5 year anniversary - Let's celebrate with a blog!

Five years ago this week we moved to Bridgewater, NJ from abroad. "We" are my husband T, my 10 year old daughter C and my 7 year old son N. My "real" initial is E - L for short.

T and I chose this town over several others in the area based on its reputation for great schools and relatively low property taxes.

After 5 years I am not sure we made the right decision.

Tonight, in my inaugural blog, I will whinge about one aspect of the schools. My children attend the Bridgewater Raritan Regional School District (BRRSD) and while they have been happy for the most part, BRRSD consistently disappoints and frustrates me, providing fodder for future blogs!

I begin my blogging career by questioning the BRRSD e-program.

Why is it so hard to get into the academically advanced programs in Bridgewater? Why can't they ease the restrictions and let more kids in, try it out, then drop down if they don't perform well enough? Why does it have to be so elitist? What will the consequences be for kids who don't make it? Is my daughter really locked out from making high school honors classes by her IOWA scores of today?

"You've gotta put her in Kumon!" My neighbor tells me. "It's the only way." I sigh into the phone. She finishes with the words I know are coming, "that, or private school."

I think to myself: Is it too much to ask that kids learn what they need in the schools, without supplemental private programs? Do I really have to fork over a fortune in private tutoring to get an appropriate education? And if she isn't gifted enough for this e-program, can't she get adequate challenge from the classroom?

I am talking about 10 year olds. Not just my daughter, but her very bright friends. None of her friends got into both e-math and e-language arts. And if SJ can't get into the e- language arts program... I don't know a child who deserves it more! According to my daughter, NR should have made the math program with one pencil tied behind her back.

Alas, children are learning the tough lessons of life early. At least my daughter also sees that you can go to the board of ed meetings to voice your opinion. Sometimes I feel better after speaking at the podium. Other times not.

Tonight was a let down. I think they thought I was a whining parent complaining about her kid not getting in to a program. I was trying to complain about the system as a whole and how many bright kids got left out. How we already have a "gifted and talented program" called the AI (academically independent program). Most of the BOE members' kids are in that program. So it makes it nearly impossible for them to understand how us "slobs" have it.

So now I can cyber-complain - maybe it will get me farther? Even if it only makes me feel better, it accomplishes something.

Just what the world needed - another cybermouth!


Mommy said…
My daughter attends the Academically Independent class in Bridgewater. She got admitted with almost 100% score. Did I pay for any extra lessons? No. I helped her by myself. And yes, I spent HOURS a day doing tests with her. I started teaching her multiplications, fractions etc. when she was 4. She did NOT go to kindergarten - I home-schooled her. When she was tested at school (before she went to the first grade), she showed the teachers how to do 135 times 250.
Do NOT believe in Kumon, Sylvan etc. Actually, my daughter's friends from AI class have never gone to any special programs.
I know there are a lot of bright kids who were not admitted but all of the kids were given tests and were scored. The best of the best were chosen.
The Academically Independent class in Bridgewater is known as one of the best in the state. And yes, it is more difficult to get to AI class than to Pingry.
Try next year.. Good luck :)
Poppet said…
Thank you for your comment.

This was written in 2008. My children have aged out of AI.

My main issue with the district isn't with AI, it is with finding appropriate challenge for kids who don't get into AI. If I understand correctly, AI only takes about 2-3% of children. That leaves out the vast majority of children. Many kids find "regular classes" boring. It is those children that this blog entry concerns.

I am not trying to get rid of AI - I am trying to make the district realize that lots of children OUTSIDE of AI need appropriate enrichment. Lots of children need e- but can't get in, and if they can't get in, then regular classes should be more challenging or administrators should make it easier for teachers to differentiate lessons to meet all kids needs.

There is an image that the district is GREAT for children in the top and the bottom of the spectrum but doesn't do enough for kids in the middle. This blog entry addresses that concern.

Finally, I've now been blogging for almost 5 years and have been over this and similar issues many times. I don't remember ever writing anything disparaging about AI, so please don't misinterpret my meaning.
Anonymous said…
The biggest mistake you made is "the best of best". There is no statistics what so ever AI students entered better colleges. As a matter of fact, plenty examples showed AI students became "not so good" after AI. Let you live in your own small world.
Anonymous said…
As a BR AI alum, I can honestly say it's not all it's cracked up to be. They don't address the social-emotional needs of gifted students and, at least in the 90's, did a TERRIBLE job of identifying AI students with dual exceptionalities. (Too many kids in my class got all the way to college before receiving needed support for learning disabilities, neurological conditions like Tourette's and behavior issues.) It's the kind of gifted education that's getting a lot of academic criticism because it's rooted in the fact that a standardized test and a few reccomendations can identify giftedness, that only the top ranking students are eligible for gifted classes, and that all gifted students can learn all subjects independently. Even years later, as I've found my way to a successful role in a national nonprofit (after nearly failing out of college, mind you), my fiancee and I have a running joke about the lingering effects of my 4 years in AI. "Pine Cone moments" come up every other week or so. Because one day, I genuinely asked, 'how do pinecones seeds work'? He looked at me, agape, declaring, 'YOU were the one in AI!! What did you do, write poetry about the pine cones instead of learning the science behind it?'. And I sheepishly realized, yeah, we did a lot of shadow box making, painting ceilings like Michelangelo, organizing "earl of sandwich' days, and taking math league tests because we were expected to be able to independently learn formulas, theory, and context on our own. After all that, I too have less faith in the BRRSD school district and firmly believe that constant and rich communications between parents, students, and teachers, is the best way to help your children succeed there.

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