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Great piece, although I agree with DC Mom's comments about the library and dcd's points on DCPS (especially now that you really have to determine your preference early). I do think that there are a few additional criteria to consider.

Philosophy. Maybe that isn't the best word, but it is something more than curriculum. Curriculum is the set of topics that they will learn, whereas the philosophy (as I'm using it) is the rubric within which those are taught. In DC, this is more apparent than so many other places, especially in the charter world, and the philosophy of the school should be a major deciding point, and needs to be viewed with regard to your family and the specific child. Immersion is an easy example. If you don't like kids to learn a foreign language and concentrate on a foreign culture, you should skip immersion schools entirely, regardless of whether it is considered a good school (many ignore this, and it is never a good fit). Mundo Verde has a sustainability focus that concentrates on good eating habits; don't send your kids there if you don't value these ideas in the same way. KIPP has long, structured days; if that isn't your philosophy, skip it. Basically, make sure that the school fits your family and beliefs.

Unfortunately, cost is a factor even within the DCPS or charter system. Do you need aftercare? If so, how much is it? Can you afford it? Do you qualify for reduced cost?

Quality of aftercare. If you are going to use aftercare, how is it? Is it glorified babysitting? Do they put the kids in front of a TV all afternoon? Or do they do actual activities and keep them focussed. If it isn't up to snuff, will you have other options.

I think parents should concentrate on all these issues first and apply broadly. Please don't start writing the principals until you are accepted. They are very busy, and they don't need extra work. Go to the open houses, and ask questions there. If you get accepted, then certainly you can ask to speak to the principal.

by Danielle on Jan 24, 2013 2:26 pm • linkreport

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