Primo is weeks away from his first Spring break and it has little sway on him. I actually think he will be more disappointed that he isn’t in school, than he will be excited to get a break. Pre-school is starting to wind down and he is enjoying the home stretch blissfuly unaware that his parent are in full Kindergaten search mode. Wading through Charter school options, reading up on neighborhood schools and scores, and feeling generally overwhelmed by the magnitude of this process. It feels we setting the trajectory for Primo’s education and for the most part all of the options are out of our control. Since we do not have the money to dictate the private school we want we are the mercy of the public school lottery system. So here is the process we went through to take care of the things we had control over and letting go of the rest.
There are over 80 charter schools in Oregon and for those unfamiliar: “A charter school in Oregon is a public school operated by a group of parents, teachers and/or community members as a semi-autonomous school of choice within a school district. It is given the authority to operate under a contract or “charter” between the members of the charter school community and the local board of education (sponsor). Under Oregon law, a charter school is a separate legal entity operating under a binding agreement with a sponsor. A public charter school is subject to certain laws pertaining to school district public schools, is released from others and must operate consistent with the charter agreement.” from Oregon Department of Education.
The draw of a Charter School for us is the smaller class sizes, the focused model, and the outside the box approaches to education. In North Portland there are two schools we are interested in and they are almost opposites. First there is the Portland Village School, a Waldorf model that focuses on an arts-integrated, participatory curriculum. The Portland Village School bases its program on three specific principles of education: (1) Subject Integration, “academic studies are integrated across disciplines such as art, science, math, and history.” (2) Teaching to the Whole Child, “An education which addresses the head (cognitive), heart (affective), and hands (behavioral) is essential” and (3) Children as Broad Capability Learners “children’s capacities as artists, musicians, authors, and poets are much greater than generally believed.” The other charter school in our neighborhood is Trillium, a Democratic based school that nurtures each child’s inherent curiosity, creativity and connection to community. Learning is Project based and in a way a response to the Waldorf model where the teacher is the ultimate vesel of knowledge and instead seeing the students as active participants in their education both learning and teaching.
We feel like Primo would do well in both settings but where each school took him would be so different. Since both schools are popular the odds of getting in are small but we fill out the applications and wait. There are X amount of spots and siblings of current students fill in the first spots, then all of the other applications are thrown in a lottery for the remaining spots. We also turned in an application for The Emerson School downtown. We love that this school is right downtown and next to the park but mostly turned in an application to match the three regular public schools we signed up for. We are into that symmetry thing.