Recently, Nathan and I completed the school lottery process here in Cambridge and found out that H will be attending our top choice of schools, which is also our closest neighborhood school.
We are really excited about this for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that we will be at a school that is a short walk away, and we are already imagining a future in which H walks with kids from the neighborhood. We’re also excited because the school has a great music program, is truly diverse and on our tour we saw someone we knew from the neighborhood in every classroom we visited.
There are other schools that we could get to by bike, bus, or a longer walk, but selecting a school that is further away means that we’d be less like to go to events and meetings at the school and less likely to find friends within walking distance for our kids to play with. For us, walkability is our primary criteria in a school because being a part of our neighborhood is one of our most cherished values. We feel fortunate to have a good school within walking distance so that we don’t have to worry that we should be compromising our commitment to our neighborhood for the sake of our children’s education.
Because location was our most important criteria, we also had the benefit of not worrying about selecting the “best” school. We felt free to choose a school that we felt was “good enough,” provided that it was within walking distance. This reduced a lot of our angst when we were school shopping (although it didn’t eliminate it entirely). We are mindful that not every parent would agree with our assessment that our school is “good enough” — it is in the upper-middling range for test scores in our city and is not a top choice of a number of our peers. However, we were very excited after our school tour and talking with other parents, feeling that it was well beyond our criteria for “good enough,” and that it is a school we would be proud for our children to attend.
Next we have to back up our choice with deeds. In a few months we’ll be a part of a new school, learning the ropes of a new community, and finding out the details about the strengths and the weaknesses of our choice. With luck, both our kids will be in this school until high school, so we’ll have 12 years to settle in and get comfortable. During that time, I’m sure we’ll find out exactly what there is to love and hate about the school. But I’m a firm believer in commitment, and having made our choice, I think we’ll find out that it’s an amazing school and that any ways it’s not are challenges that we can meet.