Well, strange as it seems, this is a big day -- my daughter's graduating from elementary school. They're having a ceremony, there will be speeches, she's getting dressed up, and I know for a fact my wife is going to cry.
When did this become such a big deal?
I mean, it's a big deal to me, of course -- my baby's getting older! But in a larger sociological sense, graduating from elementary school? That was big back when my granddad was a kid; an elementary school education was the highest level of education most folks got, if they got that much. For my father's generation, graduating from high school -- that was a big deal. For my generation, it was college (and to an extent, it still is). For my older daughter, a full education barely stops with a master degree. It seems with each generation the bar gets raised higher.
And at the same time, we celebrate smaller victories.
Maybe it's because of the stress we go through, those of us who send our kids to private school (and in California, I'm sad to say, if you want a decent education for your kid, private school is probably your best option). We worry about getting them into the best school, we bite our nails through the application process, we wait anxiously for the acceptance letters, we shudder at the size of the tuition bill. Sending a kid to private school is like sending them to college. It's expensive, it's stressful, but it's something you're glad you're able to do -- I feel a sense of pride that my daughter has done well at a school that isn't required to accept her and promote her and praise her, because that's the PC thing to do. Whatever honors Rachel has earned, she's earned, in competition with an amazing array of other well-qualified, hard-working young boys and girls.
Please understand, I'm not saying she's better than the kids who go to public schools. By no means. But the school she's attended for the last six years is better than the public school she would have attended otherwise.
We did try the public school system for Rachel's kindergarten, and it was a huge disappointment. A charter school, too, with heavy parental involvement, in a neighborhood where the parents could afford to devote a lot of time and energy to the PTA. Didn't make a damn bit of difference. The school sucked, and the teachers and administration knew it, and they didn't seem to care.
So maybe there is something to celebrate.
I'm proud of my little girl, and saddened too.
It's been an amazing six years. Can't wait to see what's next.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
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