Sunday, September 30, 2007

picking schools -- how do parents decide?

We are thinking of mainstreaming our child for high school. Currently, he is in a very good private school for bright kids with moderate to severe learning disabilities. He has made phenomenal progress since he began at the school. But.

The school is very successful at placing kids in college. Our concern is that our son will be totally unprepared for the transition, and while he might get in, he won't succeed there. I also am feeling like he is not being challenged academically where he is. And some opportunities are just non-existent or limited. The school has 130 students in grades 1-12. They offer just two computer courses (tech 1 and advanced tech), our son's biggest interest. They can offer very little in the way of clubs, sports, electives. And socially, his entire grade is about 30 kids, most of whom he has known since 4th grade. This means he has very close friends, and knows everyone, but it also limits meeting new people, moving from one social group to another, experimenting with who and what you are (like being from a really small town).

On the other hand,he is thriving where he is. And his learning disabilities are still there. He reads at a 12th grade level, but writes at about a 3rd/4th grade level. His vocab tests out as post-graduate, but his spelling is in the 2nd grade range. In math and science, he is about where an average 8th grader is... He still has motor skill issues, goes to occupational and speech language therapy once a week for intensive services.

So how do we decide what to do? We are at a break point, as far as deciding. If he is going to another school, we must apply by December 1 of this year, or not at all. The schools have openings for 9th grade, but waiting lists for grades 10, and no admissions for 11th and 12th. We would have to go through the testing process, the shadow days, everything by the end of November.

Its a huge decision, one that can affect the next 4 years, and potentially his whole life. How the hell do we decide? What's best? What if we are wrong?

Monday, September 24, 2007

save the cheerleader, save the world

We have a brand new addiction at my house -- HEROES. This is some of the best TV I have EVER seen. We bought Season 1 on DVD, and have been watching it in 3-4 episode sets. Even if you are not a "TV person", this is worth a look. And if you like comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries... I think you'll love this. You definitely need to see all the episodes though, and in order. The show isn't linear, so some episodes would make no sense whatsoever, unless you had seen the previous ones.

Hiro Nakamura is one of my favorite characters of all time, all genres.

Watch it, and tell me what you think.

Friday, September 21, 2007

the Jena 6

I told someone recently that I thought we had moved beyond the point where race was a deciding factor. The context was the presidential election and Barak Obama's chances. In view of the activities in Jena, Lousiana this week, I am now less sure aobut my statements.

The facts are few in the case. A black student at a high school asked if it was okay for him to sit under the white's tree in the schoolyard. An administrator said he could sit wherever he wants. In response, some kids put three nooses hanging up from that tree, to show what they thought about the idea. Adminstrators called it a harmless prank. Racial tensions ran high. A few black students beat up a white student. The injured student was treated in a hospital and released. Six of the black students were arrested, and initally charged with attempted murder. The charge was reduced to aggravated assault.

One student has now been in jail for over 6 months. He was charged as an adult, and couldn't post bond.

The six kids should be disciplined for the fight, beyond question. I think that's fair. And maybe juvenile court is the appropriate venue for adjudicating this. However a lot of things were not done or done poorly in this whole incident. Nooses from a tree in the deep South can never be seen as a harmless prank. The memories run too deep, the scars are too recent, to see this as anything but a racist threat. However, the threat came from kids, stupid kids, but kids. And the reaction came from kids, maybe frightened, but definitely angry, kids. So what we really have is a fistfight between kids erupting out of a highly charged atmosphere.

And then we have a prosecutor who has taken this to a whole other level. No weapons were used in this fight, the kids were all under eighteen, and all in an emotionally charged situation. To bring adult charges, and serious ones at that, into this is wrong. And I can't see a reason for it except racism.

On the news last night, I saw a Jena resident being interviewed. He said there was no reason for all these people (protestors) to come to his town. He said they weren't racists, didn't have a race problem. And maybe he doesn't. But why does the town have a "white's tree"? and why did three kids come up with the idea of hanging nooses? There is more trouble there than they want to look at in the daylight, I think.

So free the Jena 6. And bring in some counselors to talk to all these kids before it gets worse. Remind them that teenagers are supposed to hate adults, not each other.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

one of the greatest lines ever

From Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire, translated:

I am the vampire of my own heart

Isn't that awesome? I infinitely preferred it to the other translation we read:

I am my own heart's vampire

the first just sings, doesn't it?

Friday, September 14, 2007

reading list for this semester

I am taking a course in Evil this semester, focusing on Greek Tragedy through Gothic Tales. The reading list is amazing, although very heavy for 12 weeks of school.

Here it is:

Agamemnon, Aeschylus
Medea, Euripides
Othello, Shakespeare
King Lear, Shakespeare
The Wild Duck, Ibsen
Candide, Voltaire
Frankenstein, Shelley
Wuthering Heights, Bronte
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde
William Wilson, Poe
Rappacini's Daughter, Hawthorne
The Turn of the Screw, James
and poems by Shakespeare, Poe and Baudelaire

Yes, we have to read and discuss all of them. In twelve weeks. And we have two papers, one 8-10 pages, and one 18-20, both with oral presentations.

I think this may be the last r&r type weekend I can indulge in for a while. But I have to admit, this stuff jazzes me. I am looking forward to a great semester.

Monday, September 10, 2007

such a geek

I am such a geek! I just walked over to Staples and bought school supplies, for me. I still get tickled when I buy school supplies, just like I have every school year of my life. I got a new notebook, an accordian file thingy to put the notebook in, and new pens. There is something so enticing about a new notebook, with all those blank pages. It's all potential, all possibilities. And new pens, almost an invitation. In a month, it will be a mess, with papers stuffed everywhere, horribly cryptic notes that seemed really important at the time, odd doodles that probably reveal way too much about the state of my psyche, food stains, tea stains.

But today, today everything is fresh and new and ready for whatever comes.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

through the wringer, again

As some of you know, my parents have been going through divorce proceedings. They have been married, mostly miserably, for 46 years. My father is 68. My mother is 75. The last few months have been extremely stressful. My brother, sister and I have been caught in an emotional wringer since May.

Today my mother called me, to tell me the "good news". My dad is moving back home. The divorce is off. I'd like to slap them both silly. Mom was disappointed that I was not overjoyed. My father is looking forward to us all being a family again.

I have very mixed feelings. On one hand, I feel immense relief. I am off the hook. I don't have to worry what is going to happen to Mom, and I can stop calling her every week. She can stop calling me at work. She isn't going to slit her wrists or drop dead of a heart attack, or get locked in the loony bin. She can be Dad's responsibility and his headache.

On the other hand, I am furious. This is the third time I have been through the parental reconciliation routine. Each time I find out more than a child should know about their parents. Each time, I am supposed to forget everything that has happened and go back to the myth of the "happy family". And I am so tired of the pattern. My parents are bad together. They are unhappy and it shows. They pick at each other mercilessly and it is unpleasant to be around. Each time we have been through this I have lost more respect for the both of them as people, and have locked away a little bit more of my emotion and my trust.

I just don't think I can go through all this again. I don't think I can sit down to holiday supper and pretend we are all so happy to be together. Is it better to have damaged parents or no parents? am I ready to orphan myself? Is it in me to just accept them as is? I really don't know...