The Edison Dilemma

Those of you keeping score at home know that Hannah and Zoe are eighth graders this year, which means that we here in Lathropworld are in the market for a new high school (or two).

Today, we began the shopping process.

Hannah and Zoe aren’t entirely sure what they’re looking for in a high school. Though they have some guidelines that we’re working from: they don’t want to be in a school that’s as big as Patrick’s. And they aren’t sure they want to continue in their current program and go to the high school equivalent of their current school. So there are some limits that we have to work within.

But since it would actually be their default school anyway, we took a tour today of Edison High School.

I spent most of my life believing (mostly truthfully) that Edison was not a great school. I only went to the school in my neighborhood for one year–eighth grade–and at that, I ended up going to Edison for first hour French every day, and then was bused back to the junior high for the remaining five hours of the day. Otherwise, I went to better schools with better programs in other parts of the city for the remainder of my school career.

When we were looking for schools for Patrick those many years ago, nothing stood out until we saw the program at the school downtown. And because we liked it to start, we sent the girls there. But then it stopped serving Patrick’s needs, and we looked around for alternatives and ended up sending him to Roseville.

So yes. I felt a bit dirty even considering Edison for my kids. It’s like watching someone get mauled by a bear in a cage at the zoo, and then sending your kids in as apprentice bear trainers.

Well, then there’s the realization that we never really gave Patrick the latitude to choose his school as much as we’re giving the girls. Sadly, his move was mostly a reaction to two things: the fact that at the time there were few good options for him at the high school in that program, and that he had been bullied for a while there and we needed to get him out.

Fortunately, that all has worked out well.

But back to Edison…

I haven’t set foot in a Minneapolis Public High School since I graduated in 1987. And I haven’t been in Edison since 1983. But there was a real familiarity there, because I think all Minneapolis Public Schools built in the same era as Edison all had the same basic design elements…The woodwork, center courtyards, staircases, even the creaky wood floors in the classrooms.

But remember that the girls were there to see what this school had to offer. So there it was: the future set amid flashbacks to the past. I’ll let you know how this all turns out.

See you tomorrow.