Monday, October 23, 2006

Public School and the pushy lesbian mom

We are choosing schools for Zion again
funny, as we moved here for the schools
to this town
I worried about diversity
I worried about the queer family thing
I worried about acceptance of a boy
who loves to dance
who has an earring
who knows every musical
I worried about whether they would have the right books
I worried about the other kids
- what were they being taught at home?
Did they play video-games
would they play with war toys
What would they teach him - my son
I worried about academic standards and challenge
I worried and worried and worried
We talked to the town
We talked to the superintendent
We talked to the principal
we met and met
we provided testing
we offered
books, assistance, guidance
We were assured
All would be fine
And then we leaped
We held our breath
We covered our eyes
Zion jumped
Zion trusted
Zion started to fly
Zion started to fall
Zion crashed
Crashed and burned
Became silent
The school was moderately diverse,
Although he was one of the few African american kids who actually lives in the town
Zion didn't care about that at all
The school has a great mission
supporting diversity
Zion was fine with that
The school has one other gay family
Zion didn't care what kinds of families there were
And many adopted families
Zion didn't notice
Some multiracial families
Zion wasn't worried
he loves all
The school is safe in terms of all of these things
The school loves him
But the school has failed him
The school was unwilling to challenge him
Having clearly never met a boy
So clever
And this got Zion's attention
Zion cared about this
Zion came home crying
Every day
Asking why he must find the capital A
When he reads chapter books
Why must he count the five pennies in a nickel for homework?
Day after day
What is wrong with him he wondered?
When at home he is doing multiplication and learning about gravity
and john lennon and civil rights
kicking my ass at chess...
The school does not see this
They see a boy who is doing what his peers are doing
and maybe less
And that is enough
For them
meets their standards
And every day
My dancer wilts
his light fades
as he waits for teachers to inspire him
The way his dancing teachers do
the way his books do
the way discussing the world and politics and freedom does
I worried
I worried
As mothers worry
And nothing phased my boy
Except the one thing the school was supposed to do
Teach him
Today we begin to look for a new school


At October 24, 2006 4:16 PM , Blogger Wady said...

Wow! Zion needs a school that will allow him to soar! Good luck on your search for a new school. You two sound like great parents. Just keep challenging him at home in the meantime.

-Fellow rfamily cruiser...Carrie

At October 25, 2006 7:43 PM , Anonymous Amy and Sue said...

That is beautiful, in a sad and shameful way. I don't know how to link but if I did I would ask to put it on my blog. We are both teachers and we see this each and every day. Your child is beautiful - keep searching for the right place for him. I apologize, I apologize for every educator that has ever been with him and refused to see him. It is our jobs to do what is right for each child. I'm so sorry. Keep the faith.

At October 27, 2006 8:41 AM , Blogger RainbowMomma said...

We love homeschooling! It is NOT just for fundamentalists. It does NOT mean you're not social.

Our daughter has playdates with her friends, has fun at theatre class, ice skating, gymnastics class, classes at the science museum, and Spanish class at the local private progressive school. (Which by the way, has the most diverse population I have ever seen, with about 30% of kids adopted from other cultures.) It's socioeconomically diverse, as well.

She gets to learn at HER pace (which she did at the progressive school, too, last year).

No one makes her pick out the letter A, when she would rather be reading Magic Treehouse.

No one makes her sit at a desk all day when she would rather be outside enjoying the earth.

Anyway, just wanted to say (from one lesbian mom to another) that there are ALL KINDS of alternatives out there! (And the stereotypes don't always fit them.)

At October 30, 2006 8:22 AM , Blogger Co said...

Unfortunately, what I've come to realize as an educator and former teacher, is that as much as "individualizing instruction" is thrown around in the buzz word ways, it is an unfortunate truth that most public schools are in the business of mass education. There really is no way to truly individualize instruction if you've got 30 kids in your class, and you spend about as much time disciplining as you do teaching anyway. I'm not saying there aren't things good teachers can do to help meet the needs of the kids who are lower-achieving or higher-achieving. There are. But they're not going to be earth-shattering. And nowadays, tracking children homogeneously by ability is ever more unpopular.

At May 10, 2007 4:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not long ago i was Zion. I was bored and much more advanced than my peers. I wilted without parents like you. Now for my child i have found a Waldorf school which ot only allows and puts up with my bright child but pushes him to excel and learn at his own pace while providing extra supplemental resources for areas that intrest him. My heart goes out to you, and to Zion who is lucky to have parents like you. thanks for reminding us all that sexuality is not the only thing in our lives.

At May 18, 2007 9:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I feel Zion's pain. My brilliant girl,reading Little House on the Prairie at 3.School has failed her now 11. Bored, "lazy". Tests at a college level but won't do her 5th grade math. Fight, get him the gifted services he deserves. I did not fight hard enough-belived them when they said it would be ok. Good for you to get him out of there. I fear I waited too long. Relentless boredom will wear down the truly gifted and leave apathy in its place.


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