Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hair on Fire

I keep meaning to post an update, summarize what's going on in our lives this past week or so, you know, but there's just too much. So let me just spew a few items.

First, my doctor has begun supplying me with BIG bottles of Percocet, and I do need it. My company will buy me a spiffy orthopedic chair if I get a prescription for it, so I need to pick one out and tell my doc what to write. He's awesome, and his strings aren't even visible except in really bright light.

Punkin Baby had the time of his young life on his second birthday. Blue's Clues pawprint cake, of course. Lots of Little People. And balloons, which he held in his mouth while jumping up and down. Don't ask; I don't get it either! With the money Auntie sent him, our little man went shopping-- very big-- and bought (wait for it) a sword, of course. OK, you knew he would. Of course, Pirate Boy became insanely jealous and was awarded a (different but also spiffy) swashbuckling sword as an early birthday present by parents who were tired of yelling, "Will you PUT DOWN that SWORD, for the last time!"

Other quotes flying around our house lately: "No throwing dinosaurs, please..." (I forget when I'm on the phone that not everyone has kids.) As well as:

Hubby, on getting Punkin Boy up from his nap: "Hey, buddy, need a diaper change?"
Punkin Baby (eyes wide, head nodding): "HOLY COW!" (I'm thinking that means "duh!" in toddler-speak.)

These are mainly the small items. Big items include:
  1. I've had about a million interviews in the past week for a great job (my former boss's) that they aren't really going to give me because I "need room for a career path"-- so I'll just get all the work and none of the pay, even if I don't technically get the job. Especially if I don't. Sounds complicated, but it's pretty standard. Gack.
  2. We found a really great school for our kids, which they can't get into because it's such a great (and therefore popular) school. Yep.
  3. We have to find a new daycare for our youngest; the one we were going to put him into turns out to be a hive of scum and villainy and recently let a toddler choke to death while supposedly being supervised. Um, no thanks.
  4. #1 Son has become a victim of bullying and other violence at his school. Totally uncool. But unless he's brave enough to talk to his principal about it, the school can't (or won't) do anything about it. And if he does? Catch-22.

Have I mentioned that my back is killing me?


Jack said...

Go school choice! eh?

Scone said...

I love school choice! I just wish we had more good schools to choose from-- or that I could afford to live near one of the good ones that exist already.

Jack said...

We're moving to a location that has choice within the school district and I have mixed feelings about it. What if we find the perfect house in the neighborhood with the "problem" school? We could get our kids to a better school and that appeals to me as a parent. And yet, isn't part of the reason it's a problem school because all the "good" students get pulled by their parents to go to schools outside that neighborhood? Or doesn't the resulting disassociation with poor and minority students only reinforce existing social divides? That bothers me as a citizen.

The city residents I know assure me it's really not a big problem here though. There are only three middle schools and two high schools so there's not a whole lot of room at those levels to segregate the student population by socio-econonmic status or to create a kind of de facto tracking. "Choice" has the potential to stratify the grade schools a bit, but the district has done a good job of getting extra resources (money, teachers, facilities) to the schools with student population issues (ESL, special ed, low income families, et al). Those resources kind of provide incentives to not pull students from those schools. Mostly choice gets used here (1) to get your kids into the high school with the better team for the sport they play and (2) to keep your kids in the same school their friends attend when you move to the other side of town.

Without the extra effort to address potential problems though, or in a larger district, I would expect to see extra demand to get into the "good" schools, families that care the most about education getting their students into those schools and therefore a degradation of other schools resulting in a kind of self reinforcing educational stratification. Ugly, ugly, very ugly.

Scone said...

There is that, too. I have been unfavorably impressed by our school district's management of funds and other resources. Especially in our area of town, residential development has been booming for the past 5 years, yet the district has ignored the need to build a new school in the area. Most of the new housing is fairly nice and the residents will be at least upper-middle class, but I don't think that will improve conditions at the very lousy neighborhood school. We do have a preponderance of non-English speakers and lower income families, but they're already way outnumbered. The main problem I see comes from the low teaching standards and failure to hold the kids responsible for good school behavior. It seems the school staff is afraid of the soccer moms and dads coming in yelling "How dare you flunk my precious kid for not doing her homework!" As a responsible parent, I'm concerned about this because it hurts my ability to teach my children to be responsible when the messages they get at school are "It's OK not to turn in your work on time; I'll still give you an A," "It's OK to use bad spelling and grammar when you write; I understood what you meant," etc. When #1 Son forgets his lunch, the school just gives him food. When the majority of his class forgot their times tables over the summer, the teacher took most of the next school year to review. At the end of 4th grade, he's about as advanced as the kids in my 3rd-grade class were at mid-year. And he's a "GT" (gifted/talented) student.

So I don't know what the answer is, but when I find a school that'll teach and actually hold the kids responsible for learning, I gravitate there. I know my kids will get the good grades/scores if given the challenge.