Everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten except how to get my kid into a good one

Jen and I have been braving the BPS lottery. The way it works is that the city is divided into zones. You go to these informational meetings, and then you run around your zone checking all of the schools out. In January, you list your top choices, and then a lottery decides where your kid goes to school.

It’s high stakes. Some public schools are fabulous and some are disasters. The other fun thing about is that it requires a lot of work to do properly but at the same time, the result is totally random.

Whenever Jen and I go to the meetings and tours, we’ve noticed the tension as thick as Charles’ muddy water.

We are in a good zone. Our house is at an intersection of a really wealthy neighborhood and one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. I really want to tell you that the neighborhood doesn’t matter, but of course, the schools in the wealthy neighborhood are much better.

We have noticed that there is no difference in the mood at the good or bad neighborhoods. Everyone is anxious. Everyone cross-examines the teachers and the principals with the same probative questions. Jen and I just sit back and watch.

Most amusingly, everyone seems to think their kid is gifted. No one asks, “How are you going to help my delayed and troubled child succeed?” The question is always, “How do you handle gifted children?” This question gets repeatedly ask at every single tour.

Last time this happened, after yet another woman asked the principal this, Jen turned to me and said, “Does she mean that kid who just fell out of her chair and onto her ass?” Yep. That’s the gifted kid she was talking about.

Apparently, we have a whole lot of gifted kids in our zone.


8 thoughts on “Everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten except how to get my kid into a good one

  1. Found you via Universal Hub, where I also posted this comment. Good luck with the lottery process! :o)

    “Oh, I’ve absolutely noticed this too in working with families looking into BPS, especially in the West Zone.

    However, there’s an explanation for some of it at least. Kids who have any kind of disability have usually been receiving BPS services since age 3, since special ed starts at age 3 for eligible kids. Kids with significant enough disabilities that they need to start out in a special ed classroom (kids with Down’s, kids on the more severe end of the autism spectrum, blind kids, deaf kids, etc.) receive a classroom shortly after their third birthday.

    In the case of a kid who doesn’t need a special ed classroom, but is receiving speech-language therapy or occupational therapy or social skills training or whatnot, the parent has been taking the kid to an elementary school for an hour or two a week to get the therapies since age 3. So these families are already connected with BPS and are finding their child’s K2 placement through the special ed process, even if the child will be in a regular K2 classroom with just weekly speech therapy. These parents wouldn’t generally be at the meetings about lotteries etc., and they already know what BPS can/does do for kids who need support services.”

  2. that system is completely ridiculous! It’s really crazy that they make kindergarten so stressful on you! Love the comment about the gifted children- ha ha ha. Gifted can have multiple meanings you know 🙂

  3. Most people don’t recognize that “giftedness” is a technical term, akin to “special needs,” not a description of a child who is just smart. There are lots of really smart kids who are not gifted; likewise, there are gifted kids who have learning disabilities, too, with Asperger’s Syndrome being the oft-referenced example. (They are often called “twice-gifted.”)

    Parents of children who are actually categorized as gifted — instead of just academically advanced — can often find the best fit for their child by asking different questions from the ones you allude to. They would be interested in a school with teachers with backgrounds in differential instruction practices, which is usually found in teachers who are dual-certified in special education and/or ELL (English language learning).

    The irony is that most parents who think their kid is really smart — or even gifted — will rarely ask about the dual certification of the school’s teachers in special education, probably because they think that their kid doesn’t need that kind of instructional knowledge in a teacher. Too bad.

    The parents would be better served asking questions about how the teachers in the school handle differential instruction when some of the kids are significantly more advanced academically than the others. And in asking what fraction of the school’s teachers are dual-certified.

    • jb, I would like to think that what you say is true, but I don’t see how it can be. Braving the Lottery posted this link: http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/files/Kindergarten%20demand%20report%2009-10.xls

      It’s the kindergarten demand report. If you look at the last column, it is the number of 1st to 3rd choices per available seat.

      The Kilmer has a ratio of 6.41 applicants per seat. The Lydon is 6.50. The ratio is a little better for other popular schools like the Beethoven, but they still have 4 applicants per seat. I just don’t see how most people are getting their first or second choice with numbers like these.

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