Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Amy Chua Would Likely Punch Me in the Face

Any conversation about Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is SO 2 weeks ago, but I can't help but think of what she would say about my bailing on the final 2 magnet school visits next week.

I bet she would punch me in the face or at least lock me in my room to do math.

Actually I found her interview on Fresh Air to be so much more telling about her parenting choices minus all the controversy that followed. Her kids, her deal. My kids, my deal.

I don't need to read her book to know that she most likely would be that parent who was demanding why their child had to wait until the district policy of Grade 3 for AG testing. The one that I rolled my eyes at last week while I paraded around in rooms of little chairs watching the dog and pony show in all its regalia.

Wait, I think I am that parent.

As I have detailed ad nauseaum about the quest for a preschool to fit our family on this blog. Overhead in the past 4 years was that I seem to have a snobby attitude and expect the unrealistic. I didn't take any offense at the characterization, because it's in large part true. But, I will counter that I think Bill and I made valid justifications for the transfers.

The bottom line is that had I never worked in the magnet school side of our local school system, I likely wouldn't have ever considered this route for my own kids. I used to joke that there was no chance I would ever pack my kid on a hour long bus ride at dawn just so they had the chance to take The History of Feudal Japan (a real elective at my old school when I was there.)

In the past 3 weeks I have visited 6 schools, 2 more on the calendar for next week. I'm basically at the same decision I was at the start. Most likely going to apply for the ONE school I could see Ben fitting in and throw hope to the wind.

Most likely we won't get in. What the leader all the tours DIDN't share with the masses of wandering, amazed parents was the real formula for getting in is not a straight lottery. Rather, unless you fall into a few set categories of minority group, overcrowded base school, unpopular year round option, or your Free and Reduced lunch status your chances of getting in are about 10%.

I'm ok with this. I think Ben will thrive at any school and the schools in this district are good across the board. Ben does all the normal, age appropriate things he should. As much as I would like for him to test AG for the guaranteed college bound/honors track and extra opportunities of being a "good" kid that teachers like. I also taught many, many past students that weren't classified AG and also not future serial killers.

Bill and I are still very split on this issue and even after asking him to go with me to tour the final school he still doesn't totally get it. I agree with him that not being about to tour our base school gives up a comparison to magnet. But herein is the divide between us.

I've seen/worked both sides of tradition vs magnet. I can wholeheartedly tell you that the opportunities and options are just not there for most base schools. You will get a great education indeed and some of the schools in parts of the district have consistent top notch scores, teachers, and curriculum. But what you won't get is curriculum that takes the standard course of study way beyond your idea of what happens everyday at school.

Part of me that has the reservation of the great what if? What if I didn't at least try to open up this option for Ben. Is it worth the drive, the extra time for after school activities, what is his brother has no interest, do we force him to also go or play the 2 school game, what about the possibility of him never going to school with kids in our neighborhood.

Amy Chua would see it as a parenting failure to settle to be at our base. I definitely know that type of parent, taught kids with those parents, and swore I would never be one of those parents.

All I have ever wanted for Ben and later Ian, are opportunities. Yes to recognizing trade offs and yes to making the best of whatever school you are in knowing that full on that your kid in the long run is going to be fine.

If Amy wants to get all Tyler Durden on me, I will gladly take her on for calling her kids garbage. That would be the biggest parenting failure in my book, much more than settling on a kindergarten class.

1 comment:

Katrina said...

Great post!
Have you read the articles posted about her in the NYT and such (if you haven't, let me know - I can post links)? I was looking into all the crap surrounding her and her book - I'm thinking about reading the darn thing just so I can see what the fuss is all about (I still think she's psycho - calling anyone garbage is unacceptable, and your own flesh and blood?). I'd rather wait to read it on eBook from a library - than purchase it and actually put any money towards her cause!

I have a blog friend who works at a independent (and I guess, popular) bookstore in San Francisco, who actually had Amy Chua sign at her bookstore, and I guess a lot of people still turned out for the gal. I can send you the blog link that she did - covering the signing - it's hilarious! I think you'd like it!

Take care!