Thursday, October 2, 2014

More on the middle school decision-making (pings)

I think life sometimes throws things/people/situations into our spheres to let us know we're on the right (or wrong) track.

Or maybe I'm just reading too much into things, which my high school students would totally accuse me of doing.  One in particular is like, "Is this really a thing?"  And my learned response is "If it keeps popping up again and again, then yes, I think it's a thing."

So here is my latest thing related to middle school decision-making.

I am chair of the Beautification Committee at my kids' elementary school, which basically means I do yard work and pick up trash without pay.  In this capacity, I have been working with the nearby middle school's (CMS) Beta Club students who help me out to earn service hours.  I have been very impressed by these kids (all girls) and their Beta Club chair (a teacher at the school).  He has been excellent about emailing me and replying to my emails.  

CMS is the school I am leaning toward for N to attend for a variety of reasons.  It has AP classes.  It is super close to our house and offers bus transportation which means N won't have to get up uber early, and I won't have to haul her butt to school.  I have friends who teach there.  I know lots of parents whose kids go there.  The counselor at the kids' school says it is small and quiet.

So this positive vibe from working with the Beta Club keeps pinging in my head.

Then I met a kid from VHS, which is all the way on the other side of town.  He was helping me unload my car at a recent consignment sale.  I don't know if he was earning service hours or being paid or what, but he was extremely helpful and nice.  A nice, polite black teenager from VHS, which for some people in my "end of the world" would be absolutely shocking.  Some of these folk couldn't find the area of town in which VHS is located on a map.  It isn't the East End, which basically means it might be a sliver of Hell proper.

Another ping.

The pings were to remind me that all kinds of fantastic kids go to all kinds of schools.  All schools have advantages and disadvantages.  All schools have well-prepared and ill-prepared kids; kind and mean kids; kids from stable homes and kids from dysfunctional homes.

Because sometimes I feel myself getting sucked into the vat of nonsense that is called "Where Are You Sending Your Kid to School?"

I need these pings to remind myself that

*even though I am an upper-middle class white chick who is better off than a huge slice of the world,  I despise uppity-ness.
*I despise cliques and all their nonsense
* I despise the whole notion that going to school with poor kids or kids of different races or nationalities will somehow f*ck my kids up.
*I despise the notion that where my kid attends middle school or high school is going to make or break her or his entire life.  I don't believe that there is a "Holy Grail" school where everyone is perfect and sings Kum-ba-ya, and I am certainly not going to uproot my whole life to move to another county to see if one exists.

The pings also are a way to remind myself that I need to disengage myself from this.  Where I send her to school should not be a political statement, which I have a tendency to want to make it.  I want where I send her to be a giant "F U" to all the parents who think the neighborhood school isn't good enough.  Who actually think test scores mean much of anything.  Who think their children might be scarred for life if they don't get into a certain school.  Who cry and whine if their child gets sent to a non-neighborhood elementary (read: in the ghetto) but want to send them to all the far-away magnet schools for middle and high school (read: in the ghetto but offer dog-and-pony show).

I need to remind myself that the school needs to be a good fit for N, for the girl she is now.  That this isn't a determinant of who she will be in 5 or 10 or 15 years.

This shouldn't be about me.

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