Wednesday, October 08, 2008

S.O.S. and Other Happenings

Tonight, Grace attended her first peaceful protest rally. The Milwaukee Public School Board in its wisdom (read: stupidity) has proposed merging Grace's wonderful elementary school with another school in the Bay View neighborhood. This is a much bigger school located in a not-so-friendly area of the city and unlike Tippecanoe (Grace's current school), this other school does not have an arts and humanities focus, so that aspect of Grace's education hangs in the balance. And, the building that Tippe is housed in now would be used to house an at-risk school for overage students. I suppose this merger thing isn't all the school district's fault...lack of funding has forced the district to make some tough decisions and many small schools district wide have been forced to merge with other schools in order for the district to survive. It just sucks all around.

There are many reasons why our family (and many other families with children at Tippe) oppose this new merger. As I mentioned, Tippe is a specialty school, focusing on the arts and humanities, and even though the arts program may continue as part of the merger, I hate the thought of Grace not having this as part of her education. At Tippe, Grace gets to participate in all kinds of cool things--she takes regular field trips to see a variety of children's shows, her school has a special partnership with the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Milwaukee Symphony, and in first grade, students start learning to play a string instrument. I have a hard time believing all of those things and the other great things happening at Tippe would survive a merger with another, much larger school.

One of the other great things about Tippe is its size. Tippe is a small school, but it houses children in K4 through grade eight, so each class size is small and everyone knows everyone else. It amazes me every time I pick Grace up at night to see her waving at kids in different grades or to hear teachers in the upper grades calling her by name. It is a very close knit school, and it's a great feeling to know that my child is not just a number...she's cared about and known throughout the school.

Another huge benefit that Tippe offers us is its location. We can literally see the school out of our living room window. Aaron walks Grace to school each morning, and every night, I park my car in our driveway and walk over to school to pick her up. We don't have to worry about bussing Grace across the city, driving her to school in inclement weather, or having to find parking at drop off and pick up time. It's so convenient, and having Grace at Tippe makes us feel like a real part of our neighborhood. If this merger happens and we end up having this at-risk school for overage students a block from our house, you can rest assured that our house will be on the market faster than Sarah Palin can say "maverick".

When Grace and I first moved to Milwaukee, I was hesitant to have Grace attend one of Milwaukee's public schools because I have heard some not-to-great things about the district. However, from the moment we toured Tippe almost a year ago, I knew that this would be the right school for Grace, and I felt secure sending her there. If the district decides to close Tippe, not only will they be doing a huge disservice to the students and the neighborhood at large, but they will be losing one of their families--I'm not sure I could send Grace to another MPS school.

Tonight we attended a protest rally at Tippe that was intended to draw media attention to the merger in anticipation of a vote coming up on October 23rd. My heart broke watching my little girl holding a sign and chanting, "Save Our School."

Much to my surprise, I am sorta enjoying pregnancy this time around. My pregnancy with Grace was this point in my pregnancy with Grace, I will still puking my guts out daily and generally feeling terrible every single day. The first trimester of this pregnancy had me worried that I might have a repeat performance of pregnancy #1. But, although I still have my moments where I feel like crap, I have noticed a pretty significant energy boost within the last two weeks, and I'm actually able to enjoy food again. The key for me has been a combination of eating almost continuously throughout the day and sleeping as much as possible. Turns out this pregnancy thing is actually pretty tolerable. And, I have been feeling some gentle baby kicks over the past week or so, and that makes it all worth it.

I'm almost ashamed to say it, but I fell asleep during the debate last night. I couldn't help myself...Barack was doing pretty well and I was lulled to sleep by the old dude with the shiny head. The one thing in the debate that stuck out for me was hearing John McCain refer to Barack as, "That one." OMG...could he BE any more condescending and disrespectful? McCain looked like a desperate, angry old man who was hosing down a pesky kid whose was trying to retrieve a ball out of his yard.

And seriously, John, I am NOT your friend. So stop calling me that.


Carrie Purins' novel said...

yeah, we passed Tippe on the way to your house and marvelled at how close it is. i hope you and other upset parents prevail!