Tuesday, March 18, 2014

You down with APP?

The face of a certified genius
As a product of the NY public school system, and a child of two public school teachers, I can't wait to get Finn's monthly Montessori school payments off my books.  Baseball season is upon us and my $9 stadium beer budget is dangerously low - if I can eliminate some pesky learning AND score beer?  WINNING.   This is even more pressing once you consider that Montessori only goes through 8th grade.  Can you imagine unleashing a Montessori-schooled 8th grader on a public city high school?  My bully protection budget would be through the roof!

Unfortunately, it turns out that our local schools are bad and our local principals and first grade teachers are bad - and not in a Jim Belushi or Edward James Olmos definition of the word; just plain stinky.  There are local charter public schools that we can apply to, but the liberal media gods - to whom we leave all of our thinking - say charter schools are bad.  Plus they're really hard to get into.  Which leaves us with few feel-good options, if we're going to insert Finn into the public school system.

As luck would have it, they're opening a new public elementary school less than 1/4 mile from our house, which we can automatically get into AND for which the principal is so highly regarded by the geniuses that comment on internet message boards, that people at her current school all the way across town are planning on switching their kids just to follow her.  Plus, it's FREE.

Decision made.  But just to make sure, we decided to attend a Q&A with the principal to really put the screws to her by asking all of the tough questions, like:  When does the school open in the morning?  Can someone watch my kid until after I get done with work?  Like anyone?  Maybe a janitor?  Perhaps even just an iPad with Angry Birds Star Wars on it that's tied to a bike rack outside (provided that iPad dispenses snacks and has a high tolerance for whining)?

But we never got to ask even half of those questions.  Instead, we learned a lot about Advanced Placement for elementary students (APP) - and perhaps, even more about the parents of Advanced Placement for elementary students.  For instance, did you know that there are apparently 4,365 ways to ask the question, "Are APP students in the same classroom as the regular students?"  It's true.  You can ask it in general, or while referring specifically to gym class; you can ask it referring specifically to girls; then immediately thereafter referring to boys; you can ask it referring specifically to the third Wednesday of every month.  It's amazing.  And it makes you want to stand up and walk out of the room.

There were about 40 parents in the cafeteria of this school, not including us, and I believe that 38 of them were asking the same question - about the APP curriculum - as Kitty and I feverishly texted back and forth to see what APP was and to determine whether we were bad parents for not having any APP-related questions.

We were eventually relieved to learn that we were not in fact bad parents, that the school opens at 8:20 (which we were finally able to ask roughly 1.5 hrs in), and that getting into APP requires a test and a psych evaluation.  In first grade.  And yes, APP students do mix with regular students.  In all classes, all genders, and all days of the month.  Although people still continued to ask.

The fact that nearly all parents here were only asking APP questions means one of two things:  this kind of Q&A event is really most compelling to parents of gifted children, who are clearly very concerned about the curriculum that their children will be receiving and want to be extra (extra, extra, extra) sure they have all of the answers OR everyone in Seattle thinks their child is gifted.

I think it's a coin toss.

But not in this house.  Tonight, I asked Finn what he wanted to do his science fair project on and his reply was "nothing".  I breathed a sigh of relief.  The dude is only in kindergarten.  But then he demanded we read a digest version of Moby Dick.  I got scared.  That sounds like APP-talk.

We're going to have to kill some more brain cells with Angry Birds.  I can't go through the APP discussion again.  I can't...

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