Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Of children, families, and the future of MAOS

Once upon a time I had a friend who happened to be blind. She was intelligent, funny, and wise beyond her years. When she was around 10 she contracted some sort of infection that destroyed her optic nerve, and could never see again.

I'll call her Linda. Linda had a younger sister that I'll call Rosa. By the time I met them both, Linda and Rosa had a pretty nasty relationship. Linda needed her mother for practically everything, and Rosa resented all the time their mother spent with Linda: taking her and picking her up from school, to after-school events, what not. 

Linda in turn resented Rosa for the monetary support she was getting from their mother. Rosa was entering adulthood and she wanted to go out to dances, wear make up and high heels. Mom was caught in the middle: she gave Linda all the attention she could, and Rosa all the money she could afford, but neither one was happy. Everyone seemed resentful of everyone else.

I began thinking about Linda and her family recently, during one of those long and sometimes strained conversation officials at Monterey Peninsula Unified School District are having about MAOS.

For those of you who don't know the Monterey Academy of Oceanographic Science is a very successful program at Monterey High School. Only accomplished, top performing students get in, and the program graduates the cream of the crop in Monterey High. MAOS students are top athletes, top scholars, participate in the student body, you name it. They're the school's super stars.

And for some reason, some people in the district -- including some trustees -- appear to be resentful of the program. They resent the fact that the program seems to have a dearth of minorities participating, they resent the resources they appear to be receiving or demanding to receive.

What's fascinating is that there appears to be resentment too from MAOS students and other supporters as well. Why should only poor-performing students get resources? Why should they be forced to sit along students who are not there to study but just to kill time?

Yep, that's the gist of what's been discussed in some of those sessions. It gets hurtful at times.

Like the times when I would watch Linda rebel against her mother for giving Rosa money for an eyeliner. Like watching Rosa fuming against her mother for not having dinner ready on time.

Bottom line is, at MPUSD there are not many resources, and they have to be stretched thin for all the students, not just for the ones who're struggling academically, but the top performers.

So what gives? And how do you handle it? Do you tell the top performers 'Sorry, we have no more to give you'? Or do you try to find a way to accommodate them?

One way or another, MPUSD has accommodated MAOS for the past 19 years. It hasn't been easy, it seems, but the relationship is there. And it appears that trustees are trying to find a way to keep MAOS a part of Monterey High.

Tuesday night, trustees gave direction to administrators on hammering out some sort of agreement that will spell out how the district will help MAOS. The areas to be included are facilities, master scheduling and staff. A completed document it's supposed to be approved by trustees in the next few weeks.

I do hope everyone finds a way to work together, for the sake of all the students. I'm sure MAOS students would get the benefit of greater focus if they managed to be completely on their own, but I'm afraid the school at large would lose a lot: it would lose a segment of the population that's inspiring and can serve as a catalyst for change. MAOS students would also lose by not being in touch with the "real world."

Somehow in society we have to find a way to serve everyone's needs, and finding a way to serve MAOS and non-MAOS kids is a way to start. And if we can do that without resentments, much better. There are too many Lindas and Rosas in the world already.

No comments:

Post a Comment