The list of places the Army could send us next has been narrowed down to 5-6 possibilities. We should know (tentatively) our next location after the holidays. This will be the first move in which we need to take schools into account when finding a place to live. Since we’re not guaranteed on-post housing (is anyone ever?), I’ve been casually looking online at our options for the list of possibilities. Because why not?
Moving around a lot is a reality in the military. Homesteading (military term for staying in one place for a significant amount of time) is not an option in Clay’s career field, which we’re totally okay with – I’ve discussed quite a bit my appreciation for moving to new places. But like most parents, we’re not trying to actively screw up our children so we want to make sure that we put at least some thought into where they’re going to spend 6+ hours of their weekdays. So now sticking my toe into the water when researching possible new locations involves looking at GreatSchools scores and using Google to make sure that the administration aren’t devil-worshipers or Justin Bieber fans. Because they’re the worst.
So I guess the cat’s out of the bag that we’re not planning to homeschool. And while we’re not anti-private school, we will enroll Weston in a public school kindergarten and go from there (because we obviously don’t care about his future). I am in the process of educating myself about the current state of public schools – after all, a lot has changed in the 12+ years since I graduated high school, like the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Common Core seems to be one of those divisive terms like Global Warming, the Keystone Pipeline, and Taylor Swift, so it can be difficult to find non-biased information about the impact of such standards. For the record, I am somewhat of a Taylor Swift fan.
I realize that the scores produced by GreatSchools are fairly subjective and that test scores themselves aren’t always good indicators of teaching ability, school function, or true understanding of the material. I stumbled across this 2011 PBS report on the determination of ‘good’ schools ‘bad’ schools based on test scores. And the piece did give me pause to the amount of weight I was putting into such scores during my brief ventures into researching potential new places to live.
Apparently I also need to brush up on my fundamental skills. The other day, my neighbor brought out her son’s long-division homework and inquired about my math abilities. She had a couple of questions about how he arrived at his answers and asked for my assistance. I’m fairly confident with numbers and thoroughly enjoyed my college-level statistics and calculus courses so I took a stab at the problem. I solved problem using the long-division methods I learned during my elementary years, even making sure to show my work as thoroughly as possible. I knew the answer was correct (thank you phone calculator) but when I showed the solved problem to my neighbor’s son, he looked at it as if I wrote the Russian alphabet. Apparently I am not versed (at all) in Everyday Mathematics and my (previously stellar) math skills need work if I want to check my children’s homework in the future.
When thinking about my children’s academic career, my hope is for them to have their love for learning continuously nurtured. Unfortunately, there isn’t a test score to indicate a school’s ability to do so. Having them graduate the top of their class isn’t a high priority for us – we’ve been out in the ‘real world’ long enough to know the ability to work hard and to maintain a lifelong thirst for learning are invaluable tools and carry more weight than a perfect GPA ever can. Part of the reason why we’re choosing for Clay to make the Army a career is because we believe that exposing our children to various regions and cultures will provide an education that regular school simply cannot. Our ultimate goal is to release two functional adults into society – two adults who are capable, inquisitive, thirsty, and compassionate.
I realize that I am perhaps encroaching on paralysis by analysis, I mean, we don’t even know where we are going next. Researching school scores for hypothetical locations seems a bit silly now that I put it in words. But since we’re subjecting our children to multiple schools throughout their children, I want to at least make sure that we’re making an informed choice. And I suppose at the end of the day, that’s what we as parents do – hope that we’re doing an okay job while on this crazy but exhilarating ride.