I Have Trust Issues

For the past 6 years, we have trusted our children's education to our church's private school and the staff there...

We have grown to know the staff at the school very well.  We work closely with them and often times we see and interact with the teachers (socially) at church, church functions, and local civil events.  We have really gotten to know them personally.  I knew almost every one of my children's teachers’ years before my child was even in their classroom, and the teachers knew my children years before they are in their classroom.

Knowing the teachers on a level as personal as we do, we have come to feel a significant level of trust with them, and with the school in general.  There is little doubt in my mind to the genuine care, and integrity these folks care for the school and our children with.  When the school talks about financial difficulties, I have faith that what I am being told is genuine.  When I am told that there is a problem with one of my kids (or their behavior), instinctively I believe them.  In the years I have had children (and up to 4 at a time) in the school, I have YET to be disappointed with any decision / action / or reaction the school has made

Not to say that the school is perfect.  But, in my mind the school is presumed "innocent until proven guilty".

Now with the first of the private school kids entering the world of the public school system, I find myself IMMEDIATELY apprehensive and (to be frankly honest) distrusting of everyone and everything having to do with his school.

Oh, now don't get me wrong here....  I am not presuming that all public schools (or their staff) are bad by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, logically speaking, one would like to believe the contrary...   These folks (the teachers) are (by nature) nurtures.  I believe that they have our kid’s education in their best interests.  But, I also believe that they have to pander to the bureaucracy of the public school SYSTEM.  I believe that in many instances teachers are not allowed to do / say / teach the way they know they COULD or SHOULD.  Instead, they do / say / teach what they are TOLD to or in many instances told NOT TO.

Caveat:  At (nearly) 21 years old, #1 of 5 has already been through the public school system.  So, it is not as if I have not been down this road once already - but #1 of 5 had (has) "LD" issues.  By all practical purposes, this young man should NOT have graduated.  He struggles (and that is putting it mildly) with reading comprehension.  His ability to write makes his reading look "colligate".  The school's idea of "help" was to set him down in front of a computer program called "Co-Writer".  Co-writer basally "predicts" what the student is trying to convey, and makes suggestions on the next word... He merely clicked on the word, and it is placed into a paragraph for them...  All but writing the paper for him.

Yes... it LOOKS great when your 11th grade student (who writes at a third grade level) comes home with a paper looking like it was written by first year college student... But when that student gets out on their own (in "real life") and has to write on their own (and can not), how much help has that student really received?  Oh, yeah, the school "helped" him GRADUATE - but did they help him beyond graduation?  Let me share with you (from a personal, first hand perspective) a big fat NO

-  Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

I realize that my view of the public school is tainted because of this.  So, I do my best to overlook my prior history.

Today, I woke up to find an email from an old friend.  She was lamenting an email that she received from her son's school, and sharing her witty (albeit sarcastic) reply (found here). 

I will ignore this teacher's person's systematic obliteration of basic English grammar, and obvious failure to proofread their own work (demonstrating that he could find benefit with the use of "Co-Writer") because I too fail too demonstrate perfect grammar.  But it is the bizarre way that this "incident" (and I use that term loosely) was dealt with that only fuels my concern for my children in the public school system.

I am familiar with this young lad... He is uber-creative, caring, kind, and sensitive...   He is a unique young man and a free spirit.  All "good things" in my book.

While I understand that we do not want our children chewing on eyedroppers used to transport something as dangerous as Ethylene glycol, and that perhaps this was a "teaching opportunity" as to the potential dangers of what COULD happen by not being careful, I am (overall) disappointed (to say the least) with the reaction (or over-reaction) that this was dealt with.  But, this post is not about that situation, so I'll save my personal rant, and share it with "Many Things" later.

Given my acknowledgement that the public school system is (most likely) not as bad as I make it out to be, why is it that my first instinct is distrust. 

Distrust and apprehension about "items brought home in a backpack" (a local Talk-Radio Reference about a segment where folks would would call in and read a ridiculous directive their kids had brought home from school). 

Distrust and apprehension about the other students (and their families). 

Disbelief that my child will be anything more than a number, and passed along from grade to grade (wether it is deserved or not) just to get him closer to graduation (that he may or may not deserve).

Distrust that the money I pay in taxes (and pay even though my kids were in private school - effectively making me pay twice - So much for "freedom" of choice.) is being wisely spent.

Questions as to why (when I have to) a school district can not live within it's own means.  (Wouldn't it be nice to be able to "referendum" my employer when I have unexpected expenditures - like my 3,000.00 car repair?)

I could go on and on, giving fine examples of my paranoia and distrust of the public school system...  But I think you get the idea...

3 comments:

  1. I know what you mean entirely. Having had a private jr. and high school education myself, I worry about my kids in the public school system. They have done really well, but is that because the work is too easy and they are not being challenged? I know Husband, who is a teacher, is frustrated by the amount of time he has to spend a)teaching to these antiquated multiple-choice "achievement" tests (Many other countries use open essay and oral exams with a panel of judges to determine academic comprehension and achievement), and b)in classroom management.

    Two options that I can see: home-school your kids (which I have tried and not done too well at) or become very involved in your kids' school through PTA and volunteering. Then you can get to know the kids' teachers outside of parent-teacher conferences. I believe most teachers in the public school system really are trying to educate children well, but they are hampered by stupid federal mandates. I say keep public schooling run by states and communities. Local is better.

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  2. Hubby and I decided that we just had to have faith in the public school system. We're fortunate to live in a good district. We're also fortunate to be able to volunteer in the classroom and at school every now and then.

    Personally, I think the biggest mistake parents make is that they put their kids on the bus in the morning and see them when they get home at night and call it good.

    You've got to get involved . . . you've got to talk to the teachers . . . you've got to talk to your kids . . . you've got to meet their friends. It's not possible for all parents to be uber-involved in their kids' schools . . . but it is our duty as a parent to make time to be involved. Even if it means volunteering once a month in the classroom to see how it's run and what the kids are like. Or picking your kid up from school and going to the classroom to meet them instead of picking them up outside - you see what's going on in there. Talk to their teachers, even if it's through e-mail . . . ask what's going on and if there's anything you can help with.

    We all know there are downfalls to public school - student/teacher ratio . . . downtime in the classroom . . . lack of special classes (i.e. overachievers, underachievers, etc.) . . . too many rules sometimes (let the kids be kids).

    But I think we've got to give it a shot and get as involved as we can to make sure it's working for our kids.

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  3. I know this is months old, but I have to just say a few things that maybe you already know, and maybe you don't.
    First, Jasper's school; the one with the psycho teacher-letter? Very small, expensive private school.
    Second, one comment said leaving the states in charge of education is the way to go. I always like to remind people of why the federal govt needs to be involved. We do a great job here in MN, so it's hard to imagine how terrible some schools were, especially in the south, when left to their own devices. As long as there is free interstate travel, it's to our benefit to have the best education we can for kids in the whole of the USA.
    Third, we have found the text to speech program and the word anticipation programs to be a godsend. Our learning disabled son isn't stupid. He just can't write. Having him collect his ideas, do his research and organize his thoughts enough to speak out a paper is a discipline we're happy to have him master, even if he will never be good at paper and pen writing. It is doing him a huge favor, and in college he will be able to use the same programs to achieve what he wants. Teaching a man with no hands to fish is pointless if he can't hold the pole. Giving him a prosthetic hand isn't cheating, it's enabling him to succeed. My son is writing a paper in the other room right now, "New paragraph. Cap that, go to end. The story is about the adventure..." He's fishing as best he can.
    lisa

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