School Choice


We’re in the throes of school choice here in Saint Paul, which one friend called “death by opportunity.” Saint Paul has open enrollment throughout the city, so we have over 50 different public school options for Beatrix. As one school official (not so) reassuringly put it, “If it seems like a big choice, it is — likely the biggest choice you will make until college.” Well, ok then.

We started by looking at Nova Classical Academy — well, Patrick did, while I stayed with Beatrix. He’s not so sure how he feels about it; he thinks it might be too academically rigid. It’s a competitive lottery anyway, so our chances of getting in are low. My best friend’s children go there and love it, so we’ll see if that is an option when the lottery occurs.

We then toured our top five of the Saint Paul schools:

Horace Mann – supposed to be excellent, and an area school for us, but I got the wrong vibe from it.

Highland Elementary – an IB program that was very good at selling itself. Diverse, good technology, staff that really seemed to like each other, but weaker on science and somehow missing something. Still, a very viable option.

JJ Hill Montessori – A very authentic Montessori near us. Highly rated, and great teacher/student ratios. Parents I know love it. But would entail going the Montessori route for her entire elementary education, which I am not sure about.

L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion – a late entry that I (surprisingly) really liked. Lots of options for her, including a strings program, and of course, French! The teachers seemed very enthusiastic. It’s a little far away, and they have recently been through some neighborhood/parent/administration issues (and are moving/splitting campuses next year).

Randolph Heights – This is our neighborhood school, which we have dubbed the “reading immersion” due to their excellent focus on reading. We really loved the whole feeling of this school, and the feedback from current parents, plus the test scores, are great!

That’s without looking at the other immersion schools, the charter Montessoris, Expo, Linwood arts magnet, and the rapidly-failing school at the end of our block!

So after all that, we are ranking Randolph Heights first, and French Immersion second, with hopefully a good chance of getting into both, and a possible reconsideration if  reconsider if we get into Nova. We were reassured by the JJ Hill teacher who said that there were often more openings in upper levels, so if we find Beatrix really thrives best under Montessori, we can always switch her. And then, of course, there is testing to get into Capitol Hill next year!

Yikes! After all this, we need a vacation...

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