Saturday, December 3, 2016

A year and a half into N's middle school....and thinking ahead to G

I don't regret allowing N to apply to her middle school.  She has been happy there.  Her grades are good.  No problems at all of which to speak.

Sure, there have been some minor what I consider excessive busy-work in Social Studies, but I think I would probably end up being annoyed with Jesus himself.  I am fairly easily annoyed with minor issues.

However, after having subbed at both N's school and our resides middle school, I feel about 98% confident that G will not follow in his sister's footsteps (we don't actually know yet whether his AP scores would even allow him to do so, but even if they are at or near or above her scores, I don't intend for him to apply to her middle school).

I have subbed a couple of times at N's school, and I subbed on Thursday at our resides middle school, where I would have preferred that N attend for a number of reasons.  The first reason is that the building is one level with wide hallways. Secondly, we have transportation by bus to our resides school.  Thirdly, there are AP classes at both schools.  She applied to an "optional liberal arts program" of which I have seen zero benefit.  I don't mind shlepping her back and forth for three years for participation in something "special."  But shlepping her back and forth without any evidence of anything special has grown annoying.

I had been eager to sub at our resides middle school so that I could see first hand how the show operates.

Now I fully recognize that subbing at any school doesn't make me an expert on that school, but I do think being a sub gives a person a better indication of what "really" goes on that just visiting on a school tour or at an Open House.  Being a certified teacher substitute with middle school experience also gives me a different picture because I am talked to with a different level of "insider understanding."  (This could be completely off-the-mark, but that is the impression I get.)  Plus, I've walked the walk and remember what goes on in middle school hallways on a full-time basis.

My impression from these limited subbing experiences is that my daughter's school doesn't really deserve the stellar reputation it has gained.

The teachers are fine.  I have no qualms with the instruction.  People at all of the schools have been personable.  In terms of bells and whistles (teams and activities), my daughter's school is great.

But the behavior issues at her school were worse than the behavior issues I've seen at the three other middle schools (including one in Portland, which many suburban white parents would deem the 7th ring of hell simply because of where it is in the city).  When I have subbed at these middle schools, N's was the only one in which kids outright bucked me, and my de-escalation approaches did not work.  (I work very hard to keep from calling SRT, and I had to call SRT at her school a couple times or literally march someone out of my class and into the AP's office.)

The reason I'm writing about this is because there has been a long (and hopefully waning) dialogue about CrMS (N's school) being all that and a bag of chips and CaMS being bad.  It is part of the reason I stewed mightily about where to send N to middle school.

N is a laid back kid who isn't fazed by much.  She wanted to go to CrMS and has been happy, although any number of her friends actually go to CaMS, so I know she would have been just as happy there, too (and I wouldn't have to shlep her back and forth for three years).

G, however, is a high-strung kid who is fazed by things he shouldn't be fazed by.  To put him in an environment like N's middle school is a recipe for disaster as far as I'm concerned.  I think he would be much better served in a smaller, drastically less crowded environment, with wider hallways, that may not have the "bells and whistles" but will provide him with an equally good education.

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