what’s a mother to do?

The Bee has been put into some kind of advanced program in her school. I’m not sure how I feel about it, because 1st grade seems a little young to start tracking kids into different academic programs. I’m also conflicted, because all the other kids in this program are white or Asian, in a class where the white and Asian kids are a minority (well, okay, there’s only one Asian kid in the class).

I’m not naive enough to think that it’s a coincidence. This is an elementary school where there is not a single person of color on the staff, despite the presence of a considerable number of students of color. I certainly believe that it’s possible that the black and Latino students in the class have already been written off, although I sincerely hope that’s not true.

This is one of those situations that I hate being in as a white person. I know that if I raise this suspicion to the other parents, or to the teachers, I risk being labeled some crazy liberal (which, you know, I kind of am, so I can live with that). I’m already under a cloud for suggesting to the principal that they hire a teacher who speaks Spanish to replace Mrs. X. For all I know, these five kids are in fact just naturally smarter than everyone else. Or they all have parents that are especially active in the PTA. Or whatever.

And it’s not that I don’t want the Bee to be in an advanced class. I want her to succeed in school. I want her to have fun with her friends, and it is her friends who are in this advanced program–both of her best friends, and a boy they all hang out with at after-school care. (In fact, four of these five kids are in the after-school program, so maybe that’s the link, not race.)

I haven’t decided what to do about these suspicions. One of the difficulties is that the regular first grade teacher is still on maternity leave, so I’d have to talk to the sub. I’m guessing that the sub must have been involved in the picking of which kids should go into this program (she’s been subbing since the beginning of November), and I don’t want to just go in and accuse her of being racist. So I have to figure out how to ask the questions in a way that’s value-neutral, and I haven’t been able to come up with a way to talk about it yet, without being accusatory.


February 2, 2006. thoughtful parenting. 11 comments.