Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kinder Drama

We had some kinder drama that resulted in our first parent meeting yesterday. Last week one of the K mothers overheard a first grade mother complaining to SS's K teacher about the benchmark testing. The Spanish immersion program is only in its second year, thus there will be plenty of growing pains. Right now, there's the first grade kids, and the kindergarten kids. From what we were told, the school principal is the gate keeper in terms of the program. The current school principal began her stint this school year. The program was researched and created with the full support of the former principal. From our limited interaction with the former principal, we got a sense of genuine warmth. She had returned to her office to find that SS was being evaluated there. She asked if she was ours, gushed at her cuteness, and told us SS would do just fine. Our equally limited interaction with the new principal. Ms. R, has left us feeling chilly in almost 100 degree weather.

What truly matters is that Ms. R is behind the program, and that is what fanned the flames of parental discontent.  The first grade children will have their benchmark testing at the end of the year in English. The obvious problem is that the children have been taught is Spanish for two years. It id not far fetched to predict that they will fail, or at least not do as well as their mainstream counterparts. From there the concern became that if the kids do not do well, Ms. R could use the test results to justify ending the immersion program. Say what? Gee, we just got here people.

It did not help that S (a mom), singled out by parents and teachers as the driving force, grassroots extraordinaire, was allegedly told by the district that Ms. R was not in favor of the program. Darn, too much drama, too early in the semester, and even earlier in the morning.  By the time we had our meeting yesterday, S had a "productive forty-five minute chat" with Ms. R, who assured S of her support for the program. Whatever. It still leaves the concern about the testing and our kids academic performance.

This is where it got even more interesting, as there were many things about this program we did not know.  The biggest surprise to us was that the classes are made up of "50% strong English speakers, and 50% strong Spanish speakers." As soon as my brain absorbed the information I questioned how SS was accepted, since I would not describe her as a strong English speaker, and let's not even think about the Spanish part.  The assessment that SS underwent was done in Spanish with half the class. There are A LOT of kids in kindergarten that do not speak a word of English. Sadly, those are the same kids who will fare even worse with English testing. Yikes, feel headaches coming on.

We met yesterday afternoon at a very cool park, for our bitching session, meeting of concerned parents. S managed to make some progress, including a "have coffee with the principal meeting" later this month. P and I are pretty sure they will be serving iced coffee.We were also made aware that the mainstream parents are not too happy with the program, mainly because the majority of children involved are "transfers." The first benchmark testing was done two weeks ago, but the parents were not informed. Someone mentioned that it was a state mandate to test in English, and if that is the case, then it is a moot subject. P and I had already planned for SS to be proficient in both languages simultaneously, including reading and writing. We were under the impression that we would have to work on the Spanish at home, but as it turns out, we are going to have to work harder with English, to make sure that SS does not lag behind. We do feel awful for the Spanish speaking kids, with parents who are probably more lost than we feel right now. 

The park opened recently, it's huge and cool. SS loves all balls, if it's a sport involving balls, she's on it. They have quite a few around the park.

Splash Pad fun.

E and S, no idea of the names of the girls behind them.

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