I couldn’t wait to hear how Ms. X’s classroom observation went.
“How’d it go?” I texted toward the end of the day. “Was Sophie swinging from the chandeliers?”
No no, Sophie did really well, Ms. X insisted, and her classroom observation with the principal was great. So great she wanted to celebrate, so we met for frozen yogurt.
Sophie pretty much followed directions all morning, Ms. X reported; she only got distracted when her chair was too far from the table. Ms. X spotted that, cruised over, pushed her in and kept right on with her lesson — didn’t miss a beat.
This observation was about Ms. X, not Sophie, but I had worried Sophie would disrupt the whole thing and keep Ms. X from tending to her 20-plus students. She assured me that didn’t happen. She told me Sophie completed her assignment without help, which I thought was pretty cool. It’s part of the rodeo theme this week — the kids had to cut out pictures of a cookout and put those pictures in sequence:
Ms. X had been stuck in the classroom all day, so I filled her in on the other big news: The Arizona Supreme Court struck down the state’s voucher program for disabled kids.
I have real mixed feelings about that. (A caveat: You — or I, at least — can only scratch the surface in a quick blog post.) Kindergarten in the public school setting is going amazingly well for Sophie — and it appears we are in a good shape for first grade (knock wood). But beyond that? I reserve the right to explore other options.
I didn’t always feel that way. By conservative Arizona’s standards, I’m practically a socialist, and that includes my feelings toward the public school system.
As long as I’ve been paying attention (probably longer), the right wing in this state has been pecking away at public education — not just starving it, but also trying to legislate it out of existence. Or darn close.
In the mid-1990s, there was a wholesale push for vouchers, which would basically take the money spent on public school and give it to parents to use at private schools, including private religious schools.
Even in Arizona, that one didn’t end up flying. Some will tell you that’s simply due to the power of the teachers’ unions. But I like to think there are folks out there who agree with me that public education is sacrosanct (or should be) in our country.
I get it, I get it. Some private schools are much better. But a voucher program, in my opinion, is simply a way of giving up on public schools. Not acceptable.
I was happy to see vouchers go down and upset when a bill allowing for charter schools passed. Another way to starve the public schools!
“Just wait til you have kids!” my conservative friends said.
It’s understood that most of us start out pretty liberal and get more conservative as we get older. I get that, I guess, although I’m not so sure that’s because wisdom comes with age.
More like the world beats you down.
I’ve never thought there was anything wrong with having high standards — or at least high hopes. I come by my blueness (naive or not) honestly. My mother was a McGovern delegate. Her people were actually socialists. (Really!) And I came of age in the 1980s — with a strong desire to go against the Reagan-inspired flow.
Now it’s true that over the years my mom’s gone from volunteering for Common Cause to serving as secretary of the homeowner’s association (if you ask, she’ll insist that those speed bumps leading into my parents’ gated community are NOT necessary and in fact a safety hazaard!) but her heart still bleeds. Mine, too.
Maybe we both just like going against the flow.
But now the river’s risen up to meet us, or whatever the appropriate saying is. Because suddenly, all my friends (even my super crunchy, Obama loving, tree hugging friends) with fifth graders are desperate to get their kids into the arsty charter school downtown, instead of the public junior high.
Even my mom called to tell me the artsy charter school’s going to start accepting fifth graders. “Wouldn’t that be perfect for Annabelle?” she sighed.
It would. I have to agree that it would. There are a lot of lousy charter schools out there, but there are some damn good ones, too. I’ll admit it.
And this disabled kid voucher thing? Even stickier. Let’s face it: Our public schools are not equipped to deal with no-problem kids, let alone the likes of Sophie (particularly on a bad day). There will come a time when Sophie has a teacher I can’t text, who won’t invite me out for frozen yogurt, who might be a decent person trying hard, but not willing — maybe not even able — to work her ass off to accomodate my child.
I might want to send Sophie to (I can’t believe I’m about to write this) to private school.
And now one option’s gone. Although I can’t imagine these voucher folks won’t appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Who knows. Maybe they’ll win. That will piss me off, too, because whether she would have gained from the voucher program or not, I can’t help feeling resentful of the right wing for finding a wedge — in the form of my disabled kid — to use to get in as far as they’ve gotten in on this voucher thing.
I still think there’s got to be a way to get our public schools to work, so that all the Annabelles and the Sophies of the world can be well served there and we won’t all be desperate for other options.
Go ahead, laugh. But I’m going to hang onto my hope, even as I’m filling out those private school applications….