Friday, October 3, 2008

Wanted: Competent childcare

So, the school that we just love has quickly gone to hell in a handbasket and I'm at a loss as to what I should do for childcare. With one on the way, we are limited to schools that will accept a baby at 6 weeks. Most of those quality schools have a waiting list as long as my list of things to do, so I'm not sure what to do about this. We could just stay where we are and ride it out, but I'm starting to think that is the wrong decision since the status continues to decline and get worse and worse as more teachers and families flee the failing school. Moreover, staying at the school isn't saving us any money and the kids aren't benefiting from the stability we thought they would.

Because we're at kid number 3, there isn't a huge price differential between paying for a nanny and paying for three kids in daycare - particularly when your daycare makes you bring meals, snacks and pay for all extracurricular activities on top of your $900 bucks per kid per month (I'm rounding - Call me Al Gore because I've always been fuzzy at math).

I used to think the money was worth it because it was a Montessori school, the kids were learning all kinds of great things (even in the infant rooms), and I just loved the teachers. Well, it's not worth it anymore. The school got bought out by Bright Horizons about a year ago (which we thought would be a good thing). BH hired a young, inexperienced director. In the last month, BH called CPS on Luke's teacher and two others to report that she had put a child in timeout (a child who has mental and physical disabilities and must be separated from the other children for the safety of the other children - she's really a special needs child and should be in a different school altogether - I digress, but I could go on and on). They conducted a full-on investigation, during which we have recently learned that (1) the child reported that one of the teachers (not Luke's teacher) bent her arm behind her back and took kids into the bathroom and spanked them; (2) the investigation revealed that she was not telling the truth at all and none of the alleged events ever took place; and (3) the director took this opportunity to fire the teachers (Luke's in particular) who had been at that school for over 10 years. A total of three teachers were fired over an incident that was completely fabricated by a special needs child. We've hashed and re-hashed all the scenarios as to why this happened and if there could be other reasons for the teachers' termination - there is no other reason.

The day after Luke's teacher "left," his classroom fell to chaos. They don't use the Montessori curriculum, the kids are all talking and running around, and I've complained more times than I care to count about the fact that it is a mad house down there. Evie is in the same level classroom but she has a different teacher - another Montessori teacher who has been there for years. When I drop her off at school the kids are all quietly working on their Montessori work - no chaos, no running, no playing, and you can hear classical music playing in the background (just like Luke's class used to be). They are learning. This is what we pay for - Montessori education. Well, now Evie's teacher is leaving too, and I can only expect that her classroom will fall the same way Luke's did. There are no Montessori teachers left at the school. The new director isn't even Montessori certified. WTF am I paying for!!!????

Plus, now my kids are totally disrupted and I have to field questions such as "Where's Ms. D?" Me, "She went to a different school." Him, "Why?" Me, "Because she wanted to." Him, "Doesn't she like us anymore?" Me, "No, sweetie, she just wanted to go to a different school. Maybe she'll be happy there and we should be happy for her." Him, "What's wrong with our school." Me, "Nothing sweetie, sometimes people just change where they work. it will be okay." Him, "Why does she want to change where she works?" Me, "Arrrghhhhhh!" - but only on the inside. Then I respond, "I dont' know. Let's just go to class, I'm sure you're going to learn so much today and have a lot of fun with your friends." I'm totally pissed that the director has made me have this conversation with my sweet boy.

Now, there are at least 20 families that have left the school. Luke's friends are leaving (but not all of them) and they've had to combine classes because there are not enough kids to justify three primary classrooms. How is it that BH hasn't taken control of this situation? I'm calling headquarters today to make a threat - but my threat won't have much teeth since I don't have much choice as to where I send my kids at this point. The other Montessori teachers and families have gone to another Montessori school, but they don't accept infants. I could send the kids there and send George somewhere else. Or I can just hire a nanny - but where will she take care of the kids since my house is on the market and must be perfectly at all times and abandoned when there is a showing? I'm at a loss, but not horribly desperate yet.

And all this has been going on in addition to all my work-related, house-related, pregnancy-related stress.

Thanks for letting me vent. I'll keep you updated, if you care.


Joan said...

You know the saying, "God nevers gives you more than you can handle."? Mother Theresa had it right when she added, "I just wish He didn't trust me so much!" She had it right. And it sounds very pat to say but remember "This too shall pass." I look back at stressful times when the kids were little and wonder how did I do it? I can't imagine Mom and 6 kids of all ages and each one's needs clamoring for attention and then working on top of it all.
Amy is ready to put me into the old people's home now with her lack of common sense. I think she is turning into a true BLOND. For a kid who is so smart academically she is really failing at the easy stuff. "Oh, you wanted me to check my bag for my homework BEFORE I got on the bus?" DUH!!! "Well, Mom, can you stop by the school and go to my locker and get my homework I left there?" Why sure, honey. I've got nothing else to do after work tonight. "But Mom, the school closes at 5 pm." Oh, so now I have to leave work early to get to the school before 5pm because you left your common sense in bed today?
Yeah, it never ends, it just changes flavor. Hopefully, your plea to the corporate headquarters will work and your sweet children will be embraced in competency of childcare. I love you though and a special prayer to the Virgin Mary to carry you through this - Love you - Joan

Jess said...

We are dealing with the same issue of separating the kids. Nicholas is at a Montessori that we love, but they don't take kids until 2 years. So, it looks like Lorelai will go somewhere else. I hope you figure it out. If we had three we would do the nanny thing. Just repeat to yourself that which doesn't kill us either pisses us off and/or makes us stronger. It will all work out.

Stacey said...

We are in the same boat as you know! Eila is gone, and no replacement for Eli's room. Eli should be moving up, but to what?? All the teachers have moved on to this new "school". I am a bit wary of this new school, though. I have more reservations about that than the current one really. who "supervises" these people? I asked Eila where they would be getting work for the rooms and she said she was bringing some stuff she had collecting over the years.
Hmmmm....I don't know. The house also looked tiny for that number of kids, and no place for them to really play and let their energy out. Also no programs except for music. Have you been there yet?


Theresa said...

thanks for all the good advice. I realize that it will pass, but gee whiz! Stacey - I have not seen the new school. I hear Baylor is awesome and has an infant program, provides hot meals, great play areas, and free Stretch n' Grow. One big problem: WAIT LIST until after July - and then, only a big fat MAYBE. If I was earlier in my pregnancy, I would be there.

Much love y'all. I've got a date tonight so I'm heading home! Have a good weekend!

lisawitt said...

Ahhhh, Theresa! I can relate on some levels as to the stress of new childcare. But I know something will work out for you in the end. Also so very sad to hear about BH!! I know they are all individually owned, but that is where Z is here in H-town and we love it. I am worried we won't be able to find something comparable out in the burbs. Anyway...this is about YOU not me! ;-) I agree with all the others, and you will get through this and find the best place for all THREE of your sweet babies!! Hang in there my friend and hope you had a great date night! :)

Anonymous said...

Aday_lady here...
What have you decided? I am quite curious. Did you ever yell at headquarters?