Some loving parents in my little town are trying to do right by their children by fighting for a geometry option for advanced 8th grade math students, and the mean old school district is standing in their way. The school district says they don't want to promote a fast-track, get-ahead-at-all-costs mentality. Right on, says I. But I'll bet the school district also thinks that it will cost money to write the extra-advanced curriculum, and it will be a pain to schedule--but they're not going to say that on record, are they?
I'm not sure where I stand on this. I think that my community pushes kids a little too forcefully, academically. The definition of success here is pretty narrow: A's in school, lots of sports, top tier college admission, high-paying job. On the other hand, I kind of think sure, why not offer geometry in 8th grade to kids who are ready, with the caveat that they must really want to take it? Although who are we kidding--the kids will want to if their parents want them to want to. Following me?
But. The parents' and one trustee's arguments, quoted below, make me a teeny tiny bit sick:
"The Los Altos School District keeps its students doing warmups while the [Mountain View] Whisman and Cupertino students are running full speed. In a four lap race, the Los Altos School District students enter the race a full lap behind."
--Don Hana, parent
On the same theme:
"We need to get competitive or we will get left behind."
--Mark Goines, trusteeUm, first of all, I wasn't aware that high school (math) was a four lap race that kids should run at full speed. Are we talking about that infamous race to...nowhere? (Oh, how I love the irony.) God forbid Los Altos kids should get anywhere after kids from ghetto Mountain View. Some of those Mountain View families don't even own their own homes, for crying out loud.
And left behind? Left behind by whom? We're talking about students who already have an enormous head start. We're talking about kids from one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country. In fact, Los Altos Hills zoning laws require a minimum lot size of one acre per single family home in order to "preserve the rural atmosphere of the town". Which to me feels boooo-gus because what is rural about a town full of multi-million dollar mansions? All right, maybe it's to allow people to keep horses. But if you ask me, it's really to keep out the riff-raff. (Don't get me wrong--I have nothing against Los Altos Hills. In fact, some of my best friends live in Los Altos Hills.)
But I digress. My point: lots of money here. Big head start. Also lots of Ivy League, Stanford, and UC alums. Lots of connections. And let me tell you, being a well-connected legacy is a much more reliable asset on your college app than having taken BC instead of AB Calculus.
Back to the board meeting. Here's my favorite quote:
"Our children want to be successful...We need to offer this starting in the fall because--"
Wait for it...
"their lives are at stake."
--Premika Ratnam, parent
What? I mean, what?!
This could destroy my son's chances of getting into Princeton, and if he has to go to some awful school like Cal State, he'll never get his MBA at Harvard and his life will be ruined and it will be all your fault, Los Altos School District! Rivers of blood will run, rivers of Ivy League rejected blood, and if you want to stand by and let it happen, Los Altos School District, then on your head be it.
Okay. Breathing. Breathing.
To be fair, it's the reporter's job to choose the awesomest crazies to quote, so maybe there were only just those two insane parents and one toadying trustee at the meeting, and maybe everyone else who wants geometry for 8th graders is more reasonable.
|What will happen if the poor child who lives in this Los Altos Hills home doesn't get to take geometry in eighth grade? Will you be able to live with yourself? Photo courtesy of Forbes.com article "Top 25 Places to Retire Rich."|
Read the Los Altos Town Crier article here.