We submitted Danny’s paperwork for a different school yesterday. We hope this works out for him. The first choice school is apparently the first choice for a lot of other people, people who got in ahead of him on the list, still a little fishy but cannot change it. Also had our annual IEP review and I cannot get over how much he is like me in certain ways. Now we just have to wait.
I talked last week about the illusion of choice. Here is the breakdown of how things worked. One, we live in a poor district, where the majority of the middle schools are majority free & reduced lunch kids, sadly this can be used as a measure of how the behavior of the kids will be in school. Not that discipline, or how kids are raised, or how smart they are can be traced to economics. Just that the economics is a big factor in our society and culture. The school we wanted for Danny is one of the few middle schools in the district that is not majority free & reduced lunch, so it is a popular choice as people try to get a better school for their kids.
Two, the choice rules work as follows. First, all the kids in the direct feeder schools get in automatically if they want to go there. Second, kids who have siblings in the school next year also get in. Third, children of District employees have a higher priority, including teachers kids. Then, after all of that, the kids on the wait list can get in if there is space. Because this is a popular school those first three groups fill up the school.
Three, the schools have limited Special Ed resources for incoming 6th graders. Since Danny is on an IEP he is in that mix. Since the above groups filled up all of the resources for special ed that means they cannot accept any Choice kids who are on an IEP. This is a little fishy and a gray area in the case law for disabilities. Because if Danny was a part of the above groups they would have to make a space instead of being able to deny him.
Four, here is where the glass gets half full. That school will be full to the brim. And who is to say that Danny would not have gotten swallowed up in all of that size? Even if he ends up in our poorer neighborhood school he will almost certainly get more individual attention there. So our second choice school, which we are waiting on, or our neighborhood school may end up being better social environments due to the school size.
The thing that caught me in the IEP review is how much Danny reminds me of myself at the same age. He is shy, and introverted, but is also very amiable. So other kids like him, enjoy doing things with him. He may not be popular due to a magnetic personality, but people like him because he is so genuinely nice to everyone. Unlike me, he does not have the escape of hiding in his books, but that almost works in his favor. Because he can use his highly active imagination to create fun things that attract other people to him.
Here is where we are at. Danny does work well with other kids in smaller group settings. We know he has a good grounding morally and socially from Montessori, Scouts and us, so he is less likely to let certain influences cause trouble. Therefore, this might all end up as a blessing in disguise for him, he might thrive in the smaller schools in spite of their fewer resources. We just might have to be a little more active in his school and extracurricular activities to make sure he does not miss out on things that more affluent schools than our neighborhood school will provide.