How Do I Feel About My Child’s Education? Shhh, It’s Private

kidsI’m a product of public schools. I’ve attended public schools in Alabama, Michigan, and the most public schools of them all, Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) in Frankfurt, Germany. Telling people that you attended school, public no less, in the state of Alabama often gets you side-eyes that register somewhere between the earthquake in Cali this week and a typhoon showing up in Kansas on the “I’m sorry to hear that” scale.

Despite my entire public school upbringing, I’ve found my education to be stellar. In fact, most of my closest friends all attended public school for at least the majority of their schooling, with smatterings here and there of a year or two spent in private school. All of my closest friends have graduate degrees. Amongst my squad are multiple PhDs, beaucoup lawyers, a few economists, etc. Everybody has at least a Master’s degree in something or other.

And here I am…putting my daughter in private school for her education.

On a purely cerebral level, it creates somewhat of a conflict of interest to me. I pay public taxes to live where I live to support schools I’d never send my child to (I do realize that  we all do this). In fact, there’s literally a school close enough to my front door that I could watch my daughter walk from the door INTO the school without ever putting on so much as a flip or flop. I always wanted to be one of those parents who supported the community and did his best to make his community better. And that’s still my goal…I’m just not about to sacrifice my child’s future towards that effort. To say the schools in my neighborhood suck would be a compliment. Such is the public school debacle that is DC Public Schools. I’ve written about this before at the beginning of the process towards looking for a school for my daughter.

Like most major cities, DC is a city full of people with means and people who mean to do really well but life got in the way, and thus our public schools probably rival most major school systems. Largely “not great” schools with a handful of really top notch public schools usually out of reach to those without enough money to own significant amounts of Facebook stock. There’s always the lottery process, but well, its called a lottery for a reason. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t win. And when everybody is aiming for the same schools, well, just like the odds of winning the actual lottery, your odds of winning decrease. Unlike the odds of winning Warren Buffett’s billion since it seems like the likelihood of that happening is about the same as me becoming in a white man AND being the first man to have a baby on the same day that Jay-Z gets sworn in as President of Texas.

I remember having a conversation with one of my best friends about the private vs public school process. He made a very valid point in that no matter what school we send our daughter to, she’ll likely apply to the same colleges (when we get to that road) no matter where she goes to K-12 because she’s always going to be smart and always going to excel. And that’s a very valid point. Point of reference, Young Panamontana is going to Spelman. She will likely be able to pull that off from anywhere. No shots. Just the facts, ma’am. But the issue there is the time between 5 and 18. Attempting to give your child the option to maximize their potential is where the questions start to arise. I know nearly every person with a child that they care about (the news really scares me sometimes with the stories of these people who clearly do not enjoy the parenting gig) spends at least sometime struggling with where to send their kids to school. Those lucky enough to live in districts where the schools are good are set. But the rest of us go on a mad dash towards choices. It’s a nerve-wracking situation because you want to make sure that you don’t make the wrong decision. It’s like getting into…actually, its not like at all…it IS getting into a relationship with a school where your hope your child will thrive and truly be able to shoot for that goal of being whoever they want to be.

It only sucks that in order for me to feel secure there’s very few public schools I’d be comfortable with. Charter schools are a great option here in DC but we’re already doing that and it’s time to let that ship Titanic. My child already goes to what is regarded as the most touted charter school for her age range in the city – the very school we’re pulling her out of is one many people are attempting to get their children into. But ultimately, you do what’s best for your child and in doing so, my family became one of those individuals who forewent the public schools for the private. And I couldn’t be happier.

As an aside, one of the biggest hangups I’ve had about private school has been the lack of diversity in most of these schools, namely The Blacks are obviously not very well represented. But let me tell you something, much to my surprise, quite a number of women I know went to private school which started more than a few debates about how well adjusted they are. Those debates often turn into what it sounds like when the HBCU vs PWI conversations start. Point is, via these conversations I’ve managed to realize that at the end of the day, my daughter has a father (and to a lesser extent a mother) who over-Blacks it at every turn. She’ll know who she is and where she comes from. There’s nothing like bringing that up in an admissions interview by the way. It’s interesting to watch the administrators reactions when you do indeed say,  “I’m concerned about the lack of Blackness here, since I’m pretty sure you can tell, our daughter is Black.” But it’s my job (and her mother’s ) to make sure her esteem and identity are in tact, not any school. So I let it go is the main bullet point. I just felt like sharing.

All this to say, nay ask, when it comes to your child’s (or future child’s) (or hope for your nieces or nephews if children give you the beegees), how much do you think about their education? You going public? Private? Home schooling?

Basically, how do you plan to teach the kids assuming that you believe they are the future?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I’M A PAPPY aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

America F*ck Yeah: Help! I’m Middle Class in Washington, DC

You think they're helping her with homework. What's really happening is daddy is telling her that she has two years max in private school. She's got to pick the two years and promise to make the most of them. After that, public school my ninja.

You think they’re helping her with homework. What’s really happening is daddy is telling her that she has two years max in private school. She’s got to pick the two years and promise to make the most of them. After that, public school my ninja.

You know, if I lived in Toledo, I’d probably be winning. Or maybe Des Moines. Consequently, if I lived in Detroit, I’d be Supreme Ruler Almigh-ty. But as luck would have it, I live in Washington, DC. This means that though the IRS thinks that I’m affluent, I’m really not. I’m more like getting by on good looks, charm, and my job. See, I’m one of those middle class folks who lives a nice middle class life, though in as urban a setting as possible. One time at bandcamp, somebody left a grocery cart from our neighborhood grocery store at the mailbox. It’s possible that whoever left it was trying to mail a shopping cart to a relative. It’s also possible that I’m too sexxy for my shirt, so sexxy it hurts. Neither of which is true.

While my education, and therefore, employment have afforded me luxuries such as a nice townhome that costs the price of a good-sized estate in most Southern states and a vehicle with great gas mileage, I also have a child. This means that I’ve got to deal with the most daunting task that any middle class person is forced to wrassle with: education.

Le f*ck.

Let me tell you something. You people without children are dodging all types of bullets in these streets. See, my daughter’s mother and I are both very well-educated and very well employed. We’re also just smart people. Genetically, it seems like we may have hit the lottery in regards to my child’s intelligence. She’s whipping piano’s arse and taking names. She’s beastmoding her Pre-K education, and clearly well above a significant number of her classmates in aptitude at this point. She’s not in public school, but a charter school, and people in DC will tell you what a battleground the charter vs public school war has become.

Can I be frank? Thank you, Frank. Save for a scant few, DC public schools leave much to be desired…by almost anybody. This is why charter school enrollment has exploded in this city in the past 10 years. My daughter is in a KIPP school. Have you seen Waiting For Superman? One of the schools profiled was a KIPP school and it’s a wonderful environment,place, and setting. But let’s be real, for special children who are a little bit smarter than the average bear – in major urban centers – you really need to send your kid to a private school. It’s not that the teachers and administrators can’t teach your kid; it’s just that when you have a child with an insatiable desire to learn – such is the case with Young Panamontana – you run into the need to feed the beast, so to speak.

Except, have you seen the prices for private school? Holy rusted metal, Batman. Thus far, it seems like the average annual price of tuition is in the $20-$25K range. That doesn’t even include the fees for entry and special stuff that kids who go to private schools do. I have no earthly idea how people pay for these things. Seriously. But there they go with straight face and nary a “gotcha!” in sight asking me to drop for a year what Rick Ross spends in one night at King of Diamonds (not clue whose return on investment will go further as of press time). Given my salary and apparent caste in life, I’m trying to figure out how somebody who does pretty doggone well is supposed to legitimately drop that kind of dough for a child’s education. Which, again, the return on investment is questionable at this point. Pretty much at my daughter’s age, you’re paying for security, access to resources, and…umm, lack of diversity.

Which is a whole other beast. See, you may not know this, but I’m Black. My daughter’s mother is also Black. So my child is…

…class?…

…Black. Private schools seem to be notoriously not Black. I have a problem with this. Forgive me for what I’m about to say but remember, half of my family is also white.

Ready?

Little white privileged kids seem to be some assholes. I’m afraid of turning my child into one or having her end up feeling outcast-ed because she’s the token. But you know what else sucks? She’s an outsider at her own school too. So I’ve got a different child (all positive though…you don’t want it with Hov), who has already proven to be gifted who is in need of a challenge so as to maximize her intelligence while maintaining a social balance so she gets to be a normal kid too.

Mind you, these are all good problems to have. But they are problems nonetheless. I’ve spent my educational years working to get to this point where I’m a bit too far beyond my public school options but have not quite made it far enough to avail myself of the private school options. I can’t walk into any office and claim to be a parent in need. One look at my W-2 and they may charge me for the visit.

At one point, I decided to move into the Southeastern section of DC. I bought a house there eventually. SE is the Black part of town and also, perception-wise, the bad part of town. Crime happens here, but this is DC so it happens all over the city. But perception is a motherlover so my part of SE – east of the river – remains the non-gentrified part of the city no matter what the newspapers and optimistic idealists try to tell you. Either way, I, a highly educated, well paid, employed individual was trying to move into SE.

I called no less than 5 apartment complexes and was met with various, “you make too much money to come live here.” messages. So let me get this right…I wanted to move into the part of town with my people, but I made too much money to do so. But I didn’t make enough money to live in the “desirable” part of town either. Not by myself and looking for at least a 2 bedroom apartment.

So I’m too broke for the well-to-do, and make too much for the rest of the populace, and my taxes subsidize programs I’ll never qualify for to use. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a way to make sure my child gets the education she deserves that for the next 10+ years can run me nearly $200K before she even gets to college.

Basically, Panamontana needs to get a job. Even if daddy is considered affluent by the people who take 38 percent of my pay check.

I’m middle class in DC.

America. F*ck yeah.

Coincidentally, That’s Not Really Ironic: Words Gone Wild

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” ~Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Had Tupac said that? That would be the realest sh*t he ever spoke. Against all odds.

Inigo Montoya don't even know that he's my nword. He totally is though.

Inigo Montoya don’t even know that he’s my nword. He totally is though.

When tons of people send me the same article, I pay attention. Such was the case with this article that got passed around the Ninjanet (and clearly the Non-Ninjanet) since it dropped on Monday entitled “10 Words That You’ve Probably Been Misusing”.

As the title suggests, its a list of words that people are…misusing. Real spit, I actually learned something from this list. I’ve been using the word “travesty” wrong. Or at least wrong-ish. And I totes never knew what “enormity” really meant though as the author suggested, I’m perfectly fine using it as a word that tends to mean biggerness.

That rhymes with Tigger Dress. #BARS

Well there’s one particular misused word that people f*ck up on a daily basis. In fact, right before writing this post I had an at least 20 minute debate about this word:

2) Ironic

What you may think it means: a funny coincidence

What it actually means: contrary to what you might expect

It’s not ironic that you bumped into a talking turtle in a sweater vest right after you told your friend how cool it would be to bump into a talking turtle in a sweater vest. It’s a coincidence, and believe it or not, those two words are not related. Also, you should probably lay off the drugs because I’m pretty sure animals shouldn’t be talking.

Can we rap for a second? We can? Good. Cool.

Why the f*ck do so many people struggle with irony? Seriously, that’s a real question. If irony were a person, it’s theme song would be Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” The debate I had this evening? It was based on the usage that I’m fairly certain that at least 95 percent of the dark community perpetuates….A coincidence.

“Ironically speaking…”

Every time I hear that I IMMEDIATELY wait for a coincidence to saunter through the lips of the word criminal. It’s so common though…it’s just like conversate and irregardless. Two other words we all know get misused commonly since they don’t actually exist. Which begs the question, can you misuse something that doesn’t exist in the first place?

Dizzamnayee.

I think I just f*cked up the space-time continuum spectrum magnum opus triumvirae magna carta holy grail pimp chalice.

By the way, while “conversate” gets the red misspelled word line, “irregardless” does not. How you like them apples? And how you like your eggs…fried or fertilized?

All that to say, we might need to get deeply educated today. See, I’m fairly certain that on the list in the article, there are at least 3 words that most folks had no idea they were using wrong in the slightest: travesty, peruse, and redundant. Notice I said most. I’m sure some of you clearly know what all the words mean and use them properly at all times…after the hurricane.

A tree stands…after the hurricane. <—- Name that reference. 10 Kool-Aid points to the first person to get that right.

So let’s do some thinking today…what OTHER words get misused that people don’t eeeen know it. You need not pop a molly to participate, just a two palms with phalanges and a keyboard. I was trying to make a two turntables and a mic parallel but it worked much better in my head.

Oh well…anyway, good people of VSB…what other words can you think of that people have been misusing. This is harder than you think. Trust me. But its a field day for you word denizens (did I use that right?)

Let us inform and educate. Infucate.

(By the way, Infucate is a word already that means to stain or paint. Motherf*cker.)

Happy Friday.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I’M NOT THE WORD NAZI aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Parenthood Strugglelife.

So you're saying that you can't seem to find mommy. mommy. mommy. mommy. mommy?

So you’re saying that you can’t seem to find mommy. mommy. mommy. mommy. mommy?

Parenthood, ah parenthood.

It’s simultaneously one of the most rewarding yet stressful endeavors any person can enter into. For one, you literally have no clue what type of child you’re going to get. You might get a child who inexplicably loves “Gangnam Style” or loves to tell you to worry about yourself in the most aggressively polite way possible. Or you can get a devil spawn.

The possibilities really are endless and you get to find out who you have over the course of time. My daughter? She’s a total comedian. She loves to laugh and make people laugh and has one of the most developed imaginations I’ve ever seen. She loves art, and likes singing. All things she got honestly between her mother and I. But she’s only four. Who knows who she’ll be even two years from now. Cool runnings. Peace be the journey.

Well, for all the fun and exciting parts, those stressful aspects? F*ck. Or even the ones that break you down. Maaaaaaaaaan listen. You get to learn so much about yourself. It’s non-stop on-the-job training. So what are some of the aspects that will make you want to pull your hair out (unless you’re Panama Jackson and you’ve already done that)? Glad you asked.

1. School

This could largely depend on where you live. But if you live in a major city this is definitely your struggle. If you live in the suburbs already then sure, you can probably send your child to the neighborhood school and call it a day without too much stress about whether or not the education your child is getting rivals that of Eastside High after Joe Clark left but before he returned. SAMS!

Major city though? If you aren’t rich enough to send your kids to private school then you’re like everybody else struggling to get your kids into the few public schools that are actually, well, educational. In DC, we have some elementary schools that are good and for the most part, they’re all in the rich part of town, which is far as hell from the rest of us citizens. Then, there’s the fact that we have a lottery. So you have to Wait for Superman to pull your lever. That goes for charter schools and public school slots here. You visit schools and find one you like and hope that you “win the lottery”. It’s stressful. It will drive you mad. And it’s something you probably don’t think about until you have to. Sure we all think about public education. Some of us work in it. But unless you have a child who is going to experience public education then you can’t truly appreciate how stressful it is find a good fit for your child only to wait for somebody to let you know if you will be able to send your child there or if you’re going to have to 1) move; or 2) have to find a way to save the money so you can send your child to a private school and eat Ramen noodles, which you totally swore off after college.

You know what? Even before that…

2. Day care

Do you know the average cost of daycare in Washington, DC, is like $1,400. A month. That’s a mortgage. So imagine having to pay a mortgage or rent AND that as well? But then there’s the finding a day care that works for you and your family. Is it educational or just an all day playplace. Of course you want educational. What time do they open? What time do they close? Do they make food there or do you have to bring their snacks and lunch? What about their teaching method? Montessori or traditional? Then of course you have to get used to dropping your kid off at day care while they scream and yell for you for the first few weeks. Do you know what can tug at your heart? Knowing that you have to leave your kid there while they’re screaming but not being able to go pick them up because they won’t learn to separate from you if they don’t. <—probably more of a mommy issue at first. My daughter was much more okay with me leaving her then her mother. The good thing about day cares though is that some of the mothers are HOT.

Wait. What?

Crush. Kill. Destroy. Stress. It’s a lot.

3. The things you can’t fix…

My child has THE WORST ALLERGIES. I live in DC. Anybody who lives in DC with allergies will tell you how difficult that life is. I don’t have allergies but her mother does. She got them honest. Do you know how hard it is to look at your child’s face all puffy and stuffy and know there’s nothing that you can do about it short of giving them some medicine and hoping it kicks in? When your wakes up and tells you that she’s tired of being stuffy and of allergies and you know she’s stuck with them forever. It breaks me down. I can’t do anything. Hell I toyed with the idea of going back to school to get a degree in biology so that I could become a scientist and cure allergies. Then I’d probably end up dead as the allergy medicine companies colluded to have me murdered for ruining their bottom line, but you get the point.

4. OPC – Other People’s Children

I don’t typically mean your friends, but the kids in your neighborhood or when you go to a playground and some other little youngster does some sh*t you don’t approve of but its 2013 and you can’t check anybody else’s kid without fear of at best getting yelled at and at worst going to jail with the words “sexual predator” following your name forever. It sucks though, because people want their kids to play with your kids and you’re whole thougth process is like, ewww…shoo fly. Judging. Point is, you want your kid to have friends, but you’d also like to hand pick them which is nearly impossible.

Anyway, those are some stresses of parenthood. What are others folks without children don’t really realize until it happens? Hell, what are things you folks without kids think would be stressful?

Let’s get physical.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. DADDY TO YOU aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

 

Are Black Students At Duke Pissed For The Right Reason?

I majored in sociology and I'm still gonna make more money than you pretty soon, white man.

I came across this article at Clutch Mag yesterday entitled, “Black Students at Duke Upset Over New Study Claiming They Take The Easy Way Out” that linked to a Durham, NC, Herald-Sun article about a study that pissed of Black folks from near and far. In a nutshell, two Duke professors and a grad student wrote a paper stating that Black students at Duke changed majors from more traditionally difficult majors like economics, engineering, and natural sciences to less rigorous majors (like humanities) at a higher rate than did white students. The paper was an attempt to explain why the GPAs of Black students tended to trend towards the GPAs of white students as ninjas made their way through college and is being used as a bone for opponents of affirmative action policies.

Oy vey.

The unpublished report, “What Happens After Enrollment? An Analysis of the Time Path of Racial Differences in GPA and Major Choice,” looked at the Duke freshman classes that matriculated in 2001 and 2002, in their first, second and fourth years of college.

It found that among students who initially expressed an interest in majoring in economics, engineering and the natural sciences, 54 percent of black men and 51 percent of black women ended up switching to the humanities or another social science.

By comparison, 33 percent of white women and just 8 percent of white men made the switch to majors that are considered less rigorous, require less study and have easier grading standards.

According to the paper, 68 percent of Duke’s black students but less than 55 percent of white students ended up majoring in the humanities or social sciences other than economics.

The authors of the paper suggested that the switch to easier majors was predominantly responsible for why the grade point averages of black undergraduates ultimately became similar to the GPAs of white students as they progressed through school.

The paper is included in a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by opponents of affirmative action. The court is considering whether to hear a lawsuit challenging race-conscious undergraduate admission at the University of Texas.

 

The fact that any professor intensely intrigued and/or troubled by the fact that Black student GPAs were similar to white student GPAs is problematic enough. But to take it to the next level to prove that basically Black students (and legacy kids, interestingly enough) were stepping on their cocaine to make it through is just a gotd*mn shame.
However, I’m choosing to take my feelings out of this and going to attempt to look at this somewhat objectively. And my reason is because of this line, the constant rally cry of any and all things that involve race by us, the Black people:
[Nina] Asante (president of Duke’s Black Student Alliance) wrote that the authors failed “to account for the societal, complex and institutional factors that must be considered in any attempt to delineate trends in racial differences in grade point averages and major choices, in a scholarly manner.”
I am admittedly jaded but I read that to say, “unless you have a section in your study about how slavery and the persistent effects of institutional racism f*cked us the f*ck up then your whole paper, study, and lifespace is fugazi, b*tch.”
Which, while true, does tend to obscure what are, well, facts. Look, I went to an HBCU with a stellar science program in physics and biology and a great dual degree engineering program with Georgia Tech. But let’s be real, the majority of majors at Morehouse were business. And I’m not sh*tting on business majors, but it is what it is. That was like our catchall if you couldn’t hack it in the STEM majors. And a lot of people did make that switch. I myself chose economics with a math concentration because I specifically didn’t want to feel like I was shortchanging myself. But you better believe, we had a non-math economics option and the majority of econ majors took that road.
What does that have to do with the price of dental dams at Spelman? Nothing. But if Duke is the academically rigorous school that its purported to be, and Morehouse isn’t (no shots, and if you take shots at the ‘House I’m 404 you’re whole life son) and we have a preponderance of ninjas who make the switch, then what are we complaining about at Duke? Are we mad that the story is out there or that we can’t hack it?
Look, I know the public education system that the majority of us will have to use isn’t top notch. But that’s probably largely in the inner city where it seems like most of us aren’t exactly coming from anymore. And I’d bet money that most of the Black students at Duke aren’t exactly coming from southeast DC, the south Bronx, the west side of Atlanta, or Compton. Most are probably suburban children and/or private school kids. So their education is probably better than what a lot of us received at various stages (except for you bougie ninjas). Yet and still, many of us can’t hack it.
Now, if you ask me, that’s the study that needs to be looked into. When you control for socio-economic status, are these same Black students not able to cut the mustard? If not, are we going to blame racism and slavery for that? And that’s a real question. Seeing as Duke is a private school and considered an elite institution, I’m guessing their application process is itself more rigorous and they are accepting students who would likely meet a higher education standard. This is my assumption. Anybody can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
So what the hell is really going on then? I’m not insisting that that Black students aren’t as smart. Far from it. But perhaps some of these students learned a lesson that I learned at Morehouse really early on: game the system. The goal is to graduate. So maybe some of these ninjas are taking the path to least resistance and banking on the school attached to the degree to be able to take them far. Hell, isn’t that what many white people do anyway? Just because those white students aren’t changing majors doesn’t mean they’re excelling either. So if I’m beasting out with my English degree with a 3.9 and you’ve got a 2.7 in biology, and we all know that grad schools and the like care about your GPA, then perhaps I will feel like I’m winning.
I don’t know. And I don’t like the implication behind that either. Maybe we can blame hip-hop and this hustler mentality of dong what you need to do to get where you think you’re trying to go. Or maybe a lot of those kids don’t want to be STEM majors anyway (whole other discussion about that) and are thinking business and wall street or what most of us do…law school. Which if I’m not mistaken, wouldn’t require a STEM degree.
My point here is that while there are probably other factors involved, playing the slavery card (how I’m reading it) isn’t probably accurate. Maybe playing the “I get money, I-I get money” card is. Which means that some of those protests might be a bit ill advised. I can understand why Black people are up in arms. On its face, it sounds messed and politically motivated, but that doesn’t mean that what they’re stating didn’t happen. We just don’t like the implications behind it, even if maybe, just maybe, they’re accurate.
The paper’s authors — professors Peter Arcidiacono and Kenneth Spenner, and graduate student Esteban Aucejo — write that their work calls into question other studies that play down the academic difficulties initially experienced by those who benefit from race-conscious admissions by saying that such students eventually catch up with their nonminority peers in GPA.
Just wanted to add that I do think the authors here have some racial issues of their own to deal with (and I’m aware that Duke has a somewhat sordid history of racial issues in general).Clearly they’re not proponents of affirmative action, except their inability to see the forest for the trees (as academics) is a bit scary because at the end of the day, we DO end up with a lot more minorities with degrees which is better for society. Like your point was to intentionally disprove any benefit from race-conscious admissions without acknowledging that it might be harder to get into these schools than actually graduate? Sitchoazzdown.
But forget their reasons, and back to the actual findings. What say you? Thoughts?
Should we be mad about these findings? Should we be protesting studies like this? Or should we acknowledge that there’s truth there and then determine what the solution is, should one be necessary? Are these folks just not on our level?
Inquiring minds would like to know.
Sorry for the length. Heheheheh.
-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. YOUR STUDY IS FUGAZI EVEN IF ITS TRUE SON aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3