Although she’s just a sophomore, we decided to let the Spawn take a practice run at the SAT, so we woke up this morning at what she called “Stupid O’Clock” to get her to the test site, which was at Cross-County Rival High.
Now as it happens, Mondoville High, where the Spawn goes, is what folks call “Majority-minority.” More precisely, the student body is about 60% African American, 27% Caucasian, and 12% Hispanic (with one kid from the Subcontinent to keep the numbers from adding up evenly). Cross-County Rival, on the other hand, is 63% white, 30% African American, and 6% Hispanic, with one American Indian. (Mondoville also has a private “Academy”, which was founded in the mid-60s as a reaction to integration, and is to this day only slightly less white than the driven snow.) The Spawn goes to Mondoville High because it’s the public school for which she’s zoned.
But this was the Spawn’s first visit to Cross-County Rival, and when I picked her up this afternoon, she was somewhat taken aback by the school and by the kids who were taking the test with her. And more than a little annoyed.
“We’re both public schools in the same county,” she said. “But they don’t have holes in the classroom ceilings. They don’t have dead insects in the hallways. There isn’t gum on the lockers — there isn’t even gum under the desks, and even though it’s creepy, I actually looked a little.
“And the other kids! All of them were preppier than the preppiest person at my school! Even the rednecks! They all had fancy bags, and for snacks, they had those tiny little bags of organic potato chips. It creeped me out, but what’s the deal?”
I told her. “You go to a school in a fairly poor town, and it’s mostly black kids. These other kids go to school here or in [another relatively posh suburb] (She said she only recognized one other kid from Mondoville High, “And she wasn’t talking to anyone either.”), and their families have more resources than most of the families at your school — or than we do. And the tax dollars are spent along those lines as well. And what did you think of the test?”
“It wasn’t too bad.” Pause. “I was eavesdropping during the breaks, and I think I’m past what those other kids have been taught.”
“Yeah, and that tells me that you’re still learning stuff, although you might have to work a little harder here at home to make up any slack. But your school’s not so bad, huh?”
“No.” Beat. “But it is ghetto.”
“Yeah. But you know what? I suspect that if you went to a school like [Cross-County Rival], you might not have as much room to let your freak flag fly as you do at Mondoville. Because your school is kind of ghetto, the expectations are different, and there might not be as much pressure to be like the kids down the hall or down the block, because everyone at your school is just happy that you’re smart. Would you really want to go to a school where all the kids are like the ones you saw today?”
“Well, no — I don’t want to be a robot or anything.”
“So there’s that.” We rode on. “So do you want some doughnuts?”
“Yeah,” she said.
When we got to the grocery that carries the Krispy Kremes, I said, “I’m afraid they’re not organic.”
“I wouldn’t want them if they were.”
“I love you, kid.”
“I love you too.”