Monday, March 07, 2005

100% Pure Frustration

A new family has entered the neighborhood, and like everyone else in the area, I was doing my part to make them feel at home. Post-welcome wagon, the husband e-mailed me and asked if we were committed to sending our children to the local public school, why were the test scores so low, what's the deal, etc. I took a deep breath and—as many of us have done over the past few years—gave my shpiel about how deceptive test scores can be, how the school's cultural diversity is a strength that should be celebrated, that its demographic reflects the real world, that the staff is dedicated, the facility better than any private school around (save one, that sits on several acres above Hillsborough), on and on ad nauseum.

He thanks me for my detailed response and then goes on to express how language and cultural differences are a big deal to him. If a teacher has to spend extra time with an English-challenged child, he says, then that means less time will be given to his child. This is his biggest concern and the one that will determine whether or not he sends his kids to a private school.

*screams into pillow*

I can no longer think of how to talk to this type of person without offending them. How—without making this person feel like a complete ass-hole—am I supposed to urge him to think not of what his kid (whom he presumably thinks is worthier of a teacher's time and attention than any other child) will "lose" by being part of a diverse classroom, but what s/he will gain? How do I get him to ask himself if he would care half as much about "language and cultural differences" if the school had a sudden influx of fair-haired, French-speaking children?

And before you ask, yes, the view from my soapbox is sooooo beautiful.

Anyways, I think I have to pass this guy on to another parent. It's too far beyond my capabilities to convince someone of the folly of paying $15,000 a year to send their kid to an elementary school filled with other children who are exactly the same as their kid.


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