Friday, July 30, 2010

Little things that take too long

We've kept ourselves occupied this summer with little getting-ready-for-school tasks, like picking up our Countdown to Kindergarten T-shirt and packet from the library. We actually got two T-shirt postcards in the mail. I know some people never got theirs. Someone commented on an earlier post that you can just bring your registration information to the library and that should work as well as the postcard.

A couple weeks ago, we went to the West Zone Family Resource Center to take ourselves off the waitlist for the Lyndon, among other things. I don't think it will help anyone, since we were probably still in the 30s. Anyway, the place was packed. I expected to be in and out in five minutes. Instead, it was a half-hour project with kid in tow. I couldn't figure it out. Could people really be registering their kids for kindergarten or other grades this late? Maybe some of them recently moved to Boston. Later, I discovered that it was the only FRC open for the summer. Still...

Meanwhile, I think we've found our after-school solution. The Mozart doesn't have an on-site after-school program, so our child will probably be bused to the Roslindale Community Center, which has a program for 4-year-olds. We won't know for sure if he got in until late August. It's a state-licensed program, so the application is massive and massively redundant. I also had to fill out an alternative transportation form in order to get the kidlet on the bus. (The online form says it's for "2007-2008," but the person from the transportation department told me just to cross the date out and write "2010-11." You can also get a copy at the FRC.) You'd think this would be another simple five-minute project. No. For various reasons, this took a few days. I finally mailed that form yesterday. I think bus assignments come out in late August, so hopefully this will not be an issue.

Finally, yesterday, we got a couple of booster shots that we'd skipped six months ago. Initially, the kid thought it was going to be "the worst day of [his] whole life." But he brightened up a little when I broke out a new pack of silly bands and a ruler when he was done.

Check, check, and check. Now, I think we'll try to kick back and enjoy the rest of summer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hennigan principal named Rookie of the Year

Amy Sprott, who just finished her first year as principal of the Hennigan Elementary, won the BPS award for rookie principal of the year. The award for principal of the year went to Valeria Lowe Barehme, who leads the Timilty Middle School in Roxbury.

Friday, July 23, 2010

WBUR story on the Mendell's turnaround

I'm pretty late to the party with this one, but it's still worth a mention. WBUR had a story this week on the turnaround of the Mendell school. It's called, "The Year the White Kids Came." The story is really worth a read or listen. Many of the reader comments at the end are just as valuable as the story itself.

The school is getting a new principal this fall, but parents got to help select her.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Civil rights groups pull out of student assignment process

Three civil rights groups have stopped working with the Boston Public Schools on a new student assignment plan, citing a lack of engagement with the community and slow progress, according to the Boston Globe.
Since the groups began meeting with the district in the fall, there has not been a single open public meeting, although there have been limited focus groups.

The organizations – the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association – recommended that BPS improve communication with the public, confront the city’s history of school desegregation, work state governments and surrounding communities to develop a regional “equity and diversity” plan, the Globe reports.

BPS says it plans to have public meetings in January to gather public input. The school committee would vote on a plan later that year so that a new assignment process could be in place for the 2012-13 school year. At the same time, the district is trying to improve the quality of underperforming schools concentrated in Roxbury and Dorchester and also deciding which schools to close.

The fact that these groups have pulled out gives me pause. I question whether BPS will be able to come up with an equitable plan without their support.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

T-shirt postcards?

Has anyone received the postcard in the mail that can be exchanged for a kingergarten T-shirt at the library? The T-shirt allows incoming kindergarteners to be admitted to free events this summer.

Postcards were initially scheduled to be sent to families of incoming kindergarteners in May, but I recall they were having problems with the T-shirt vendor. The Roslindale library tells me they now have the T-shirts, but I don't recall receiving the postcard. It's entirely possible that it got shuffled into the recycling along with the junk mail.

Edited to add: We got our postcard in the mail Thursday, and it somehow escaped our recycling bin. Thanks to Countdown to Kindergarten for being such a great resource.

2nd addition: We got a second postcard on Friday. I think we're good. No more postcards, please. (I hope I only registered one child. I'm pretty sure I only have the one.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We caught a break on school uniforms

Much of this school assignment process has been very bureaucratic and headache-inducing. But this one time, we seemed to have lucked out. Countdown to Kindergarten has a chart listing the uniform requirements for each school.

It turns out that the school we're in and the school we have a low waitlist number for have very similar uniform requirements. So at least I won't have to buy school uniforms in one color only to return them and buy new uniforms if my son gets into the second school.  At this point, we're thankful for small favors.

If anyone has tips for where to stock up on navy blue pants and white tops this summer, I'd appreciate it. What do boys do in the winter? Just wear white button-down shirts? That doesn't seem warm enough. Do they wear long-sleeved undershirts? Forgive my ignorance. We're used to surviving winter in zip-up hoodies.

Know a rising BLS 10th grader?

I'm giving away copies of the three books on the required summer reading list for Boston Latin School's 10th grade: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood, Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons, and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I bought these all second hand, so to you, they'd be third-hand, at the very least. I'll throw in one of the optional books -- The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers -- because my bookshelves are over capacity.

If you can pick them up in Roslindale, they're yours. If you're interested, leave your email address in the comments field and we can arrange pick-up. First come, first serve.

Truth and Reconciliation commission may revisit 1974 Boston busing crisis

JP activist Horace Small and the Union of Minority Neighborhoods intend to start a Truth and Reconciliation commission to reexamine the Boston busing crisis of 1974, WBUR reports. It sounds like not everyone is comfortable revisiting the issue. It’s a good read.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Common Ground in the running for Globe's version of One Book, One City

Since Boston can’t seem to get its act together to hold One Book, One City, like other urban centers, the Globe is going ahead with its own version. Readers can vote online for one of 10 books with a local focus to start off the community reading program. One of these books is Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas.  It’s about the school busing crisis of the 1970s told through the eyes of three families. Right now, it’s second in votes, trailing Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919.

I can’t say I’ve read either book, but I suppose if you want to understand the recent history of Boston schools and why the system is the way it is today, Common Ground wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Voting ends July 13.

Renovation of Mozart's playground has begun

School is out, and work has begun on the Mozart school’s new playground. The old, tiny play structure is gone and a new wooden element is beginning to take shape. The West Roxbury Transcript has a copy of the layout, but I wasn’t able to enlarge it, so I don’t really know what I was looking at when I drove by the other day.

The article says that the renovated area will include more greenery, an amphitheater for performances (very useful since there is no space for this indoors), a volleyball court, a large play structure for recess, and an outdoor classroom.

Provide input for BPS changes

I am back from vacation, and I feel like my keyboard is about to melt in this heat, so posts will be short.

Thanks to alert readers who provided news links regarding the focus groups (Globe article, earlier JP Gazette article. All parents can provide their input on expansions/mergers/redesigns via a survey on the BPS website. I’m glad parents weren’t turned away from the focus group at the Roslindale Community Center. My invitation said to spread the word, so that’s what I did.