Monday, October 29, 2007

Here's a short list of jobs I would suck at:
  • Ballerina
  • Color consultant
  • School spokesman
So, guess what I did for three hours on Saturday? I'll give you a hint, it didn't involve distinguishing between antique white and eggshell white or dancing on my hairy little toes. Instead, I was a spokesman for Daisy's elementary school.

The San Francisco Unified School District had a school fair this weekend, where representatives from every school set up a booth so that panicked prospective parents could ask questions about the schools for precious Gavin Jr. or little Hillary.

Of course I don't know the answers to any school questions, but when the PTA President sent out an email last week begging (BEGGING!) for volunteers, I raised my virtual hand.

"I won't know what to say!" I warned in my email.

"Just consider me an emergency backup!" I emphasized.

So, of course I found myself stationed at the school booth from 12:00 to 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, smiling at strangers and forcing myself to utter the words " any... questions?" and then praying that they didn't.

Picking a school in San Francisco is a daunting task. There are language immersion schools, arts schools, charter schools, schools with good test scores, blah blah blah. Additionally, there's a super complicated and opaque equation that dictates what school a kid gets assigned to. The equation takes into account the parent's preference, their location, and various cryptic demographic factors. Most folks don't get their first choice, and even fewer end up going to their "neighborhood" school. The end result is that the school choice process is an astonishingly stressful one.

Imagine you're a parent trying to navigate through the byzantine bureaucratic layers. You go on school tours, you attend workshops, and eventually you go to the school fair, brimming with questions:

"What's the teacher turnover rate?"
"Is there an English Language Development program?"
"How many hours a week does the librarian work?"

Then, you encounter me. I know the answers to none of these questions. Instead you get to hear me say "It's a really good school!" and then I make up facts about the curriculum.

So, to the San Francisco parents who had the unfortunate luck to encounter me on Saturday afternoon, you have my sincerest apologies.

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