Today I registered my child for kindergarten in our local school, Trinity Elementary. It was an interesting experience. For one, Kindergarten demands some serious proofs of residence. The following, for example, do not qualify:
Credit card bill
Only the big three--Cablevision, Con Ed, and Water--will suffice. These are the ones I did not have; they had been overzealously recycled. (After an hour of phone calls and online searching, I will be producing all three tomorrow morning.) None of the others are valid because, as they said, this could be my "vacation home." Yeah, and I would not get water service or gas for a "vacation home"? And the truly pertinent question: I would choose a vacation home near downtown New Rochelle, New York?
They told me that scammers from the Bronx, Mount Vernon, and Yonkers are constantly trying to slither into our school district without paying the city taxes. Of course, it's sad to realize that the schools in those places are so dreadful that people would go out of their way to forge a variety of bills and drive an hour out of their zone.
But the real question at hand was succinctly stated by my friend: "No offense, but why would they head to that school?" It's true—much better school choices for the deceitful are plentiful: Larchmont, Scarsdale, Mamaroneck, or even other areas of New Rochelle. Another friend, when I was moving here, said "That district? Oofh. That's in the hood." Everyone in my own neighborhood sends their kids to the parochial school--Holy Name of Jesus. I go there only to use the voting machines.
Intrepid of spirit, I have decided to register my child at our local Kindergarten anyway. And he will go there, provided we do not sell our home before the fall arrives. It's going to be a little strange. During the hour I spent at the school today, I saw exactly one other Caucasian child. (As I've said before, my kid and Casper are of a similar shade.) In reality, despite my quick tally of today, I think the percentage of non-black and Hispanic kids at the school is about 20 percent. Is this going to be weird for him? Probably. Is it going to be "worse" than the affluent PreK he now attends, where the situation is reversed? (In his school, there is exactly one black child. And he wears Ralph Lauren sweater vests and bow-ties.) I think not, somehow.
He got tested today for a full-day gifted language immersion program and scored very highly, plus the school has a strong music program, and the walls were adorned with beautiful artwork. I like the idea of him learning to speak fluent Spanish in that sort of environment. I can't speak Spanish, and I went to private school all my life! At registration, I looked around to see a number of young and idealistic-looking teachers/coordinators, who all seem involved and intelligent.
I met with a nurse who wanted to know if my son has any "easy bruising" or "sensitive" skin conditions she should know about now, since she's required to report any suspicion of child abuse. I met with a social worker who asked me questions such as "Is there anyone who is absolutely not allowed to pick up your child?" and "Any serious issues at home we should know about?" and "Was he a low-birthweight baby?" I imagine that in this community these questions are occasionally answered with a strong affirmative. I also got the feeling that I was an anomaly, a pleasant surprise ("Margaret! We got a white woman on the premises!")
"I had fun," my son said, when we left. "I liked it there."
Hey, he'll be easy to spot in a crowd whenever I go by the school. ("There! The translucent one.") Unless he's at the bottom of a pile of kids, being pummeled.