Photo: I made Carnitas from my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook and they were yummy! And I also made Mexican-style rice from the same book and it was also yummy! Waaay too much yield–gonna have to pull it back next time–but still yummy. Roll that up on a homemade tortilla and that’s, as my grandmother calls it, “some good eating.”
Last night. Umph… Lordy.
Ok, so… there was some good news and there were a few items of bad news. There was a lot of information and it came fast.
But you probably want to know the answer to the big question from Monday: Was I the only Black person in the room?
From what I could tell, it looks like I was one of two Black people in a gathering of maybe 200 people.
The meeting was held in the high school auditorium. There was a snow shower last night that dumped a good 2 inches of snow before the meeting, so I showed up right on time and snow covered, and so did a lot of parents. The pretty auditorium was already well filled in when I got there–not full, but with a good crowd. There were plenty of people of color there, which was wonderful. I’m going to put people in generalized boxes for the purposes of brevity: there seemed to be plenty of Asian couples, a few Hispanic women, even a few people who may be Middle Eastern (again, I know, terrible sweeping generalizations. Sorry.). But when it came to any Black parents as couples, individuals or part of an interracial couple… I didn’t see anyone. On my way out of the meeting after dismissal, I did come upon one Black man. I didn’t get a chance to speak with him because of the flow of people, so I don’t know anything about him.
Now, I’m going to say, though, that I still have a little hope. First, it was snowing like whoa last night. I almost didn’t go. Maybe there was a Black couple/parent who wanted to be there but couldn’t because of the weather. Second, during the opening of the meeting, they asked for a show of hands of who was going through the registration process for the first time. Practically all of us raised our hands. That means that there could be another Black family or two in the district who have kindergartners coming in but have been through the process before and decided to skip the meeting. Anything is possible, right?
A lot of parents came as couples, many seeing neighbors or other people they knew and clustering together. People seemed friendly enough, most prepared to take notes and ask questions. Up front was a powerpoint presentation on a massive screen, the Superintendent of Schools, his Assistant Superintendent (who would give the presentation), all 6 of the elementary school principals and some various staffers. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a good 90 minute presentation featuring everything from a “day-in-the-life” overview with pictures to the nitty-gritty about what forms we need to bring in to prove our residency.
During the meeting, I learned two pieces of bad news:
Unlike years before, it looks like my town is going to offer full-day kindergarten to all families who want it this upcoming school year. This is a big change because it was a lottery before and the chances that you were going to get it were actually quite low. This year, they are offering full-day classrooms and “hybrid” classrooms for kids who attend half-day to simply leave early while the rest of the kids stay. That’s really great, because we’re very committed to Major doing a full-day program.
The bad news? The cost: $4500.
Yes, this is a public school, Dear Reader.
Half-day is free.
Oh and, by the way, every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month will be a half-day. That’s the policy up until 6th grade!
We’ve known that there would be a tuition for full-day kindergarten. When we first moved here, the tuition was $4300. This year, the price is $4000. I was encouraged by the downward trend. I guess, however, with the new way they are structuring the classrooms, they’ve decided to hire all kindergarten teachers full time or something? I don’t know, Dear Reader. All I know is I’m actually looking at a more expensive school year next year than this year.
Full day kindergarten (5 days a week) will cost me $4500 while 4 mornings of private preschool (the only available preschool, just in case you are unfamiliar. Free public preschool is only for students with special needs here in Massachusetts) for Minor is going to cost me a little over $5600 next year.
And just in case you were wondering: kids in surrounding towns have full-day kindergarten. It’s not like I’m pushing for something many of his peers don’t get. All of his current preschool friends are going to full-day kindergarten next year.
The other bad news, tiny in comparison, is that the school I’d really like Major to attend only has very few spots available for next year. My second choice has just as few. Supposedly 95% of families get their first-choice school but… I dunno… maybe I’m just feeling unlucky.
I suppose the ultimate good news is that I saw a gathering of young, energetic and bought-in parents who were eager to get started (a good sign that the community really backs the schools) and I saw a staff that look poised and seasoned, but not stuffy, frigid or inflexible. They seem to be anticipating our questions and concerns, caring and understanding, and also eager to meet us. Everybody has the potential to benefit from partnership, agency, ownership and hard work on behalf of our kids here. I’m happy to have felt that kind of energy.
But the cost, Dear Reader… it’s a lot. I really thought that we were over the hump. I thought that we were going to be able to make-over the nursery and give the boys their big-boy room. We’ll have to see. We’re investing in what we believe in most, hoping it’ll pay dividends later. I suppose this is what careful stewardship (and thoughtful parenting) looks like.
Maybe the Fates will be nice to this little Black girl. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Oh man, it’s 9pm on a Wednesday and I know I got things done today, but they just weren’t the things I wanted to have done. How did your day go today, Dear Reader? I still seek to rid myself of this writer’s block. At least there is crafting to be done. I hope I have enough mental capacity to come up with some Quiet Thoughts for you by Friday. Any suggestions, Dear Reader? What are your Quiet Thoughts this week?
I’ll see you Friday for Some Sort of Coherent Thoughts Maybe. Until then, take care.
Carnitas! Tortillas! Make you some! You know what this would be great for? Football food. You know you want to make some!