Monday, May 1, 2017

Again

Looks like I'm behind again!

With the kids asking me not to post much if anything about them here and the rise in my use of FB, I just don't post as much as I used to, though I know that several friends and family members read this first.  So I'll try to do better.

Let's see.  Today, Bud is home with a cold.  I think it's his first sick day in a year or so.  In fact, if the rest of the week weren't so big--school field trip, chorus concert, piano recital--I would have sent him to school.  But as it was, I didn't want to risk his getting worse.

Now I'm just hoping Sis doesn't get it, because she also has the field trip and concert plus a giant two-night Girl Scout "glamping" weekend at a resort.  Wish us all luck.  The weather has been damp and warm, the trees and such have exploded, and everyone seems to be sniffling.

So, what have I been doing?

Well, I went up against the BOE and school administration with other parents in town and defeated an initiative to unlevel middle school, meaning cancel honors classes.  I've composed a long post about this in my head several times because I'm still quite conflicted.  See, there's a huge achievement gap in our town, meaning African-Americans and Latinos score very much lower than their white and Asian counterparts; they are also less represented in said honors classes.  I recognize this as a social justice issue and know that such scores likely indicate albeit unintentional systemic/institutional bias and even racism.  The Democrat, social liberal, and Unitarian Universalist in me wants to rectify this.  But then there's the mom in me that fears that my children's academic achievement would be stalled by a non-leveled class, especially because they've been in the special gifted and talented class for three years (and are still not very challenged academically--how would they fare in an unleveled class??!!)  Certainly unleveling can succeed if properly prepared for, but the district was trying to rush the measure through without invovling parents (without even really telling them) and with little preparation for the changes.  Their instructional plan for high achievers in "regular" classes?  "Raise expectations, provide support, provide understanding."  BS.  That's not a plan.  They also mentioned an honors option, which is really just more homework and projects AT HOME--meaning they don't get instructional time with the teachers and the bulk of their education is independent learning (tough for 7th graders!)  AND then there were mentions that the accelerated learners would help the typical kids.  Great.  Social nightmare for everyone and then my kids would still not be getting their instructional time with the teacher.  So, the parent in me rebelled, took to FB, organized letters and phone calls, and helped convince the BOE not to unlevel until there is a better plan.  We need a better plan and we need to help the students who are being failed by our district.  But I'm still very torn about defeating the unleveling, which is supported by the National Education Association (NEA) and other groups, though several studies say it doesn't change the outcomes for slower learners.  Probably because middle school is way too late to affect monumental change.  It needs to start in preschool!  So . . . . so.  So, we're not homeschooling or sending our kids to private school next year.  And if the district votes to unlevel with a better plan after next year, I will stay informed and involved and maybe even support the plan.  Or take a "gap year" for 8th with my kids and travel around!!

What else?  On Saturday, a friend and I went to a wonderful mandala workshop at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford and had a lovely, creative, inspiring day.  We walked the labyrinth and had a picnic lunch before class and then made a freehand mandala and a literal gratitude mandala in class.  And I learned how to make colored Zen Gems!  So much fun!  I spent Sunday practicing my new-found skills.




Last week, Mama's office hosted a special "Take Your Child to Work" Day program and so the kids spent 13+ hours following along her usual day!  They were up at 5:30 a.m. and home a bit before 7 p.m.  They had a tour, a special talk on what the company does and how the US's financial system works (they even got money from all over the world.  Ours got Cambodia and the DRCongo), and then went with Mama to her meetings.  They also played Nerf battles with her co-workers, which was their favortie part.  I think they had new-found respect for Mama's long work day and challenging work life.  Sis said, "I'll never think waking up at 7 a.m. for school is early again!"

The next month or so wraps up the year's extracurriculars, for the most part, as well as their time at elementary school.  There will be several special events and middle school orientations.  Plus the school play.  But I'm anxious that it's all coming to an end.  I've really loved their elementary school, especially their teachers, and am nervous about the move to middle school, particularly because most of the kids of my informal moms' network are going to the other middle school.  Which means I sorta start from scratch, just like the kiddos (though, several of the kids in their special class will move on to honors at the middle school; I just don't know those parents as well.)  But we have the summer to get used to the transition.

And I won't even get into all the summer plans . . . .

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