does idealism die when it’s your kids?

Two years ago:

Me:  Hey, the neighbors say they’re going to send Max to the school for which we’re zoned.
Pretty Bride:  They won’t do it.
Me:  I think they will.  They’re vegan and drive hybrids and stuff.  They’re involved in the local school already, trying to make it better so that by the time their progeny is old enough to start kindergarten, conceivably, the school will be better than it is now.  They already go to PTA meetings and everything!
PB:  No they won’t.  People only hold onto their ideals until it actually involves THEIR CHILD.  Then, they abandon them.
Me:  Again, I think they’re willing to be the trailblazers.  To let their boy be the neighborhood lab rat.  You’ll see.

Incidentally, the school we’re talking about is the one I visited on Career Day, as outlined in one of my very first blog posts.  You know, where the 2nd graders asked me about prison rape.

Last weekend at said neighbors’ child’s 5th birthday party:

Me:  So, y’all still planning to send Max to our zoned elementary school?
Neighbor:  No.  We’re looking at options for administrative transfer.  What are you guys doing?
Me:  Assuming we can’t sell our house, private.  Did I ever tell you what they asked me on Career Day?

So, I was wrong.  But is my bride right?

I normally think closing a blog post with a question is just fishing for comments, but I’m really curious if others’ experiences are similar here.  Hell, our President certainly didn’t send his kids to the locally zoned school.  So…

Do people only hold onto their ideals until the sacrifice required actually involves them (or their kids)?

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  1. Pretty much, yes.

    (I’d love to send my kid to the public school, but she doesn’t need to be scared every day and witness half the shit that goes on there, so HELL NO.)

  2. One of the reasons we picked our house is for the school. Then, we almost got rezoned elsewhere and we were all pissed. Then they didn’t rezone and we were irritated. And now I’m thinking it doesn’t matter one way or another, I’d prefer to send them to private school. Next plan, win the lottery.

    • @KC, That’s us, too (assuming we’ll ever move). Rezoning sucks! They did that in Oak Grove recently, where we want to live…guess it’s better that it happened before we moved there, though.
      If we had 1-2 instead of 4, I’d say they’ll just do private. But I’m not sure $80k-$100k per year can be spent on tuition for 4 kids!

      • well, they’re may be an alternative of sorts. i have lots of friends who sent their kids to catholic school. even if they are not catholic. it’s small, they make the kids work hard. and it being religion based, have all sorts of ways to ease the $$ burden (i.e. scholarships, etc)

        • @Mrs Hall, We did that when I got deployed to Washington DC in 2006. It was actually affordable, and seemed like a much much better option than the ghetto school for which we’d have been zoned while living on Andrews AFB.
          We’ll have to look into that for Atlanta! What I know of the private schools here is that they are $20k-$25k per year per child.

        • yeah. much better option then having them learn ebonics as a first language. 🙂

  3. Pretty Bride

    I’m usually not this pessimistic. All those years in public education have made me see idealism through a different lens: it’s great in theory (we ALL want world peace, after all), but it’s a whole ‘nother matter when it’s your kid on the bus with the child of a convicted felon–especially when that bus is being driven by a convicted felon. Whole ‘nother matter.

  4. When my children were of school age I did NOT have a choice about where I could live. I HAD to live in the city (the same one where the president lived). The city’s schools, for the most part, pretty much suck. There are exceptions. We sent our kids to private school. That meant a lot of money out of our pockets. I happen to think it was well worth it. How nice it was that the kids didn’t have to live in fear every day. Neither did we, their parents.

    So to answer your question, yes.

    • @SM, I have a friend in New Orleans who said the same…that there are just some cities in the US where parents who give a shit do NOT send their kids to public schools. I think DC might be another of those places.
      In Atlanta, we have some decent ones in the northern part of the city, but most people flee to the suburbs when they have kids.

  5. Your wife isn’t pessimistic, she’s realistic.

    Had they succeeded in turning things around at the local school by the time their son was of age to attend (as unlikely as that may be), they probably would have sent him there. They wouldn’t let him be the neighbourhood lab rat, but they would have let him be the trail blazer, if that makes any sense.

    • @SciFi Dad, It does. I was sort of hoping they’d do it, but for educational value, which, I suppose, makes me a dick. He would have stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb–both physically (his race) and mentally.

      • Hippy Neighbor

        Yes, your admission of being a dick is duly noted. Thanks — it makes me feel a little less bad about scaring away your potential buyers with our screaming children and cruddy landscaping abilities.

        FWIW, we’re not vegans and we weren’t ever naive idealists.

        • @Hip Neighbor, Sorry if that sounded harsh, but I wouldn’t believe anything you read on the internet. It’s pretty much all fabricated or exaggerated anyway.

        • Hippy Neighbor

          And, so as to clear up any such fabrications or exaggerations, we are either sending our child to the *other* public school a mile and a half away from our house with similar demographics to our zoned school where the principal has welcomed us or to a public charter school where he will also racially stick out like a sore thumb. Good and smart children at all the schools, good adults in shorter supply.

  6. the kids’ needs trump ideals. because taking care of your children is an ideal that trumps pretty much everything.


  7. I have noticed that with most people. Some years ago there was a guy making the news because he admitted on his blog that he was attracted to 11yo girls, but the courts couldn’t do anything because he didn’t act on those feelings. Most of the mommy bloggysphere was up in arms saying he should be locked up. “What if he lived near my children?” was what I saw posted most. However, my best friend (who actually acts on the things she says) agreed that while it was disturbing and she wouldn’t invite the guy over to her daughter’s birthday party, she didn’t believe he should be jailed just for admitting he had that inclination.

  8. Just to be the echo, yeah, I think it gets abandoned. I know in my case, that’s what happens. We all want to be the change we want to see, but when it comes to putting it into practice, we’d rather let others take the knocks. I don’t think it’s so much that we’re lily-livered little chickenshits at heart, we’d just rather self-centered and will do whatever we think is in our own personal best interest, ideals be damned. My ideal is whatever I think is best for me.

  9. This is why I’m very careful about committing to my ideals publicly. Or even privately. Hypocrisy generally only seeps into our daily life when we refuse to consider all aspects of a situation before becoming adamantly invested in what we think is “right.”

    Wait, you did ask what the fortune cookie in last night’s take out said, right?

  10. When I have kids, I’ll never beat them and put them in a burlap sack and throw them in a river.

    I think I can stick to that one.

  11. My wifey and I waited 7 years to start overpopulating the planet. In that time, I think we gathered some useful ideas and I THINK we’re able to hold onto the ideals we formed over that time. Our 5 year old starts kindergarten soon, but have many family experiences that have made us think hard about a charter type school.
    There’s no easy answer. That’s what I don’t like. I need the magic 8 ball please!

    • @jason, We have a charter, but its wait list is quite long, so I don’t want to put all our eggs in that basket. Also: 7 years waited? Ours came 9 months after the wedding!

  12. I have no kids, but I see what my sister has to choose because in Wilmington, DE, they have forced bussing after 6th grade. So her son will go to a nice public elementary school 2 miles from her house until then, and after that, its Catholic school or downtown Wilmington. My brother in law once told me he’d work four jobs if he had to, to make sure his kids didn’t have to go to Wilmington city schools. High fences, metal detectors, morning searches, and armed guards are not his idea of a good educational experience.
    Now, as an idealist and sometime activist, would I work to make that wilmington school better for the kids that do go there? You betcha. Would I send MY kids there? If I’m completely honest, no way.

    • @shieldmaiden1196, Sounds familiar. But in Wilmington, have a bunch of the teachers been busted for altering the results on standardized tests? ‘Cause that how they roll in Atlanta Public Schools.

  13. Our ideals involve getting our kids into the best schools we can that everyone else has the same opportunity to attend. So, magnet schools, basically. And if that doesn’t work, Catholic school. Or moving to the ‘burbs.

  14. I can’t afford to hold onto my ideals. So, after three years of private Montessori school, it was off to public school for my two girls.

  15. Nope..keep your ideal and look for schools to fit them! You can’t change any public school to your ideal school. I have the best of both worlds: charter school. My kids go to school 4x week Tues – Fri, with home studies on Mon. We still have music, art, and are going on our 4th field trip this year. We also have way more parental involvement and is still considered public = no tuition!
    Yes, there is a long waiting list now that people are discovering this alternative!

  16. If by “benefit of living in Marietta” you mean paying $1000.00 a month in tuituion, then yes. I misled you by my comment…sorry. I bet you were jumping to move up here, huh? It just so happened that we could afford that outrageous tuition for both of our girls when they were both in the pre-school to kindergarten age. We shipped them off to Mexican school for first grade.

  17. And dang! By the “Marietta” comment, you must have seen that I was “stalking” you by my comment on your “Where You Stay At” post from forever ago. Kuddos to you!
    It’s great to get to know a fellow blogger that stays in Atlanta.

    • @amy, Yeah, I saw your comment on the earlier post. When/if we ever sell, East Cobb is one of the 5 or so places we’d consider moving.
      I agree re: fellow Atlanta stayer/blogger!

      • As much as I hated to send our girls to public school, we really have been pleased. The teachers make the difference and we have been fortunate enough to have some gems. We are in West Cobb, in an area, as I mentioned, that has quite a diversity, but so far, we have been very pleased. Honestly, it just takes getting used to; letting go, per se. The teachers DO want to teach and their students that want to, and can, learn, WILL! I’m anxious to see how this turns out for you and wish you luck! 🙂

  18. I don’t think that’s letting go of your ideals. I don’t think enrolling your child in public school is necessarily the most effective way to improve a public school system.

    I’m pulling my kids out of public schools – but I’m willing to keep working to improve public schools for those who don’t have that option. I’m willing to vote for my tax dollars to go to a public school, even if I don’t send my kid there, etc. etc. etc.

    • @miss britt, I don’t either, actually. And, there’s more to this story than I let on in the post, of course. When we move, it’ll be somewhere with good schools, but I’d still prefer private schools after elementary school for more numerous and complicated reasons than I care to go into here.

  19. Our three kids are, currently, in a private Montessori pre-school and will stay there through Kindergarten (which is next year for the twins). I’m a BIG believer in the Montessori model for Pre-K/K kids in that it gives them a much firmer base for future schooling.

    Now, having said that, I don’t know what we’ll do past Kindergarten. Here in Woodstock, the elementary and high school our kids will go to are really good. No complaints. It’s the middle school that’s not so good. Then again, our MIL is saying that she and the FIL will assist us in paying for private school and she’s bucking for the Walker School in Marietta. Then, we find out from some neighbors who have tried Walker that there is a big drug problem there in the older grades. So, honestly? I sometimes think you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I still don’t know if we’ll do public, private, or a combination of both. I’ve always said that I don’t have the patience to home-school our kids but every day, I think we get closer and closer to that option. Ugh.

    • @CMG, Y’all sound a lot like us. We’re doing the same for the pre-school and kindergarten years no matter where we live. Where we want to live has a really good elementary school and a highly-ranked highschool, but the middle school is not outstanding, so we figure maybe a few years of private school in the middle (or see how it’s doing in several years, since our 3 youngest are quite young). I’d actually like for them to be homeschooled in a lot of ways (and for a lot of reasons), but Deb does not wish to do it at all (despite her past life as a teacher), and I’m the least patient person I know (and our primary breadwinner), so….not gonna happen. Maybe we’ll move next to y’all and hire a tutor we can share between our collective broods and homes!

  20. –>I think it’s how non-parents judge parents with how they raise and discipline their children until they’re in the same situation.
    On that note, the local public school is one of the best in the area but we just got the acceptance letter for a private Pre-K for my son. This has been my plan since before he was born and it’s why he’s been in the adjacent daycare for four+ years.

    • @WebsavvyMom, But I LOVE judging people who are in shoes I’ll never wear–that’s the fun part! Okay, not really. Glad to hear your boy got in where you want him to go!

  21. We fled to the suburbs and have been very pleased so far. Would love to hear your reasons for being pro-homeschooling sometime.

    • @Gin, Glad to hear that. So far, we’ve been prevented from fleeing due to a shit real estate market, but we may just leave and add another house to my rental property (a condo I also gave up trying to sell years ago) list and go. The problem with Atlanta suburbs compared to Nashville is the HORRENDOUS traffic, though. Although, if we get 5-6 bedrooms like I want, I suppose I can work from home some and stay off the roads.

      Re: the other question, I can email you about it!

  22. Yes. Kids and politics make everyone a hypocrite.

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