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Showing posts with label kindergarten. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kindergarten. Show all posts

05 September 2008

Our first week of kindergarten

A welcome note to any of my daughter's classmates parents who have found this blog. First, rest assure that I won't be blogging gossip here or anything I think is inappropriate for a blog so darn public. If you're the teacher, I will always bring my concerns to you before I ever write about it here. That said, back to our regularly scheduled blog...

Ah, Friday of the first week of kindergarten. I think we are all exhausted from this week. My daughter especially so. So how is she doing? She took to kindergarten like a fish to water...at least from my perspective.

Tuesday was insane. Almost every kindergartener had at least two adults with them in the lunchroom. I think we caught a few kids who also brought grandparents...very cute. Our daughter sat at the table looking a bit stunned, yet eager. We all walked over to her classroom once the teacher showed up at 9. The room was a nice size, cubbies for their coats, and the big tables were all set with their first coloring project. Once we got all her items put away and the girl was settled in a seat, she gave us that look. "OK, you can go now." We hugged her and went in for the good-bye kiss. DENIED. Overnight, our loving & kissy girl grew into a 16yo teen. Pick up was equally insane as class after class of different grades flooded into the lunchroom and kids had to sort themselves out between pick-up and bus. One teacher did have a bullhorn, but we could barely hear it over the chatter of tweens. Our babysitter came to get acquainted, thank goodness we planned it like that cause it really was a madhouse for a few minutes. But the kid found us and looked happy. She took a nap on the way home.

The rest of the week we left her in the lunchroom a few minutes before the teachers show up with a few of her classmates and the teacher's assistant. Each morning she acted as if we were the most embarrassing people in the entire world...And I wasn't even singing! That is an issue we will be working on, let me tell you!

The funniest thing is that on Wednesday she saw the kids who were going to eat breakfast line up and go in line. She got a breakfast ticket and ate breakfast...her second of the day. All without paying for it. She just followed the group. Her daddy did talk to someone the next day to pay for breakfast.

She also reported to us one day that one boy told her that he didn't like girls. Today I saw him calling for her at pick-up and patting the spot next to him on the bench. There's more to that story, but it's best told in person over a cuppa something. :)

Her teacher looks like she's going to be great. The kid loves her already.

I'm pretty hopeful for this year and this school. It was quite a leap of faith to apply to this school. I haven't written about kindergarten in months because I was waiting for us to figure out where she would go and then I didn't want to jinx what did happen. We didn't get into the lone private we applied to, but we did get into one magnet school and one gifted school. We're at a gifted. We are clearly aware of how lucky we are. Seriously. We decided to apply to this school solely based on the principal who appears to not take any BS. She stated some very high standards at orientation and while the coursework is intense for kindergarten, I think everything will work out.

03 April 2008

New Schools Aisle 7!

In case you haven't heard, the Chicago Public Schools will be opening a few new schools next year and they are magnets plus a gifted center. So you CPSers know what that means - LOTTERY TIME! More choices in that whole "school choice" thing. In reality we know it's more school luck than choice, but put as the commercials say, you can't win if you don't play. So read on about the new schools and how you can try to get your lil one in them.

Here's the skinny from CPS themselves:

Dear CPS Community,

We're very excited about five new elementary magnet schools and a new regional gifted center that will open this fall, expanding school options for students in a variety of neighborhoods.

* *Disney II Magnet School*
3815 N. Kedvale Ave., will offer a fine/performing arts and technology integration curriculum.
* *LaSalle II Magnet School*
1148 N. Honore St., will provide a world language program that allows students to learn one of four different languages.
* *Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy*
6730 S. Paulina, a brand new facility, will offer the district's first-ever children's engineering program.
* *Joshua D. Kershaw Magnet School*
6450 S. Lowe Ave., will offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme for children in kindergarten through fifth grade and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme for students in sixth through eighth grade
* *Oscar Mayer Magnet School*
2250 N. Clifton Ave., will offer the Montessori Program for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme for sixth- through eighth-graders.
* John Coonley Regional Gifted Center, 4046 N. Leavitt, will receive a new regional gifted center for academically advanced students.

These schools will offer a variety of highly coveted academic programs in neighborhoods that haven't always had access to these kinds of high-quality education options.

The CPS Office of Academic Enhancement will accept applications until April 25 for the 2008-2009 school year. The magnet schools will not require academic testing, but will accept students from the neighborhood and through a citywide lottery. Students will have to test into Coonley Regional Gifted Center.

For an application, please click on the school name (Coonley applications will be available in the fall for the 2009-2010 school year); to read the press release about this project, please click here: http://www.cps.k12.il.us/magnet_pdf/magnet_schools_final_release_letterhead.pdf

Sincerely,

Arne Duncan

This is post is crossed posted to Chicago Parent.

Technorati tags: CPS, chicago, education, Chicago Public Schools

27 February 2008

School "Choice" in CPS

Saturday ushers in March and the hope that spring will overcome winter, some televised spring training games, Shamrock shakes, and of course, notification from the Chicago Public School lottery and all those privates & parochial schools on whether or not your child was selected. All of this is because Chicago Public Schools have school choice. It's a nice slogan. It lulls you into the belief that you, the parent, has control over where your beloved offspring will be learning their three R's. In fact it is a madness that pushes parents into an annual emotional marathon.


The Chicago Tribune points out the intense competition to get into not just CPS schools, but religious and private schools:


Statistically, it's more difficult, for example, to get into Drummond Montessori, a public magnet school in Bucktown, than it is to get into Harvard University. About 995 children applied for the 36 openings at Drummond next school year, a 4 percent acceptance rate. Harvard accepted about 9 percent of its applicants last year.


At Sacred Heart, an independent Catholic school in Rogers Park, the competition is so fierce, parents are applying now for "early admission" for 2009-10.


And at the private British School, which just last month opened a $25 million, five-story schoolhouse in Lincoln Park, the preschool and kindergarten classes for next year already are full, with a waiting list. Annual tuition: about $18,000.


Of course, we could chuck it all and head into the suburbs where school choice is much more limited and honestly, people buy in suburbs based on what school they want and can afford. And that right there is what is so wrong with the school system in general.


For the record, my husband & I sent in at least a dozen magnet school applications, had our daughter tested for both gifted programs, and applied to one independent/private school. We are both products of public schools in the suburbs and had vastly different experiences. Heck, my sisters & I had vastly different experiences! But we fled the suburbs for the city and fell in love. We love being surrounded by different people, having the choice to hop on the el to go to a Cubs game, and how different neighborhoods are just a few blocks down. We want her to grow up in an environment that might be a bit more forgiving of difference than the suburbs (sorry suburbanites, I lived it, I know what I went through).


Also for the record, I lived in a working poor suburb. My parents chose a house for us that was barely in district for one of the top high schools in the state. I am not a trust fund baby who lives in Lincoln Park who wants a prep school for my child inside a Chicago Public School. What I do want is for every child to have access to quality education, inspiring teachers, and the ability to make friends of all types - that includes academic. While I was in honors classes most of my school career, I had friends in average classes as well as friends who were far more smart than I was. Diversity of thought is important for everyone.


While touring some of the tuition-based preschools, I saw exactly what John Kass tongue-in-cheek suggests - almost total separation of the neighborhood kids from those whose parents are writing a check:


Now, a so-called gifted academy will be saved, to reopen in a building of non-gifted (or is that regular students?) school on the Northwest Side. Parents of the gifted are worried that the non-gifted parents may try to squeeze new kids into the gifted program. Happily, the school bureaucrats have come up with a plan.


They'll keep the children separate, so they don't mingle, perhaps with fences, as if the non-gifted are diseased with cooties. I suggest a moat filled with ravenous crocodiles, to keep the non-gifted in their place. Just wondering, but surely the gifted parents must consider themselves Democrats, as their gifted children are in "public school," right?


I live in the city FOR the diversity. I'm not going to pay thousands of dollars to keep my Latina daughter away from others like her. I say that because I rarely saw other people of color on these school tours. I suspect because tours are during the day so we can ooh and ahh over the darling children while they learn algebra in 2nd grade. Thankfully magnet schools have to keep a certain racial breakdown. While the one independent we did apply to isn't full of racial diversity, it is one where we feel very comfortable with in every other aspect - outside the tuition bill, of course.


Why don't I just stop complaining and send her to our neighborhood school? If we need to, we will. But again, my main thesis is that we shouldn't have to choose whether or not to send our kids to a school 30 minutes away from home just because they have recess or art or new computers. In magnet schools they can keep a handle on classroom size while neighborhood schools have to take everyone. I firmly believe that classroom size is one of the biggest factors in a student's success. It just makes sense.


School choice lets us believe that every child has a shot at being in a top school. That blind lotteries are fair, no peeking at the parents bank account, no play parties to see if the kids fit in, and no testing. In reality it's not as even of a field as we would hope. Not even the gifted schools are safe. On Super Tuesday the voters around the South Loop school voted in favor of a non-binding referendum to ask CPS to remove the gifted students because their commuting was causing too much traffic. Ah, yes...traffic trumps the education of our children. I have no idea what CPS will do with this request, but I'm happy that we didn't apply to a school where outsiders are clearly not welcome.


In the end, my husband and I have to choose the best school for our daughter. Gifted, private, neighborhood, or magnet, we just want a school where we know that she can learn and be respected. I'm grateful that we had the time to visit open houses and fill out applications. I'll continue to work and agitate so that kids can go to school with their neighbors & not worry that they aren't missing out on fresh air, Beethoven, or science fairs.


This was cross-posted from The Red Thread at Chicago Parent


Technorati tags: CPS, kindergarten, school, Chicago Public Schools, education

06 February 2008

The kindergarten hunt continues

It's been a long time since I've blogged about seemingly never-ending search for a kindergarten for our daughter. Part of it is that I do believe in conspiracy theories and don't want to black mark my lil one with this blog by complaining too much. The other day a news story broke that made it clear - We live in Chicago and even the school system is Chicago.

Chicago's magnet applications should be audited following revelations that parents tried to clout their kids into one magnet school by falsely claiming they had a child already enrolled there, the head of a government watchdog group said Tuesday.

Disclosures that 12 applicants falsely claimed to have "siblings'' at Sabin Magnet -- giving them a clear admissions edge -- is "the Chicago Public School version of Chicago clout in action,'' said Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association.


But it's really not much of a surprise. I grew up in the burbs where kids pretended to live with cousins to attend our better schools. Or the reality is that grandma was the babysitter so it made sense to say you lived with her so you could walk to her house after school.

Last weekend we attended a "play party" for our lone independent/private school candidate. We really like that school, but can't get our hopes up due to the very small pool of seats available. My daughter had fun at the party. They let the kids play in the library and gym. I'm sure she thought she was the poop for being in school in the first place. She said she had fun. Thankfully the interview part for us was pretty low-key. It also helps that the school expects parents to volunteer for things and well, we're not a non-volunteering couple. My husband even offered up that we're fundraisers. I know he is, but I wouldn't initially had thought that, but I guess I am.

The interview, while it lasted all of 15 minutes, is a weird thing. You want to say things that make you look good, stand out, etc. But you also don't want to look like a total suck up. It's just weird. While the school isn't as diverse as we'd like, it does feel like the right school.

March is just around the corner, so we'll know soon.


Technorati tags: kindergarten

14 January 2008

CPS - Building my trust with each botched mailing

Test time:

  1. The deadline to submit one's application to magnet and gifted programs for Fall 2008 for the Chicago Public Schools was December 21, 2007
  2. The CPS school directory showed up at our daycare yesterday
  3. What is wrong with the picture above?
When I saw them as we headed into pick-up, I turned to my husband and said, "I am so blogging this!"

Technorati tags: CPS

02 November 2007

Ranking

Perhaps after you get use to the system or you're a more relaxed person, like Kathy, than we are about this whole process, but it is overwhelming. I really do wish I could relax and see this as a different system instead of a system meant to confuse parents.

This is my recent example of being overwhelmed:

Tuesday morning my partner brought the CPS school bible in the car to look through on during the morning commute. I had tagged the magnet, gifted, Classical, and magnet cluster schools that I thought would work for us. We settled on 3 gifted/Classical schools and then I said we needed to rank them.

T: School A, School B, and then School C.
V: But School C is gifted and that's the highest ranking, what if she scores high enough, but doesn't get in because we ranked it 3rd?
T: OK, School C, School A, School B.
*a few minutes pass*
T: What about School D?
V: We didn't like that one, remember?
T: But School D is also gifted and closer to work. Let's go with C, A, D, B. But was D the one with the smaller classes?
V: D was the school where the gifted classes were larger than the neighborhood classes, but even the gifted classes were smaller compared to other schools we've visited.
T: Oh, hell...D is out again. C, A, B.
*few minutes pass*
T: Ok, C is a gifted school, but A is closer to home. Classical is still gifted, so it'll still be good for her. Let's go A, C, B, ok? Yeah, let's go with that. Anyway, maybe we'll get offers from all three.
V: Um, no. The CPS woman said that starting last year they only give you ONE offer, so ranking is even more important now.
T: Well *&%*$(! Still, C, A, B...any of those will be good.

And that's pretty much how we settled on our ranking.

Overwhelming? Yes. The very idea that perhaps we are setting up our daughter for success or failure by the mere selection of her kindergarten is overwhelming. I know, I know, we have no idea. But seriously. My parents chose the school district we grew up in for the very distinct reason that we grew up there and went to a very good high school. It worked. For CPS, it's not just where you live (it helps for awesome neighborhood schools) but also how you play the system. If she's not in a good K-8 school will she score well enough in 7th grade to get into Whitney Young, Northside Prep, or Payton?

The fact that some families DO move to Naperville for the schools is the same as making sure that our daughter ends up on the track to earn her way into a good high school.

Technorati tags: CPS, kindergarten, school, Chicago Public Schools, education

29 October 2007

Gifted School visit

Last week my partner in crime went to an Open House for Gifted School A. He's a mighty tough customer, so when the principal didn't introduce themselves off the bat, the school took a hit. In the end, he stayed way past the publicized end time to take in all the school had to offer.

The problem with gifted schools is that there aren't too many of them. This one is neither close to home or work. But in the end, I think it will be ok. The commute will change...Mostly that my partner won't be driving with us, but rather relying on the mess that is public trans in Chicago. Which next week is losing transit and authority.

OK, grumpy old lady moment...BUT when I was a kid, we had gifted programs integrated into our neighborhood schools. Are there that few gifted kids in Chicago that we need to house them in separate quarters? Are saving that much money? Are we pushing them that hard?

Now to visit the other 2 gifted/Classical schools on our preferred list so we can rank them on our daughter's application. Then we can mail it in, and then she can get tested.

Next up? Getting all the magnet school applications in order!

Technorati tags: CPS, kindergarten, school, Chicago Public Schools, education

21 October 2007

The hunt is on

When I was a kid, my elementary school held an annual Kindergarten Round-Up. It was essentially the school's way of hunting out kids who were old enough for kindergarten and get their parents to register them. Now I'm an adult, a parent, and I'm the one trying to round-up schools for my daughter to attend.

For those not in Chicago or with school-aged kids in Chicago, let me tell you what the deal is. We have this thing called "school choice" and here are the choices:

A) Send child to neighborhood school (ours is currently over crowded)

B) Apply for & pray to get into one of the following:
.....1) Magnet school: Admission is by a lottery. You have a higher chance if you live near-by, but there's no guarantee
....2) Gifted school: Admission is by testing. Tests how much potential the child has. Do they think out of the box?
....3) Classical school: Admission is by testing. Tests how much the child knows now. Are they reading? They could get in!
....NOTE: Even if you test as gifted/Classical, there is no guarantee because there aren't enough seats each year. So it's not how well you test, but how well your peers test.

C) Apply for a non-CPS school (private, independent, religious)

D) Home school: And you know I'm not doing that! It's nothing against home schoolers, I know some awesome radical feminist mamas doing a great job. I just wouldn't have what it takes.


Thus we have decided to dive into all options under B (yes, our daughter will be tested TWICE) and one application to an independent school. No, I'm not saying! Are you crazy?

So stay tuned and watch how a mama with a master's degree & a papa with a college education get totally confused by the simple idea of signing up our daughter for pre-school.

Technorati tags: CPS, kindergarten, school, Chicago Public Schools, education

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