Thursday, January 11, 2007

Darling on the Spot

Following up on my New Year's resolution, I went to my first local school board meeting last night.

The 2 hour and 20 minute length gave me a good glimpse into why I was the only resident watching the meeting, but I actually found it quite interesting.

Most of that interest is driven by the fact that I have a daughter who in a couple of years will start spending a good portion of her childhood in these schools, and I find it important as a parent to be at least aware of what's going on behind the scenes.

Beyond that, though, I think there's also something exciting and rewarding about becoming more involved in your local community. And, in addition, it's a good learning experience. It'll take a little more time before I'm comfortable enough with the issues to start writing about them intelligently, but last night was a good start.

All-in-all, the most intriguing aspect of last night's meeting for me came during a visit to the board bythe district's state senator, Alberta Darling. Right before Darling was set to talk, the chair of the board thanked her for her time, commenting that in his nine years on the board, Darling's visit last night was a first for him.

I don't think the chair meant it to put Darling on the spot -- he appeared legitimately thankful that she was there -- but you could see Darling get a little rustled in her seat before she churned out a half-baked response about how she had been busy visiting the other school boards in her district, which amounts to about six or seven, over the past decade, and then just realized recently that it's been awhile -- just 10 years plus, or so -- since she visited the Whitefish Bay board.

Yeah, right. Or it could have something to do with the fact that it appears Darling will be facing an actual challenger for her senate seat next year. And it probably doesn't help that while Whitefish Bay used to be a GOP stronghold, that trend is quickly changing.

4 Comments:

Blogger borges said...

Most of that interest is driven by the fact that I have a daughter who in a couple of years will start spending a good portion of her childhood in these schools,

You might want to seriously consider the option of homeschooling your daughter. Your concern in this post suggests to me that you would do well as a homeschooling parent. As our elected officials pay lip service to education and as you point out show up when an election threatens them, the students remain at sea. I hope you research all your options regarding this important decision for your daughter and family.

January 15, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

I won't be homeschooling my daughter. I went to the WFB schools myself, and I (along with many educational professionals) feel the district is one of the best in the state. In fact, the schools are the biggest reason my wife and I chose to live in WFB.

Homeschooling is a good option for some, and it's certainly something we should continue to have, but the benefits of schooling -- in my mind -- are too great to pass up (athletics, socialization, etc.). I know you can get some of those benefits in other ways, but I'm not convinced it's the same. And any issues I do have with schooling I'd prefer to work to reform from within (hence, my interest in attending school board meetings).

Plus, even if we wanted to homeschool, there's no way my wife or I could afford to cut down on our work enough to make it work financially.

January 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What in the world? Nothing in the post suggests problems with the WFB school board, teachers, education in general, so why homeschooling because a local legislator is a ditz -- a legislator making her first appearance at the WFB school board so obviously having little impact upon the level of education. . . .

The homeschooling propaganda makes me ill, especially in one of the few states that has no accountability for homeschoolers. Ask any school social worker for the horror stories, when they have a kid who reports being abused at home but then is immediately pulled out for homeschooling, so that the parents are safe. But the kid's situation is worse, especially in this state.

To the homeschoolers, we say the same thing we say to the voucher proponents: If what you're doing is so great, why aren't you willing to be monitored just as the WFB schools are?

January 23, 2007  
Blogger borges said...

Well, I didn't mean to impose "homeschooling propaganda" on anyone. I really sensed in your post a deep care for your children, and of course you confirm this because you have located yourself in a district with an excellent school system. May it exceed your expectations because it will make life so much easier for you.

I have found decisions about my children's education much more complicated than I ever imagined. Most parents I talk to find they must choose between imperfect solutions. Our family tried many paths: I had my children in public school, a private Waldorf school, back to public school as we tried to organize a charter school (failed--long story). My oldest by then was in 5th grade and I was feeling like we were running out of time. Kids really do grow up fast and changing the system is not a quick process. Starting to go to school board meetings years before entering as an official parent is very wise.

I never had much luck interacting with the power structure and ended up opting out.

As a side note, my oldest never returned to public school, is a Junior in HS and attending Viterbo University in their Youth Options program. She is thriving and getting classes well beyond what is locally available in HS.

January 23, 2007  

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