What Do Shopping for Schools and Shopping for Shoes Have in Common?

Reprinted with permission of Wendy Calise, Countryside Montessori School, USA

So, I am looking for new shoes.

Here is what I want:

Black -Two inches high – Wedge heels -With a strap – Leather – Open toe – Dressy

And I want them by Friday.

Answer: No Problem!

We expect what we purchase to be tailored to our particular specifications. There is almost nothing we can’t find, nothing we can’t ask, and nothing we can’t get delivered. In this day and age, why can’t school deliver my order like every other business does?

Let’s consider some actual parent requests:

  • More homework / Less homework
  • Strict Enforcement of Policy / More Flexibility
  • An Exception for My Child / More Accountability for Another Family’s Student
  • More Attention to Testing / Greater Focus on Real Learning
  • More Technology/ More Hands On Learning
  • More Options for Parent Education/ Fewer Requirements for Attendance at
  • Meetings
  • More Performances / Fewer Performances
  • Give a Student a Bigger Part in Performance…
  • Change the Songs in the Choral Program…
  • Classes Three Days a Week…
  • Print Instead of Cursive…
  • More Book Groups…
  • More Math…
  • Expel Another Family’s Student…

Every time a school agrees to move the goal post for you, you can bet they are moving the goal post for other families as well. And oftentimes the “yes” to another family will come at the expense of your child.

Every time your school faculty and staff deny a request, they are upholding a core value of the school. They are preserving the model of education that you have decided is the very best.

The schools with the greatest integrity and deepest commitment to their work hold fast to their rules, policies and mission; even when it is unpopular in the moment or with a particular family.

This is a critical but very nuanced message. Wā Ora has a clear methodology, a strong mission and a community of families who share a common vision regarding education. The students at Wā Ora are guided by the professional staff that you met during your interview process, not by the beliefs or dictates of other parents.

The clearer a school is about its policies, the more it sticks to its principles and the higher its expectations for families, the greater the quality of the educational experience for the students.

So, what do shopping for schools and shoes have in common?

At a good school, not much.