Sunday, February 18, 2007

An Unscheduled Week

It's ski week in these here parts. Oops, I mean mid-winter break of course. What's the genesis of such a bizarre week-long vacation from school? Legend has it that it goes something like this:

The county which we live in has very good public schools, which means parents who could well afford to send their children off to private schools need not go to that expense. We're talking some very wealthy people living here. The kinds who have second (or third) homes in Sun Valley or Colorado or, for the nouveau rich, Tahoe.

People who can afford second homes in far-off places are not the types of folk who deal well with crowds. They are also not necessarily bound by the conventions of the public school calendar. What did they do? They yanked offspring from school when the skiing was great and the crowds were slight.

In a private school setting, no problem, because you're paying tuition whether you're there or not. At a public school, very, very bad as the state only funds per child per day in attendance. Thus was born forevermore "mid-winter break" or, as we little folk call in, "ski week." By building in that week off, the theory goes, and making up the days by starting school a day or two earlier than most and ending it a day or two later than most, the districts don't lose the funding.

And, in a pure move of utter brilliance, our school district even gave us Friday off first, making it a teacher in-service day. So if you're tempted to beat the crowds of your own kind making a hasty retreat, no need to take a day off early. They'll give you the day off. So we can beat those folks in Atherton to the airport to go to Sun Valley or Colorado.

And that is the urban legend. I believe it is based mostly on fact. And so many have taken off. But not us. We're sticking around. Grandma has come to visit. We've got plans. Big plans. Oakland Zoo. "Flushed Away" coming out on DVD on Tuesday. The Steinhart Aquarium and Fisherman's Wharf and the Rainforest Cafe in San Francisco on Wednesday. I'm thinking it might be a great time for Safari West, too.

So it isn't "ski week" for us. We're definitely more the "mid-winter break" folks. Some unscheduled down time. Priceless

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