Up until this morning, I would have described myself as a pretty low-maintenance parent, as far as our boys and their school is concerned.
I don’t nag the teachers. Or tell them how to do their jobs. I don’t make demands of the school’s director. Or question every little move the school makes. I don’t sit around with other parents and yip and yack about what this or that teacher said, did, or could do better. I don’t complain about the school menu or the curriculum, or really anything in between.
And up until this morning, I actually thought it was because I am an amazingly cool person, when the truth is the boys just happen to go to an amazingly cool school. I don’t need to nag. Or tell. Or demand. Or complain. Because as far as I can see, the school is doing everything as well as it can be done. Usually better.
Of course, this preschool isn’t free. In fact, the cost is significantly upwards of free. But still, I feel lucky to have my boys there. Not "entitled to excellence, because I pay for it, damn it." But lucky. Because a lot of times, even paying a lot of money for a school doesn’t make it The Right School for your child.
My parents sent me to a "prestigious" private school from kindergarten through ninth grade, where for ten years not a single teacher or administrator seemed able to identify one unique and positive quality I possessed. For what they were charging my parents, you’d think they could have MADE SOMETHING UP but … bygones. It wasn't terrible or anything, it was just sort of "meh." OR rather, $$$$meh.
Then, in tenth grade, I switched schools, and everything changed. I was still a dork, of course. But I was a dork who could sing. And write. And run fast. I was a good student. I excelled where before I had just sort of sat there waiting for someone to notice me. That's not entirely the first school's fault, of course, but when I entered kindergarten, I wasn’t really hip to the fact that the first impression I made (shy, nervous, cries on a dime,terrifiedofnumbers/dates/clocks/not-being-able-to-button-my-jeans-after-I-went-to-the bathroom) would have a ten year shelf-life.
Which brings me, in a long and roundabout way, to Gus.
Gus will be entering Kindergarten next year at a school we have not yet chosen, but after today I'm guessing will not be of the Public variety. I was all excited about the “wonderful, amazing” magnet school for which we are supposedly zoned. I was actually more excited about the “wonderful, amazing” dollars that would be sitting in my bank account once we stopped paying private preschool tuition.
But alas, it seems I will have to put my dreams of full-time scrapbooking on hold once again.
I called this “wonderful, amazing” public school today, and the phone rang upwards of 13 times before anyone answered. Which is fine, I guess (not really), you know, not a total deal breaker. But then I asked to speak to someone about scheduling a tour of the school and was met with an “Uhhhhh hold on a sec.” And then I was transferred to a voicemail box that said “Good Morning” and hung up on me. And then I called back and said I’d been disconnected, and the woman didn’t believe me. “Really? Are you sure?” Well, hmm, let me think. I didn’t hang up on myself, so YES. I’m SURE.
So she sent me back to the voicemail box that once again said "Good morning" and disconnected me.
Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I called back a third time, at which point a different woman took my name and number and said the principal would call me back. Which, to her credit, she did.
Her: “Miss O’Brien this is Jane Doe principal of ABC Elementary.”
Me: (All warm and friendly) “Hi, how are you?”
Her: (All frosty and already hating my high-maintenance guts) “Fine.”
Allrightythen. I guess we’ll just get down to business.
So I told her I had a son who would be entering kindergarten next year, and that I would like to arrange a tour of the school and a chance to sit in on a kindergarten classroom. And she told me they’d be doing an “area wide tour of public schools on 'some Thursdays in November that have yet to be scheduled because of rezoning blahblahblah' but she “doesn’t allow people to sit in on classes.” And I asked why.
"Because it’s distracting for the little people,” she said in a high-pitched teacherly voice. “If you’re there, then the children are watching you, and not their teacher, you see? I mean, can youimagine if I had 40 parents who all wanted to sit in on a class??”
Um, actually? Yes.
As a matter of fact, I would hope you have 40 parents who want to peek in on a class before sending their five year old to school there. And with 200 school days, with six hours in each day, and two kindergarten classes, I'd think you could accommodate all 40 of those requests. I would also hope that the teacher doesn’t completely lose control of the classroom because a parent is sitting in the back of the room for 15 minutes.
And then she lied about the school's student-teacher ratio, saying it was 20:1 (with no teacher's aid), which has already been refuted by parents I know who have kindergartners attending there (it's more like 25 or 27:1), and GOD if you're still reading you should win some kind of trophy or something! Perhaps an honorary diploma from the University of BLABBERMOUSE HAS GONE COMPLETELY OFF HER NUT AND DECIDED TO BORE US ALL TO DEATH.
I am so sorry.
I'm like a crazy person today.
It's just that I'm really big on VIBES and SIGNS. And the bulk of my decisions are made at the gut level. And the VIBE with this school was very "bummer, dude, this totally sucks." And all SIGNS seemed to be pointing to "Now would be an excellent time to become a devout Catholic."
Hello, parochial school.
(Note to self: call God in morning and see if you can sit in on one of His classes.)