February 26, 2004

schools revisited

So yesterday I finally had the long-awaited meeting with the head of School NotSoFar, also known as Plan B. I wrote a good deal about it in a half-finished entry, but it was all terribly angst-ridden and I’m not feeling even a little bit angsty tonight, so I’m not going to post that. It’s amazing what a phone call will do to one’s outlook. This morning I called a different charter school, one that has amazing test scores and also a nice warm fuzzy feeling to its web page and parental word of mouth. Turns out? This school accepted everyone who applied last year. It’s on the other side of town (they’re all far away, it seems), a very posh neighborhood, but this is another Plan B. Bb, perhaps, or BA or rather BaBrBqsB, a better representation of how complex this is getting in my head.

I’m not the only one. Today I went to pick Damian up at five after what is now a triple play date with a floor time therapist and two classmate buddies, Corey and Jules. Five p.m. Ended up talking to Corey’s mom and Jules’ dad for an hour. Shivering in my thin sweatshirt while the kids played around us. Talking about? Schools. Next year. Terror and amusement combined. What to do? How to judge? What tricks/strings/secrets do we not know about? What’s best for our kids? Where will we end up?

Sometimes you have to laugh and shrug. You try your best, you sort through the whole big mess, and you take your chances. Life’s like that more often than not, I think. There are no guarantees but so far it’s all worked out pretty well for us. So it goes.

Anyway. The meeting yesterday. She’d stood me up two weeks ago. Turned out she was home with a massive headache and nobody remembered to call. They’re a little disorganized over there. It’s a small school. I may have mentioned earlier that it feels a little like some parents got together and said “Hey, let’s put on a show!” It’s an ongoing improvisational performance of an alternative school. The philosophy is enticing, though. When I told the director about floor time and Greenspan, I said we went that route partly because it was in tune with our attachment parenting style and she nodded. I didn’t have to explain myself. And later, it turned out I’d forgotten to fill out the back of the application and when I said “I don’t know how to describe my parenting philosophy.” And she said “Attachment parenting, that pretty much tells me what I need to know.” Tells her that we’re in sync, she meant. I like that. I like the idea that a school can be run on that kind of nurturing, respectful system. Does it work in the real world, though? In the public school system? Hell if I know. Does this implementation of it work best for my quirky kid? That’s the biggest question. At home we can adjust our ideal parenting style to suit his needs and his stumbling blocks. But at a school like that, the implementation might be more idealized and therefore not as useful for a kid like him.

There’s a more concrete issue, though. Because they’re an independent charter school, with no home (a/k/a local) school element, they don’t get the same funding as a regular LAUSD school. This means our extra services as mandated by the IEP are not unquestionably met. This means, in fact, some of them might not be met at all. This means, yes, I am seriously questioning whether my son should be in this place. I know his services will be phased out over the next few years, I understand that he will need less over time and that’s part of growing out of this diagnosis, but for god’s sake, don’t pull them before he’s ready!

She’s not sure yet how much they’ll be able to provide. She has to meet with her co-head and I gather also check Damian out in his natural habitat (ie: preschool) and then get back to me. This will all take time. At that point, assuming she says something like “We can provide X but not Y and not as much Z as you have in your IEP,” we will have choices. To enroll him anyway and make it work (pay for a part time aide out of pocket, for instance, and get floor time at home through our regional center instead of the school district). Or find a different school. Fortunately, this morning I may have found at least one, maybe two other good charter options and these schools also are home schools for their areas, so they have full LAUSD funding. So we have Plan A (still School FarAway) and plan BaAlternative and plan BbSureSoundsGood, the schools of the phone calls. I have to see them, of course. And others as well. I’m going to be Mommy On The Go this next month, fitting in school tours all over the city in between drop off and carpool time. But things are looking better tonight.

Choices. I like choices.

Posted by Tamar at February 26, 2004 11:26 PM