9 Dec
2013

Private Matters

In a surprising turn of events, we’re applying to send Wombat to a private kindergarten, the full tuition of which is in excess of TWENTY-THREE THOUUUUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR. My four-year college education cost about half that, so yeah, I don’t know what’s going on anymore.

It’s a poorly kept secret that we think Wombat is a pretty bright kid (it’s not just what he knows but how he learns, yadda yadda), but in an effort to not be Those Parents, we’ve been vigilantly reminding ourselves that we’re biased, not only because he’s our son but because as individuals who value academic achievement the way some families value sports achievement or status achievement, it’s understandably comforting to identify all the ways in which Wombat fulfills that ideal. Daycare Lady has been telling us for years that she would be “devastated” if we sent him to a mediocre public school (no pressure!), but it wasn’t until his preschool’s kindergarten-prep teacher called us out in a meeting last week that we decided, okay, it’s time to get real about who this kid is and what he needs. And he needs more. (One thing she said that stood out was that Wombat has been reluctant to do certain “advanced” things because he doesn’t want to be seen as different from his peers. This was a major kick in the pants that he needs more than the luck of getting a good teacher who can differentiate a standard curriculum for him–he also needs a peer group that will support the way he learns.)

I grew up in Salt Lake in a time when there were, I think, two private elementary schools for the entire valley. The way I always thought about it was that private schools cost a lot of money, ergo they must be places where rich people send their rich kids primarily to prevent them from comingling with not-rich kids (and in Utah, to prevent the Catholics from comingling with the Mormons). Private schools were a way of confirming one’s position in a certain class or cultural group, end of story. Your kids went to private school because you could pay for them to go there. Simon and I both went to public schools, and we both have several public school teachers in our family. We have never worn uniforms. We have never been on a winter break ski trip to the Swiss Alps. We are public school people through and through.

But then we started hearing things about the Oakland public schools and realized our experiences in suburban Southern California and Utah in the 1980s don’t really compare with the situation here and now. There are some good public schools here–and we may very well end up in one, and we may very well end up being extremely happy about that–but now that we’ve been forced to put our egos aside, we know have to at least explore what an outside-the-norm education might mean for our outside-the-norm child.

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If I sound like I’m trying to justify the decision, I am. I feel like one of those moms who won’t say the word “nanny” for fear of coming off like an insufferable fancypants, and that’s why there’s so much verbal arm-waving along the lines of “It’s not about finding a ‘better’ school or a more-prestigious school, it’s about finding a good fit for this particular kid,” and here in Oakland, you simply don’t get the level of academic rigor Wombat seems to need (yes, I realize we’re still talking about a five-year-old) anywhere but at certain private schools. If the Oakland school system were in better shape, it would be a different issue. If Wombat weren’t Wombat, it would be a different issue. The way some people think they’re too good for public school, we almost had the attitude of being too practical and down-to-earth for private school. Obviously the money factor made it extremely easy to write of a private education without a second thought, but then we started hearing about the amazing financial aid packages people were getting, and that changed everything. If we don’t get financial aid, there’s no way we could pay full tuition at a private school–especially year after year after year–but now we know we have to at least give this whole thing a shot, and it’s kind of crazy how reluctant we’ve been to accept that. Our focus hasn’t shifted completely, just broadened such that our criteria is no longer just “find a non-crappy school at which he will be safe” to “find a place that will allow him to reach his full potential.”

(Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that we heard some things about nearby public schools that manifested in the form of big red flags. Whereas some parents may be excited about the prospect of dedicating their time and resources to help shape and improve a struggling school that, among other challenges, hosts “regular and robust discussions” springing from cultural differences (i.e., parents fighting in meetings), that is not who we are. We need a turn-key school. I mean, I’m happy to put in my volunteer hours or whatever, but we need a school that runs itself. Does that make me sounds like an insufferable fancypants or like someone who’s realistic about the levels of chaos she can handle without having a nervous breakdown?)

Here’s where I need your help. Those of you who have been there, done that: What should I know about private schools? We know practically nothing. (This reminds me of my college application process. My parents didn’t really know what they were doing, so I only applied to one college and didn’t even take the SAT. On registration day, a student guide asked if I was going to rush, and my response was, “Rush where?” I’d like to be a little more prepared to look a little less stupid this time around.) (And hello, I realize how nutso it is that I’m comparing kindergarten admissions to college admissions, but here we are. Wombat has to have an IQ test, for crying out loud. For kindergarten! Is this real life?)

(I should also mention we’re doing this for kindergarten because for this level there are forty open spots and every year after that, there are zero to four open spot. So.)

We’re filling out the application this week, and it’s weird because of course I want to answer honestly and be genuine, but I also want to give him the best chance of getting in, you know? If there are only forty openings, what are his chances of getting in if other families aren’t being genuine and honest? There’s a space where we’re supposed to talk about our community service, for instance. Does that mean we mention how Simon gave that homeless guy some of our groceries when we were driving home from the store on Thanksgiving? Or should we be, like, founding our own nonprofit or something? Just this morning I was talking to some parents about the family photo we’re required to submit with our application, and when I said I was just going to send our holiday card and then described what it looked like, they warned me about using a picture in which Wombat showed too much personality, just in case the admissions committee interpreted it as him having a high-maintenance demeanor. Eek. (Although if that’s true, maybe it’s not such a good fit after all.) “They want to see a photo of you on a trip,” they told me. “Doing family bonding.” And I’m all, “Uh…we spend every second together when we’re not at work or school. Do they really need to see us in front of Cinderella’s castle in matching Mickey ears? Is there a good place to stage us digging a well in Africa?” This shit is bananas.

So, yes, advice. I hesitate to even ask because I worry it will just give me more to worry about (not that I ever need help with that), but I figure it will probably do more good than harm, so please share what you know. And if you have advice to give but you’re wary of coming off like an insufferable smartypants in the comments, you can also email me at leah [at] agirlandaboy [dot] com.

Aaaaaaahhhhh! What are we doing?!

By    23 Comments    Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries


23 Comments

  • Please feel free to pick my brain! I toured 15 Oakland schools last year, public and private, and we ended up with my daughter at a private school for kindergarten…with financial aid. We adore the school and know the choice was the right one. That said, I’ve heard from teacher friends that it’s really all about the assessment day in January. The application is part of it, the preschool rec is part of it, but it’s supposedly 80% how the kids do during that 2 hour window. Seems crazy to me, but I guess their trained eyes can spot the signs to build a well-balanced class of kids. Something else to note (not to freak you out…) is that there are 40 spots, but a lot of those spots are for faculty or sibling kids, who get priority. Last year I heard there were only 11 openings to “new families” like ours. So definitely apply to a few schools that you connected to from the tours. Touring the schools was really instrumental…there were a few I scratched off my list after the tour, which surprised me. Another tip I heard was to only apply to 3 or 4 (or 2), to keep the stress of the assessment days to a minimum. That said, each school seemed to make “practice kindergarten” really fun, and our daughter came out of each one smiling and happy. Good luck, and please email me if you want to vent or hear more semi-unsolicited opinions. :)

    • You can expect to hear from me, Sara! And yeah, I’ve thought about the forty-spots-not-really-being-forty-spots aspect. Also, they need a balance of kids–skill sets, personalities, sex distribution (you know what I mean), students who require aid–so I realize that even if he tests well and they like our application, there might be other factors at work. It’s all so crazy.

  • I have no advice about private schools, having never attended or applied to one. Though, I also fret about coming off as a fancypants and would be doing the same amount of ‘arm-waving’ as you’re doing here, if I was in your position. As it stands, we live in an area where the public schools are ‘turn-key’ and never gave a thought to private school. We figured we could supplement learning at home if we felt our kids weren’t being challenged enough, but I get that in Oakland the landscape is probably vastly different. But, I have to say, all the hoops you have to jump through on that application is raising all sorts of red flags for me–I mean, too much personality? Evidence of family bonding? WTF. My kid is both smart and her personality is large–does that mean I should stifle it and the creativity it produces? I don’t know, something ain’t right there.

    • Yeah, that felt like a red flag to me too, which is partly why I’m asking for advice from other people who’ve been there. These parents I talked to are coming from a different place than we are (one had a private education on the East Coast, and one grew up in another country), and I wonder how much of what they *think* the school is looking for is filtered through their own biases. But if it’s true that my kid has “too much personality” for the school, I’d want them to weed us out for that reason because I have no interest in sending him to a school for robots. What we’re looking for is not The Best School but the best fit for our kid and our family.

  • I went to a private school for 11 years. There are good and bad things (just like every school). Some of the parents are jerks, thinking their kids are The Most Amazing Kid Ever, shoving it down everyone’s throats and most of my friends went for yearly vacations in places I’ll probably never be able to afford in my lifetime, but I also got a superior education. If I was falling behind, I had one-on-one help. If I was ahead, there were opportunities to excel further.

    I kind of wish there was an option like this for my middle one (6), but I’m thankful that she has a teacher who recognizes that a lot of the “normal” grade 1 work is beneath her ability, way too easy for her, and gives her more challenging work to do. She was reading by 3, and asking my husband to make up sheets of math problems before she started kindergarten.

    I think we all as parents want the best for our kids, and want to approach them as individuals. It’s pretty rad that Wombat has the opportunity to attend a school best-suited to him. I can’t think of any other tips for you, as I was a kid at the school, not a parent, but I’ll let you know if I think of anything. :)

    • This is great because of course my experience as a parent is only one part of the equation; we obviously want Wombat to have a good experience too. And oh man, I do worry about the kind of demographic we may be aligning ourselves with. We don’t want him to feel like the poor kid because he didn’t get a trip to Spain for his fifth birthday! I’m trying to focus on the fact that this school gives MILLIONS of dollars in financial aid each year, which means a lot of scholarship students, and that it’s a smartypants school, so the kids have to earn their way in, not just have their parents pay the way in.

      • Honestly, their vacations didn’t bother me too much. I’m thankful for my experience in the school, and I wasn’t the only one whose parents weren’t loaded. :) Strictly academically, it was the best school. And that is why we go to school, right? For the education? Even though there are some things I loathed, I don’t think there’s any school that is completely perfect. :)

  • no advice to give at all, just a thank you for writing about this process, as it’s something my husband and I know we we will be facing/debating in the years ahead. (we are both VERY pro-public school (VERY VERY) but the schools here are shit…..so……gah.)
    good luck to you and wombat- I hope next fall it’s 100% clear he’s right where he is supposed to be.

    • Thank you! It’s insane. I look forward to hearing about the process from People Like Us, instead of from people with generations and generations of private school behind them.

  • So I live in South Carolina, and the public schools here are beyond substandard. That’s being worked on now, but growing up here, if you wanted your kids to go to college, you sent them to private school, even if you had to mortgage the farm. Class sizes tend to be smaller. Teachers notice if you’re ahead or behind and call your parents about it. They do tend to have trips to other countries and special projects, and they do generally have more technology in the classroom. They tend to cater to people who are wealthy enough to demand better for their kids. That might not be PC, but it is what it is. When I went to boarding school in the ninth grade, you could tell the private school kids from the public. The public school kids were utterly unprepared for the amount of homework we had, and they also had no clue how to work during study hall hours, plan a schedule, or separate the wheat from the chaff as far as exam studying. They had to work three times as hard as the people with private school structures already ingrained. Most private schools have options for languages, and almost all stress charitable or volunteer work (planting trees, collecting food, service), because most were founded by people with a strong commitment to community and service. My boarding school just did an international day of service, where alumnae volunteered, walked for to raise money, did therapeutic riding, beach sweeps, etc, all over, with thousands upon thousands of participants. If you want to see the kind of language they use to explain that, I can probably send you something. The school you mentioned might want to know that your family is instilling the desire to give back in your kids. But, come on, he’s five, so maybe mention that he helped you pick out gifts for a local Angel Tree or packed a shoebox full of things for a homeless kid via a local charity. That you’ve taken him on a trail maintenance outing on your favorite Mt Tam walk or something. It doesn’t have to be big, but you can talk about how Wombat is learning to empathize in these ways. I don’t think you need to be embarrassed about your kid having positive special needs. If he were autistic, you wouldn’t be cringing about therapies and special schools, right? So don’t be tempted to eye roll on this just because he needs a more progressive school. You don’t want him to be embarrassed about being smart and exploratory, so you shouldn’t be either! (and I mean this to sound more friendly and rah rah than it might sound) Yay, Genius Wombat! Save our planet!

  • I only attended a private school for the 12th grade (and it was overseas) but by that time I had been in a New York public school for three years (K-2) and California public schools (3-11, 3 different districts). My education in New York was vastly superior to the one I got in California (so much, that everything I learned in the second grade in New York I repeated in the third grade in California). This was from about the early 80′s to mid-90′s.

    And when I got to the private school overseas in the 12th grade? OHHHH. I was the dumbest 12th-grader in that school. (There were only 35 or so kids in my class, but still.) Like, I was a pretty self-absorbed teenager and even I noticed that my classmates were wayyyy smarter than I was, which was a shock since I was used to being one of the smartest kids in the class. Those kids were VERY SMART and had been challenged for YEARS whereas the schools I’d been attending were EASY and I never had to think too much or too hard.

    I think there’s ZERO wrong with trying to find the best of anything for your child. We’re all trying to find the best strawberries, the best shampoo, and the best education for our kids that we can within our means. And if there are options beyond public school that are available, that FIT for you guys? DUDE! AWESOME! There are plenty of stories about parents who sacrifice A LOT, (EVERYTHING even!) to send their children to the best schools they can. Especially in a place where the public schools may not be the greatest (which is the idea I get), good for you.

    (I will also say that the girls go to a private preschool and it’s at a church and it feels like the furthest thing from snooty but I still get a snooty vibe sometimes from other parents, which I wonder if some people give off any time they’re paying for something other people get for free/don’t pay for in the first place. Maybe some people are just snooty and they’re going to be annoying no matter what. Even if it’s church preschool. This is a long way to say maybe the snooty cannot be avoided and you should just pack your best eye-roll sunglasses.)

    I did not mean to leave you a novel. I should have probably emailed you. It just seems like the kind of thing that has few negative outcomes, and if it does get negative? Hey, you can just pack up your kid and go someplace else. Hope it’s a great experience!

  • It’s kind of sad that I am envious of the forty open spots in the schools you’re looking at — here, it’s more like FOUR, after siblings/legacies are taken into account.

    I haven’t gone through the kindergarten process yet (we will be next year), but I can give you some insight from my experience with the preschool admissions process.

    First off, I think that being yourselves/letting W be himself during the process is key, because you want to find a school that loves him for who he is. I don’t think you want to be at a school where they’re scrutinizing the background of your photo to figure out where it was taken. Case in point: when we applied to preschools, the only picture we had of the three of us together featured Joe holding a beer. I fretted about it for maybe 30 seconds and then decided if that was going to be considered problematic, then probably we weren’t the right family for them and vice versa.

    Second, similarly, a lot of the decision is out of your control, of course, but to the extent you can make decisions on your own side, go with your gut. That also comes into play when the kid visits the school — you have to see where HE’s most comfortable (which, by the way, might not always be the place you had at the top of your own list), where the teachers engage him the most, where the environment suits him, etc. I had decided in advance that we were 99% certain we’d go to one particular preschool (and I assumed based on remarks from the director that it was a lock in terms of getting in), but when it came to F’s visit there, she clearly was not comfortable in the setting or with the teachers. It was completely not a fit for us, no matter how badly I’d thought I wanted it to be. But at the school where we ended up, she was 100% herself as soon as she walked into the classroom for the visit, and that has borne out in her experience as a student there.

    Relatedly, in terms of “feel,” you can get a sense from all the open houses, tours, etc., that you have to go to whether you would be comfortable at a place as a parent. I am sure there are other totally down-to-earth, pro-public-school, non-Swiss-alps-going families, and you’ll find them. I was surprised and relieved when we visited schools that MOST parents were similar to us. I have lots of good, down-to-earth friends whose kids are already in private school and they are also finding plenty of similarly situated families. You can probably tell early on which school(s) tend to be the magnets for the Alps vacationers, and rule them out off the bat.

    All of it is totally nerve-wracking, but I tend to see that families end up where they should, at the right school for them. (Of course I am terrified that F will get rejected everywhere next year, not because she isn’t amazing, but because of the tiny amount of spots and because her father and I aren’t superstars in any unusual sense, so all my advice isn’t really enough to keep the worries at bay for me. But YOU will do fine!)

  • I know nothing about private schools, being not even American and also sending our kids to the local public school (which is “fine”) and finding out about the system here as we go. But stop apologizing! You’re doing a good thing! You’re doing the right thing for W. He needs a school that fits him, and you’ve found one, and it makes perfect sense to get in on the ground floor at K rather than waiting till later when competition is much worse.

  • Up until a year ago I worked for a private school for gifted kids the on the West Coast. MANY MANY families I worked with are exactly like you. Unsure about how to go about the private school world and being torn apart about being one of “those” people. You are doing what is best for your kid.

    A few things that were important to the school when looking at applicants:

    1. Get your stuff in on time and totally complete. Recommendations, tests etc. Nothing pisses them off more than having an incomplete application. If you don’t, you will get dinged for it.

    2. If you have questions, ask! But make sure you read the instructions before you ask. They appreciate thoughtful questions but if you did not read the material/application, no buneo.

    3. Let Wombat be himself. The school I worked at did blind admissions (kid visits, no parent visits, no financial aid needs revealed during the process). It was 100% on the kid and if they fit.

    In my experience, If you made it to the visit you have an equal chance with the other kids in the room, unless they are staff kids. You probably won’t be allowed to be there during the visit so set him up for success for visit day. Let he know what is going on, etc. They are looking for if they listen, participate in group activities, and just what makes the Wombat, Wombat. They are building a class off a paper application and a short visit.

    4. As far as “gifted and talented” schools go, the threshold to get in was, in reality, above what the “minimum standards” that were published. (re: IQ tests)

    5. Stay on the waiting lists. There are a lot of families who are applying to a lot of schools.

    6. The most stress people have was not with the first it was with the 2nd. Once you get in to the AWESOME school you love, you have to go through the process with the other(s). Usually, if the siblings test in you pretty much have an automatic in (you still have to go through the process). I have seen families lose it/leave the school because #2 had issues and they told him no and others that did not test in. Just something to be aware of.

    If you have any more questions please let me know! And good luck, it is a rough process.

  • I think Patsy said it all and more. Do exactly what she says…

    We live in NYC and our son is both gifted and special-needs (pragmatic speech, sensory delays, a little autism spectrum) and it was a year-long project to research and visit schools and work with the Dept. of Ed. to get him placed correctly. What I came away with is what you said early in your post: get him with peers at his level, who love to learn and amongst whom he will feel he can be himself. If the parents of those peers are skiing in Gstaad…it’s okay. I am an academic tutor and I know many, many people who are on the same fence and who chose private school, and who struggle with the chauffered cars dropping kids off in the morning, and you know what – it’s all okay. The kids are fine. Everyone learns about class at some point. Just get him the education you know he needs. Stay on the wait list. Check in frequently and be friendly. Early education is key – he may be able to go to public middle school (in NYC we have public gifted & talented middle schools you can test into) if gets a strong foundation. And don’t forget the importance of play!

  • Don’t you just hate it when your kid is so bright it ruins your life?
    Just joking. Sorta.
    I went to private school for elementary, with financial aid. Lots of kids had more money than we did. But this was Marin, and even in the 80s there was lots of money there (though not as much as there is now). But I was challenged and supported. When we switched to public school (we moved from West Marin to Mill Valley, the local schools were better and my mom was fed up with Waldorf School dogma) I learned how to skate, I didn’t have to apply myself, I got lazy and could still pass my classes. It set up bad habits I still have today (says the girl writing a book the month before it’s due, because my first drafts are better than most other people). I’d definitely say you are doing the right thing looking for the place that will meet W where he is, and boost him higher..
    My middle niece is terribly sharp as well and I worry about this same thing happening. But the public school system is miles better here than in CA.
    I don’t have much in the advice department for applications, but I do think you should be more yourself than less. And you know–you may not have founded a nonprofit, but you pretty much work for one. Make sure to mention not just your job title, but your passion for what it is that you guys create. Your family has the cool, creative, arty quota nailed.
    PS. My grad school journalism prof (at Mills) was HORRIFIED to find herself looking at private schools for her daughter. It was against everything she believed in (former Mother Jones editor that she is). But you know what, Oakland does things like that to people.
    (I could connect you two, if you want to talk with someone like-minded who is 7-8 years ahead of you.)

  • I have only heard one Oakland public school story, but it’s a doozy: my friend was a recent graduate with a high school math teaching credential. He called up to the HR office in Oakland and they said, “Come on Tuesday.” He said “For an interview?” and they said, “No, to start.” The qualifications were that you had a credential and were breathing, end of story. He lasted six weeks before the chaos drove him out.

  • I worked at a NYC private school, in the admissions department. I would be delighted to tell you what I learned. Just drop me a line.

    And… Caveat emptor, every school has its own philosophy and admissions requirements. I won’t be able to tell you how to get into the school that is considered “the best” but I can help you understand the process a little better and may even be able to help you distill your thoughts about this circus into a finely honed thesis on what you and Simon want and what Wombat needs. You’ll even get to hear me ramble on about you doing 80% of the ‘selecting’ and allowing the school to do 20%. :)

  • I don’t have advice from the perspective of having a school-age kid, but I went to private schools from K all the way through college. My parents were in a similar situation to y’all — they’d always thought they were going to send their kids to public schools, but when it came time for me to go to Kindergarten, they quickly realized that the public schools in our small, rural town were going to be a very poor fit. Anyway, I think I just want to reassure you that there really are all types at private schools. My elementary and middle schools were very small (150 kids total for Pre-K through 8th) and very down-to-earth. My high school was a very well-known private boarding and day school in a very ritzy town (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan). Did I have lots of richie-rich classmates who drove Porches at 16? Sure. But I also had a best friend who lived in super-urban Detroit and was raised by her grandparents after her very young, flaky parents couldn’t handle a kid. I fell somewhere in the middle of the demographic. Sometimes I wished that my family had the fancy vacations or that I didn’t have to fight with my mom about how expensive Guess jeans were, but I think that kids want what others have no matter where they go to school. And one of the nice things about most private schools is that they actually really WANT diversity and go out of their way to bring in a wide range of students from different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds — it helps that they’re not just bound by whomever happens to live in the right area, the way public schools are.

    As for the application, I think you should ignore the people who tell you what the admissions committee WANTS and just be yourself. What they want is a diverse range of kids with engaged parents. Use your Christmas card picture! Be yourselves! You’ll be fine. (Also, we don’t live in Oakland anymore, but I’m pretty sure I have several friends who have kids in private schools there. Let me know if you want me to try to round up some folks for you to chat with.)

  • This is such a hard one in the Bay Area and I really appreciate your honesty. Some of the raddest, most down to earth people I know send their kids to private school.

    I totally hear you on the dilemma here. I went to public–but they were awesome small-town public schools where I got a great education. And books, studying, was my life.

    Fascinated to see how this turns out for you guys. And we’re cheering you on, no matter what you choose.

  • Let’s look at this from another angle. You are staring down the double barrel of sending two boys through private school for the next 15 plus years at about 50 to 60K per year, and college after that. You are an experienced editor. Ramp up your career. I have been reading you for years, and you’ve always been firmly wedded to your comfort zone for work. Seems like it’s time for you to exit the comfort zone and find an editing job that will send these great kids through schools that are equally as great. I think your husband works long hours to pay the basic bills, and I think you have the ability and intelligence to step up to the plate and get a new editing job that could pay private school tuition for your boys without having the fingernail biting experience of waiting to hear if you are going to qualify for tuition assistance.
    I went to a very good SoCal public elementary school for first through sixth grade, then transferred to a private school for grades seven through twelve. I preferred the private school. It was the best. (In case you’re interested, I went to Westridge School in Pasadena.) Leah, get out of your jammies and send your kiddos to a great school. There is no better sacrifice.

    • You bring up some good points, but not all of them are relevant. (Sorry for the bullet points, but my brain is fried and it’s all I’ve got.) :)

      1. We won’t send Fox to a private school unless he needs to go to a private school. The private school option didn’t even come up until we were basically told that sending Wombat to public school would be doing him a disservice. If Fox will do well at a public school, to the public school he will go! Going private isn’t about getting the “best” education offered to any kid in the area, it’s about getting what this individual kid needs, and that just happens to be a very good private school.

      2. In this area, HUGE financial aid packages (like $10K) are being given to families who make over $100K. I didn’t know this until last Thursday, so I’m guessing a lot of people also don’t know this, and I bet a lot of people in the country would be shocked to hear that $100K could qualify for any kind of aid. But that’s what we’re dealing with here. It’s insane.

      3. Now that I’m freelancing, I’m earning the industry standard for my position and skill level. The facts are that I live in an expensive area and my experience is in a low-paying area of a low-paying industry. Going back to full-time work would obviously make a difference, but that’s not in the plan for another few years. But you are absolutely correct that I’m burrowed snuggly in my career comfort zone, but for now it’s not merely comfy, it’s what’s working while we have two small kids in childcare.

      4. My husband’s job is awesome but he doesn’t work long hours to pay basic bills.

      5. We don’t plan on living here forever. If we could even manage to move two miles west, I’d send my kids to a public school without blinking an eye.

      Your main point, though, is right on the money. There is absolutely room for me to do more! And I will! Just not right now.

  • I’m emailing you… I ran the gauntlet this year to get kiddo into a top OUSD school this year (and was victorious). I know the inside track. If you’re interested.

Have at it!

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