Still shopping around for a cheder for our son, Shmuel.
Though I think our search may have ended - though not with success. We realized yesterday that our experience in the past - with the neighborhood school - was not just an isolated event, but endemic to a system in which there is simply no 'interest' to pursue mainstreaming as a value.
Yesterday, was the latest. Another principal, this time in a school outside our neighborhood. His argument was as follows: 'you are not from our community; we don't know you; you should go to the schools in your own neighborhood.'
As readers of OMT will know, we've already been to the schools in our neighborhood. So we told the principal - this time my wife was doing the talking - that we knew of his reputation for progressive education and openmindedness, so we were turning to him. 'It was an opportunity for his school.'
He could have turned us out of the room - he had provided his argument (reasonable, though not exactly courageous) - but he kept talking...and talking. And the more he talked, the more he became excited - gesticulating, standing over us, his voice getting progressively louder.
I could see it coming - first the tears in the corner of my wife's eye, and then - with that one more finger point in the face: the outburst of tears. No drama here; this was the real thing: 'Don't you know we've come to you because no other cheder will take our Shmuel?'
Exit stage left.
The principal - I thought (after trying to calm my wife) - had good principles; he just could not express them, at least not to us. As Hamlet says to his mother: 'The Lady doth protest too much, methinks.' All the principal's protesting - really uninstigated - was a defense against a voice within: the principal doth protest too much, methinks! His heart was telling him something his head did not want to hear - so he went on and on defending against his own inner voice. Too bad the outer voice was directed at us!
So there is ambivalence in our community - even among unprincipled principals.
Not much of a pragmatic consolation, but maybe the acknowledgment of such ambivalence - of our voices within - might mark the beginnings of change.