school choice

Tom and I find ourselves once again sitting on a school choice dilemma 2/3 of the way through our summer.  Patrick attends our small parish school.  Each fall the first day of school brings fewer children than the previous year.  Each year it seems that more cuts are made to the academic offerings.  Spanish is gone. Gym class is decreased to 2x per week.  Music is now at risk due to the departure of a beloved teacher who went the xtra mile with the kids despite a minimal budget, and pittance of a salary.  The science teacher is touring Europe with his new band and his return to the classroom is questionable.

Given all of these circumstances converging along with an announcement from our local archdiocese looming which may include school closings Tom and I are again considering other options for Patrick.  He has a spot at Ramsey Junior High school which is close to our house and offers the International Baccalaureate  program.  The curriculum will help to prepare him for the challenges of the IB program at the Sr. High level.  Test scores for the school overall are poor, however, among the Caucasian students scores are in the 80th percentile.  The size of the school is close to 700 students.

Challenges that Patrick encountered last year include relentless teasing by a small group of girls in his combined classroom (5th & 6th) and fewer peers for him to socialize with during and outside of school.  Patrick was resistant to the accelerated math program that we enrolled him in because it was primarily self-directed and he saw it as too much work compared to his peers.  My hope with the IB curriculum is that the challenge will be viewed by him as a given and he won’t feel as though there is an option to perform at a lower level.  The size of the school, though  likely to be overwhelming initially, would prepare him for the larger high school setting.

The principal at Patrick’s school received a fax from the St. Paul Public schools requesting Patrick’s transcripts.  Needless to say she was not happy. I heard this second hand from one of the teachers. Patrick would like to finish his elementary years at his current school.  In the event that the archdiocese merged our school with another or closed it all together, Patrick would not be finishing there anyway.

Tom and I are feeling the gravity of the decision to be made.  We plan sit down with Patrick this weekend to discuss the pros/cons of the choices.  We are praying for strength and guidance as we make this difficult decision.

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