Friday, January 14, 2011

When I Was a Kid, I Walked...

By the time I was in 8th grade, I had gone to six different schools: St. Michael's for kindergarten, Bren Mar for 1st, 2nd and 3rd; Foster Village for 4th; Hickam AFB Elementary for 5th and 6th; Moanalua Junior High for 7th; and Lake Braddock Secondary for 8th.

I told Daughter that the other night as I broke the news to her that her middle school was closing and she would have to go to a different one for 8th grade. Not surprisingly, she really could give a shit how many schools I had to go to; she only cared that her life was in upheaval, that the friends at the school she attends would be dispersed to the other two middle schools in town, that the teachers she adored and hoped to have again next year might be somewhere else.

Mostly, though, she was upset by the fact that nearly all of her friends are planning on going to one school and her "mom is making" her go to the other school. Worse than that, even, is the fact that all those same friends are telling her how awful the school is that she'll be going to, how mean the people are, how bad the test scores are, and so on.

Little fu$%ers. I try to tell her to do her own research on the school, to talk to kids who already go there, and to not listen to little shits who spout what their parents spout. [On the other hand, she should spout precisely what I spout. Ahem.]

The superintendent and school board members came to our closing middle school last night to hear from a room packed with parents. The information they gave did nothing to assuage anyone's anxiety. They're re-drawing the district boundaries, so no one will know for sure which middle school theirs will be until mid-February. Layer on that the fact that one school is in Program Improvement and the district doesn't know if they can reconstitute the whole damn district to have it considered out of white flight PI. [You can read horror stories about white flight PI. Just Google that No Child Left Behind bullshit act.]

And if they can't reconstitute and that one middle school stays in white flight PI, do you know what happens? Each and every parent who requests a transfer to the other school gets that transfer. Our middle school lost 100 kids to white flight PI transfers. The other school in white flight PI lost comparable numbers. So the district can talk all it wants about "equity in demographics and programs and resources" between the two middle schools remaining. But the fact is that won't happen unless white flight PI can be tricked out of the district with the smoke and mirrors of redrawing of boundaries.

That middle school in white flight PI, the one Daughter will likely attend as it is 1.6 miles from our house rather than 3.5, is a good school by urban standards. Of course, we're not in an urban setting, are we? But it's also a decent school by California standards. Of course, as a state, we rank 47th in per-pupil spending, right? But screw the test scores, which are skewed markedly down by a huge influx of English learners, the offspring of, dare I say it, illegal immigrants living in our town. Even with the onus of those kids and their uninvolved parents, the school offers a lot of great classes taught by good teachers and it is really quite nurturing yet tough and, and, and...middle school.

I told Daughter last night, after that meeting where I got fewer answers than I wanted and where I managed to make enough cutting remarks to make it clear what I think of the f#$kers who are closing this school to save a minuscule amount of money, that the principal she loves and a number of the teachers she adores will be going to the same school she'll be slated to attend. I told her that she has friends all over town, ones she's made through dancing and Girl Scouts, and they'll be there, too. I told her those friends of hers who are saying they won't be going are likely dead wrong.

I didn't tell her to "Suck it up, woman. I went to SIX schools by the time I was in 8th grade."

But seriously, Daughter, suck it up. I went to SIX schools by the time I was in 8th grade.


mayberry said...

Ugh, what a mess. So sorry she has to go through this. Our town has a totally weird system where kids go to three different schools from 6th through 9th grade. But it's ALL the kids in the district together.

Patois42 said...

Mayberry Mom, the keeping of the kids together seems far better. But, really, if I had to choose which of my three kids went through this, I would so pick Daughter, the most self-assured and outgoing of the bunch.

Janet said...

Yuck. Sorry you're both having to deal with this. We have two school systems, county and city. You have to live within the city limits to go to the city school, unless of course you're related to someone, which we aren't. We're fairly happy with the elementary school. There is no middle school - county schools go K-8 then they all go to one high school. THAT's going to be our big problem, but since it's 7 years away, any one of a number of things could happen between now and then, so I'm going to pull a Scarlett O'Hara and worry about that tomorrow. However, the two high schools can no longer play each other in football because the parents are so evil to one another that fights always break out - note I said parents, not the kids.

Hope Daughter is soon reassured that it won't be as horrible as she fears.

Patois42 said...


Scarlett O'Hara ALWAYS works. As for the fact that the parents are the ones fighting, I can only heartily agree that we parents are far more junior high than our kids are.

Michele R said...

Deep down your daughter may know that you are making the best decision—she has seen your involvement in school issues and knows you have given it lots of thought. I think you are a great example. Once upon a time parents screamed and whined about test scores, and voila, thank you, now that is all that school and teaching and school politics is about, unfortunately.
A school that is diverse (meaning representative of many different races and nationalities) is good for my kids. They know so much more about life than kids 10 miles north of us. They have friends in mansions and friends in trailer parks and friends of every color.
There are private “white” schools on every corner here. Cause you know…parents want to have their kids learn Spanish, but God forbid they sit next to someone who can speak it.
P.S. I went to 6 schools as I began 7th grade and then stayed put since it was private from 7th thru 12th grade. I remind my kids of this too.

Tara R. said...

Sounds like one big fuster cluck.

Chances are once your daughter gets settled into her new school, she'll be glad she's there.

Patois42 said...


What had you transferring around so much? Were your parents skipping out on rent, like mine? (Kidding. Mine was a result of military brathood.)

I own up to having sent my kids to the very high-performing by-lottery elementary school rather than send them to their neighborhood school with abysmal scores (and very much filled with ESL students). That lottery school is, in fact, closer to my house than the neighborhood school, but I didn't do it for the proximity. I did it for the education. The difference in scores is about 40 points (on a 100-point scale). For the middle school, I sent them to the one they were to go to, one with scores 10, 15, 20 points lower than the lily-white rich kid school many other parents pined for. They couldn't have been happier.

So sending my kids to a Program Improvement middle school is not an issue for me, so long as the programs for THEM are there as well as programs for those with greater needs. On the one hand, I want to let all parents choose what's best for their kids. But as one person I spoke to today said, "They're going to have to deal with the Mexicans eventually." I think the parents do a disservice by totally dissing the PI diverse school. I find myself saying nasty things about the other school in retaliation. Which makes me no better, I acknowledge.

Patois42 said...

Tara, my husband said to me last night, "She'll be loving it before the first day of school is over."


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