Here’s the truth: When I envisioned Evie’s first day of kindergarten, it was a scene ripped straight out of an episode of Leave It to Beaver. There I am in my bright blue house dress, freshly pressed apron and pearls, standing at the end of our front walk and waving goodbye to Evie, all pigtailed and apple cheeked as she walks the two blocks to John F. Kennedy Elementary School, swinging her lunch pail and humming the theme to Bonanza. After wiping away a tear, I tuck my handkerchief back into my sleeve, brush the front of my dress and go back inside our pretty little ranch house to wash the breakfast dishes and make a list for the milkman.
Like many American dreams, this one’s gonna look a bit different once it’s all said and done.
Around here, getting your child into kindergarten at a school for which you’re not zoned is almost as easy as having frizz-free hair or finding a parking place at the good produce market during Snow Bird season. Which is to say, it’s not easy.
As far as I know, all the charter and magnet schools’ admission policies are based on a lottery system. All the applications are assigned a number and then randomly drawn. Fundamental schools also use the lottery system. For those not familiar, fundamental schools…well, I’m not sure what fundamental schools are. I just know that parents are required to volunteer and sign a bunch of stuff that’s sent home and everyone loves them and wants to get in. I toured one fundamental school, Curtis, and for reasons I find hard to name now, I loved it, too. I’m not sure what that’s all about, if there’s some sort of brain wave manipulation going on there, or even if Scientology is involved in some way, but after visiting Curtis I was all in.
The results of Curtis’s lottery were revealed this week. I heard there were 400 applications for 45 seats. I was still disappointed to discover that Evie is 175th on the waiting list. Nope, that is not a typo. One hundred and seventy-four kids have to mysteriously disappear before Evie can attend Curtis in the fall. I kid, of course, but the results were upsetting. I even debated crying about it, but it was the end of the day, and I just didn’t have the energy. I’m disappointed for several reasons. First, all Scientology jokes aside, Curtis is a really good school, and Evie would have gotten a solid education there. Second, fundamental schools feed into each other, meaning once your child gets in at the elementary level, they’re guaranteed a spot at the middle and high schools. Which also means I don’t have to go through this flippin’ lottery process again and can go back to eating bon bons and watchin’ my stories. Third, Curtis’s location is a very easy and short commute from our house. Given our reputation for getting our shit together and getting out the door in the morning, this was an exciting prospect. Fourth, and most important to Evie, her best friend, Meredith, will go to Curtis courtesy of Meredith’s big brother whose prior admittance secured her a spot. To Eve, anything in life is better with a little Meredith thrown in.
So, we’re sad. Or, I’m sad. I haven’t told Evie. She wouldn’t really understand, and I don’t think she really cares very much anyway. As far as she’s concerned, preschool lasts forever. Would that were true.
We have four more chances for the opportunity to shadow the elusive and hallowed halls of a charter school. The first school is Plato, which is a very good school, but sort of knows it, you know? Like, is all snobby about it. Shut up, Plato. You’re still a public school, and your mother buys generic soda. But, let us in! You’re awesome! Next is DaVinci, which is just precious. And small. Very small. But its focus is performing arts, and if you know Evie, you know why I toured that school first. Then there’s Pinellas Prep. This school is also very good but has no natural lighting in the classroom. As good as the school is, this is very depressing to me. Lastly is the Pinellas Academy of Math and Science. This is how desperate I am, friends. Math and freakin’ science.
I’m desperate because of the school for which we’re zoned, which is in walking distance, by the way. I’m very concerned that Evie be challenged academically and is well-prepared to progress successfully in her education. I don’t believe those things will be available to her at a level I’d be happy with at the school for which we’re zoned. Bottom line: There are better options out there for Evie’s education. And we will attend one of those options if she and I have to Mission: Impossible our way in there.
Does this mean my Leave It to Beaver dream has died? Well, yeah. Everybody’s has to eventually.
I’ll still wear pearls that day though, damnit.