01 March 2009

On Being Judged *

*I went on a bit of a rant in the comments section, if I were you I'd already be there... Well, you do need to read the post first, but after that... I'D GO THERE.

We arrived a whole 20 minutes early for The Judging, too bad they won't take off a percentage of the $10,000 per year for every minute early... 

Overall, it wasn't too bad. As a matter of fact, I kinda enjoyed myself. 

There's just something about school that makes me all sparkles and rainbows and glitter on the inside. The lockers - you remember how OVER THE MOON you were about lockers? The science lab - how frickin awesome was it to reproduce fake rain clouds or watch a penny get eaten by stomach acid? LUNCH - I know this sounds crazy, but my high school had THE BEST FOOD. The stromboli, the cinnamon toast, the FRIES with GOOEY CHEESE... just the sheer selection of it all, man I wish I could have that many options everyday for lunch now, but alas, we are broke.

At this school, the lunches are catered by a company called Sage, which looks way too yummy.

Well, let's not make this post about food.

The very first thing the admittance counselor spoke of was the curriculum, which is a good place to start, right? And... she started with Bible. Don't get me wrong, I do like the fact that because it's a private Christian school, Bible will be a part of the curriculum and prayer and worship is not only encouraged, but group led with weekly Chapel. However, she was on a 10 minute rant about how Bible was part of the daily lesson structure throughout the 12 years, and that they wouldn't test till after 3rd grade, and once they started testing it would initially only be on the Books of the Bible, the Kings of the OT, the major stories, etc... and then they would move on to memorization of Psalms and key scripture and versus ... and then finally Michael spoke up....

"We fully support Conner's education being in a Christian environment, and we agree that teaching the Word of God is very important, but the bottom line is this: knowing scripture instead of how to write an essay isn't going to get you into a good college..."


I mean, I'm not shelling out The Big Monies for my child[ren] to learn about God and Jesus and Noah but be unable to write an advanced, well-researched and well-constructed essay or not know how to solve a logarithmic differentiation. (totally remembered hating on logarithms but did google the correct term...)

She seemed unfazed and almost relieved that Michael wanted to know about the core curriculum required for college admissions.... almost like it was a test...

So we spoke of class size (small.... check), curriculum for each year, academic standards, athletic opportunities (3A... boooo...), foreign language class requirements (must have 3 years in high school of the same language, yay! They also begin Spanish in 1st grade.), and various other aspects of the school's identity.

We toured the "campus", asked a few more questions and overall, were very pleased with the facility, it's staff and the curriculum opportunities. In case I haven't mentioned it already (please don't roll your eyes), Michael and I both determined that this is, unfortunately, still nothing more than everything the boys would have access to in Birmingham without the price tag (Jefferson/Shelby County school systems, Hoover, Mountain Brook, Trussville, etc).  The only thing we've found different is that lunch is included in the price. How nice of them...

Our biggest areas of concern:
  1. It's located directly across the street from an apartment complex. Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with an apartment complex or it's occupants, but they do typically attract single men, young crazy college kids and others. This is me trying to be sensitive to those who currently live in an apartment... is it working?
  2. For a price tag of aforementioned CRAZY MONIES, one would assume that this facility would be sparkly and flashy, right? Eh. No. On the outside, it appears that it was built circa 1960 and never updated. The kindergarten uses a 4 teacher and 1 floating teacher set-up (which I love because the students become accustomed to the "sub" and ergo don't have a "day off" because the "cat's away"), but they are housed in TRAILERS! When I was in 5th grade (circa 1995), Jefferson County school systems ABOLISHED trailers (ok, so they ended having to bring back a few, but that's not the point - THAT was "free"). I can't believe they are even allowed these days and I find it completely unacceptable for a school shoveling in 10 grand per year per child to be unable to nix portable trailers!!
  3. On the note of totally unacceptable for an institution that will be raping my bank account: there are only 2-3 computers per classroom. Does this bother anyone else? My son can work Mickeymouse.com better than I can, and then there's that commercial where the 7-year-old girl takes pictures, uploads and emails them - yet this school is unable to allow access to a personal computer for my child for some sort of allotment each day? WHAT?!

On the note of the totally adorable: 3rd graders and under are allowed the option of no shoes while indoors. Isn't that adorable? It apparently makes them more comfortable (which I can totally see). I was also thinking this - wouldn't that cut down on tracked-in germs?
For sho'.

And now, this post is foreva' long, so there shall be a Part Deux.


  1. I'll be blunt.

    My parents shelled out 15,000 a year to send me to private school from k-8... then high school came, and I decided to go to public.

    Private school ahs it's good and bad. Overall, I can honestly say that morals and examples of faith my parents taught me outweighed anything FCS (my school) did. Private school if anything made me a very sheltered and naive kid. Had I not gone to public school, I would be a on a short road to being the cat lady right now.

    Anyhoo, no offense intended. I wish you guys luck for an easy decision!!

    Oh, and I live in an apt.. and there is a creepo upstairs. You're right.

  2. I don't think I've made the situation here in Montgomery clear enough for my non-Montgomery natives.

    In this city (the capital of Alabama), it is a "big" small town. That is, several things are located here simply because it is the capital of the state.

    It's very segmented by neighborhoods, and some of those larger neighborhoods have their own public Elementary schools (Halcyon for example). And those schools are great and obviously state funded.

    However, when it comes to anything past 5th grade, public schools (Montgomery city schools) are NOT an option. Sadly, the residents themselves screwed it up.

    You see, people in Montgomery formed a few small private schools several generations back. I don't know how it happened EXACTLY, but basically it became the "norm" back then to send the children to a private Christian school (I believe in order to maintain a "small town" [read: overprotected, but there can be something said fo r overprotected rather than under...] environment for the children). There's also another reason that my neighbor mentioned, but I don't know the specifics so I won't go into that. But, the above should be taken as a partial "opinion" because it's only from my observation and understanding of what happened 70+ years ago.

    Anyways, since then, sending your child[ren] to a private school has only increased in popularity. Which is fine, except that is began to segment the city in unbelievable ways.

    Now, since the public school system has very, very few children and most, if not all, are from low income families who can't afford private tuition (although WE can't afford this either), they have become run-down, underfunded and understaffed (I mean, if you are a teacher, do you want the private school salary or the public school's loose change?). In short (long really), Montgomery did this to itself.

    The public schools receive very little state funding because there aren't enough students.

    If a large group of parents could get together and collectively decide "Hey, this year, let's send ALL of our children to the public school system" - two things would happen: 1)The schools would eventually be budgeted more money because of the increase in enrollment and 2) EVENTUALLY, the areas of East Montgomery (where almost ALL of these private schools are located and so are we) would receive its own Middle/High School due to overcrowding in the existing schools.

    Problem: No one would want to "sacrifice" their child[ren] as the "guinea pigs" for the few YEARS it would take for all of the above to happen.

    So, in longER, they've done this to themselves and it will stay like this because the only way to fix it would be to completely out the private school system. Which, by the way, is a total SHAM because they make it APPEAR that they are difficult to get in to, but when it comes down to it - you can either pay for it and your child is in or you can't and "you should maybe look at one of the cheaper private teaching establishments".

    Wow. That was long.

    I DON'T WANT TO SEND MY CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOL TO PRODUCE STUCK-UP, SHELTERED CAT-MEN (giggle), but I'm not saying that ALL children end up that way.

    With hope, we will move back to Birmingham or elsewhere, because when it comes down to it, no matter your take on the Montgomery school situation, I don't approve of my limited options and disagree with the "Go Private, Or Go Home" mentality.

    I'd rather "go home"...

  3. I would have to agree with previous poster about the "being sheltered" part...But Flip-flopped...I went to public school from K-9th grade..and LOVED it...then, when high school came I started going to private...and I was amazed at how sheltered the kids were because they had gone there since pre-school.

    BUT...I will more than likely be putting Reagan in a private school...HAHA SO sheltered or not..I just want her to have a good education!

  4. In that case, go for the private!

    Wow, this might sound really stupid, but I would have never thought the situtation was like that. That's nuts! I'm in Carroll County, MD... our private schools are scary and public are okish... sounds like you have the flipped situation!

  5. What a hard decision to make as a parent! I'm glad our public schools are good here where we live.

  6. I wish it was a decision I didn't have to even think about! Had Michael and I of known the school situation was this bad, we would have NEVER moved here!

    In the defense of the city of Montgomery, the winters are milder and the traffic is practically non-existent! In Birmingham, it took Mike 45 minutes to an hour to drive the 15 mile stretch of 280 to get home. Now, he gets off at 4 (because it's his office) and is home by 4:15 at the latest!

  7. I've heard some horror stories about Montgomery schools and I can't say that I blame you for not wanting to send the boys there - I wouldn't send my kids there! Good luck with your decision. I have to say I agree with your view - if your choices are go private or go home, i'd be going home too!

  8. We moved to Prattville to avoid Montgomery public schools, and now Prattville's schools are slowly headed that way. Fortunately, Baron now works for a private school in P'ville so we should get a discount on tuition. :-)

    Montgomery schools are ok up to 6th grade. Then you get into junior high & it goes downhill. The magnet schools are still great, but forget about the general public schools. When I was in junior high is when the junior highs started going kapoot, and the high schools followed shortly after I graduated. I wouldn't have a problem sending my kid to an elementary public school in Montgomery but forget about 7th - 12th grade.

    I didn't comment earlier because I basically reiterated what you've already said. :-)

  9. Laura - Unfortunately, the elementary school we are zoned for is, um, not ok...

    I didn't know that about Prattville, but I've very, very (VERY) out of the loop on all things Montgomery/Prattville/Wetumpka.

    It's great that you'll get a discount though! The price tag on this is absurd!

    I've also heard of the Magnet schools, but honestly, they don't look that great... the magnet school in Birmingham was actually ranked #1 Best Public School in the nation by Newsweek magazine for 2 years... so, maybe I'm just comparing it to that (which is tough criteria to match up to!)

    This all has my head spinning!

    (Hope the pregnancy is going well!)


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