parents for (or ambivalent with respect to) public schools!

Saturday morning after a cursory breakfast at the Dog, I dragged Quinn, Danny, Ada and Claire along to a seminar on choosing an elementary school in San Francisco. The high point was the parent panel, which included our old neighbour Eos from Alabama Street (thrilled with the immersion program at Marshall, which is one of the schools on my list) and a nerdcore superstar called, I am not making this up, Adam Studly.

Adam Studly is a doctor (of course he is.) In fact, he’s on the faculty at UCSF; his area of expertise is in measuring health care services, so he turned his geektastic superpowers onto the elementary school problem. If he hadn’t already had me at “I am Adam Studly,” his casual dismissal of test scores – “they mean nothing” – would have won my undying love. He pointed out that your choice of a school eventually boils down to three considerations: the physical plant, “enrichments” and how well it fits into your life. This makes me feel much better about enrolling the girls at one of the raffish local Spanish immersion schools.

In fact the whole experience made me feel better about San Francisco public schools. I like the hackish kinds of parents who seem to populate Parents for Public Schools and the PTAs of the small but ambitious neighbourhood schools that are called the “diamonds in the rough”; not only do I like these parents, but I can see making smalltalk with them at the field trips.

Oh, and Adam Studly has built a spreadsheet that helps you calculate your chances of getting accepted into a given school (of course he has.)

Childcare was provided, and was a success. Ada and Claire had to be dragged away by force. Danny seemed pretty engaged with the seminar, but Quinn had an attack of post-scholastic stress disorder. “Schools are prisons, you know.”

“My idea of talking to the principal,” she explained, “would be using krav maga to rip his head off, then telling the seven-year-olds ‘Run for it! I have made you free!'”

Not an idle threat, by the way; Quinn really is learning krav maga (of course she is.)

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