Friday, October 19

Middle School Muddle: Introducing Liz Willen

It's October now, and as a 5th grade parent, I can't be in denial any longer. The middle school search process and tours have begun in earnest. Parties, PTA events, pick-up and drop-off are marked by parent conversations, comparisons and discussions.

It's an obsession familiar to me as both a middle school parent (I have a son in 7th grade so I've done this once before) and as a journalist who writes regularly about schools.

I'm starting out this search as muddled and intimidated as most parents, although I have three advantages:

1. I've done it before.
2. I have great access to the top experts in U.S. education through my job as assistant director of the Hechinger Institute for Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University, where I help plan and run seminars aimed at educating journalists about pressing issues in education.
3. I'm privileged to send my two children to schools in Manhattan's District Two, where there are several really good choices. Although some of my son's classmates are veering toward private school, there isn't the same kind of despair I've heard about middle schools in my career covering New York City's 1.1. million public school students for New York Newsday years ago.
I'll be blogging my search and plan on sharing any insights, interviews, observations and details about the public schools I'm looking at, described in CSD 2 Region 9 Middle School Directory 2006-07. (New middle school directories, reflecting the elimination of the regions, will be out in December.)

But let me say this: the more I learn about education, the less I often feel I know. And, mostly, my search will be guided by my 5th grader, who would prefer to remain at PS 150 in Tribeca with his buddies.

I'm also aware that this decision ultimately may be made via small quirks that can have nothing at all to do with education -- my son's desire to be with his good friends, mine that he has a reasonable commute, his excitement over a band, track or soccer team, for example.

I'll share impressions, tips and expert interviews along the way! I invite you to share yours as well.

Read all of Liz Willen's Middle School Muddle

1 comment:

wjhsklover said...

Liz I am so happy you are doing this. Not only are you a fab writer but you are an expert in all things educational and an experienced parent.