Recall my earlier post about those loser parents at the elementary schools I visited in December who were like “my kid is so cool and smart, can your school cut it?” Yeah, I put in for the lottery to get my son into one of those schools. And my plan failed. My rejection letter arrived Friday after 5 p.m. Not unlike that Friday afternoon when your boss comes up to your cube flanked by two security guards and an empty cardboard box and escorts you from the building (although that’s never happened to me, it happens in the movies so it must be real). Sorry, your kid did not “win” a place at any of your “choice” schools in the “choice” lottery. Dear parent, you have lost the lottery in terms of a top education.
I should have anticipated this. The only thing I’ve ever won in my life was a pass for free Stroller Strides classes after I had my son. That kind of luck just does not run in our family. At the end of the letter, it read something like “Don’t worry, you are guaranteed admission at your boundary school.” My boundary school. The invisible boundary that creeps up from the school and wraps around my humble home, “you belong to me.” Great. Between my home and my boundary school, just about a month ago, there was a burglary gone wrong and a double shooting. Oh and then there was the kid who burnt down his mother’s entire condominium complex because he was mad at her for something…the tomato plant man who sleeps in his front yard and gets drunk and beats up his mother so frequently that we have a parade of emergency vehicles on our street at least twice a month. The two kids last summer who, while trying to steal a car, ran out of gas in front of my house and ran from the police.
Those are just a few of the residences, and events, that lie between my house and my boundary school. Despite the fact that this is Colorado and my closest neighbors are armed to the gills, I still managed to be burglarized myself two summers ago. Yes, I have a confession to make, I tried to get out of sending my son to my neighborhood school. I am that parent. I had a chance, and I took it, and my plan failed.
If I’m just looking at the school alone, physically, it’s not a bad building. It is just that it is one of the lowest performing elementary schools in the entire district. The school website has a lot of misspellings and the “letter from the principal” hasn’t been updated in two years. It does not meet state academic expectations and an improvement plan on the state’s website shows that few, if any, of the recommended action steps towards improvement have started.
My babysitter, bless her heart, has offered to let me reside at her address on paper. She technically lives in the same neighborhood, but in a different district, and apparently on the right side of the tracks where the police are concerned.
I need to go visit my neighborhood school, instead of driving around it slowly and apprehensively, like a weird stalker. I need to see if there is some incongruence between the scores and the chaos of my neighborhood. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. Maybe I will be that parent who writes a blog two years from now saying, “I stood by my neighborhood school and I haven’t regretted a single minute! All you people who run to charters are wimps! I support my community!”
On that note, don’t hate me. Sometimes I’m honest to a fault, even when it makes me look like a jerk. But parenthood is a journey, and there is lots of pressure out there to have the smartest, coolest kid and pursue the smartest, coolest schools. I believe there is a reason we lost the lottery. Let’s see what happens.