Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

Who Can Vouch for Us?

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It’s the last week of August and there are still some kids who have yet to go to school.  To be fair, some charter schools are still opening up, with a few whose first day will be next Tuesday.  But in Southwestern Oh it is known that Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), Private/Parochial Schools and suburban schools are back in session.

Which is the way it should be because these restless kids are getting on my nerves.

A few kids aren’t in school yet because of custom; the parents didn’t attend school before labor day so they don’t want their kids to go to school before the official end of summer.  CPS tried doing a big school kick-off for a couple of years to help get out the word that school starts a couple weeks before labor day, not the week of but still there are a few families who just don’t believe in short summers, longer school years.

Then there are the kids who are in-between schools.  When August hit I asked the kids if they were excited about going back and what schools did they attend. The majority of kids said they were not ready to go back, a some said they were excited to go back and a few kids said they weren’t sure what school they were going to attend. 

The kids who didn’t know what school to attend parents were in a quandry about what school to send their children to.  When I was a kid if you didn’t attend a private school or a magnet school then you went to the neighborhood school.  The neighborhood public had to take you no matter how bad you were and you had to go to it no matter how much you hated it.  That was that.

But now parents have a lot of schools to choose from but no criteria given to help them select the best school for their children.  How can you tell that your child will do better in a Montessori school as opposed to traditional style classes?  If Charter schools aren’t much better than regular public school then which one should you go with?  Or should you risk keeping your child in a bad school just so then you can be eligible for a voucher so then you can actually afford a private academy but then you hope against hope that your neighbor with the bad ass kids won’t select the same school for her kids as you do for yours when she also hits the voucher lottery.

So if you are poor and black and miseducated/uneducated/undereducated but you want a good school for your child then what are you supposed to do?

I suppose the smart thing to do would be to go to someone who might know although, for some reason, many don’t see the public library as that porthole of information to help them make that choice.  Or perhaps they fear we would burden them with more information which makes it more cumbersome, not freeing.  So instead they ask their neighbors, their friends, and their family for advice, who may or may not know what the state report card is for that particular school but do know that their cousin’s sister’s boyfriend’s uncle’s son goes there and he’s supposed to be really smart and gets all As.

In the end the parents scramble and eventually find a school because a school is a school, right?

Education is somewhere on the agenda of both presidential candidates with one wanting to put more emphasis on “school choice” and the other wanting to reform public education so parent’s don’t have to rely on vouchers.

Governor Strickland of Ohio went on an education tour in July and August.  In six cities he spoke with parents, students and educators to gather ideas on how to improve how children learn in the state.  During the Cincinnati conversation many parents threw out ideas like year round schooling and individualized education.

But these things are for the future.  I wonder what is going to happen to the kids I see now who are future employees, future workers and future parents whose own children will rely on them to send them to school and help them with homework.

I smudge boundary lines for one child I like in particular.  By week two we were all buzzing about why he wasn’t in school yet.  He’s a smart kid; he told me he wanted to be president one day and I gave him age appropriate books on the government. 

“I already know all this,” he told me and proceeded to tell me about our three ringed government and the work that each does, touching a bit on the checks and balances making him more knowlegable on the subject than most adults.

I cut out a button with his name, proclaiming his run for president.  “I’d vote for you,” I told him.  He smiled.  We strategized how he could accomplish this feat in the future, basically following Obama’s walk.  First law school, then a lawyer, then a state senator, then a senator in DC and then after his presidential win I can be on his cabinet.

He came back in the next day discouraged.  He told his mother of his plan and in her fear she told him not to fly so high.

But still he’s not in school.  I call a friend who used to work for a prestigious private school in the city.  She gives me a name which I promptly call to find out if there is a space for him in his grade.  There is.  The school has an inner city campus which is created to give a boost to poor kids but is actually filled with suburban kids who can’t afford the main campus.  The woman informs me they don’t accept vouchers but for hard luck cases they waive the majority of the school cost but still want the family to pay 600.00 a year.

I talk to the mother, she visits the school but admits she and her husband can’t pay that much.  I talk to my church but we are unable to get the money together at such short notice.  I suggest to the mother my daughter’s primary school, which wasn’t college prep but was a good school just the same.  They accept vouchers there and I give her the name of the teacher who is a good friend of mine.  She would also be the child’s prospective teacher.

My coworkers warn me to tell me I am crossing lines that I shouldn’t and I know that I am.  My job is to be detached and to give unbiased information.  It’s what I usually do and I have no problem with it.  The problem is we live in a biased world.  It’s also a world that obvious things to some are hidden in the open for others.  My heart hurts and I don’t know what to do so I take a step out … for one person.

Hopefuly it will only be this one.

Ohio released it’s report card yesterday about school districts around the state.  Mostly everyone passed, nothing lower than a C.  That’s good, for them.  I just worry about the one kid whose parents haven’t found him a school yet.  At the end of school next year will he get all passing grades or will he fail?


Written by rentec

27 August, 2008 at 3:03 pm

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