School. It’s a challenge that my son and I are facing together.

For me, I am finishing my Master’s Degree. My classes are all done and have been for a little while. On Monday, I take my comprehensive exam. Its a day long writing exam which determines whether or not I get my degree. Yeah, no pressure. 5 days. Then it’s over.

For my son, school time is just beginning. He starts kindergarten this fall. My son has been pretty lucky, and didn’t start daycare until he was 6 months old and was home full time by the time he was 2. As such, he has been a little nervous about going to school all day. Since the subject first came up he has given me a firm “No way buckwheat!” about the whole school discussion. What’s a mom to do?

The most important question I faced, where to send him? There are a few options in my area. There is the neighborhood public school, other local public schools, private mostly religious schools, and a public charter school. So, for the last two years I have researched each of them heavily. As someone who doesn’t prescribe to any particular faith, I am leery about sending a chid so young to any institution that will teach my child that there is only one right way. Especially with everything going on in the world, there is no telling what kind of nut job could be standing in front of the classroom spouting intolerance to a room full of vulnerable 5 year olds. That is of course, not at all to suggest that religious people are, by default, intolerant. I don’t even think most of them are, but it really only takes one. I want my child to have all the information and be able to make the decision that makes the most sense to him. And I wouldn’t mind a religious high school, when my son will be old enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

So, religious school out and no non-religious elementary private schools in the area means either home school or public school. So, on to the public schools. Going to a public school other than the local one you are districted for is not an easy thing to achieve. So I looked into our local school. Low test scores (well below the state and county average) and extremely high rates of poverty (over 80% eligible for free and reduced lunch). Yikes! This is my baby boy, my only child. As such, I want him to have every advantage that is available to him. It is well documented that children from low income families have more behavior and learning problems. This has something to do with younger, more stressed parents who usually work long hours and have little time to devote to the children. More of these children tend to be looked after by strangers and have less one on one time with their parents. Of course, this is all just “per the studies” and averages so it isn’t true of every child.

Either way, not what I’d hoped for for my baby boy. So? The public charter school. We went to an open house last night. The kindergartners do science experiments and write out hypotheses about their experiments and are expected to write and illustrate sentences. The second graders separate out recyclables, slop, other organics, and trash from lunch hour. They feed the slop to the chickens and pigs they have onsite and give the other organics to the worm farm they have in their science classes which create the soil that they take out to their garden and greenhouse to grow the veggies that then get used in the cafeteria. Talk about learning about plant and animal biology!! The seventh graders spend a week in Italy. And most importantly, after the open house, my son changed from “No way” to “can I go today?”

Now let’s just hope that out of the 70+ applications, my son’s name gets picked out of the hat (it’s a no kidding lottery) for the 20 spots available.