Here are a few things that have been floating around in my brain lately, in no particular, and in fact somewhat random order.
- The Gym Girl math dilemma. Where should I go next, if anywhere? I had an email yesterday morning from her teacher explaining the matrix they used to identify those students who were tested. Having seen the components, which I actually don't disagree with, I know why Gym Girl didn't qualify: one particular test she took two years ago in 3rd grade. I'm pondering my next move, and I think I'm going to give it a bit of time to shake out. Knowing what I know about parents in our district, I will not be alone in my concern. My guess is that the school will end up either doing more testing or allowing parents to opt their children in to one of the higher math classes. We'll see.
- Master scheduling. Creating a schedule of classes to be taught at a large, comprehensive high school is like solving a huge puzzle, a puzzle I must complete before students leave for the summer so that we can notify students if there are any problems with their course selections. All-American High offers 32 Advanced Placement classes and a variety of other specialized electives, some of which are only once a day, and it's inevitable that some students want two classes that are scheduled at the same time. We try to avoid this, and teachers try to work with students on options, but at times students have to choose one course over another.
- State-mandated testing. We have now spent two full weeks testing students in four core subject areas. We've given over 3,000 tests. We've disrupted the schedule of the entire school in order to meet the various time and scheduling requirements for the tests. We are also being required by the state to pilot two new subject area tests for which the testing window is entirely different. The test window begins May 7, and we have yet to receive an actual administrator's guide for the testing. Teachers are annoyed that they have not received more information and that we are unable to train them at this time in the online testing protocol. Can you blame them? I can't. I'm all for accountability. When this is all over, the paper will publish our scores, and people will compare All-American High to all the other local schools. How about some accountability for those responsible for this whole process? So far the pre-coded testing labels have been incorrect, the test materials were late arriving in our district, and the entire online pilot testing program has been rushed and ill-prepared.
- Another nod to the impact of technology on our lives. I just took a break from writing this post to give Soccer Boy his spelling words. When he spelled August, he said, "Caps lock A, u g u s t." Can't say I was aware of such a thing as a Caps Lock key in 2nd grade. Of course, my stating that I did not have a computer at home until I was in high school makes my children look as me with the same disbelief and pity that I directed toward my mom when she admitted to not having a television until 5th grade. Gym Girl is also on a campaign for her own cell phone and was SHOCKED to learn that I did not own a cell phone until the age of 28.
- Gymnastics. Gymnastics has taken over our lives to a greater degree than usual these days. The state meet is tomorrow. Gym Girl's level is conveniently scheduled to start warmups at 1:00 p.m. in the state capital two hours away. Lovely. I could have gone to work, rushed frantically through several things while constantly worrying about being late, and picked Gym Girl up just in time to drive through someplace to pick up lunch before hitting the highway. Instead, I've decided that Gym Girl and I are both taking the day off. We are sleeping in a bit, and then I'll help her get ready for the big event. In other gym news, we had the pre-state team dinner on Wednesday night. In honor of the occasion, the computer system at the restaurant promptly went down, requiring all orders to be entered by hand. This led to dinner taking over 2 hours to complete and therefore to my spending over 2 hours in a room full of girls between 7 and 13 years old. Let's just say that I now know that I was correct in my choice to work at the high school level.
- Housecleaning. I am looking around my house and admiring all the sparkling surfaces. No, I am not bragging on my own performance. Adventure Guy decided to surprise me with an early Mother's Day gift and contract with a cleaning service. We've had help in this area for most of our marriage, but last year we decided we needed to cut back on expenses, and the maid was one of the things that went. Theoretically, the kids are old enough to pitch in more. And they really did to some extent. We've just learned that we're a lot happier when we don't have to worry about spending the weekend cleaning.
- Presidential debate. It's almost like the kickoff of football season. With the Democratic presidential hopefuls debating in South Carolina tonight, the opening bell has sounded for 2008. I'm not sure who I'll support in the election, so I watched the debate tonight with interest. I had the chance to meet John Edwards in person last time he ran, and I still have a fond feeling for him. I'll admit to being wooed a bit by Barack Oboma, and his performance tonight was impressive. He's clearly very intelligent as well as thoughtful. Bill Richardson is someone I want to watch. I think he may break into the running more than has been expected. Of course, that leaves Hilary Clinton. I would love to see a woman elected president. I wish there was a woman running for whom I felt comfortable voting. I defended Hilary when she was first lady. I thought she was unfairly criticized simply for having an opinion and being willing to state it. And, of course, for actually having had a successful career of her own. I have not been impressed, though, with Hilary as a candidate. Her opinions seem based on nothing more than pandering to the latest opinion polls, and she comes across as condescending.
- Sleep. I am tired, and I don't really have a good reason for it. Sunday night I had difficulty sleeping, but I've gotten over seven hours of sleep each night since. Maybe getting a few extra hours tonight will help.
- Babies. My best friend's new baby is adorable. He's tiny and looks like an old man. He's a great snuggler, and I've been unduly accused of being a "baby hog" by my children who also wish to hold him. It's amazing to me that Soccer Boy is almost eight. Wasn't it just yesterday he was tiny like that? I'm happy, though, with our decision that our own family is complete. I find that as much as I loved having babies, I love having kids who are more self-sufficient and able to really interact with us even more.
- Fear. Today a 7th grader was abducted from her bus stop after missing her bus. She was by herself when two men stopped and one pulled her into their car. She was able to get out and run to a church for help. I know that abductions by strangers are rare and that it's unlikely to happen to my children, but hearing reports of this kind of event is chilling. Especially when this happened two miles from our home. I try not to let it scare me unnecessarily. The kids were out riding their bikes in the neighborhood this afternoon, and one of our neighbors told them about the abduction attempt and sent them in. Again, mixed emotions about that, annoyance at the interference, appreciation for the concern shown, desire not to allow fear to control our actions.
I am now going to try to put all of the above items out of my mind. Instead of pondering these and other things, I am going to watch Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy while sponge rolling Gym Girl's hair in preparation for tomorrow's meet.