High drama last night! I watched D-Mag give her budget presentation. Got home just in time to catch some of citizen's time and all of the budget. For her first time out of the gate (in our system anyway) I thought she did quite well. She was familiar with her material and the presentation was well-crafted. Way better than previous years I thought.
As to the content of the presentation, I particularly liked the part of the presentation where she broke out what changes she was making at each school. She did reduce headcount in the budget but not a bunch. She's clearly being pretty careful with her money and that's good news to me. The previous administration seemed to view money in a rather abstract fashion. I watched the presentation, I understand the priorities, the strategies she wants to employ could have been articulated in laymen's terms a bit better but I get what's going on. A bit more financial information would have been nice but it was a pretty good balance – you can't go on forever!
What did surprise me was the discussion the School Board had after the presentation: a relatively long (for a discussion at the dias) talk about our enrollment at the governor's school. Nobody seemed much interested in why our attendance at that school is so low. Apparently our demand for excellence isn't as strong as it might be.
I'm about to get myself in trouble here but this really bothers me. When I'm bad at something I need to do, I don't quit doing it. I work to make it better. I try to make it better without upsetting any particular apple cart. It's just easier. Philosophically I like to try to solve problems "inside of the system". I'd rather make a call or write a letter to someone in charge and quietly resolve something but that hasn't worked with one of the main problems at Osbourn High School and that's the Guidance department. I don't know how long it's been bad but I know that I've never had a satisfactory encounter with them. Neither has my daughter or most of her friends. I went to a meeting a couple of years ago for rising freshmen that was so bad I, and many others, just left. The auditorium was full of people and the guidance department was standing at the front of the auditorium. Not on the stage and not using the PA system. The net effect is that you have these people trying (and mostly failing) to use powerpoint and screeching at the top of their lungs in order to be heard. One of the presenters faced the audience and turned their head to read the slides…verbatim. There were no handouts. It really was theater of the absurd. This was a meeting that was held at 7:00 on a Thursday night. These parents are your true-believers and they should never leave a meeting discouraged.
However, I thought that the damage these people might inflict would be relatively limited but I was wrong. I was chatting with a kid the other day – and I know she is smart. I asked why she wasn't going to the Governors' school at GMU? You're smart. Ambitious. Her reply stunned me: "I asked guidance about it because I really don't know anything about it and, if it doesn't fit my path, I don't want to jeopardize my GPA because I know I can score well in calculus right here at Osbourn. My counselor said to me that he didn't really know anything about it so he couldn't advise me. He said he would do some research but I've never heard from him."
The philosophy over there seems to be that the smart kids will take care of themselves – their parents are mostly involved so they'll figure it out sooner or later. The parents I talk to that have had interactions with guidance share similar tales. The consensus among parents seems to be that the best path is to find another parent or kid who has done what your kid wants to do and ask them. I know that there must be some capable people in that department but the results just aren't there.
Enough's enough friends. Can't we fix this problem once and for all?