Friday, February 05, 2010

My funny kid

It's been raining here. A lot. Which is a good thing because our lakes, rivers, and aquifers badly need this rain. However, when you're five, this much rain over this many days kind of sucks.

One upside? Movies at school. At least during after care. Yesterday when I picked up The Geej, they'd just finished watching "101 Dalmations". She'd never seen it and assumed I hadn't either, so on the way home, she gave me the scene-by-scene breakdown of the movie, all from The Geej perspective, naturally.

When she was finally done, I said to her, "Wow! You really paid attention to that movie." To which she responded: "I had a staring contest with it. And I won."

That kid, she keeeeeeels me!

Which brings me to the next part of my post--The Great AISD School Transfer Campout, 2010!

Remember how when you were little, you just went to either this school or that one, and either way, everything was groovy. Well, that's not the case in the good ol' Austin Independent School District. Some schools are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better off in terms of facilities, staff, programs, academics, etc. than others. And, until recently, our address tracked to an elementary school that, while not the very best one in the city, was pretty darn good. But The Powers that Be recently changed the school boundaries, and our little neighborhood got carved out and re-tracked to an elementary school that is--at least on paper--pretty crummy.

So, what's a mommy to do, right?

Well, you put in for a transfer to another school. One that has the things you want for your child. One where you'll feel comfortable with her spending the bulk of her waking time during the week. One where she'll learn and flourish and be happy. Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong.

First you figure out what schools fit that bill that a) aren't already closed to transfers due to overcrowding, b) aren't 20 miles out of the way of either work or home. Then you schedule tours of those schools to see if you can visualize your little angel in those hallways, those classrooms. Then you agonize over which one is more likely to have a spot for her in their first grade class(es). Then you fill out a transfer form for that school (and only that school, because there isn't a way to put an alternate selection on the form; Once you fill this sucker out, you're all freakin' in).

And then the fun REALLY starts!

The AISD Admin offices begin accepting transfer forms at 7am on Saturday, February 6th. The transfer forms, and therefore your chance for consideration, are accepted in the order received. So you, and all of the other freaked out parents who have gone through all of the steps listed above start congregating on the afternoon/evening of Friday, February 5th on the sidewalk outside of the AISD offices. You bring your camp chair, a blanket, something to snack on and drink. A book. A flashlight. Your cellphone. Maybe your laptop. Your iPod. Anything you might need to help pass the hours ahead of you as you camp out on the sidewalk to assure your place in line and, therefore, hopefully end up on the top of the stack of transfers into your school of choice.

At 7am, they open the doors to the office, and you file in. You hand the AISD employee your completed form. They time stamp it, and you leave. Then, sometime in March, you'll be notified whether or not your transfer request has been granted.

In the meantime, you try and figure out your Plan B. Right now, I have no Plan B. Right now, I'm a pure ball of stress about this whole situation. Right now all I can think about is how fucked up this all is. Every kid at every school should have equal access to quality education and an enviroment conducive to learning. But that's not reality. Reality is camping out on a sidewalk in February in the hopes that your child has a shot at something they deserve and your tax dollars pay for.

Reality bites.

4 comments:

1023 said...

GREAT........................................

Karla said...

Having just paid my HUGE property tax bill, and now reading this, I am always ALWAYS stunned, horrified and outraged by the Texas school system and the way parents and non parents get bilked at every turn. The schools should be the same no matter the neighborhood, the taxes should be based on income not arbitrary house valuation by outside forces, and you should be able to register the Geej to the school of your choice in a humane and efficient manner, say, online.
Grrr.....

Bec said...

It is definitely an insane and antiquated system and there are so many things that need to be fixed. I was at a parents' meeting recently where the topic of the transfer process came up and the school district dude said they had been looking at other methods for a while, but they can't come up with an online process that hackers won't be able to bust to give some people an unfair advantage - also, not everyone has access to computers. Finally - I can't believe they won't let you have backup choices. That's BS.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the problems is that schools are rated on various factors and then parents scramble off in the direction of the best rating. Schools with better ratings get people knocking at the doors to get in. Poorly rated schools get the leftover students, the leftover teachers and the bottom of the pot funding. The good school gets the funding, the acknowledgment, etc. The poor schools get the scorn, the flight and sometimes the rug pulled out from under them. Maybe public schools shouldn't be run based on performance models. Maybe we should help the poorest performing salesperson learn how to make the sale.