Now that the election is over, Alexandria parents can focus on the other early November milestone we wait for — the end of the first quarter for Alexandria City Public Schools.
This is our first full academic quarter with ACPS. It is also the first quarter that I have paid (relatively) consistent attention to my kids' day-to-day schoolwork and academic progress. So, it only seems fair to give us both grades as the first report cards of the year come home.
- I give ACPS a B+ for the quality of my children's teachers and the curricula they present to my kids at the elementary, middle and high school levels. I am particularly thrilled with Matthew Henry and Eric Perini at T.C. Williams for their attention to my high school sophmore's academic development. I also love Logan McConnell's Virginia History program at William Ramsay. My son's middle school experience at Hammond has been a little more uneven, but Matt Cupples runs some awesome afterschool programs. Middle school itself is somewhat uneven.
- I give myself a C. I started strong with my domestic education program (making them do household chores) and my monitoring of their work on Blackboard.
FACILITIES AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT
- ACPS gets a C. T.C. Williams is a state-of-the-art palace of learning, and the kids all get netbooks. Hammond and Ramsay are older buildings but seem well-maintained — I wonder how accessible they are to disabilities. I appreciate the school system's willingness to deploy interpreters at events like back-to-school nights, but I think they need to find better ways of integrating interpretation so it doesn't come across as an add-on. The automated call system for parent information is great, and I would love to see it expand to e-mail. The high school and middle school buses were ridiculously overcrowded at the beginning of the year. My kids have options, since I usually drive them to school (or the middle-schooler can walk) — many of my neighbors do not.
- I get a C-. Our apartment is an overcrowded sty (see my grade for "instructional quality" above). My car is also an overcrowded sty. On the other hand, living in West End Alexandria means I have a short commute to work in D.C. This allows me to provide expanded transportation and emergency support for the children, like the time one of the older kids wound up on a bus to the Pentagon (see "overcrowded school buses" above) when he meant to take a DASH bus to school.
There is room for progress, clearly, but I am optimistic for both of us.