Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When Did Getting Into Pre-School Become Harder Then Getting A Job ?

I put it off long enough. To be honest I got so overwhelmed by it all I just had to leave it alone for awhile and after talking with my friend Nicole the other day who is currently applying and going through preschools I figured it was time to get back on that horse - finding a preschool for Leo. I’m a bit late into the race as the starting gates opened right after Labor Day. So, I called one preschool, “Oh, sorry the application process is already closed for the fall of 2011.” Ok, on to the next. “We are no longer accepting applications for next year.” Now my mind kicks in with scenario after scenario about being left with PS 72 and their crappy test scores, or in the middle of government housing where they can’t even afford to fix that broken down tricycle that is left outside in their playground, or Leo coming home with gold chains around his neck and his pants held up by his knees. I know what my mind is doing, but I’m already totally hooked. It’s a slippery slope my dear friends. I frantically ring my husband to tell him we’ve been shut out of two preschools already for next year. He calmly asks if we can discuss this when he gets home. Of course, there is nothing he can do and I’m sure my husband thinks I’m on my way to becoming one of those quintessential “Manhattan Parents”.

When he arrived home from work before he even took off his coat he laid down an article in front of me called “Cracking the Kindergarten Code” that was published in the “New York” on November 20, 2005. After reading it a sense of ease came over me. According to the article, “It’s the post-9/11 baby boom. So many more kids were born in the city, and now they’re applying to kindergarten.” Roxana Reid of Smart Kids adds, “Several nursery schools had ten or more children shut out from getting into school altogether last year.”  I myself had just learned about the ERB (an aptitude test used by many kindergartens) to get into kindergarten has grown by almost 40 percent. More families are applying to more schools now. From five or six was the typical number in 2000 is up to applying to nine or ten! Gone are the days of just signing your child up for school. Michele Hernandez, a former admissions official at Dartmouth who runs a college-admissions consulting service stated “Coming from schools like Spence and Dalton can actually be a disadvantage. The admissions staffs at Ivies bend over backwards not to take kids from those schools,” Hernandez contends. “Unless your kid is at or near the top at those schools, your chances of getting in from the top of a mid-level school are probably better,” she says.

I know schools such as Dalton, Collegiate and Horace Mann are not options for us and there are some really good public schools in the city even in our zone along with Charter Schools, Montessori and Waldorf  being an option. With all the extraneous stress I am putting on myself, I know Leo will get into a school that is suited for him and if not the one around the corner, there is always another school for us to look at. His father and I can only observe him to figure out what environment he would best flourish in. Leo is only coming up on two years old and so what if he doesn’t go to a formal school until he’s three, but this is Manhattan and being a bit neurotic is in our nature.

All I can do is diligently take the steps necessary to ensure Leo gets into the best school that is suited for him and within our means. I know stressing is futile and everything works out the way it’s going to be, whether it’s how we wanted it or not. I just don’t want to be left with schools that are subpar and I don’t want him to just learn how to take and pass a test. I’m wondering if other parents around the country go through this or are we just living in the “Manhattan Bubble?”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Vote, My Remembrance .

This year I was very unclear if I was going to even vote or not. Growing up in my household it was instilled at a very early age, “It is your civic duty as a United States citizen to vote.” My interpretation of that statement has always been, “you vote”. End of discussion. So I have always voted. But this year I have grown tired of it all - the media, the politicians, i.e. Dems and Republicans, and I seriously cannot believe much of anything that comes out of their mouths when their energy is not congruent with what is being spoken.

After a conversation about political parties with a friend today, it became clear to me why and how I go about voting. I am not a registered elephant or donkey, and to be honest, I don’t care much for politics. For me it’s simple - Government should butt out and let me live my life without having to adhere to a hundred million laws and regulations, and the understanding that whatever party I vote for they are still going to take money out of my pocket. It is what it is. 

As six PM rolled around I grabbed my coat & purse and headed out the door to vote at the school a block away (super convenient). As I looked at the ballot, I noticed how many other parties besides Dems’ & Repubs’ there were. It brought a smile to my face to know I wasn’t boxed into just one or the other, because quite frankly I hear mostly complaining when it comes to the one or the other. I generally don’t vote for either party, so I don’t complain because the people that I vote for don’t win. I refuse to vote for “the lesser of two evils” as that statement has run its course and I would rather not vote then be left with just that. The ballot showed me there are other parties out there that would also love my vote and I will vote for them as I see fit. Of course keeping in mind that government is a mighty big machine.

After I finished voting, I turned to walk out of the gymnasium and felt my eyes swelling with tears as both my Grandfathers faces flooded into my head. They no longer walk this earth, but their service to this country is not forgotten. Next, the name Lydia Taft followed by Frances Wright, Ernestine Rose, Margaret Fuller, Lucy Stone and Abby Foster ran through my head - all Suffragists. They too will not be forgotten.

I will continue to vote because I believe there can be more than just a two party system. I will vote to honor my family and friends who have served this nation and I will vote to remember the women that fought for the right to vote.

Did you vote today?