For Her Sake…

The letter from the Boston Public Schools did finally arrive on Tuesday.

Welcome to the Boston Public Schools! (Curious salutation….Do they assume that most AWC families are coming from outside of the system? One can’t help but wonder about the statistics on that.)

We are pleased to inform you that Connie ParentImperfect has been assigned to the following school beginning in September 2010.

Curley K-8                 Grade 4                     Advanced Work Program

493 Centre Street

Jamaica Plain

True to form, after getting out the formal notification 18 days after their own deadline, the BPS set the deadline for the return of the confirmation on May 21, three days after the letter’s arrival. That’s today.

The PI could easily have met the unfair and unreasonable deadline for sending back the card, but he hasn’t. After getting the news about C.’s invitation, the PI and Liz had three more uncomfortable conversations about the matter. On Saturday, Liz went to Vince’s soccer game and talked  about AWC with some of the parents of Vince’s teammates. The conversation only affirmed her sense that AWC was not the way to go. On Monday night, Liz went to the meeting of the Hernández Parent Council where there was to have been discussion of the possibility of some sort of informal Advanced Work program at the school. There was little discussion of that issue, but Liz felt that the woman who appears to be the front-runner to become the new principal of the school seemed more like a leader of the school than she ever had before. These conversations and experiences followed the pattern of Liz and the PI interacting with this issue individually, rather than together. There were good logistical reasons for that pattern, but it seemed to insure that their divergent views would continue to move further apart.

The PI and Liz had their last conversation about AWC (for now) during halftime of Game 2 of the playoff series between the Celtics and the Orlando Magic. The time pressure (for the PI) was probably good. Rain pelted the windows of the bedroom as they went over the same ground for at least the tenth time. Given the opportunity, they would certainly have finished the conversation without making a decision, but push had come to shove.

The PI felt very much like pushing his view that, while the Hernández offers much to dear Connie–not the least, a chance to progress in the language that the PI has spoken with her since birth–it was time for a change. While he would never defend the Advanced Work concept as a way to organize the schools, the PI felt that Connie’s education and socialization would be best served by attending Advanced Work. Yes, that does sound like, “AWC is not a program that meets the principles of equity and high expectations of all children, but, since it’s there, we ought to take advantage of it.”

Somewhere over the weekend, another perspective come over the PI. Making the change of schools would be a big change for Connie and the entire family, and there would likely be bumps in the road. It was the sort of change that would need the support of everyone in the family to work. The idea didn’t have that support, and wasn’t likely to get it. At least on this big change, not reaching consensus on making the move meant became a vote for the status quo. That suggests that continuity somehow requires less enthusiastic support than change. Is that true?

No matter, when school begins again on September 8, Ms. Connie will be in the familiar auditorium on School Street, rather in a strange one at 493 Centre Street. This, of course, assumes that the parents take the steps necessary to confirm that there is a space for Connie at the Hernández before “rescinding” the request to move her to the Curley AWC. There are no guarantees in a hopelessly bureaucratic system.

There is, of course, much to recommend the RHS for any fourth grader. That was on full display as the PI accompanied Connie’s class on a field trip to the U.S.S. Constitution, just yesterday. Also on full display (somewhat painfully, for the PI) were the ways in which Connie is quite isolated in her class and the environment does not respond to some of her special needs and gifts. That is simply not their mission.

Connie does not seem disappointed at all to be continuing at the school. She is more concerned about how her father will react to the decision. She is the one person in the house (except for Vince, who thought she should move to the Curley, but doesn’t feel strongly about it) who truly saw that there were no bad choices here. Maybe all members of the household will be able to follow her example…for her sake.

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