I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

22 March 2011

Enrollment Rolls Along

Not Confidential to Australians searching for "Trouble Gum" rodents: the animals in "Trouble Gum" are pigs.  Adjust your search accordingly.

We had some people come by to register yesterday: always nice.  I figure the people registering on the Monday after letters go out will probably be sticking around for August.

We also had a number of people stop by to tour.  I presume these people did not list our school and received it as their closest school with space.  Our school is cute (new mosaic going up and everything) and has cute kids, so I think we show well.  Besides, I'm pretty proud of our Kindergarten program, even its lazy, no-egg snails, and I like people coming to see it.

Occasionally we get a visitor whose smile is so fixed and body is so tense that I'm not sure why they bothered coming by.  After all, school sites are not EPC.  Indeed, your average school site's staff's heads are appreciably dented from run-ins with EPC.  It's not really in a school's interest to enroll a lot of people who don't want to be there.  And it's a lot of energy to try to convince people otherwise - energy I'd rather invest in the families who are enrolled.

The whole "hidden gem" thing kind of freaks me out.  It seems to suggest riches courtesy the PTA, and when you've spent the weekend laughing ruefully over the $250 teacher tax deduction for materials vs. the $2500 you spent last year, riches sound good.  There's something wrong with the notion that a school necessarily needs to be "fixed", though - like that it was broken in the first place.

Me, I think it's value systems and society that are broken.  The strongest correlation to test scores is class, after all.  "Low-performing" schools are usually high-poverty.  The number of children living in poverty in the United States is revolting, and the impacts of that poverty - long-term malnutrition, poverty-related health problems, environmental poisoning, unstable neighborhoods, early death - will be with those children (and all of us) for years to come.

Let's be clear: schools are badly funded.  Even in California, we're not being defunded as much as same-olded, with extra vigor, as this School Finance 101 piece shows.

I'm really not feeling the canard that those high-poverty schools are rolling in money, either.  There's this new idea being sold locally that the existence of some SIG schools (which are exceptionally well-funded right now, courtesy the federal government) means all high-poverty schools are having Bring Your Own Bathing Suit to Scrooge McDuck's Vault parties.  People who believe that should really do my taxes.

High-needs schools are low-seniority, and low-seniority schools are losing money on the average teacher salary formula SFUSD uses.  They may also receive funding for certain needs - for a counselor or a nutrition program - that would benefit all schools but are absolutely necessary at poor ones.

I don't know.  I prefer desegregated, diverse schools.  I'd love to have a big cash base underwriting Kindergarten arts and sciences.  I don't think we can get those without a real discussion about what we want children to know and be able to do, why we tolerate massive poverty and school underfunding, and how race and class privilege affect both how we understand the issues and what we want for ourselves and our own children.

I wonder what the locus of "unacceptability" is.  I suppose it's variable; for this family it's test scores and for this one it's diversity (or lack thereof).  I think that it would be possible to pull out a definition, and once you have that, you can talk about conceptions, assumptions and beliefs.  I don't think we're very good at having hard conversations though.

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