Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: I Just Don't Get It

I believe I've written in the past about the public school my kids go to. It is the best elementary school in the district and, quite often, in the county. It is not our local school. Our local school is not the worst in the county. It is the worst in the district.

There is a lottery held each year to get into the school my kids attend. As siblings are automatically allowed to attend the school, the number of open slots each year for kindergarten runs around 40. About 150 people vie each year to get their kids one of the 40 slots. Many of these parents have kids who will have to go to the worst school or second-worst school in the district.

Are we bad people, those of us who try to flee the worst of the bunch? I know some feel we are. They believe we should have our kids in the bad schools and devote our energies to making those schools better. They feel we're short-changing those schools and, let's face it, society at large, by opting out. They feel we're no better than parents who send their kids to private school.

I may be a bad person, but not when it comes to my kids. I have no qualms about having danced the happy jig when Eldest won a slot in the lottery. I want what's best for my kids. Period.

I was at a PTA meeting Thursday night. There were probably 16 people in attendance. [No surprise to anyone that it was all women, eh?] The principal was there. She was talking about an award the school is up for, and she had a verbal slip-up where she mentioned that the worst school had already had its site visit. I made a comment to the effect of, "Maybe in another lifetime."

Gasps were heard around the room. "Oh, how could you say that?" "Oh, that's terrible." "Oh, dear." These words were all uttered by women who have chosen not to send their kids to the worst school or the second-worst school or the third-worst school. They were shocked, shocked, shocked that I would believe or say such a thing.

Here's what I don't get: if the other schools aren't bad -- or, at best, mediocre -- why aren't their kids attending them? I own up to my choices. I don't get how they can't as well.


Anonymous said...

I have had the same reaction to things I have said that were the absolute truth. It seems that we both say what's on our minds and usually what's on the minds of others, except those others act shocked, shocked, shocked because they don't want other others to know what they really think. I think.

Jayne said...

As a teacher, I get you exactly. I'm guessing the gasps of surprise had more to do with what they "should" think/do than what they really thing/do.

In Texas, we often gripe that the people making decisions about public schools (i.e. the state school board) won't have their kids in public schools. How could they possibly know what is or isn't working if they won't deign to put themselves in one?

DeeBee said...

There are always finger pointers who need to be pointing at themselves.

I consider myself to be very opinionated and I like to hear the opinions of others, so I think it's great that you say what you're thinking.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! Say it like it is and if others don't like what they hear - tough!

Tumblewords: said...

I don't either, but maybe it's okay as it is. You should do the best you can - I get that, for sure. Nice post!

Lilibeth said...

Well, speaking as a teacher in a private school--please don't gasp--I've been subjected to this attitude a lot. When I asked one of our new seventh graders how he was liking school this year, he said: "It's great. The difference here is that you don't have to watch your back." I make less than half the money of a public school teacher, yet I wouldn't trade my job for theirs. Some schools are impossible to teach in; they are poorly managed, over-crowded, mired in ridiculous paperwork, or full of teachers just hanging in there until retirement. Parents needs to be aware of that and put their child in the best school possible. Don't feel guilty about that. As for those "oh my" parents, I think they were reflecting that "Come. Come. Let's not be intolerant of anyone" speech. . . . while being intolerant in deed. It wasn't wrong for them to want their children out of the poor schools, but they didn't dare want to say that the schools were poor.
I don't get it either.

Anonymous said...

Doing what is best for your child is the best decision you can make. We have explored all kinds of educational situations for our kids and I don't feel guilty for one moment about the choices that we have made. It is no more your job to solve another school's problem than it is the school's job to fix problem's in your family. Sure your life overlaps with the school, but you don't run the school. The other school should take steps to keep students from leaving.

Anonymous said...

I so appreciate your honesty. I agree with Lilibeth and Jayne (Marcy, too.) Our society, in general, values the "face" more than the heart. I appreciate Jung for saying that he'd rather be whole than good. Wholeness encompasses both darks and lights, and acceptance of things as they really are. But heaven forbid you expose those around you to that reality by confirming the true reason they were all in that meeting at that school! (It's okay to do what you want as long as you put the proper "spin" on your actions, right?)

But, personally, I don't think either right or wrong should factor into your decision. You made the best choice given your system of values. I have an acquaintance here in Denver also overjoyed because her child's name was chosen in the lottery and got into a "good" school.

Let those who truly believe that sticking it out in the local public schools is best for all carry that particular torch!

Luck was with you (and my friend) this time around.

Jillie Bean (AKA Bubba's Sis) said...

You know they were all thinking the same thing - people are so self-righteous, and they don't think anyone will see past the facade (but we do!). Hooray for you for doing what's best for your children - I have no doubt that if you had not been lucky enough to get your kids in that school that you would be doing everything you could to improve the school they were in (and shocking all THOSE parents with your thinking out loud!). ;-)

Anonymous said...

Go girl ... some of us were put here to say exactly what the wimps don't have the intestinal fortitude to utter, in public, (they'll wait to do so behind your back tho) ... please, don't ever change ;)

Anonymous said...

I teach in a Govt owned school. These are supposed to be of the lowest rings. Our students are from the so called lower strata of the society who can't afford to get into the private schools.

Irony is, the best qualified teachers are in the govt schools. Our infrastucture is really bad. In some cases, we do not have black boards either. No Electricity, no water and toilets are real bad.

The govt is trying to improve upon it.


watered down

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

It amazes me that people even bother being fake. I mean - these are grown women. Don't they have anything better to waste their shock on?

jenica said...

it's the whole crabs in the basket syndrome.

D... said...

It's amazing to me that we never really leave the jr. high mentality. Of course they were thinking what you had the guts to say out loud. Annoying people.

Gemma Wiseman said...

People need appearances to affirm what they think they are. Brave are those who bypass such shallow hypocrisy.

A great post that could be applied to so many situations imbued with "keeping up appearances".



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