Sunday, February 03, 2013




we spent the day at LACMA. and reconnected with a friend i haven't seen to much too long. while i could sit for hours in front of a diebenkorn - i could also sit for hours and watch my kids interact with the large sculpture installations there. bliss.

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last night we hosted a gathering in support of the re-election of our school board member. aside from his 20 years of school-site experience, and the lessons learned over the the last (extremely difficult) four years, i admire him most for his ability to navigate a broken system with thoughtfulness. he truly strives to do what is best for ALL kids in our district. and i admire him greatly for it. (if you read this, and live in our district, please consider giving him your vote.)

there is a national crisis in public eduction. the solution being offered by (too) many scares me. it is the privatization of our eduction system, cloaked in the nomenclature of "reform". it feels too often like the end of the neighborhood school.

The Inconvenient Truth of Eduction Reform

The Myth of Charter Schools

How to Walk to School

with the many choices we have as parents - did you choose your neighborhood public school? i am curious to hear about your experience. a friend and I were talking last week about this issue of "choice" that is constantly batted around. and i wonder if it really is what we need. i'd love to hear what you think. (email me if you prefer...)


rebecca said...

i've told you before how much your path to your neighborhood public school inspired our own. i think of you often on our walks/rides to and from our school... and know that it could only get better if more of our neighbors would join us! thank you for all of your positive encouragement and action!

house on hill road said...

no. we didn't. and it's mostly because there aren't many neighborhood schools here. there is a lot of busing and our education system is hard to navigate. for example, in our cluster, the kids could have ended up in a school half way across town. we could have applied for a magnet, but those have the same issues - kids from all over the city and a lot of time on a bus. so we went the parochial route. our kids have friends in the neighborhood, can walk or bike to school and it goes through 8th grade which appealed to me as well.
all that said, i wish the public school system were different. we are back at it, looking at high schools and am not sure which route to go.

amy h said...

Our district is pretty much all neighborhood schools, and that is where my oldest attends school. You can petition to go to another school in the district if you like, but we were happy with our assigned school. Our kindergarten process sounds so much easier than friends of mine who had to tour numerous schools and give a list of choices. I'm glad the schools in our district are all generally good -- one less choice to have to make when we already have too many.

Hayley said...

We are in the midst of the process right now- going into kindergarten this year.... It's tough- we want to go to our neighborhood school, but it is not an option. If all of our neighbors went to this school, it would make a huge difference, but no one will "risk" sending their child there. They also need massive top-down improvement as well. Our top choice school happens to be a charter, in a close friend's neighborhood. But I am not even sure that is the best option right now. I have even considered moving counties.... It's scary and I had no idea what a stressful decision this is for us.

bridgmanpottery said...

we have. We have neighborhood schools and we have "optional" schools that people fight to get into. Fortunately, our neighborhood school is one of the 4 best elementary schools in the city and is prek-8th grade. It isn't perfect, and sometimes it's been rocky, but the administration has addressed every problem we've had and worked things out for us. Our high school of choice isn't in our district, but the city and county are merging (it made national news last year)and everything is up in the air, including our "optional" schools and the gifted programs that keep my son motivated. The biggest issue for my peers is that no matter what, our kids will be fine. We can't say the same thing for kids with less involved parents or any option for homeschooling or private schools. We are committed to providing quality schools for all children in Memphis and Shelby County, to the point of joining the school board.

Dan Beeman said...

u know our story, but, perhaps it bears repeating for this forum. we chose to transfer our kids to the local public school from a private one after taking a bike ride in our community one day and seeing the public school parents volunteering on the weekend to "green and clean" their school. our private school was full of clicks and arrogant, homogenous people. the public school allowed for our kids to connect with the community, be exposed to many different cultures, ethnicities and religious and political views. they have learned that your color or clothes don't matter, but the work you do to be the best you can be each day. it feels more authentic and that is an invaluable experience.

Kristine S. said...

We go to our neighborhood school that is in your district. In fact I bought a house in the neighborhood just before my son started kindergarten specifically so we would go to that school because it looked so good on paper. I was very committed to attending a neighborhood school instead of trying to play magnet roulette. Now after 3.5 years there I have mixed feelings about the school. It is still a bit far away for me to walk my son in the morning and still make it to work on time but the closeness is a benefit - he often walks home. He has a friend or two that live within walking distance.
That said, the culture of the school is very geared toward standardized tests. Worksheets, worksheets, worksheets. Hence, it looks really good on paper. It has a gifted magnet - my kid tested as highly gifted. There is no room for him in the magnet which seems heavily populated by the children of staff and teachers who got in before 2nd grade testing. My son is a bit of a quirky kid and I don't think the school quite knows what to do with him so they want to "diagnose him" with something to fit him in their box. But he does not fit criteria for being ASD, or ADD or anything else they have come up with so far.
I have come to realize that so much depends on the teacher and even more particularly, how the teacher interacts and views your child. Although all our teachers have been "nice" his second grade teacher saw something special and wonderful in him rather than saw him as a problem to be solved or a quiet kid to be overlooked. 2nd Grade was a great year for him and I am grateful to that teacher.
We have been through 3 principals in 3.5 years which I think has had a detrimental effect on many aspects of the school.
There is a core group of parents who are very active but honestly it feels a little clic-ish and I confess I do not have the inititive taking type of personality. I also have a time consuming job so I am guilty of complaining without being available to do anything about it.
I am quite concerned about Junior High. The neighborhood junior high is not great and I suspect that it would be a horrible fit for my son's particular issues or quirks. There is a charter school about a block away from us that looks perfect except that I would have to pull my son out of school to start that school in 5th grade. Because he has come so far socially, I hate to deprive him of that last year with his friends so I am not at all sure what to do. Maybe we will win the magnet game this round???

leslie said...

Tracy, I am so grateful for your blog with so much focus on local public schools. So many blogs out there are preaching homeschooling and unschooling, when my kids started kindergarten I felt like I was doing something wrong not quitting my job and teaching them myself. I live in the same general area I grew up in and had a wonderful school experience. My kids attend schools in the same area I did and although there have been ups and downs, overall it has been fine. I haven't done the research you have done but I have listened to the complaints some of the teachers have made and I agree there is a need for change. Personally I think parents rely too much on teachers and schools to raise their kids. If my kid is lacking in music, art or needs help in math, it's my responsibility to add that to their schedule. I know where you live in the valley has a lot more competition for schools (my good friend moved from woodland hills to callabasas sp? just to get her kid in a particular school she thought was better) Anyways, thank you so much for bringing these issues to light AND discussing solutions. xo