Thursday, August 23, 2012

Misunderstanding me

Sitting on the bench waiting for Gavin after school, I was talking to one of his friend's grandmothers, who I've known since he started school.  The conversation, which I had anticipated to only be chit chat, turned uncomfortable.  She wanted to know why my kids got to stay at the school when other families didn't and why anti-establishment me was on the PTA board.  Neither question had a simple answer.

I explained that the PTA thing was because someone had asked me because I had issues with the established order and,  my husband gave me a massive guilt trip about putting my money where my mouth is to make change.  The other question way trickier.  I don't know why my son got in for certain.  Some of it probably involved what I knew about who I knew it about.  Some of it likely had to do with the PTA, and the rest was likely luck of the draw; of course, the fact that I raised a very vocal fuss about the unfairness of the situation didn't hurt. I don't know and probably won't due to confidentiality laws.  The families that the woman was upset about were also families that didn't actually live in the district (like her granddaughter who is lucky to still be going to our school)- yes, they're nice people; they volunteered time and donated money, but they had no legal entitlement to go to any of the district schools.  Because of years of low funding, the constant shifting of the population, and a school district that refuses any attempt to consolidate the city into a single school district, the local schools are overcrowded; the school district had announced that no interdistrict transfers would be granted this year (intradistrict transfers are a whole other can of worms).  Ours is also the site of many changes this year. We have a brand new principal and office manager, several new teachers, new landscaping, a new PTA board, and a lot of new families all at once. Our growing pains are real and uncomfortable.  Some people are not going to be happy with change no matter what.

I feel a little defensive (as I'm sure you could tell); I am hugely relieved that my children are going to the same school, the one they are both familiar with. My gratitude for things turning out in favor of my family also means that I will be volunteering in Kindergarten class every Friday, especially since it means the class is a little more full than it ought to be.  I am trying to be excited about getting involved and maybe making a difference for families who don't have tons of money and for those families who speak English.  Their need shave been largely ignored and people are starting to worry about the effect that has on us all.  For the last four years, I have been observing what goes on here.  I saw a lot of unfairness and frustration, and now, I have some time to try to do something about it.

My plan of action is this: I'm going to cut the mental cords that are making me feel uncomfortable.  I'm going to go in tomorrow and help out in the classroom.  Then, I'll starting looking into the feasibility of some of my community building ideas.  As frustrating, scary and strange as these new experiences are, I am trying to stay positive.


  1. Thanks, Kat. As always, you are one of my favorite cheerleaders!


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