Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saturday Munchkin Blogging #7

(I edited this photo using Pixlr-o-Matic.  It nicely covers up the fact that it was originally a shitty webcam photo.)

As you can see, I now have not two but three school children.  This is in spite of the best efforts of the girls' school and SAISD.  Esther, apparently, was born in a goat hut in Kenya; Hawaii cannot find an electronic record of her birth certificate.  Going off the school district's website, which says absolutely nothing about a birth certificate being a requirement, and also the piece of paper from the school that said I needed her birth certificate or some other form of identification (emphasis mine), I didn't think it would be a huge issue.  Oh, but it was.  We went 'round and round with the school district/school office on that issue and the issue of proof of residence, at one point being told two different things within about 20 minutes' time by the same person, and the end result is that Esther is only in school on sufferance, and we have 30 days' time to get her birth certificate.

Esther was ecstatic about starting school, though she's not so enthusiastic now.  (She is still excited, though.)  Her teacher said something to me Wednesday about Esther not always listening.  I started to tell her that she has a hard time doing things without any sense behind them, but held off.  Her first week of school seems to have involved only practicing how to sit quietly and line up.  It's no wonder she's bored already!

Her homework folder has already made an appearance.  On the front, above a grid with a few short words in it, is a sentence informing parents that they should go over these high frequency words with their children on a regular basis, as the goal of kindergarten is to "pre-pair" them for first grade.  It really was spelled like that.  Had it not been for the hyphen, I would have written it off as a mere typo, but this obviously took some effort to type.  In the space for "other notes" on her student info sheet, I wrote "Please prepare her for first grade rather than pre-pairing her, as that 'word' makes no sense in context.  She is not a shoe."  My streak as "that parent" continues unabated.

There are actually two teachers, or perhaps a teacher and an aide, for the kindergarten class.  The one who spoke with me Wednesday had a very heavy accent; I can only assume English isn't her first language.  And, hey, I have no problem with someone who is ESL teaching my child, so long as they have demonstrated mastery of the language, which seems doubtful.  (To be very clear, I want native speakers to demonstrate proficiency before being hired as teachers as well!)

When I picked the girls up the first day of school, Bobbie's third grade teacher called out to her to say she "really missed" having her in class.  She said to me "I really, really do!"  I imagine so.  Bobbie is intelligent and kind-hearted; the sort of child who is probably in short supply in an inner-city school.  (She told me last year around state testing time that she was the only child in her class not in need of extra tutoring.)

The older two are also doing very old work.  Bobbie told me she'd first seen her math assignment in second grade, and Linda brought home a kindergarten-level number grid ("Write the numbers from 1 to 100!").  I can understand dropping back down to the previous grade level the first week of school just to refresh the memory, but two grade levels?

My mother told me that when she moved here back in the mid '60s, SAISD was the biggest and best district in the city.  I don't know if that's true, but it certainly wasn't a great one by the time I hit school age, and it has only worsened since.

It is now my primary goal in life to get my kids the fuck out of here.


Dave said...

What a cute bunch of girls.

I am so glad that my kids are beyond school age. We were generally happy with the schools they attended in NISD but did make a strategic move at the Middle School age to move out of the the Anson Jones and John Jay area. The truth is though, there were sprinkles of idiotic teachers and administrators enforcing their interpretations of idiotic rules. Common sense often gets lost in the mix. You'd think they could see that you have two other kids already enrolled in the school district and trust that you will get it to them when you can. No need to profile, but there are probably more obvious candidates that need vetting of birth certificates, like those who only speak Russian or Chinese (or some other language besides English). And that is just the teachers I'm talking about.

I think being that parent is a good thing. Being a teacher is often a thankless profession, but as we learned over the years they are not perfect. I know of one teacher in particular who seriously does not know the difference between to, too and two or their, there, and they're. When you stay involved and let them know you are watching, I think it keeps them on their/there/they're toes.

(Geez - I hope I didn't spell anything wrong.)

peter d said...

Education is scary nowadays. MC's sister and her hubby work at an alternative school. This year the school has gone to positive reinforcement. The kid can cuss you out and you tell him to put it in a more constructive way.
So far so good for our kids in the public school this year. Except for a reading teacher Eli had the first few days who mispronounced words and complained when the kids did the same.
MC also has a friend who says "retch" instead of "reach."