Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sabbatication: How Katie Ended up Going to School on a Military Base

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When looking for a home, one of the most important factors (for me, anyway) is the school district. Sadly, Arizona is ranking pretty darn low on the education totem pole, and Tucson schools just aren't what they used to be. (Maybe they never were much, and I just got really darn lucky with fabulous teachers and programs throughout high school....)

To promote competition among schools, students can apply to go to any public school. It's pretty much the old school voucher system, but they call it, "Open Enrollment." Basically you apply and they accept or decline, usually based on enrollment numbers. By the time we knew we were going to Tucson, all of the recommended public middle schools were closed unless we moved into that specific neighborhood. Problem was...we couldn't find any acceptable rental homes within our budget near those schools. Sure there were apartments, but at 40+ I'm just not that into apartment life!

I was feeling frustrated at the options. So frustrated that *I* considered homeschooling. Thankfully Katie had the good sense to flat out refuse to be homeschooled, even with a group of kids. I was looking, applying for open enrollment, getting turned down, when Brian asked if I'd researched charter schools. Silly me. No, I had not. And the girl even goes to one!

Well....Arizona is the land of charter schools! 25% of the schools in Arizona are charter schools. It appears there are at least 100 in Tucson alone. Charter schools exploded about 15 years ago, again to create competition. Like the public schools, they are hit or miss.

One of the first I found when I started googling, was the Sonoran Science Academy. I looked at its mission statement, curriculum, and read the entire website. My first thought was that this sounded nearly identical to the school Katie attends in Oregon. Only the languages they teach here are Turkish or Spanish. I'm still trying to figure out the Turkish connection...all the administrators and most of the teachers are Turkish!

There were two "branches" of this school in was in the northwest area, where we were first looking to rent. Upon calling, I learned that the NW school was filled, but they did have room at the Broadway/Kolb site (hmmmm...a block from my childhood home...which is another story I need to tell....) and there was a brand new school opening on base.

I quickly started asking my Tucson friends about this school, and everyone confirmed its reputation as one of the best schools...not just in Tucson, but in the nation. On paper it was pretty darn dreamy. When Katie learned of the "heavy homework load" reputation, she just shrugged, saying she was used to that. OK....

The B/K site was for K-8, while the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base school was just middle school, with fewer students altogether. After talking to school personnel, I was fine with either school. Both were equidistant from our rental home. I left it up to Katie. Ultimately, she chose the Davis-Monthan one because 1) it was smaller, 2) it was only middle school, and 3) ALL the students would be new...not just her. I thought she made a well-informed choice! So we quickly got her records together and sent in our application!

Admittedly, I gave no thought at all to HOW we would get on base. I guess I just thought we'd drive up and go to the school. Having no military background at all, I was completely ignorant.

Next up...the frustration of trying to get to school!!

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