Friday, December 5, 2008

The Kindergarten Thing

So yesterday I went on a school tour. I loved it. I wasn't expecting to love it, but there I was, watching kindergarten children singing in Spanish in trailers turned into classrooms and I was like, I don't know, head over heels. I could just see my daughter springing around a room like that, so excited to learn more words, and in Spanish!

I should explain. The tour was of a dual-language program, Spanish-English. In kindergarten, the kids spend 80 percent of their time learning in Spanish and 20 percent in English. In first grade it moves to 50-50. Going in to the tour I was more curious about the dual language thing. Now, obviously, I'm besotted. I love the idea of a Spanish-English program, for many reasons (learning a second language, I think, opens your mind in an ineffable way -- there's not just one way to speak or be understood or simply be, never mind the fact that so many people speak Spanish and I feel like, shouldn't we all try, at least a little?)

And those trailers? Can I just say, they were really nice. And the teachers? Some serious bright lights.

So what's the down side? Well, this program is in a public school in my district but not my zone. Because it's in my zone, there's a way to get in, but no one yet knows what the acceptance process will be. We all just have to wait for the Department of Education to tell us. But you know what's worse than not knowing how I might get my daughter into the school? What's worse is the math.

There are two dual-language kindergarten classrooms at this school. I believe each class will have 24 kids, although I heard 20 as a number, too. They want to split the classes 50-50 between Spanish dominant/bi-lingual kids and English dominant (and monolingual) kids. Then they want to have gender parity. So, there will be, essentially, 24 slots for monolingual English children like mine, and of those, 12 slots for girls. Did I mention this is a New York City public school? I don't even know how many people apply or what the odds are, but not so good feels like a pretty good bet.

On the bright side, it's nice to fall in love. On the not so bright side, love means hope suspended, even with Kindergarten.

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