During last fall's school board hubbub about the possibility of closing schools to address budget problems, yours truly was vigorous in his support for the fight to keep one of those schools, Jones Paideia, open. My rationale in a nutshell (the expanded version can be found here) was that Jones Paideia was both an historic neighborhood landmark and a center of family activity on the North End. Hence, losing the school would have been a blow to our collective health.
The events ended happily as Jones Paideia was saved from closure, and now if you take a look at their underrenovation campus, you'll see some attractive new additions going on in back where temporaries once stood. But, of course, the budget problems did not get resolved with school closures and now the chickens are coming home to roost for other constituencies touched by our public school system.
My family is in one of those consitutencies. Our toddler will be 3-years-old next year, qualifying her for one of the public school Montessori programs. Moreover, we live in close proximity to Hull-Jackson Montessori Magnet. Since magnet schools are required to take a certain percentage of their students proximate to their campuses, odds at possibly getting her into Hull-Jackson are better than most. However, now the school board is considering cutting programs for 3-year-olds in order to save money, and so my support of Jones Paideia may have helped bring about the closure of a quality program in which our toddler might have enrolled in 2007.
I don't regret my support of Jones Paideia, because the school makes the North End a better place to live. I just hope that all of those Jones Paideia parents and teachers who don't live in the North End will remember how important saving their school was to them and that they will be supportive of the rest of us who continue to face the possibility that our public school services (and in some cases jobs) will probably be cut in Jones's stead. I don't believe that Montessori programs for 3-year-olds are any less important than the schools that were saved from the chopping block last fall. In fact, from my family's own perspective, they are more important.