Saturday, January 19, 2008

No Child Left Behind...Yeah Right?!


So, after I make my grand resolutions, I didn't open up my blog page for 20 days!
However, I have been paying particular attention to my son who is in 8th grade and going to high school next year.

I unfortunately would not send him to a public school in Los Angeles unless I could personally go in and handpick each one of his teachers, every year until he graduates. Being a teacher myself, I know that would be a nightmare to everyone including me. So, my son and I have spent the last couple of weeks filling out applications, writing essays and setting up interviews for private schools.

He is a 13 year old boy and so he asks very erudite questions regarding his next educational institution. "Do they have a great basketball team and cute girls there?" This of course helps the process immensely.

It is a very difficult thing to be a teacher, who began a career in public schools and not feel remotely confident in sending my children to public school. I know first hand of the lack of QUALIFIED, caring teachers. But more so of the bureaucratic bull-shit that keeps the status quo. It is the fact that overwhelmingly, African American and Latino children are being under-served (if the majority of them are doing poorly on standardized tests, something is wrong (DUH!), a disproportionate number of African American boys end up in special education and ignored because teachers do not understand, or care to learn how to teach in a way that makes as many children successful as possible, but also that teachers(new and veteran) do not get the support that they need because of politics, egos, and administrators who have had their integrity (balls) confiscated by the "body snatchers". Or... maybe, they just forgot that our job is to TEACH children, not "make sure that I park my Porsche Cayenne away from any possible 'ding' situations!"

Don't get me wrong. I am not begrudging hard-working people their lifestyles. However, I am a little upset that my options for a quality education for my children are so narrow.

So my son and I are writing, reading and setting up appointments for some very wonderful, prestigious, and EXPENSIVE private, college prep school here in the Los Angeles area. My son of course is brilliant, and this is an important step towards his future, so I am being very diligent in this quest. But I can't help but think of my other students and the millions of students around the country, who are also brilliant but because of their color, or circumstance are not guaranteed a quality education.

We are really talking about our futures here. Mine, yours, our children's. This is a Martin Luther King holiday weekend. My step-daughter is marching in a parade in his honor. But I must acknowledge that we are still sooooo far from his dream and the dream of thousands of others who fought for the rights of every child to have an opportunity to a quality education and a purposeful, successful life.

I am fortunate. I will be able to send my child to a wonderful school that will match his needs and aspirations. Not easily, and not without sacrifice, but I can do it. But what about the millions of mother's, fathers' and children who cannot? What becomes of them. They are brilliant, they are talented, and maybe.... they are stuck?!

9 comments:

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Janie,

I just this evening saw a news report about public schools in South Carolina. Apparently the schools are so bad that some school districts are suing the state.

They mentioned a documentary about the schools there it's called "Corridors of Shame".

Good luck with the school search."

Janie said...

Hey MDC,
Thanks for the resource. I will check it out!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Janie - thanks for stopping by my blog.

I don't have kids but I saw what my boss went through when it was time to send their kids to middle school. The problems of the second largest school district in the country impacts all of us.

What is going to happen to these undereducated children? Who are employers going to hire?

Good luck with the applications and interviews.

Janie said...

Hey NYC/CR,

It is true, we all feel the impact of inadequate/inequitable education! I hope to create agents for change with my son and students.

Thanks for stopping by as well!

Lisa said...

Nice post and timely as well. I have experienced a large city schools for my kids as well as my current small town schools.

My oldest son was beat up multiple times in kindergarten. I couldn't get administration to do anything about it until I threatened to get an attorney. At that time, my husband and I were both in school and private school was just not an option. It was awful.

Your son is lucky that you are in a position to ensure he gets a great education. He'll be very grateful someday!

Liz said...

The sheer number of students getting a substandard education is a national embarrassment. I am thinking about going private more and more.

I hope it works out for your son to get in. I worry about this exact same thing because I've seen what you're talking about. I remember one school in Compton where I'd pull up and the principal and both AP's had their Mercedes parked in a special section of the lot. And the kids at that school got such a crap education

Did you apply for a magnet high school as well? Even then, the education at a private school is going to be so much better. Crossing fingers for you.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Janie, good for you for doing so well by your son. This weekend, I was talking to a mom who is trying to prevent her son from going to their assigned LAUSD middle school because its performance record is appalling. It's been designated as a "program improvement" school, which means she has the legal right to send her kid to a different middle school. It took her FOUR visits to the school to get the correct form and get the principal to sign it.

It really makes me nuts that the educational system here is so lackluster. I am a big believer in public education and I find the state of Los Angeles' public schools heartbreaking.

Janie said...

Lisa,
Having sons makes it even more difficult. Boys have so many stereotypes and stigmas to fend against! I am HOPING I can afford it. It's one thing to say it now before the monthly bill comes, especially when other parents are MUCH more affluent.

But we will give it a shot. I certainly can do without the Starbucks I drink 3 times a week. (that might make a difference?!)

Liz,
I didn't apply to a magnet school. There is ONE that I would consider, but again, I would still feel like I needed to hand-pick the teachers and then be concerned about the environment.

At a private school, I feel like all I have to worry about is him and what HE is doing, if that makes sense? I can monitor him, I don't want to have to monitor everybody else.

Lisa blah blah,
I agree! I taught in public schools for almost 15 years and I strongly believed in some of what was going on, but the 150 who were in my room, or in certain colleagues rooms' who I KNEW were doing great by their students didn't seem to make up for the other 800 students who had teachers who sucked?

rebecca said...

Flower In The Crannied Wall

Flower in the crannied wall,

I pluck you out of the crannies,

I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,

Little flower---but if I could understand

What you are, root and all, and all in all,

I should know what God and man is.

-----by Age Of Conan gold