Dec. 10th, 2014

laurajv: Don't give me any wild ideas! (Default)
for [personal profile] the_rck: One author, living or dead, who you would like to meet and talk to and what you would like to talk to them about.

This one's hard, because two authors immediately popped into my head!

The first one is Octavia E. Butler. I first encountered her work when I was 11 or 12, in my local library, and I struggled to understand it. Something about it held me, but it was difficult to wrap my head around. It still is difficult to wrap my head around -- her work never stopped challenging me.

I would ask her how the Parables series would have ended, if she'd had time to write it, or what she was trying to get at with the super, super creepy dub-con vampire sex in Fledgling. (Her vampires are the ones that freak me out the most, of all the vampire stories I've ever read -- they remind me more than a little of those parasitic wasps whose larvae take control of the host insect.)

The second one is Stella Gibbons, and I would ask her what wrong was done to Robert Poste, and what exactly happened in the 1946 Anglo-Nicaraguan War.
laurajv: Don't give me any wild ideas! (Default)
Hey all -- my older kid came home from school today with a note from the PTO about a push to make his school, current a combination local school + magnet into a full magnet.

While on a strictly academic level, this would be good for my kid (we live w/in the local feeder area but he's enrolled in the magnet portion), I have...concerns.

One of the cons notes that converting to a full magnet will limit the number of spaces in the school and it will no longer be a local feeder school, so kids from the surrounding neighborhood no longer have a guaranteed spot -- they'd have to get in via the magnet lottery.

This is something I'm concerned about. It's a well-run, safe, overall-pleasant neighborhood school, and most students live within walking distance. It's also a majority-African-American (about 85%) school, and the magnet program is, well, whiter. The other formerly-neighborhood school within walking distance of my house became a magnet and it's now about 60% African-American (previously it was about 90%). Most of those students were moved to either this school or to a kind of crappy local, not-walkable-to, in-a-rough-neighborhood-on-a-street-where-jerks-drive-50mph school.

I feel like converting to a magnet this way is, at best, a dick move. All the kids in the neighborhood who don't get in to a magnet via lottery would end up at the less-safe unwalkable school, instead of a lot of them ending up at this one. A lot of the parents of current students did not know about the lottery -- the previous principal had a habit of shuffling non-magnet kids into the magnet program during second grade for those parents; he had the school at around 75% magnet enrollment despite it "officially" being capped at 50% magnet.

I feel like converting this particular school to a magnet-only, with students entered by lottery, will make an underserved community more underserved. But that's just a gut feeling and I don't know if I'm wrong.

What I'm wondering about is the feasibility of arguing that the PTO/School Board should consider remaining a neighborhood feeder school, BUT opening up the magnet programming to all students, and basically running it as much like a magnet as possible without being one.

The major disadvantages I can see to that are less money/support for the program, AND kids in magnet programs for elementary school get preference for middle/high school magnets -- so having a kind of half-magnet would not help in that regard.

So that's another thing I wonder -- why can't it be a feeder AND a magnet? Just -- it's a magnet program, but it's feeder-only, not lottery based.

I'd love comments from anyone with experience with magnet schools, school demographics issues, educating underserved communities, and other general thoughts around this issue. I have a letter to write to the PTO and help marshaling my arguments would be...helpful.

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