Here a line, there a line…


When I was a kid, your parents registered you at the neighborhood school and that was that. Only once did my parents ask for a change in school, and that was so my siblings and I would I ride the same bus. Otherwise, the whole thing was pretty simple. A perk to knowing where you were going, and the district also knowing, was they had a whole summer to sort out schedules. Sure, there were always a few problems, but by the end of the first week most kids had things sorted out. Mr. Smarty-Pants wasn’t in the correct classes for over three weeks.

Kids that got expelled, in trouble with the law, etc, were transferred to “alternative schools”. So, as it should be, the problem kids got punished rather than everyone else.

Memphis, in all it’s infinite lack of wisdom has it all backward. Sure, kids can get expelled, but they just end up somewhere else causing problems. Since there is no real punishment for being little turds at school, a lot of the good teachers give up and leave. They make more rules, which of course, the less experienced teachers have trouble enforcing, especially with the kids who think nothing of flouting the rules to begin with.

Less than stellar teachers result and/or environments that make it hard to learn, especially for kids coming from low socioeconomic groups that may not have the resources other kids have, culminating in failing schools. It’s become epidemic.

So what’s Memphis’ solution? Assign certain schools as “optional”, i.e. they get the option of picking and choosing who gets to walk through their doors. The number of schools which are passing after the elementary level is abysmal, which means oodles of parents jump through the school board’s hoops to get their kids into a good school, and I use “good” in the most vague sense of the word, because none of the schools in this city measure up to the ones I attended. I’m only thirty-four. What the hell happened?

The optional process is convoluted and a pain in the ass. For example, on Monday they will hand out bar-coded applications. You pick one up, fill out a small form, and then fill out the application online, assuming your child isn’t an incoming kindergartner, from out of state, or previously attended private school and so is not in the system. Sounds simple, right? Yeah, one would think so. Due to the insane demand there are parents that begin lining up FIVE DAYS before. Seriously? WTF?! Don’t you have jobs? Who is taking care of your kids?

I despise the optional process because it artificially inflates the reputation of schools. My kids have attended optional schools since Mr. Smarty-Pants entered first grade. He’ll be in eighth next year.

A brief list of grievances:

  1. My kids watch videos for P.E.
  2. They can’t play tag, or any sport in elementary school….they might hurt themselves or *gasp* wear out the equipment.
  3. A teacher made my kid eat a snack he wasn’t supposed to eat.
  4. A principal was clueless there was a highly infection stomach flu going around and allowed a kid who puked on the sidewalk, right outside of the parent’s car, to attend school. We missed at least a week of school that year from that virus.
  5. I’ve lost track of the incorrect science my kids have been taught, of which the infamous 50 Shades of Math topped it all.
  6. Their idea of tutoring is parking a kid in front of a computer.
  7. I once argued with an elementary history teacher over the importance of spelling. I was the one insisting kids needed to spell properly.
  8. The schools complain about lack of parental involvement, but staff was rude and condescending. I wonder why the parents don’t want to work with you?
  9. They enrolled Mr. Smarty-Pants and then, suspiciously, after I had complained about the 50 Shades of Math debacle, they called and told me my son needed to be picked up immediately. He did not belong in that school. Long story short, he was on their list, they couldn’t read their own lists, and they had already called the school board office and knew what the problem was. See #8.
  10. Mr. Smarty-Pants got into an optional program and no one bothered to tell me. No letter arrived. Nada. Thus, the problem in #9 in entering him into the school’s system.

I could probably go on, but I’ll stop now before my head explodes from frustration.

In regards to the optional school process, the parents, I believe, add to the problem. Instead of showing up the morning of, like a sane person, they’ve decided it’s like an iPhone release or something and camp out. I noticed that those people tend to be more affluent, with jobs that allow them to take vacation days and they can afford sitters or whatever to take care of their kids. Yay for them. So, thanks to these over-achieving “must make a line” parents, the school district reverted back to their “parent organized line” system. The bar-codes were supposed to get rid of that extra step. Want to know how well that worked?

So, I saw a FB post remarking on the fact that people had started to line up on Wednesday, and because of the freezing temperatures, the school board was issuing placeholder cards. I utilized my cursing vocabulary, left work at the end of the day, picked up the girls and headed to acquire my magic card.

I signed in on a clipboard, got a number, and got to wait in line (at least there were chairs), for close to two hours. Then, when we were called we moved to another room where once again we got to wait in a line and sign yet another clipboard.

Finally after about two and half hours we got to form yet another line to pick up the magic card.

What does this card do? It holds my place in Monday’s line, provided I show up prior to 5:30am.

So let’s summarize. I waited in line, to wait in line, to get in another line, which gave me a card for yet another line.

Is it just me, or are they feeding us a line of B.S.?

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3 responses to “Here a line, there a line…

  1. I have been trying to keep up with this school stuff, but it’s all very confusing.

    I’m going to assume that by the time my child is school age, all of these problems will be worked out. That’s totally realistic, right?

  2. Pingback: My Fifteen Seconds | Author: H.C. Playa

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