The Parent Imperfect looked at the outdoor thermometer at 5:05AM when he went into the kitchen this morning. People do become terrifyingly like their parents as they age. How many times did Dick wake the PI up with cold hands under the covers and the weather report?
-Four below, boy…get up! Make sure you get those long johns on today…
Morning was the best time in that house…just like this one.
Today, the PI was up early enough to see the thermometer at 2 degrees because Vince and Connie had to get ready for a ski trip with the YES program. After the usual scrambling to find lost things, recriminations about lost things and stop at Dunkin’ Donuts to get something into stomachs, they arrived just in time to board Bus #2.
-The only reason you aren’t standing out here doing nothing is that we had some problems ourselves, today.
By now, they are almost at Pico Mountain in Vermont. It does feel a bit like rolling the dice to send them off on these trips on their own. The temperature is still below zero in that part of Vermont. Will it be too cold to be outside? Will they go inside if they get cold? Who will they be skiing with? The perfect parents (or at least those that ski) go on these trips with their children. Vince and Connie get excited about these trips precisely because their parents stay home. They learn a lot from these experiences, and love that chance to learn on their own. Most parents do, however, look at the PI strangely when he puts 8-year-old Connie on the bus, and then doesn’t get on, himself..
Speaking of 8-year-old Connie, she has been ivited into the Advanced Work Class (AWC) of the Boston Public Schools. This is the program designed, at least in part, to keep middle class families in the city’s public schools. After third grade, a small percentage of students go into a bubble in which they are surrounded by other highly-motivated kids and allegedly work with a more accelerated curriculum taught by the system’s best teachers. Will she stay or will she go?
The PI and Liz have been critics of this program for years. Access to the program is, of course, based on a test for which there is little or no preparation. The AWC means that “tracking” begins early in the Boston Public Schools, with the future set in wet cement, if not stone, for many students by the fourth grade. The PI doesn’t have the statistics on the racial composition of the AWC, vis a vis the system as a whole, but he expects that the contrast is an eye-popper. If you have them, share them. The AWC is also available to students from outside of the BPS system, which doesn’t seem quite fair. Such programs should certainly prioritize families who have already shown a commitment to the public schools.
Vince was not invited to AWC until sixth grade, and he stayed at the Hernández (RHS), rather then shift to another school for one year. While sixth grade at the RHS was very weak, Vince received a strong educational foundation there. He was among the relatively few BPS students that get into the nation’s oldest public school without participating in the AWC. The PI and Liz have always assumed that dear Connie would also stay that the RHS, at least through sixth grade, before considering other options. Over the past few months, however, doubts have crept slowly into the picture.
The financial crisis is impacting the entire school system, and the Hernández is not immune. The Principal has been at the school for almost 30 years, and leadership transition feels underway. Rumor insists that big budget cuts are coming next year. More importantly, Connie’s class is a difficult group that has really challenged the fine teachers she has this year. The PI and other parents wonder what happens as these children grow older. Maybe they mature, together, in ways that direct their incredible energy toward learning. Maybe not. The RHS “loops” 4th and 5th grades, so C would have the same teachers there for the next two years. Both teachers, the same ones V had for those two grades, have impressive strengths, but crowd control is not one of them.
And so the PI wonders if Vince’s path is the one for Connie. After nine years at the RHS, leaving would be a huge move for the entire family. One AWP school claims to have a Spanish program, but it would be nothing like what Connie gets at the Hernández. This matters to the PI, to Liz and to their daughter, as do their many friends at the RHS.
Stay tuned…weigh in. Once again, principle confronts parenthood.