The New Jersey school calendar sucks. This week, the kids have half-days Monday through Wednesday, ostensibly for parent-teacher conferences, then have Thursday and Friday off, ostensibly so that teachers can attend the state education association conference. In reality, many families pack up and go to Florida -- so if you're in Disney World right now and bump into someone, chances are they're from NJ. As well, few teachers actually attend the state conference, so it ends up being a school vacation TWO WEEKS BEFORE THANKSGIVING.
I am one of these crazy parents that believes that my children should attend school on a regular basis. Having a school calendar that dates from the nineteenth century is ridiculous enough, though I do value my summers in Vermont. But is it too much to ask for our kids to attend school for more full, longer days per year? Some states, like New York, have suggested lengthening the school day in failing schools. Their definition of failing and mine differ vastly. China (and a handful of other pan-Asian nations) are producing more scientists and engineers than the U.S.A. I'm not worried about failing urban schools: I'm worried about the future of a nation that lags in scientific discovery.
This is a subject of much debate, but it's on my mind especially after getting great news at Petunia's parent-teacher conference today: she's excelling in everything. She's ahead of where she should be in every subject. We're doing everything right, and there is no weakness for us to prop up at home. Clearly this is great news, and I'm not trying to make something out of nothing. BUT... shouldn't she be challenged more? Shouldn't something be hard for her? Wouldn't we rather she reach than bend? Therein lies the dilemma of sending one's child to public school in America.
Seriously, though, we're pretty darned proud of her tonight (as every night). She's behaving, benevolent, brainy, and beautiful. With her as the future of our country, we have nothing to fear.