Boogermonkey will be in first grade in the fall, and for a long time we’ve known that he’s operating on an academic level well above his peers. The official label for kids like him (99th percentile in reading, 91st in math) is “Talented and Gifted,” or TAG, and that distinction is fraught. You’re accused of bragging about your kids, teachers don’t often understand or have time or want to differentiate (even though state law says they have to provide work on their level & at their pace), and then people try to say that you are saying their children aren’t smart or whatever. “Everyone is gifted,” they’ll say. Or they don’t believe you when you tell them, “He’s reading The Graveyard Book.” They say you’re making it up to make yourself feel better, that you think you’re better than other families.
And you know what? FUCK THAT NOISE.
My kid is really fucking smart. And that is a fact. Just like he has curly hair and a wicked sense of humor and brown eyes and runs really fucking fast. I’m not trying to make anyone else feel bad when I say that he knows how to tell time & understands the concept of fractions, and if you do perhaps you should look into fixing those feelings of inadequacy because they are categorically not my problem.
What is my problem is where my child attends school. The school he’s at has very low ratings, both objectively from the state and subjectively from school ranking sites. There are kids in his class now, at the end of Kindergarten, who do not know how to count to 100 or write upper and lower case letters. Even average kids are getting shafted in a situation like that. Kids like Boogermonkey are going to get bored. He’s already getting bored. His teacher says he’s “very chatty” and doesn’t sit still very well. Only 15 minutes a day of recess will get any kid antsy. Jeez, lady. I can’t fix that. Did I mention there hasn’t been a single parent-teacher conference all year and there has only been one field trip?
Lucky for Booger, and for kids like him, our school district has a public charter school for TAG kids and he’s enrolled for first grade. A girl from his class is going to be his classmate and we went to the meetup at the school today. Dudes. There is a vegetable garden next to the playground. There is a Lego Robotics club. The PTA goes to Salem to lobby for better school funding (hello, legal issue close to my heart).
I can’t fix every school. Every school should have a garden and longer recess time and extracurriculars and frequent field trips and all the awesome stuff his school in Eugene had and his new school in Portland has, too. I can’t really do anything about the other schools until I’m part of the PTA going to Salem & lobbying for improvements, but I can and will celebrate when this one thing goes right.