"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It only took an hour...

Well, we stormed the citadel this morning to fix my kid's schedule. Upon entry, the office staff were not particularly helpful. "Do you have an appointment?" "No, nobody called me back. I'd like Lynda and a counselor to work together with us." "I don't know if she's here." Long pause... "Can you CALL her?" (as I'm standing there with my cane and eye patch, hoping to avoid a useless trip to the second floor). "Is there an elevator we can use?" "Yes." She gave me directions to the elevator but no directions to Lynda's office, but we blundered our way to it anyway. Granted, I was in a foul mood for all the crap they have already put us through on this subject, and to be honest, for the last 14 years of crap we have had to endure. So, my demeanor was not friendly, but a little more direction would have been nice.

Lynda Oleinik, the GT coordinator for the district, took unscheduled time to work with us to come up with a rigorous schedule that will put our child on track in case she  does major in business (she's 16 and subject to changing her mind about this stuff). There are still gaping holes second semester, but we will look at the free distance learning options before we lose heart. Also, at least she can begin her schedule today with a set plan. Was it easy to do? No, but it only took an hour and a willingness to think outside the box and an ability to move things around in your head in three dimensions, something our kid excels in. Bonus points are awarded for spreading out her AP schedule so she isn't faced with 5-6 exams her Senior year.

In my fantasy world, school should be mostly excellent experiences with the occasional mundane or horrible experience thrown in to build character. ECSD seems to provide the opposite ratio, prizing as it does building character, I suppose. This continuous battle has left me weary and without respect for the administration of our schools. What bothers me most about this is that I am the perfect candidate to advocate for my kids' futures. Confidence? Check. Educated? Check. Scrappy? Check. Knowledgeable? Check. Willing to question authority? Check. Determined to prepare my kids for their future? Check. Time in my schedule to do all of the above? Check. How about all the parents who lack the time, determination, skills and confidence to fight the good fight? How do their kids fare? Unless they're Einstein 2, our experience tells us that these kids are not adequately served, if at all, in this district. There is nobody to champion their cause and this leaves me saddened beyond belief as I despair about all the lost opportunities for them. And they still wonder why the slope of the line of kids open enrolling out continues its annual steep increase. My friend told me that when she was called for the "why are you leaving the distric?" survey, she told Mike Czerwonka, "It seems like you just don't want our kind here." Not necessarily referring to her kids' level of aptitude, but more in reference to being packaged with involved and vocal parents concerned with their kid's future. Sad. Very, very sad. People who have gone toward the light in other districts all have the same report. "It's like night and day! They listened to me and have offered my child opportunities they never had in Evansville. I don't think it's because the district is larger, I think it's a matter of priorities."  It always does come down to priorities, doesn't it?

When I was where my kids are now, I observed that people often could be categorized in two groups. Those who could delay immediate personal gratification because they saw how taking the long view would benefit them in life and those who always chose immediate personal gratification, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead to Nirvana, whatever that might be for them. Some of  those in the second category seemed to spend more energy trying to circumvent the system than it would take to conform to the system. I still don't understand that, but it's inconsequential. Priorities are what drives both of those types of folks. Some of us might say a lack of priorities drives group two, but in reality their #1 priority is self-gratification.

If the ECSD isn't willing to prioritize college preparatory education in our district, they need to be up front about it and stop shilly-shallying about with kids' lives. It does not need to be this hard to be an academically concerned parent who intimately knows her kids' educational needs and aspirations. I know them a hell of a lot more than any of the administrators and teachers who seem to think they know more than I do about my kid. Clearly, their inability to schedule my child for a reasonable college prep plan speaks volumes. Since she's a girl, obviously she must want to be in Foods and the Nursing Career prep class. God, that screams sexism!  We won't even go there because I already lost that battle in this district.  Suffice it to say I'm close to being done with these yahoos. They want compliant parents who don't rock their boats and are happy to pony up their kids' state aid and their property tax every year regardless of the outcome of their kids' education. They want to be treated like the professionals they aren't and revered as experts in education when clearly they do not champion all students.

Kudos to Lynda Oleinik for taking time out of her busy schedule to fix one of apparently a number of FUBAR schedules as she prepares to leave our district to become Mauston's Curriculum Director. Good for Mauston, bad for us. The exodus continues and that, too, is very, very sad.

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