On A Clear Day You Can See The Barn*

*This was the title of a regular column in my high school’s newspaper.  To this day, I have no idea what it meant, not having been on the newspaper staff.  There was a barn (useful as a storage space for athletic equipment, and as a convenient canvass for grafitti from rival schools) on the school grounds, but you could pretty much see it on any kind of day.  I am sure there was some quasi-intellectual meaning that I am missing.

That is a really weird and long-winded way to say that I have been thinking about high school lately.  I liked high school.  I went to a big school (there were about 550 in my graduating class), but I had a niche of friends, neither popular nor unpopular, and I had fun.  The benefit of a big school is that there are lots of activities, events, and classes to try, and I loved that.

The Jellyman did not enjoy high school.  His family moved to Minnesota right before he started 9th grade.  His high school was small and clique-y, and the clique was for people who grew up in that town.  The Jellyman was out before he had a chance, and his friends were mostly from other schools.  (He was a swimmer, and since the school was too small for its own team, he was able to meet people that way.)

As Raisin nears her 4th birthday, she’s due for a pre-kindergarten screening.  Her slightly-freaked-out parents (she’s almost 4!?  What happened?) are due for some decision making.  Our house is located right on the border between two school districts, besides which Minnesota allows open enrollment**, in which parents can, with some restrictions, choose any public school for their kids.  Of course, there are private schools, too, but our money tree isn’t quite mature enough yet for that to be an option.

Her kindergarten experience will not necessarily dictate her entire educational future, and even if it did there are so many factors outside our choice that in a sense we are rolling the dice.  Still, as far as it is in our power, we want all of our kids to remember school the way I do, rather than the way the Jellyman does.

Did you like school?  If your parents could have made a different choice for you, what do you wish they had done differently?  What factors will you consider when making decisions about your kids’ education?

**Do all states have that?


About Grape

I've got the world's best kids and husband. Great house, steady job. I'm living the American dream. The trick is to appreciate it. I'm working on that part.
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3 Responses to On A Clear Day You Can See The Barn*

  1. Kim says:

    I grew up mostly in NH, and they don’t have the open enrollment option. They also don’t have public kindergarten in all school districts. I did not enjoy high school, but I was very fortunate to get an excellent education and once I got to college and found other nerds like me, I really liked college, so I don’t think I would change anything. Now that we live in MN and are expecting a child, my husband and I have been talking a lot about schools. We tend to think that no matter which school in our district we choose, what will really matter is our involvement, because schools around here are generally pretty good. I know we hear dire warnings about the state of education in this country, but I think it has more to do with parents checking out than with bad teachers or bad schools (in general. I KNOW there are exceptions. I’m optimistic, not crazy!). Anyway, I think I have blabbered on long enough. I would love to hear more about what (and how) you decide for your kids; especially since I have some friends that teach in MN.

  2. Becki says:

    Re: the title–I’m pretty sure that was a reference to an early seventies Streisand movie, “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” and that she sang the title song. Having never heard the song or seen the movie, I’m not sure what exactly the expression is supposed to mean. About your school newspaper, I would like to think that it’s a wry suggestion that “none of us are getting very far away from this place.”

    Re: kindergarten–track down as many parents of local first and second graders as you know and ask them what they thought of their kids’ kindergarten experience. It won’t be foolproof, but you’ll learn things from them you never would have learned from the school itself or a glossy brochure.

  3. k8 says:

    I went where I went, you know? We moved a lot due to my dad’s job and I was pretty awkward anyway, so I didn’t like school so much. I am JUST NOW, (I’m 35) getting back in touch with some of my girlfriends from that time. When I graduated, I just walked away (plus my mom and dad moved my freshman year in college, so I never went back “home”).

    I don’t have children, but I worked with kids for the last 10 years. It’s my opinion that kids need to be exposed to the most diversity possible these days. The kids that went to the primarily “rich kids” schools or the “inner city” schools were both at a disadvantage. I truly believe that “over priviledged” should be an at-risk category!

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