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April 09, 2008

Working for Great Public Schools

Aimee Whenever I talk to friends who have kids but aren't lucky enough to live in my wonderful town, they are always jealous. We have a wonderful, amazing and supportive parent's group. The listserv alone has helped me find a pediatrician, babysitters and great, local activities for kids and families. Not to mention a tree service and accountant. We have a very low-key and fun playgroup that meets three times a week. Our town has many parks (one of which is just five houses up from us!) lots of great old trees, quiet streets and a wonderful community spirit.

Sound like the best place in the world to raise kids? Well, yes and no.

The public schools, apparently, leave something to be desired.

Even as the amazing parents on the listserv offer up hearty on-line and in-person (complete with a welcome baskets and meals!) congratulations upon the birth of a new baby or welcomes when a new family moves to town, they also regularly offer up grave cautions about the local public school system. Whenever the topic of education comes up, the "word on the street" is simply—you can't send your kids to the public schools. Then the discussion promptly moves to the complicated and seemingly ever-changing rules and strategies for getting into the lottery for the magnet Montessori and French immersion schools and for applying to the local Catholic and private schools. And if, forbid, you end up at the public elementary school, there are tactics for getting your kid qualified for TAG – the talented and gifted program – which opens the door to another school.

When I was wholly consumed with a new baby, I didn't pay too much attention to these discussions. After all, I still had years to figure all that out, right? Now that Lucas is two, and with the entrance to the Montessori program starting at three or with Kindergarten soon to follow, the issue of our public schools is weighing on my mind.

While I still don't know what education option we'll choose for Lucas, I do know that I believe strongly in public education. I see no reason why our fabulous town shouldn't have fabulous public education opportunities.

Luckily there are many other parents in town who believe the same thing. So, a group of us with pre-school aged children, older children, grandchildren and no children at all, have come together. We've formed a group dedicated to getting involved with--and hopefully improving--our local public schools. Town officials are supportive of the idea. We don't have a plan yet per se, but we are committed. After all, as Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee also blogs about life with a toddler at Smiling Mama

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