One school decision in our home has been made. We have accepted an admission offer from Drew School for our daughter to join their high school class of 2019.
Yes, Middle is going to private school.
As our family has been engaged in the San Francisco high school decision process, our lives have been a filled with a whirlwind of emotions, equal parts reluctance, equivocation, excitement, anticipation — and now relief.
What I do not feel is guilty.
Yes, Drew is a private school in San Francisco.
Yes, we passed up a fine SFUSD public school assignment.
Yes, I am conflicted about this choice.
But most importantly, yes, I am eager and excited to see what will unfold for our daughter — really eager, really excited.
To be clear, our choice to attend private school in San Francisco does not mean that we no longer believe in public education in San Francisco. I still believe everything that I have written about public education and the San Francisco Unified School District here, here, here and here.
“Sure, you do,” you say.
“But not enough to send your own kid,” you say.
“Dude, seriously?” you say.
Of course, no matter what I say from here on out, many will only hear, “Justification . . . blah, blah, blah, sell-out . . . blah, blah, blah, ‘whatever you need to tell yourself’ . . . blah, blah, blah” and to be honest, that voice whispers to me even as I write this — and to some extent it always will.
At the end of the day, however, as I have preached over and over again throughout this process, we believe that we must find an educational setting where our child and our family with thrive in body, mind, and spirit — and we have found that in Drew. Again, we do believe that she would do well wherever she ended up attending, but with the combination of what Drew offers programmatically, our mutual interest in one another, a generous financial aid package, and our belief that we can offer the things that Drew does not, here we land — at a private school in San Francisco.
Private school — still gonna take me a bit to get used to that.
As we went through the process comparing public options to private ones, it never was a, “better than or worse than” conversation, but more of naming the differences and deciding if they mattered. Not until we got to the point where we had to compare Drew to Lowell in order to make a decision, did we have to answer the crucial question, “Where will you thrive?”
Without trying to “sell” anyone on our decision, for my friends who are flabbergasted or disappointed by these developments, I do feel that it’s important for me to share why we have made the choice we have. And again, Lowell, has plenty to offer, but Drew just feels like a better fit — here is why:
Drew is 38% self-identified kids of color and, while differently diverse than Lowell, it’s a setting where her cultural identity can be explored and supported. Plus, Drew has engaged is some meaningful conversations about social justice and race like their panel about liberating interracial dating at the 30th Annual Empowering Women of Color Conference and “Drew United” where they explored issues of race and diversity in their lives.
With a student body size of 280, a 1:8 faculty to student ratio, and 14 kids to a class, she will get the kind individualized attention that will help her to explore new possibilities, to be challenged academically, and to have support throughout her entire four years.
Due to its size, taking part in multiple activities across the disciplines is possible and encouraged. Not only will she be able to take part in multiple sports, but she can also dabble in the performing arts, join/start club, explore different areas of social and academic interest, engage in community service, learn to surf, and take part in Drew’s very cool Drew Education for Active Lifelong Learning (DEALL).
Drew was extremely generous in their financial aid offer, so while it would be easy to say, “We couldn’t pass it up.” the reality is that any cost would be more than our public option. That said, the offer was so good, that we CHOOSE not to pass it up. In the end, we feel like our contribution is worth what we she will receive at Drew that would not be available to her at Lowell.
With our first daughter, now a senior at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, we didn’t look at Drew as an option, but over the past four years we have come to know some folks connected to Drew in a variety of ways. Words were encouraging and for those who also know Middle, they too thought it would be a good place for her. If not for the words of our some trusted friends in this matter, we probably would not have considered Drew.
Random things AKA Middle’s criteria:
Drew is an open campus in a bustling neighborhood, it has a reasonable school day (8:00-3:00), American Sign Language is taught as a foreign language option, and it is an Apple Macintosh environment.
There will always be adjustments moving from middle school to high school and the shift to Drew will be no different. I suspect that the biggest culture shift will have to with moving from a public setting to a private one and the overall wealth of the community. With 37% of students receiving some form of financial aid, that means 63% pay the full $44K tuition. That said as we have interacted with Drew, we have never felt like it was an entitled rich-kid school, but rather one that names and examines privilege in meaningful ways. Plus, we feel like our daughter is grounded enough to deal with the subtle and blatant changes that will arise as she makes her way in her new surroundings.
As I said, there will always be a part of my public school educations, liberal Democrat DNA that will remain conflicted by our decision, but my excitement for my daughter as she begins a new stage in her life far outweighs my hesitation. So now relieved that we have made our choice, we shall enjoy the rest of school year, and in the fall begin a new journey with a new community at Drew.
Now to see where Eldest will college.
Relief was fun while it lasted.