Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Willing Participant in Madness

Connor is getting ready to start preschool, in six months. And so we started investigating the ones we would like him go into and discovered that the one associated with our church was accepting applications today, starting at 9 am. And then in talking with some other of our friends, we discovered that people wanting to apply started getting there the night before to ensure that their kids got a spot.

Now then, we want Connor to go to the school, but we're not just DYING to have him there. But we were also committed enough to get there a little early. So, last night, I went to bed at 10pm to get up at 4am to get to the building at 5am. And even getting there at 5am, on the sign-in sheet, I was #10. Ten people had gotten there before me. Three were there before 9pm the night before, two others were there at midnight.

Naturally, I had some time to think about this. Was I becoming one the people I used to laugh at for standing in line for something? The last time I stood in line for something like this was to see Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace (yes, I did, unfortunately). But what was ultimately driving it was the idea that we did want Connor to be in the school and knowing that there were people ahead of us, and that that would lessen Connor's ability to get in, we wanted to be there. As a part of this too, we want to support our church and one of its most important ministries. But is it also becoming like a Black Friday kind of thing where we just get there earlier and earlier and earlier.

I honestly don't know the answers to that. All I do know is that this morning, I became a willing participant in the madness. And while I think Connor would do very well at the school, I feel a little weird about it...

15 comments:

Heather said...

I think you already know how I feel about this. There is no reason for people to camp out the night before. When they do, they only feed the frenzy of people feeling like they HAVE to be there earlier and earlier and earlier in order to ensure their child(ren) has a spot. Applications are accepted at 9:00. The school is nice enough to open the doors at 7:00 so that a line can form inside where it is warm. Luckily, Scott happened to be in town this year so that I did not have to drag two sleeping children out in the freezing cold in order "keep up with the (camping) Jones'". My heart goes out to those who did not have the luxury of having two parents who were able to decide which one would go -- or find someone to take their application for them (which is a completely different "bag of worms"). Where do we, as intellegent people, draw the line?

Mary Alice said...

Yeah, I figure that if we have a second child he or she will not be able to attend OCP because - as wonderful as the school is - I absolutely WILL NOT start camping out a week in advance, nor will I as Phillip to do so. And let's be honest - we all know that's where this is headed, right?

Anonymous said...

That's crazy, but I am sure I will have to deal with it too...you know, when I have kids and all. BTW, Phil, on a lighter note, as a former recipient of your red marks on my papers, I need to point out that I will be docking your blog post 2 points for misspelling "willing" in the last section of this piece. Please come see me after class if you would like to discuss. Sorry, no extra credit will be given to offset this deduction.

Greg

Phil said...

Greg, I have no idea what you're talking about. To my eyes, everything is spelled correctly... :-)

Jim Voorhies said...

I have no children but even so I still can't understand the whole 'your child will be permanently stunted if they're not in the right preschool' thing. After all,Charlie Manson didn't attend that preschool and look how he - oh. NEVERMIND!

Nice one, Greg!

Tiffany said...

Theoretically, once we move the preschool to the new campus and have more space, we can hire more teachers, create more classes, accept more students, and stop the madness.

Theoretically.

DB Carden said...

The "madness" this year was a grand total of 6 people, four of whom did it for fun. There were two who did it last year and two the year before (everyone forgets those two). Hardly an overwhelming trend.

The truth is that there is a reason to show up as early as possible because the order of receipt of the applications is a small factor in determining who gets the open spot and who does not.

The rules of the process dictate the possibility of camping out in order to be nearer the front of the line. Two years ago, in an attempt to be a reasonable person, I showed up at 6:15am (froze for 45 minutes), was 15th-20th in line and did not get my son into a 3-year-old class. If my children had been born closer together (not a factor controlled by us), he would have been in as a sibling of a current student. If he had been old enough the year before to be in a two-year-old class (not a factor controlled by us), he would have been in. As it was, he did not get in because I showed up too late, a factor controlled by me.

Heather asks where we, as intelligent people, draw the line on this madness. I, as with all things, will control what I can control. If that means sleeping in my car so that my son has a chance I will do it. If someone disagrees with that, petition the school to take that factor out of my control.

Also, I would like to point out that the campers controlled the line so that we could all sit in our warm cars until the doors were opened at 7...a great improvement over every other year I have done this.

Jim Voorhies said...

If you could apply online, the nanoseconds would probably separate the successful from the unsuccessful.

I guess there's nothing wrong with a little madness in the name of your child. Although, I wouldn't have necessarily called it fun, DB. At least, not in the last 20 years. Before that, maybe.

Ben said...

I'd be okay with a "lottery system" so there is no line at all.

Besides, it only takes one despicable person to get hurt or sick waiting in line to bring a frivolous law suit against the school or church.

Heather said...

David, I know you must think I'm hateful since we have never met and I have deemed you a "camping crazy." I heard about what happened with your attempt at the 3-year old class, and I understood why you felt you needed to camp out the next year. Same with Lance as he was a first-timer. Didn't realize you were doing it this year "for fun." My greif was that when people hear about the campings, they feel like they HAVE to follow suit. Thus, the line-up time keeps getting earlier and earlier. And those of us who are not avid outdoorsmen are going to eventually have to go buy a tent!

DB Carden said...

Heather, no worries. You make good points, I just wanted to point out the reality of the camping out rather than some of the outside perception of crazed and desperate parents.

I hope that our lunacy eventually changes the system. I am already working with one of the board members to find a viable solution that eliminates time as a factor. There is significant sensitivity on their part to ensure that there is no hint of favoritism or political advantage. Any changes to the system would have to retain those sentiments.

Jim Voorhies said...

There are probably lots of other ways to do it but staggering the acceptances into the program would be one simple way.

For example, first let in siblings of those already enrolled. It's hard enough for people like Phil to drive all the way from Bellevue to Brentwood to drop off their kids to start with. If the church helps out by letting them only drive to one school, that's better.

If that still leaves vacancies, open it up to other church members. That's really the focus for this ministry, right? Only makes sense.

After that, then have some sort of lottery or need-based decision process for outsiders. I'd favor need-based just because we're supposed to help those less fortunate than we are.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather said...

Jim, that's the way the system is already set up: current students get first priority, then siblings, then members, then non-members. The problem is that we are all lining up on the same day. Ideally, those already enrolled (and siblings) shouldn't worry about "getting in," but there is another factor driving the line-up -- getting the days you want.
For example, if you have an older student who goes on MWF, parents would [probably] want their younger one(s) to go on M/W instead of T/TH. Since there are limited spaces (especially for the younger classes), timing is very important.
I know that Pat prays and prays over each placement, and does her best to make it as easy as possible on the parents. And she deals with a lot of greif and rumor-control during the whole process. If we could "saint" her, I'm sure we all would!
I don't know of a more diplomatic way other than the line-up. Maybe, as Phil suggested, we could appply on different days (in the order of acceptance)... but I still think there would be campers! ;o)

Alice said...

Ah, the homeschoolers are missing out...

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