Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I can't believe I'm about to say this

Bryan, apparently was right. There's a sentence I don't utter or type very frequently.  It's not something I like to admit too frequently, especially if it means that I was wrong.

Over the past two years, I've argued with Bryan about sending the kids to Catholic school.  He's against it because we have a perfectly good public school two blocks away from our house and we pay a lot of money in taxes.  We also moved to this community because of the public schools.

I wanted to send them to St. Mary's because I wouldn't have to run them back and forth to CCD, the school day is shorter and starts earlier, both of my girls would go to the same school for 5 years, and I wouldn't have to worry about what they're going to wear to school since they'd be in uniforms.  I also liked that the school is small compared to the public school.  The school I send Madeline to has 700 kids from K-4 and this is only one of four K-4 schools in the district.  I also liked that the kids stay with the same kids year after year.  The public school I send Madeline to is a National School of Character.  As part of their character education, the classes get mixed up every year.

After three days of Vacation Bible School (VBS), I have come to the conclusion that St. Mary's School is not the school for us.  The vast majority of the kids who are participating in the VBS are students at St. Mary's so Madeline has been interacting with kids who would be her classmates if she went there instead of the public school.  And, based on what I've seen and what Madeline tells me, I could not imagine sending my children to this school.

I've probably mentioned on several occasions that Madeline is a social butterfly.  The girl makes friends everywhere she goes.  She goes out of her way to meet kids from other classes on the playground at recess, she makes friends with her opponents at soccer games, and she has formed many friendships at CCD and at the children's liturgy at church.  She's very inclusive and is nice to everyone.  I was certain when I signed her up for VBS that she'd make friends there, as well.  So far, she has two kids who will talk to her.  The rest ignore her and don't even have the common courtesy to acknowledge her when she speaks to them.  It appears that the children who go to the Catholic school are a tight clique and they're mean.  There is a girl in Madeline's group that the other kids (classmates from St. Mary's) pick on and call worthless.  Madeline tells me the girl wouldn't talk to her until today (she was probably trying to discern whether or not Madeline would pick on her, too).  The poor kid spent the first two days not talking to anyone.  Madeline made a friend the first day she was there and from what she tells me, she's another kid the others wouldn't acknowledge.  Bryan tells me kids are mean, (I know they are, I was tormented as a kid.) but this amazes me.  I honestly did not anticipate that the kids would be mean at VBS. 

So I will concede that Bryan is right.  I apparently don't really want my girls to go to St. Mary's.  I don't want their values to be corrupted.  Ever since they were toddlers I have done my best to instill in them the importance of being kind to everyone.  They have been taught that we don't make fun of people and we aren't deliberately mean to them either.  I'm proud of Madeline.  She goes out of her way to befriend shy kids and kids that are ignored by others.  She's been like this since she started dancing at age three.  I have had teachers tell me about how Madeline has pulled very shy kids out of their shells.  I would hate to put her in a situation where she either needed to conform to a clique or live as a social outcast.  Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't the children who go to a Catholic behave in a way that is more Christian than their public schooled peers? Of course, maybe the school isn't entirely to blame.  Maybe a lot of the blame should fall to the parents, but the school certainly shouldn't tolerate the behavior.   I guess I won't complain about having to take her to CCD at night anymore.  At least her classmates there are nice to one another.

Madeline is still having a good time at VBS despite the situation with the other kids (she's happy with the friends that she made).  Ellie seems to be enjoying herself, too.  I will have to think about whether or not I will send them next year.  Madeline is clearly turned off by how the other kids are treating the one girl.  She keeps asking why the other kids are so mean to the girl.


  1. you would think that kids would be more polite and kind to each other if they were in a Catholic/Christian school setting, but I found that amazingly not to be the case. My 23-year-old daughter has some mild physical disabilities; she was teased unmercifully in a Christian school; she didn't get quite that much in a public school; go figure

    I'm not sure why teachers/workers don't catch these things either

    it is a good, but sad lesson, that Madeline is learning this week


  2. Aaahh! I tried to post a comment and then lost it all :-( Hopefully I can remember what I was going to say???
    Hi Karen! I just found your blog through the F& F community site!
    Our Catholic school has the same problem. It's disappointing and sad. I feel it's brought on by the teachers. Growing up my neighbor's son got in trouble for wearing jeans to school. His mother asked the teacher why her son got in trouble (I think he was suspended for a day or something) when other kids were clearly wearing jeans to school. The teacher's response? "Well! They are wearing DESIGNER jeans!" The neighbor's kids were pulled out of school. Last year my mom's friend pulled her daughter out of the school because of all the cattiness - and she was one of the popular cheerleaders for the school - I can't imagine what happens to the 'outsiders'.
    We also have great public schools where we live, and I think a big difference is that the teachers really promote the idea of friendship. The kids don't say "classmates" they say "friends" - and the teachers say "Friends, it's time to be quiet now" instead of "Kids! It's time to be quiet!" Public schools also have more accountability (legally speaking) - ours have a very strict zero-tolerance policy towards bullies (and spaghetti straps :-)) and the administration jumps all over the bullying issues for fear of lawsuits. Well, and the fact that a safe environment is the best learning environment & great education means they all keep their jobs.
    I know there must be great Catholic schools out there - just none near me!
    But then, I've often struggled with the whole idea of non-public schools anyway. Christianity needs to be mainstreamed. If everyone takes their Christian kids out of public schools, Christ doesn't get represented in public schools, and that's awful. The definition of hell? The absence of God. I'd be terrified if that happened in mainstream education (which already has problems anyway!)
    Whew. Wow. What a first impression. Yikes!

  3. I went to Catholic school... Now I send my kids to public school. Personally I prefer public school. But nothings ever an easy decision when it comes to our kids.

  4. It's horrible how some kids can be so mean :(

    I do think that it really depends on the school, and the children at the school. I don't have any kids, so maybe it's changed in the years since I was in school, but I went to a Christian school all through grade school on up to high school. I remember being friends with every single kid in my class. Of course in grade school there was only about 10 in my class.

    I know with the parents I've talked to, some have had good experiences with Christian schools while others haven't. It's too bad that not all Christian schools can be a loving and welcoming place.

    Of course both public and private schools each have their own pros and cons, so it's really about what works well for you and your family.


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