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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Night Live

...from Marshfield Avenue, where somebody is having a very loud DJ for their birthday party.

I was out in front of my house, talking with Sarah's dad, who was sitting on his porch and then came down to chat across our fences. He has been trying to keep the kids out of my yard when I'm not home, which I appreciate.

We were talking about the block for a while. He was happy to hear about the block party next weekend. I thought Sarah would have told him but it seemed he didn't know what was going on. We were talking about safety and the recent reduction in problems at the corner. He asked about last summer, when we didn't do a party, and I said we didn't do it because of security problems (the blue house across the street). He got it.

Then we talked about school and Sarah. At her old school in Pilsen (Perez) they recommended she go to Orozco, which has a bilingual gifted program. He and his wife decided not to do it--I didn't quite understand what he was saying about why, but I'm pretty sure it was the usual reasons parents who don't understand how the Chicago school system works decide not to jump on that kind of opportunity--it's farther from home, they don't really know how much better it is, they just see all the hassle involved and they think their neighborhood school is OK because they have no base for comparison. I was just looking on line, and using test scores as a measure for academics (knowing that's a problem but also knowing it tells you something), Chavez is better than Perez but Orozco is better than both.

His wife is pretty frustrated with Chavez. The LSC is factionalized and there aren't very many opportunities for new parents to break into what's happening there. I should introduce her to someone I know on the Chavez LSC who's a get-it-done kind of person and not interested in the factional fighting.

Today at Costco (more block party purchasing, thanks to a friend with a membership) I spotted Brain Quest for 4th graders on sale and picked up the questions and the workbook that goes with them. Sarah wrote down a list of things the kids want to do at the block party and it had some spelling errors, which surprised me because her language skills are so good. (They were common bilingual errors, like "Balley ball" for volleyball but I was still surprised to see them.)

I told her dad I got this book today because I think she's smart enough to know fourth grade work already and if she doesn't know it (and Chavez for some reason doesn't teach all of it, especially spelling), at least there's a small sort of backup. I don't want her to be at a disadvantage when it's time to take the high school entrance exam.

Her dad was saying they don't know anything about the high schools. Their daughter was top 10 percent at Juarez, but I think Sarah is smart enough to go to a selective enrollment high school if she gets the appropriate education between now and then. I also mentioned San Miguel just to put the idea in their heads. Grades 6-8 are where kids in CPS lose a lot of ground.

In April I went to visit friends with a fifth-grade son in the Palo Alto public school system. I think about what he's reading and doing and I think about my kids here, especially Sarah and some of the Bradys, and I'm ready to out-helicopter the most helicopter parent.

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