Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some Good School News

Now with Netflix streaming all these old TV shows, I tried to introduce my five year old daughter to Fraggle Rock. She was bored instantly and wanted to watch Voltron instead. That’s my girl. Although, in case you were wondering, Voltron doesn’t really hold up.

So we FINALLY got some good news regarding schools. Our daughter was accepted to another public school, a good one, on an SAS permit. What is that, you ask? Well, let me tell you. It stands for “School of Advanced Studies”. Yes, our daughter got an advanced studies permit… for kindergarten. It’s both awesome and completely ridiculous at the same time. The good thing about our home school being so shitty is that it made us eligible for the permit. Good.

It was a whole circus, but it was worth it. First, she needed an evaluation and signature from her preschool. No problem.

Then the elementary school needed to evaluate her. OK, well, how hard could that be? Can you use the word Draconian for a preschool test? Well, I think you can start now. It was insane. 30 minutes of hard core testing for our little five year old. Write your name, what’s your address, draw a picture, are you a republican or a democrat, etc.

I got a little worried because she was getting a bit intimidated. Hell, I was getting a bit intimidated. There weren’t any pleasantries. This very business-like woman brought us to a room without a “how do you do” and said right to Bella “I’m going to ask you a few questions.” I immediately looked around for the “good cop” to her “bad cop” but there wasn’t one there.

So we got through it. And she did really well. She was in a good preschool and we were working with her on letters and reading. She must have done REALLY well because a few hours later they called my wife at work and told her the permit was accepted and the principal had signed it.
I can’t even tell you what a load off that phone call was. Now we don’t have to worry about moving or trying to afford private school. At least until middle school but that’s like six years away. Huzzah!

We still are waiting to hear back from one other school but that’s it. We got into one of our top three. If we get into two then we’ll figure it out. But to be honest, we don’t think we’re going to have that problem.

We have been working on this school thing since February and my wife has a whole Excel spreadsheet with all the school info that has so much info on it I can’t even decipher it. It looks like plans to the X-1 Rocket Car. Well, if I had to pick…

So now we have our “safety school” that’s only 5 minutes away. My wife talked to her father and he couldn’t get his head around the concept that another grade school could be so close. I understood. When you grow up in the Pennsylvania or New Jersey suburbs, there is like two schools for the entire city. You either went to one or the other or went to a private or catholic school. And had to wear a uniform. Eww.

So now we can sit in the lottery drawings for the other schools’ open enrollment and not treat it like a Powerball drawing. Of course, Los Angeles could just make all the schools good, but that would be crazy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Someone Remembers Me and American Gladiators

It's pretty cool when people actually write a blog post about YOU. Here is one about me, American Gladiators, getting run over by a pyramid, and a clip of my standup, which is a bit dated. I need to record a new set.

Now, when you read it you'll be wondering if it's all true or not. Actually, the answer is... yes. Enjoy.

Regular post in a day or two AND I will be resuming actually visiting other blogs. I miss you guys.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Kindergarten Conundrum

Lately my wife and I have been going crazy. Our daughter turned five this year and is headed off to kindergarten. The problem is, we have no idea where.

Here in the Los Angeles Unified School District, things are, well, to put it mildly, fucked up. Between budget cuts and failing schools it’s a maze that we really didn’t want to enter.

When we bought this house eight years ago we asked our realtor about schools and he said they were good in this area. Turns out he was partially right. The thing is, before you have kids school is not really a huge concern. It’s not really a concern until you actually have to use one.
We can’t really afford private school and to be honest, I don’t feel I should have to pay for school. What the hell do we pay taxes for if we don’t see any benefits. I want good schools and my trash picked up. My needs are simple. Oh, and I don’t want to get shot. That too.

So we started our school tours and looked into all the tricks of sending your kid to a school you are not zoned for. As it turned out, we are surrounded by good public schools EXCEPT for the one we’re zoned for, which is crap. How’d we win that shitty lottery?

So we toured our “home school” just to be sure. You have to see things for yourself. I mention this in my book and it is important. NEVER go solely on what other people say, good or bad. Go see things for yourself. So we did a private tour to see everything. It amazes me how there is “spin” and salesmanship in everything, even in elementary schools.

So we went with a slightly open mind and began the tour. We asked how many neighborhood kids were going to this school and our tour guide with a smile said it was mostly a neighborhood school with some “open enrollment” where they accept kids from other areas. Bullshit detector went off. I live in this neighborhood as do some of the other people I know and we didn’t recognize any kids from our neighborhood. I also know our neighbor, who is a teacher, made sure her kid went somewhere else. Nice try, tour guide. We started with our questions:

“Is there parent involvement?”
“Yes, but not the way it is at some of the other schools”
“So the answer is really no.”

“Are there any enrichment programs?”
“We have to focus on the basics here, because most of the kids here, for various reasons, don’t have the support at home that other kids have.”
“Well, the fact that we are standing here talking to you right now, means that’s not us.”

Our daughter already knows the basics. She’s been doing great in pre-school and is just starting to read. Obviously she would be bored there.

“Is there an advanced studies program?”
“Well, we’ve decided that’s not really the way we wanted to go as a school.”
“That’s the worst answer you’ve given yet.”

As we were growing less and less impressed, the principal came over to talk to us. Now I hadn’t been in school in a while so I always think of principals as old, proper men or women in cheap suits. This principal came over with a low cut blouse and was fairly young. For a minute I was quite distracted. Her tactic worked! But I recovered. She told us a little bit more about the school and how the neighborhood is coming back to this school. OK, sure, it might, in 5-10 years. Our daughter starts in a few months. Sorry, we can’t wait that long.

Finally, I asked the most obvious question my wife and I had:
“Why hasn’t your website been updated since 2006?”
“We have a parent working on it.”
“For four years?!”

After a little more spin the Principal and her breasts excused themselves and pretended they had somewhere to be.

We left the school, disheartened and talking about our options. I’ll tell you, it really made me wonder what makes one school fail and another succeed when the neighborhoods are so similar. Is it parent involvement? Sure, that’s an important factor. But interestingly, the teachers we talked to put the success or failure of a school solely at the principal’s feet. Like the captain of a ship.

So now it’s a waiting game. We’ve turned in our permit applications, open enrollment/lottery applications, magnet applications and Charter applications.

We’re hoping we get one, which is all we need. Otherwise we’ll have to sell enough blood to afford private school or be forced to move a few blocks down the street.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Book Giveaway

Hey friends

Just a quick post to let you know The Evolution of Dad is giving away a copy of one of my books. For FREE! Just enter the contest and you just might win.

Here's the link. Enjoy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Legend of Truth

First, my updating and visiting other blogs has been a bit shoddy lately. Hopefully things will slow down in the next month or so and I will be back to visiting your place on a regular basis. Of course, sleeping would be nice too but apparently our almost two year old has other plans for that.

Legends are great. They reflect on us and our natures better than any psychiatrist ever could. This is one of my favorite short legends. And in the spirit of storytelling tradition, I have added my own details and embellishments. Enjoy.

There once was a Man who by all intents and purposes was doing pretty well. CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, a hot wife who also loved him, and children who were more or less well adjusted. He wasn’t the most honest Man in the world but he never did anything too horrible either. He was just very successful, flawed, and happy. He just was.

But through all his success, there was something missing. There was always something missing. Finally, the Man figured out what it was. It was Truth. He had never found it, and realized he was never looking in the right place.

So the Man brought his family out by the pool in their nice but modest mansion, and made his announcement. “I’ve decided I’m going to leave and find Truth. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”

Well, the kids had their college funds taken care of, so no problem there. And his wife, always supportive, said if this is what he really wants to do then he should do it.

So the Man left his company, his wife, his money, and his power. He searched for Truth all over the world. He searched high and low and only heard fragments and rumors of where she lived.

Finally, after years of searching, he found her. The Man found Truth living high on a secluded mountain top in a dirty and humble cave. She was old and ugly, a hunchbacked and hairy crone. The Man was surprised at her repugnant and wild appearance, but knew from one glance into her eyes that he had found Truth.

“Are you Truth?” asked the Man.

“You know that I am,” replied the wrinkled old hag.

“Will you teach me?” he asked.

The hag agreed. She taught him all there was to know about truth. She taught him the way of truth, the nature of truth, and she showed him the very soul of Truth. The Man eagerly learned and devoured every lesson.

Years when by and eventually the Man realized there was nothing more he could learn from Truth. He decided to return to everything he had left behind, but much more the wiser for it.

So the Man prepared to go back into the world with joy in his heart at having found and finally understanding Truth. He was filled with gratitude. He asked Truth if there was anything he could do to repay her. Anything at all. Money. Power. Cars. Heck, even a helicopter to take her to and from the mountain if she wished. All she had to do was ask.

“Well, there is one thing”, said Truth.

“Name it,” said the Man.

“When you tell people about me,” said Truth, “Tell them I’m young and beautiful.”

And that’s everything you need to know about human nature.

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