A few months later the board asked for proposals from the public for the last two small schools. (This was a phased approach and the original brochure only discussed the educational outlines for the first three). My daughter Zoey was struggling in her last year of middle school. She desperately wanted to go to an all-girl high school, which meant we either had to spend a fortune on private school or send her, a Jewish girl, to a local Catholic school. Interesting times.
I proposed that the last two schools be single-sex. Make one for boys, the other for girls. After all, the district was losing a lot of kids – not just my daughter – to private and parochial schools. I referenced the attrition rate and hit some of the current research on same-sex education.
Their response? Something close to this: “We can’t do that. It may not even be legal, but it’s certainly not in tune with the spirit of public education. It will never fly.”
I assured the committee that it was in fact legal and that there were over 200 same-sex public schools in the United States. They looked at me as if I had just suggested they reinstate corporal punishment. The discussion ended abruptly. Two more ill-defined small schools were created. Zoey went to Catholic school. And I turned my full attention to paying for college – again (Zoey has four older brothers and sisters).
Fast forward several years and tens of thousands of dollars. The cost of tuition has continued to climb, rising three times more than the median income over the past 20 years. Everyone agrees we need to do something to lower the cost of a four-year degree. It turns out there’s already a solution to lower the cost by 25 percent. And almost no one’s interested. Including my kids.