Academic Panic Mode
It's a New Year, filled with bright promise but practically all my mommy friends are angst-ridden stress cases right now. We are all in a state of nervous anticipation. I am talking nail-biting, hair pulling, life-and lifestyle questioning time.
No, we aren't thinking about having to do our taxes or getting the kids back on schedule next week - it's because we live in a part of New Jersey where the schools are failing. So if you want to have your children flourish in a positive, progressive academic environment here you need to hustle, and maybe get a second mortgage. Or leave. You see, it's school application season here in Jersey City. And the stakes are high.
I was at a holiday party last night, and what were I and the hostess talking about over the bean dip? The fact that yet another application was due - TOMORROW. Some of the schools we are applying to are private, so there is the worry about being able to afford the institution. It's fine to have discussions about the issue of putting small children in private schools and the merits and concerns over it (we all want to support public education, and we all care about our kids growing up in a community that is diverse). But there is hardly any time or room to debate these lofty issues when you are in Panic Mode.
Some of us know the schools aren't doing a good enough job because of what we've read in the papers. Some of us know because we have our children in the public school system now. Some of us even know because we went through that very same system years ago. (That would be me, the kid who survived more than one mentally unstable teacher; one grade my math homework wasn't checked for the entire school year.)
What we do know is that as the demographics of Northern New Jersey change, more and more parents are getting involved, so some things are slowly changing. A few schools are even doing some cool things, like running bilingual classrooms (they lost my application for that one, so I can't report, in Spanish or English, on how that program is working out.)Continued on the next page