Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's Time For Big School

Did I mention anything about my post on the Gambit's blog about the school issue?
That was more than two weeks ago. My self promotion skills suck.

On Monday morning my baby will be headed to kindergarten. It’s a big day for her and she is ready to go. I have no doubts she will do great and take to school like a fish to water. She can’t wait to get in there. She's been dying to go for months. Times have changed because I don’t remember my parents telling me I was even going to school. My mom just dropped me off with a strange mean lady and some snotty nose kids and left me there. She could have warned a brother that I wasn’t going to be watching Tom and Jerry that day.

I am nervous about her first day for several reasons. I’m wondering if she’s going to a decent school. I’m worried about environment in and around the school. I am not ashamed to admit I love my hood but there are some aspects of it that I don't want my kids exposed to. I am concerned about her being under too much pressure since everything is based on test scores and her homework package has things in it I didn’t see until the third grade. I have been beating myself up for the past two weeks because I figured I had five years to put myself in a position to send her wherever I wanted even if it meant paying tuition. That was before a company downsizing, a pay cut, and a hurricane. Now she's going to a public school I never heard of until a few months ago. I guess that's what happens when new charter schools pop up weekly. All you can go on is what they promise you.

I don’t want to be overly negative about the situation. I met the staff and reviewed all of their plans and it appears to be a good deal. This morning in the newspaper there is a big story about the plans for new schools. If everybody's actions go along with the plans then the situation should be constantly getting better. I want to believe that. I need to believe that because my lack of confidence in the ability or willingness to educate black kids in New Orleans is the first issue that has ever made me really consider leaving. Nobody should love the city enough to compromise their child's future. If I still believed in conspiracy theories I would say that this is all being done at a slow pace purposely to keep black families from moving back into the city. If you fix the schools too quick then even people who left before Katrina are coming back. I have been trying to talk myself out of thinking that way even though my own experience tells me it might be true.

Maybe that's not happening this time around. Maybe I am stuck in my old way of thinking and can’t notice the things changing around me. Maybe ten years from now we will look back and feel good about sticking with the system. Maybe she can roll through this one charter system until she graduates high school and end up prepared to handle the Ivy League. Maybe I’m just a paranoid daddy. Her grandpa told me any good parent is supposed to be paranoid. He calmed my nerves a little. After talking to my daddy about it we will go with the positive outlook.

Tomorrow morning the only thing I will be thinking about is how she looks like a big girl in her uniform and her backpack on and trying not to cry when she walks in the building. I promise not to drive around the building every 30 minutes like I planned on doing. I can't go in with her. She probably doesn't want me to anyway. When she sees those other kids she's going to forget all about me. Man, watching your daughter getting bigger is rewarding and it sucks at the same time.

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