Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The System

[edited version]

Here's how The System works (granted, it's a new system, open to some change, but there are a couple of key components): The Quartet and I leave the house at about 8 a.m., take the older three to Downtown Elementary where C walks JP & S to their respective rooms. From there I take GK to her sitter on The Island.

The most crucial part of the system is C walking his siblings into school. It allows me to pull up to the school entrance, which will be a plus in cold/rainy weather, and it means GK stays in her carseat. And yet this is the very element that is coming under fire. C came home yesterday and told us he was stopped by the assistant principal that morning and told an adult would have to walk S to class in the mornings. We told him to go ahead and walk her in the next day and we'd take care of it, but C being C, he was worried he'd get in trouble. So this morning I had to find a place to park, park, unfasten GK, check in at the office, walk S to her hallway and then return to the office to find out what the hell is going on from Mrs. W, the principal.

There was some initial confusion because the school has a pre-K program itself and Mrs. W thought S was in that room, where an adult must sign the kids in and out or they could "lose their license." However, there is another pre-K which is administered by the YMCA. I'm not sure why S is in this one and not the school's own version, but once that was cleared up, I was told basically the same thing, that an adult has to sign each child in.

Now, I have a few problems with all of this. First is that I've never signed S in or out. For the first two weeks I walked them all into school and was never asked to sign anything. Second, C doesn't even walk her to class now, he walks her to her hallway where JP's classroom is about 20 feet from hers, and watches her all the way to the door. And if this is some sort of safety measure, and she needs to be escorted to the door, then I'm questioning the security of the school and whether or not I want any of my kids there. But I don't think it is a question of safety, I think it's a question of money. The YMCA's pre-K costs us and I believe they know what to charge based on the signature of a parent, and if that's the case then just tell us. Don't play games and tell me it's about safety or a license, or just shrug and blame it on another institution, tell me it's how you get paid and you need to get paid.

Lastly, I'm going to just go ahead and say it and I'll take the criticism for being a braggart, but my kids are good kids. C is as responsible as they come, it's like having another adult living in the house. Sure, there are times they're hard to handle and they can get way out of line at times, but on the whole, this is a well-behaved, respectable group. There are kids in any school who are not in complete control of their actions, who don't listen to authority. These are not my kids. If we thought for a moment that C wasn't watching S all the way to her room, or that they were going in the front door and out the back to spend the day hitting the bars downtown, or that they were in any way disruptive in the hallway, then The System would be altered dramatically. But I know for a fact that none of that is an issue. With all of the problems - the incalculable problems - of Memphis City Schools, C walking S to class is not one of them.