  We figured we had at least five years before any critical decision had to be made.  Most of the schools within a ten-mile radius are highly regarded, except for the elementary public school in our particular town.  The teacher to student ratio is high and we have friends who have not had positive experiences with their own children. So, we have been evaluating elementary schools in surrounding towns and they appear to be better. "Better" according to what standards in kindergarten, I can't say for certain but am I willing to take a chance?


    We attempted to get into the public elementary school in the town next to us but were told that the 'lottery' system no longer exists. In fact, last year they added another kindergarten class as a result of the growing school population. So we reluctantly put our house on the market in the hopes of moving into the town with the stronger elementary school.  This is a town which everyone is trying to buy a house in so the inventory is almost non-existent.  We love the town but we also love our house.  And we certainly cannot afford to buy a house until ours sells.  So our fingers are crossed as we put ourselves at the mercy of the buyer's market.  Does anyone think we're insane at this point?  I sure do.


    Since we cannot rely on the housing market, we decided we needed a back-up plan. We recently visited three private schools in our area. Two of these schools are within a mile of our house in either direction and the third only five miles away.  All three offer strong academic curricula, each with different teaching styles and environments.  They all have lower teacher to student ratios and offer more extracurricular activities than the public schools. However, all of these positives come with a high price tag.  A price tag that we could afford if stretched but having our main bread-winner as an entrepreneur in this unpredictable economy is not going to help us sleep at night.  I have been stressed, confused, disappointed, angered and mostly frustrated over the past number of months.  Why do parents have to go through this unfortunate process in America? 


    We will continue to wrestle with the decision as the house that we live in and love sits on the real estate market and the school that we can afford (read: free!) sits in the next town over.  We will do everything we can to provide our daughter with a bright future but it would be great if superman could save the day and make the road a little easier.  After all, we still have college to worry about.

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