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We have a situation. We have two daughters. The oldest is typically developing, talented and very smart excellent student. The younger has ASD but is high functioning, talented and very smart (a whiz at geography BTW).

The problem is schools. The elder daughter is in an elite private middle school (think Hogwarts for girls). Where we live, the public middle school in our district is unacceptable - even worse than public schools in general. We just got the financial aid notice from the private school. Due to overwhelming demand, it's not much and we really can't afford the tuition (15K after financial aid) and certainly can't sustain it for the next 6 years.

The younger daughter (with ASD) is starting middle school next year, but paradoxically will be OK as we have arranged an "administrative placement" in a middle school that is the best one in the City. She gets excellent services, more than we could ever hope to get if we, like many of our peers faced with the "middle school problem", moved to the county.

This kind of got sprung on us and it's too late to enroll our elder daughter in the public school IB program or get into the "good" middle school (where her sister will attend) by lottery.

If we gut it up and spend the money on tuition, it will hurt our long term ability to provide for the younger daughter (not to mention ourselves or older daughter) who may or may not be able to live independently. If we put our elder daughter in the "bad" public school I shudder to think what this might do to her long term.

So what do we do? Drain our savings in a bad economy so our eldest daughter can get the superior education or "move to the county" and deprive our younger daughter of the services (and friends she has made) she desperately needs? Or deprive our eldest daughter of a decent education, and possibly worse, by staying where we are.

It reminds us of Sophie's Choice. Which one do we sacrifice, and if we don't choose we may lose both.

Regards. Thetis.
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Are there any less expensive private schools that will be adequate for your eldest? They might not be as good as the super expensive one, but still be a lot better than the public school. What about a catholic school?

And it might be too late to get her into the good public school by lottery, but could you plead your case with an administrator to see if she could get in there since her younger sister will be there? Beg if you have to. Would it be beneficial for your younger daughter to have her older sister there with her? (Don't lie, but try to think of all the reasons why it'd be a good idea for her to be there.) See if the administrators are allowed to make any admissions at their discretion. The worst they can do is say no.
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"Are there any less expensive private schools that will be adequate for your eldest?"

I'm checking on that now, but most of the application times have passed for this year. OTOH, she is an outstanding student and has even performed on the harp at Carnagie Hall. Our understanding about the Catholic schools is they give preference to catholics (understandably) and also cost in the 8-10k range.

With respect to the "good" public school. I use "good" only in a relative sense, meaning not outright terrible/dangerous. We *already* had to beg to get the younger in there and in fact it's not a done deal yet. Ms. Thetis teaches special ed in the system so she has some suction, or rather her boss does who also loves our youngest. But you are right, all they can say is no.

Is *was* the deal that if you were a teacher in the system you could pick which school your kid went to - that was our plan B. One of the incentives for working there. But they apparently changed that this year without anyone telling us.

I set up an appointment with the "Hogwarts" financial aid people but I'm not sure it will do any good. I had lunch with a friend whose mom is financial director for a private university. Apparently, since we didn't spend *all* our money, overleverage our house(s), have a boat and Lexus payment, have our cash in special trusts etc. we are "richer" than all the old money types living in their $2m estates.

Thanks for your concern.

Regards. Thetis.
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Well, good luck. Let us know what you end up doing. I don't know *how* bad a really bad public school can be (sorry, I'm not a parent)- I wonder how muc it could hurt to have her there for a bit, but I guess that might not be an option.

joycets
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Thetis,

I've been wondering how your "Sophie's Choice" has turned out? Do you have any prospects that are an improvment over last week?

LWW
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I don't have an easy answer to that one, but I can relate..

Older daughter, Autism Spectrum (NVLD), HORRIBLE experience in public school, we're looking at a private specialized school for kids with learning problems. She should be a great fit. Very expensive. We're looking into funding currently..

Younger daughter, gifted, skipped a grade, very advance for her age. Getting totally under-served at the same school that could not serve our older daughter.

I think about the older one, how well she could do if she had teachers that understood how to teach her, and without the stress that she deals with every day due to bullying.

I think about the younger one, how fantastic it would be for her to be in a room of kids that were as bright as she was, and if there were no limits placed on how much she could learn or achieve.

Very difficult choices. I'm looking for a 2nd job.
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I don't know *how* bad a really bad public school can be

you have no idea..


and the thing is, even well-funded schools in well-to-do areas can be absolutely HORRIBLE in regards to services for kids that need special education..

a lot of it comes down to politics and the personalities of the teachers and administration, believe it or not.
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Thanks for your interest. We went and talked to the financial aid people at the private school. The guy was very sympathetic and after reviewing our documents said he would recommend additional funds. We got the letter yesterday. They increase the grant by $7500. Still painful but we can swing it for another year.

OTOH, we got a letter on the youngest saying she was number 125 on the waiting list for the good-bad school. Still think this will be "fixed" but we have since learned they closed another "really" bad school and a lot of those kids will be going to the good-bad school. Confused yet?

"...and the thing is, even well-funded schools in well-to-do areas can be absolutely HORRIBLE in regards to services for kids that need special education.."

No kidding. The "well-funded schools" in county just spent the last three years in federal litigation trying to deny services to ASD kids. I represented a special-ed teacher in that system who took care of severely disabled kids that was scared to death of losing her job (30 years experience) for daring to suggest to a parent that they needed another aid in the class -(the school *was* short). They're generally *too* good with the paperwork so it's virtually impossible to get concessions or catch them in a legal mistake. It's their way or the highway.

The City provides our daughter with a full time instructional assistant as well as speech, OT etc. all excellent. No way we would get that in the county. They would probably force her into a self-contained class or keep suspending her if she did something "disruptive".

In our experience, success or failure is all about having a "good fit". The teachers and administration either "get it" or they don't and nothing can change that.

Regards. Thetis.
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Y'all are almost convincing me to go back & try to certify as a teacher...?

joycets
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