Friday, February 26, 2010

School District Woes

I grew up in one of the top school districts in the country. I admit it, I'm a total snob about it. When my husband and I were househunting last summer, my one requirement was that we stay in the Shawnee Mission School District for when our babies are old enough to start kindergarten. I begrudgingly agreed to look at Blue Valley schools, but refused to go to Olathe. We found our dream home, and though it wasn't within what I consider to be the best high school lines (Go Raiders!), it is still within SMSD, so I was thrilled. Until I started to find out that the once top-notch program is in a downward spiral and in desperate need of saving. It began with seeing signs on the medians of the bigger streets that said "Save SMSD!". I checked out the website on the signs which led me to more sites with even worse statistics. One of them says:

" reporter writes in regard to a Newsweek Ranking of the Nation’s Top Public Schools: 'Some notable absences from the list… the five Shawnee Mission high schools, the former Rolls Royce of suburban Kansas schools.' "

Now I'm questioning my decision. My husband went to Catholic school and hated it (too much religion being forced on him). When we met he swore he would never subject his children to it. But now he's suggesting that as an option. It's tough because even though our school district isn't tops anymore, it's still excellent in comparison to the rest of the country. On one hand, I feel ridiculous even considering spending the money to send our kids to private school - religious or otherwise. But at the same time, to knowingly enroll them in school with the quality continuing to drop seems irresponsible. If it keeps heading in this direction, by the time they are in high school, it really will be one of the worst schools in the country.

But even the other districts that are outshining ours at the moment - Blue Valley and Olathe - are facing the same budget cuts that everyone is in this dire economy. The state has put off cutting school allocations for as long as possible, but now it sounds like one teacher in every grade will be let go in some places. That will be pushing our classes sizes to their limits.

I wanted to know if there was anything I could do to improve the situation, so I kept looking and found this link:

How You Can Help

I'm planning to participate in the ways listed there. If your school district is suffering, do what you can to help. We don't have to sit idly by. Especially if your kids are still too young. Hopefully by the time they are ready for school, with our help, our schools will really be ready for them.

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