12 August, 2010

10 + 10 = school sucks (in alphabetical order).

Post edited to include: Please don't wrongly assume that this post is directed at my children's school, Laie Elementary. I LOVE Laie Elementary and the wonderful teachers there. This post was triggered by a general observation of the state of the public education system as a whole, watching too much news while on the mainland and many fascinating discussions with friends (who are MUCH smarter than I. . . than me. . . than I. . . see what I mean?).


If you don't want to read through my whole train-of-thought rant,
I'd still love your opinion on THIS:

How do you make sure your kids
get the best they can from public education?

______________________

I just want my kids to feel smart
(THEY ARE)

I just want my kids to develop their own unique creativity
(IT AMAZES ME!)

I just want my kids to think independently
(THEY'RE SMARTER, AND MORE INNOVATIVE, THAN ME . . .
TIMES 47 BILLION)

I just want my kids to be confident in who they are inhernetly
(THEY'RE COOLER THAN ANYONE ELSE I KNOW)

Is that too much to ask??

apparently so.
. . . .
A lot of my problems with public school
are chalked up as being "just a normal part of growing up."

give.me.a.break.

since when is a 2nd grader's ability to write a word (neatly)
20 times more indicative of his ability to spell it
than just repeating it correctly a few times orally?

How does that activity nurture a true and lasting love of learning?
(particularly when the kid is clearly maxed out and miserable . . .)

how does forcing a kindergartner to color PERFECTLY within the lines
say anything about his intellect?

Particularly if the kindergartner HATES coloring.

and don't you dare go on and on about learning fine motor skills.

there are clearly other ways to encourage proper fine motor development
that won't SQUASH the child's eventual love of writing.

How does holding a kid back from recess
because she didn't finish her math as quickly as her peers . . .
do ANYTHING constructive for ANYONE?!

I could go on.
and on.
and on.
and on.

. . . .

just because WE grew up in a broken system,
that doesn't make it normal.

what I see
(now that I'm looking with my own two eyes
and not through the bottle thick glasses I wore through my public education k-12)

is NOT anywhere in sight of "normal."

and at the very least. . . it sure doesn't have to be.

I'm not here to bag on government.
or teachers.
or administrators.
or parents.

except that I am in fact going to bag on everyone,
just a little
.

because for crying out loud,
WE.ARE.BROKEN.

and it's all our fault (collectively).

government, I don't know what to say to you.
though if I did, it might sound something like "lay off!" . . . ???

you act like because you give us money,
you get to control us. . .

wasn't it our own money to begin with?!

teachers, where has your passion gone?!
(because I know you didn't get into this for the money)

and don't blame it on government restrictions,
or lack of funding.

Last I checked, passion came from WITHIN
(the majority portion of which is choice based, trust me)
and is born from the love and respect you have
for the children who need you
(even if you secretly want to hit them upside the head,
and again, trust me, I know a lot of them could probably use it)
.

Administrators. . .
I've been told that you are the children's advocates.

act like it.

cut our teachers (and parents) some slack and let them
do the job (that I truly believe many of them were BORN to do)
the way it needs to be done.
(they way only THEY can do it, because they're amazing!)

Parents,
get in there.

even if your kid's teacher looks at you like "one of those" parents.

stop caring about that and get.in.there.

parents think they have no control over the education system,
yes.we.do!

and let's prove it to them.

because this is so completely far from normal.
. . . .

I sincerely want to know what you think
and how you make it work for your family
(or plan to when you're an old lady like me with kids in big kid school).

talk to me.

please note: I scored AMAZING parents who encouraged and REQUIRED my brother and I to be self directed learners. . . they taught us to think for ourselves. PRAISE YOU MOM. I also scored some AMAZING teachers (Mrs Gega, Mrs Shire, Mrs Dominguez, that choir teacher in middle school who's name I can't remember, Mrs Woolsey and a million more) and so have my kids (all the pre k teachers, Mrs K, Ms Butterworth). THANK YOU HEAVEN ABOVE!

64 comments:

The Mom said...

So, does this mean you're going to be a PTCO volunteer? That's one way you can make a difference.

Natalie. said...

It depends on who runs the PTCO and how. . . :)

Natalie. said...

oh and ps, that probably sounded snarky. I'm being completely authentic. It really does depend on who and how it's run. I'm not a fan of spinning wheels without movement. But I know nothing about our local PTCO so I'm truly not sure!

Heather said...

I've talked to TONS of women I know who are teachers. They always say that they can tell the kids who are taught not only in the classroom, but AT HOME as well!

Let's not just rely on the school system to teach our children, but let's teach them at home too so they're super smart. ABC's, 123's BEFORE they get to kindergarten. What a great, easy, bonding thing to do!

Yay Nat! What a great post!

Kristen said...

I don't think we can expect one school system to be perfect for everyone 100% of the time. (I can't be perfect for each of my four kids 100% of the time!) I don't think our system is broken. It's not perfect but it is pretty great. My son, like yours, has come home upset because he didn't do something "just right", but he has also come home with a HUGE wealth of knowledge. He learns about success AND failure. He learns about fitting in AND doing his own thing. He learns about getting picked on AND helping others who are picked on. Believe me, I don't think it's perfect. But sometimes it is individual parents standing up for what is important to THEM that makes more of a headache for everyone else who might disagree. I WANT my son to be encouraged to color in the lines. Then when he's got that down, he can go exploring all over the page. We certainly need to watch out for our little ones and be involved. Volunteer whenever we can. I still see passion in my kids' teachers. I think the ones who are missing it have been pressured to make EVERYONE happy. Then it's like they are trying to teach with one hand behind their back. I encourage my son to do his best at school and then I fill in the blanks at home. I think the school system needs our support, not our criticism. But I live in a rural area so maybe that's the difference. It's a great discussion - I look forward to reading other comments.

Liz said...

I'm a former public high school teacher, and I still believe I was born to teach (I'm working on becoming a college professor now). I really, truly, genuinely cared about the kids, and most of them knew it. It was the adults I had trouble dealing with.

There are many reasons I chose to pursue a career in higher ed instead, but the foremost among them is that I feel like a shift has transpired since I was in school: instead of holding their children accountable for their actions, as my parents did, parents today want to make excuses for their children and blame the teachers for everything that goes wrong. I worked day and night (literally) to do everything I could to encourage my students to be independent, critical thinkers, but then they would do badly on a quiz because they didn't study, and the parent would call and complain that my class was too hard, or I didn't prepare the student or, my favorite, that I just "didn't like their kid." It didn't matter how much explaining I did, some parents simply refuse to believe their children are capable of any wrongdoing.

This back and forth with parents was exhausting, and it robbed me of the energy I otherwise could have put into creating new activities for the kids. The state testing requirements also ate up all the classtime I had previously devoted to "fun" stuff, but that problem is well documented elsewhere, so I won't go into it.

As such, my advice to parents would be this: turn the same critical eye to your child as you do to the teachers and administrators. Sure, you need to look out for your kid's best interest, and you need to call out any adult whose behavior is inappropriate or inadequate. But make sure you take a good look at your child's behavior, too, before you call the school. Parents do nothing to help their children by protecting them from the consequences of their actions.

And don't say anything via email that you wouldn't say to a person's face. I couldn't believe the things parents would write over email after only having heard only their child's side of the story.

Good luck with the little ones!

Elizabeth Halford said...

The best way to make the public school system work is to kick it to the curb and teach your own. Read anything written by John Holt (founder of the 'unschooling' movement) and you'll understand exactly why mainstream school doesn't work. And he was New York City's #1 teacher when he wrote his books!

Butterfly Kisses Photography said...

It really does start at home. I had more compliments from my kids teachers (when they started kindergarten) about how well they spoke. Not just with respect, but with grown up words. So many parents "talk down" or "kid" talk (I don't want it to sound bad), but we always used "big" words with our kids and they eventually pick up on that. My 9yr old the other day made the comment that we were having "bad karma" because we were hitting all the stoplights. Bad Karma?! It's also keeping them "inspired" on learning because there are times when it.is.boring. The government/school system wants them to learn so much more at such a young age than I ever did at their ages! That is good and it is bad, because not all kids learn at the same pace. But so many kids DON'T get the help/support at home that it also puts an additional burden on our teachers. I don't know if there is an answer?

I also agree with Liz's comments. There is such importance put on the teachers/kids with their school testing, that that does not help things either.

Lauren said...

Natalie... I dig this.
It's so often parents either shun the public school system, complain about how horrible it is or hand their kids over and say "that's just how it is." But it doesn't have to be that way.

I think you're spot on. I think being close with the teacher, letting him or her know that you support them, encouraging them to do the job they were passionate about in the first place is the best way to start.

Being an active part of your kids' education is so huge, but so lost on our overworked, overstressed society.
They learn SO much better when you understand what their best method is, and without spending time with them, it's hard to determine that.

I don't have school aged kids, but I've worked as an outdoor educator, and have several public school system-teacher friends. There is an immense amount of pressure on them to perform at a certain level with little support from administration and parents.

Get involved. Not as a complainy - regulating parent, but as a pillar holding them up, supporting them, letting them know you're on their side.

We need to get in there and get our hands dirty.

algreig said...

great post and comments so far. i can totally relate, i'm wanting the same for my little ones, the eldest being 2nd grade as well. i'm doing what i can to be involved in the ongoings of her learning--my husband and i met with her teacher prior to the start of school, getting the know her a bit and letting her know that we care about her education and want to help her to learn as best as possible. each year she has loved her teachers, she pretends to be them after school :) For her, having fun while learning helps her a lot. It's neat to see how far she's come, when she's having a hard time with a particular item, i encourage her, reminding her of all the little things she didn't understand not long ago and how those things all make sense to her now, as will this. All kids have such great potential, I think showing that we care helps demonstrate that they can too.

nuttbutts said...

I know I am the minority here...I homeschool. I also involve my kids in other things. I find groups, take them to boyscouts, 4-H etc. etc. We do have a broken system. Government wont change other than to get worse. I personally feel like most children need that "extra" time at home. I am sure my kids will go into the public school system at some time or another. Why not later? Why not allow them the chance to grow and develop and gain confidence in a loving secure invironment before we send them to high school. My kids know about drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sware words, mean kids, nice kids and all that. However they are not constantly bombarded by it all. If we as parents teach our kids how to learn, how to respect others, how to be kind and good and intelligent it will be that much easier for the teachers when they do go to school. There are alternatives. If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.

Sabrina said...

Natalie, I could have written this post going back to when my son was 4 years old in PRE-SCHOOL and the teacher told me he was "Broken" because he lacks self confidence when questions are fired and fired and fired at him, hates to color, and couldn't write his name. She sent home papers and papers of homework every night when no other kids got them. His Kindergarten teacher last year told me she thought he had small motor problems because he didn't like to write (maybe he just doesn't like to write!?)...he CAN, just doesn't like it. The OT said he was fine. I've worked with him some over the summer, but it's summer, and we've been doing a lot of hands-on learning. I was in there once weekly last year, I'm going to try to do it again this year, but our sitter isn't cheap, and I will have 3 other kids at home in Jan (expecting #4). I AM PROUDLY ONE OF "THOSE PARENTS". I challenged them at every turn, with every idiotic thing they came up with...beginning with the pre-first day screening when they told me he only knew 5 letters of the alphabet. Ok, so you have mother bring in a child, you seperate said child from mother and put him into a room with 6 adults he does not know, and fire off questions at him. He was 5! 5! What did they expect!? After his first day, his K teacher sent me a note saying she was shocked by how much he knew-DUH!? Fitting children into molds is not a good way to encourage a love of school and learning...I'm seriously considering homeschooling...we'll see how first grade goes...

Sabrina said...

Also, my first grade teacher told me I was an idiot that would never learn to read because my Mom couldn't afford to buy me the book to have at home to practice...she worked FT, so did my step-father...I had a terrible time in school...However, I DID learn to read so ha!

Adam said...

I think most good teachers agree with you.

They want your student to be sucessful and they want to teach your student on the level where they are at. Because that is where they need to be taught.

But to teach your child exactly where they are at takes a lot of time and effort. My wife is teacher that is highly individualized in her teaching style. She teaches in groups of 2 to 4 at 10 to 20 minutes a session. She will work with all the students in both reading and math at least once and often two or even three times a day depending on their need and the other activities going on that day.

To do this she has to continually evaluate kids and do an enormous amount of planning to effectively use her time. Putting out worksheets for kids to color is not good enough.

If you want highly skilled teachers that are working like that you need to support small class sizes (you just cannot do this level of individualized teaching in a classroom of 30+.

My wife also teaches with low income (99% low income) and English learners. Right now she is teaching 1st grade with 17 students where 8 different languages are spoken in the homes of her students. The kids all speak pretty good English, but about half of the parents speak very little to no English.

If she can teach and get very good results in these highly mobile (40-50 percent of her class will turn over every year), many more teachers could do it at less mobile and higher income schools.

shari berry bo-berry said...

Natalie,

I can't tell you how many times I've considered home schooling -- but that is another topic.

I have experienced really great teachers as well, and also some who aren't so great... with Jakob. I am a bit nervous about school starting next month, and loved to see that someone else meets with their child's teacher prior to the school year. I am totally doing that this year.

I believe that we need to be involved and like someone else said be a constant support to our child's teachers. If we are accessible to them, and they know how committed we are to making sure our kids are getting what they need to learn and succeed, then it will take a bit of pressure off of them. Sometimes I worry that teachers start resenting me b/c of how hard Jakob can be. But then I think, WAIT! Who is more important here? The teacher? Or my child???? So it's all about finding balance between being mother bear, and helping keep the soil fertile so our kids can grow.

I can't tell you how many recesses Jakob has missed -- and for someone LIKE HIM, that is probably the worst possible thing to do, not only for him, but for the teacher. So I disagree with that type of punishment...it's just like at home, you have to figure out what works for each kid.

Anyway, not sure if any of this stuff helped...but I have shared similar sentiments about this exact thing before and it is maddening. We just have to do what we can to help out, and definitely never stop encouraging our kids and their teachers.

:)

Dawn B said...

uuugh I so over the scool system. My kids are grown, but I have agrandson in 2nd grade. My daughter has been a single parents until this summer, so I help alot. I take my grandson to school and my youngest son is home when he gets off the bus. He loves school! Has been in speech classes, and has gotten alot better. My daughter married, moved to another county, but stllworks 10 min. from my house, so my grandson either stays with me during the week, or she drops in off VERY early in the morning to me. She works 5:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The school system is making me have joint custody over him just so he can continue going to the same school.....go to juvenile court and file a petition! There is no way he can go to school in the county where they moved due to my daughters hours. Absolutely no concern at all for his education or making an allowance in this situation. I have spoken with the director of schools and the lawyer for the school system...NO CONCERN AT ALL!

Sara said...

I have a teaching degree and am not teaching right now because of these very issues! I currently manage a Montessori School and LOVE it! My daughter will be starting in the Toddler program at the end of the month. Montessori is an amazing method of teaching and I absolutely adore all of our teachers. There would have to be a lot of changes in the public school system for me to ever go back teaching there or for me to send my daughter there.

Marneen said...

Natalie,

What a great post! You are right on with the many problems that so many people encounter with public school (or as my Dad likes to call it: 'government school'). You just have to be good at teaching your kids at home (you ARE!) and trying to undo some of the stuff they are taught that is garbage. I don't mean just teaching them their ABC's and math, etc., I mean teaching them to be strong, and stand up for what is right (even when it's the child who is right, and the teacher is wrong) and to no let others tell them who they are, and what they can do. If they know it themselves, they CAN'T let anyone else take that away from them. Of course, you know that I homeschool, which for my kids and our family is the best thing. But each family has to decide that for themselves. I think you could be a PHENOMENAL homeschool mom! Homeschool is NOT all about having public school at home. It's about learning that learning can happen anytime, anywhere, anyhow! Which, you do, and that's why you're kids are so amazing!
Good luck in your quest!

GART said...

I agree with you! I homeschooled for 2 years, which I loved, then found an AMAZING charter school in town that uses the philosophies I believe in. I think not enough parents care the way you do and so the people with the money have more and more of a say and see the actual results of their choices less and less. We need to take the approach your parents did and teach our kids to be responsible for their own learning and growth.

Tiffany Anderson said...

I love everything you said about this. I couldn't agree with you more. The thing that frustrates me is how so many kids are expected to be at a certain level and if they're not then they are considered "behind". I agree that working at home is the biggest benefit a child can have, but those kids who learn differently than the normal way of being taught just get left behind or considered not as smart or hard working. Something in the system definitely needs to change and I hope someday it will. This is why so many families are choosing for charter and private schooling. Again great post and good job voicing your opinion.

shelly said...

Nat -- you and I have had many conversations on this before, but...I. Feel.Your.Pain! Your complaints bring all my complaints back to me after all these years. I'm convinced that the "regular" public school system works for some children, but not for others. 2 of mine did fine with it, 2 did NOT! I've got to say, I believe each state's public education is exTREMEly different from each other, also. I'm afraid that California and Hawaii are quite, similar....sorry.

If I were to do it again, I think I'd go the charter school or Montessori route (if I were faced with the same school system as I was all those years ago. A big problem you're dealing with is ACCESS. You're so far away from everything other than public! I do know that you're right about constant volunteering. I quickly discovered that my fantasies of my "alone" time when the kids got in school flew right out the window. I'd go from one class to the other most days of the week. As you've figured out, the most important thing to remember, no matter WHERE they go, is that no one knows or CARES about your child like YOU do. So, you must be their champion!

shelly said...

One more thing...I remember DISTINCTLY feeling like a real artist when I was little. Artists run in my family! I still even have art my mom kept from all those years ago. In second grade I had a teacher that only cared about coloring in the lines, and she squashed my creativity. I've 53 now, for heaven's sake, and I still have never since dared to draw. It makes me really, really mad.

Mama Martinez said...

Well, the way I make it work is that I ignore it. There, I said it! I homeschool. There are so many, many, many reasons why I do. I'm too swamped planning for school to start week after next to list them all right now, but here are my top 5: 1) We can talk about Jesus as much as we want 2) I would be spending nearly as much time on homework and commuting and getting ready each day as I do on schooling 3) My kids are only going to be with me for a short time; I get to see and be a part of all the good stuff 4) I get to tailor the curriculum to them AND 5) I'm a control freak and think I can do it better. If I had to go the public school route, I would be there everyday, and they would think I'm nutty (I am; that's beside the point).

I was a public high school teacher for several years, so I'm not just talking out of my elbow here; we have been conditioned to expect too much out of the public school system and teachers. Parents want teachers who can educate, nurture, and build character into 30-150 kids at a time. Oh, and discipline. Oh, and grade. Oh, and communicate with parents, administrators and educational support team members. Oh, and attend boring, pointless inservice meetings that suck the life out of them. Oh, and clean their own classrooms and buy their own supplies. All for a pittance.

Wow, this turned into kind of a rant. And it didn't really answer your question. Sorry :(.

theresa said...

First of all I want to say, Natalie...YOU ARE AMAZING!

I had the privilege(and I knew it was a privilege) of going to private catholic school for 12 years because my parents shuttered at the though of sending their three little girls to schools that had metal detectors at the entrances. While most of my education was structured with handwriting and other classes that bored me to death because I was finishing my work before some of the other students, I still felt I had a quality education but my real lessons in life came from home. My dad (an artist) taught me to really think for myself and like your parents, encouraged us to be self learners. I can remember even from a very young age my dad telling me I could do anything if I put my mind to it! He also encouraged us to think outside the box. Example, if I colored something and asked what he thought of the shade of blue I used, he would say, 'how do you know what you see as blue is what I see as blue?' It drove me nuts when I was younger but when I was 16 it clicked and I suddenly released all his crazy torture and pearls of wisdom had sunk in and I was thinking for myself and was accomplishing more in school than my classmates because I was approaching things from my own angle.

Secondly, my dad and mom taught by example. When I was in fourth grade my parents both went back to college to finish their degrees. My mom went part time to become a RN and my dad for computer and electrical engineering. They both had all A's even with working full and part time jobs and caring for four children ages 8, 7, 5 and 1. So get to my point...even if the schools take a long time to change and you don't feel homeschooling is possible...keep up your life learning lessons at home. Keep encouraging your boys to think differently, to develop their hate for coloring and love for what they want and that it is good to be them and different. It is sad that they have to learn the pressures of society so young but perhaps you explaining that their school is like the world when they get older and sometimes you have to go out and deliver what is expected of you and do your part even though its not always what you want to do will help.

I hope you get some resolution.
Good Luck!

Susan said...

Natalie, I loved this post, because I feel the exact same way. I hate all the conformity that children MUST endure, like holding a pencil a certain way... it's ridiculous. I also think that the government doesn't allow our schools to succeed. Too much regulation.

My son is 3, (but I'm an older mom than you!- Just less experience) and I dread the day he has to go to kindergarten. We've thought about homeschooling, but I'm not sure if I would be doing him a service or a disservice by doing that. We would love to put him in private school, but the cost is so much. Charter schools seem like the answer, but it depends on your location. Some places have excellent charter schools, and other places have schools that seem to fall behind more than the public options.

I think the biggest thing any parent can do, in my limited experiences working in the public schools in California, is to volunteer to be in the classrooms as much as possible. Parent involvement both at home and in the classroom help children understand that you are invested in them and in their successes and failures in every aspect of life.

I think what has been said, as far as being involved by the other people posting here is the best answer. Kids need to know there isn't anything wrong with them, and that everyone doesn't fit in sometimes- No matter if it's messy writing, not coloring in the lines, or coloring an elephant purple. There is something unique and special about each child, and the love and acceptance that they feel at home will carry them very far, regardless of the pitfalls of our public education... So, I guess I'm just saying that parent involvement is key... in everything.

I think it helps the teachers too, to know that they have help in the classroom and an advocate for reinforcing what children are learning in school at home. :)

I hope that you find your answers. Pass along the wisdom you find! I would love to be as prepared as possible for the dreaded day when Ezra starts school.

Anonymous said...

i don't want to say anything which could offend any one of you who disagree with the current school systems. however, i completely 100% agree with the post which said to look critically at your child in the big picture as well. i'm a teacher with a master's and i love teaching. i mean really love it. yet, i get so discouraged when parents get on the attack mode and won't listen to my view of what is going on in the classroom. as a teacher of 22-28 students every year, parents need to know that i cannot spend every second of the school day on solely their child. i am responsible for 21-27 other children who also require my attention. i do my best to teach lessons in ways in which all of my students can learn and then give those who struggle more time with me. am i frustrated with the school system? parts of it. can it be fixed? perhaps. but if parents want to have a voice, they need to be proactive rather than reactive. are there bad teachers? yes. but parents can't be critical of teachers that their children have not even had yet. teachers know when parents are or aren't on their side. in order to have a positive school experience for your kids, you have to get involved and help make poor situations better. no one enjoys when mama bear comes to school not able to calmly address the situation and come up with a solution which all parties agree on. bottom line, try not to be too critical of the schools, it's not like i wake up thinking how i can hurt my students' success that day. give teachers benefit of the doubt here. most of us do really well. and i sure as heck want all the support i can get from my kids' parents. we are, after all, striving for the same goal, right?

liko said...

well, that's the problem. we are all different, we all learn differently, we have our strengths and weaknesses, our likes and dislikes. that's why there are artists and politicians and teachers and massage therapists;), etc...and THANK GOODNESS!!! otherwise the world would be very BORING.

it's hard to set a standard to measure ones competency. and then again, according to whose standards??

you got me thinking, that's for sure!

JLPierce Ohana said...

The teacher you are working with does not accept parent help or suggestions well, unfortunately. But you could always try.

My focus right now is what we are doing in the home so they are learning ahead of the classroom- they get that part done quicker at school and that's when the teachers give them EXTRA projects or reading which are what really enriches their learning. My kid isn't there for school to be honest, he's there to be around others and learn how to act when he's not around us. I remember more life lessons learned at school rather than actual book lessons.

I really feel like the schools need to compete for kids to go there and do a voucher system- parents sign the kids up for the schools they want their kids to go to, kids feel it's more of a privilege and want to do better, schools can have different focus from others- then more learning styles are covered. We have 1 school system in our state- that's a big part of the problem already. I know one of our current Gov. candidates is for this system- helps to go to that level and work on things at the school level as well.

Melanie said...

Figure out a way to homeschool and bring them with you on your adventures.

It doesn't work for everyone, but it just may work for you!

Create learners, not test takers!

ps: my oldest graduated HS through the public school system, my middle is in her last semester of HS through an independent learning public charter school, and my youngest is a homeschooling 3rd grader.

pps: There's lots of help out there. You can do it!

ppps: Your rant is exactly why we chose to step out of the traditional public school system.

Naomi said...

Natalie...I'm in the minority because we chose to homeschool when our first born was only 3 years of age. And I wouldn't turn back the hands of time for anything. You are not the only parent I have heard have major concerns about the public (and private) school systems. It is a sad reality what you have said. It is my heart and in Deuteronomy 6 that parents are to train and teach their children...not other adults. I know not everyone can do this but if you must put your children into public schools then you gotta be more involved in it as well so you can effect change when needed. I, on the other hand, totally recommend homeschooling your children. To see them learn right before your eyes is one of the most amazing rewards in being a parent. To watch them discover and grow into what the Lord has called them to be in their life here on earth is heart moving. To be there for those most intimate and personal conversations that they should only have with their parents is most special. To be their parent to the fullest of the calling is nothing better! I have graduated one and have two more on their way. I know for me I would not change a thing. When the Lord called me to school my kids, I was scared and excited and now when I look back on what road He gave us to walk, I'm thankful for every minute my kids were home with me. Others have often told me what great, polite, kind and selfless kids we have. I believe that's because we followed the path the Lord put us on: homeschooling our children. What He gives you to come to, He will give what you need to get through.

Kristen said...

I homeschool my kids too... when they get off the school bus every day.

Kids don't have to be out of public schools to do all of the activities and learning that homeschoolers love. I can do it in ADDITION to what they learn in school. There are a lot of hours in the day and I'm a smart cookie. So are their teachers who have their degree and experience. I like them to have the best of both worlds. The homeschooler camp seems to think that the rest of us don't spend hours and hours of teaching and exploring and playing too.

This is not a bash on homeschooling. This is in defense of public schooling. Yes the scriptures teach that we need to teach our children, and I want that and MORE for my kids. I don't know everything about everything. Do you? I have the opportunity to have an expert teach my kids for 40 hours a week and I'm going to take it.

Then for the other 128 hours of the week I'll fill in the blanks, and then some.

We are all great parents and want what's best for our kids. If not, we wouldn't be in the discussion. Public school and homeschool can both be amazing. We just need to make sure we're doing it for the kids and not for our egos.

Public school PLUS home school equals yummy education.

Emily said...

Natalie--

Be the change you want to see in the world!

When I came across this phrase on a graduation announcement one year, it really hit me. All the complaints I'd been giving to my friends, all about why Laie is a troubled school, and why can't they do this or that, were converted into effort. I decided I needed to step up and DO something. Pick one thing you don't like that you can help change. For me it was communication between the school and parents. So I found a way I could help out.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in your child's education, and even to change things you don't like at the school. The biggest key is communication. Communicate with the teacher, the principal . . . join the PTCO to support the good things that are going on (it takes a lot of people to make big, worthwhile things happen) . . . express opinions about change to the LSCC . . .

But I think the "broken" metaphor is a harmful one. Saying it's broken just throws out a lot of hopeless blame and fails to realize the individual efforts of teachers. Give what you can to the school, and everyone's kids' lives will be enriched, not just yours. And one day you'll be walking home from school, thinking how much you love the school and wouldn't want your kids anywhere else (well, at least for that one day, right?!!!).

Natalie. said...

Emily,

just to point out one thing: I haven't said a word about Laie Elementary School here. I have my kids there for a reason.

I think the teachers at Laie Elementary are superior to most on the island.

katrynka said...

I have no idea how to fix it, but I totally agree that the education system takes away our children's passion for learning. Kids love to learn until someone takes that away from them.

Mama Martinez said...

Kristen,

It is awesome that you are so dedicated to your kids and their education. The world needs more moms like you who are willing to do what it takes to raise good kids. It's also a blessing that you have a great public school and kids who do well with that format.

But, it is not so for all of us. Homeschooling is one option. I might not be an expert in every subject, but I am an expert on my kids. When we get to Calculus and Physics, I will be hiring a tutor or enrolling them in a class. But, having a degree does not make you an expert in teaching kids. Teaching kids does, and that's something that both teachers and ALL parents have in common.

When you call us "the homeschooling camp" and make a blanket statement about what we believe, it is divisive and kind of hurtful. I don't think any homeschoolers who commented here are questioning the dedication of parents who choose the public school route. I think we are all just doing what we think is best. For some of us, that's schooling exclusively from home.

The best to you and your children in the coming school year!

addie said...

It is unfortunate that we all identify with your post. I attended 8 years of mediocre Catholic school elementary then 4 years at an outstanding Catholic high school. Could I have accheived more at a better primary? Maybe. But my parents always encouraged me to learn at home.
I am very fortunate to have a fantastic magnet public primary where I send my 2nd and K aged kids. The education is very atypical. They are actually challenged daily to think critically. Now, there isn't recess at their school. Really. But they have PE everyday and they choose electives to participate in 4 days/week. THEY choose. We never see the options. Sewing? Balloon sculpting? Weather patterns? Photography? Their choice. The key is that you may participate with grades of C or better. If you have a D or F in lieu of elective you are tutored in your weak subject.
Of course, I am well recognized in their classes too. It always helps to be involved... and bringing baked goods when you arrive doesn't hurt either ;)
For me, homeschooling isn't an option. My patience is better after being able to manage my house and office work efficiently while they are at school.
Good luck and keep us posted.

Kristen said...

Mama Martinez,

I'm sorry it was hurtful. That wasn't my intention at all and I'm truly sorry.

I'll be more careful with my assumptions from now on. Thanks for speaking up.

aroha said...

I went to public schools here in Australia 15+ years ago, and after living in the States, thought coming home to have my children and send them to school in Australia would be "so much better!" But its not, the systems are broken here, too. For this very reason, I'm planning to send my son to private school. There are so much more opportunities to learn music from an actual music teacher, art from an art teacher, math from a math teacher, etc. Public schools find ways to cut every corner and save any penny they can, and who is it beneficial to?

I have dealt with parents before, over 1200 sets a year (not in a teaching environment, in a recreational environment) and the lies and excuses that parents come up with for not doing something they're supposed to or whatever is astounding. Is this what you're teaching your children?! It baffled me, and disgusted me. Imagine the CRAP they feed to their kids teachers?!?!

Like someone else said, it starts at home. Too many parents blame teachers for everything. I can't stress enough how important I think a teacher's job is. And it upsets me that they are so underpaid and under-appreciated, unlike our celebrities and sports stars who make millions of dollars, for what? They are not the important jobs!

I could go on and on and ON about this subject (I already have!) and we have an election coming up next week here in Australia and both parties disgust me with their education "policies" or lack thereof. More parents need to pay more attention more of the time and take responsibility, and teach your kids to take responsibility.

Cassie said...

I have not started with the public or private school system for my little girl yet, we are starting her in a private pre-school this next month with a teacher that I love, and who has been working with children for over 15 years, she works with the state of Utah on child care and help for children who have either learning disabilities or who are gifted. Because of this she structures her class to work with all, and gives the kids time to finish what they are doing and they can join the rest of the group when they are done, if they need to. I wish more teachers would do this. My child has OCD (really bad) and is also brilliant (I'm not just saying this, I had her in a Head Start type program for a speech issue and they test everything and said so), so she struggled in a very structured class room, she struggles with her nursery leaders who are very strict. I am looking into a program called K12. It looks like it gives the best of both worlds, homeschooling and public schooling. The majority of the stuff is done at home, but you have monthly (or more often if you and the other parents choose)social gatherings, there are field trips for the different grades, and the opportunity for the kids in middle and high school to do some classes from home and some at school. If this program is available in Hawaii I would suggest you look at it...it may be the answer for 1 or all of your kids.

Cassie said...

Oh, and K12 works through the public school system (at least in UT it does) so they supply all of the books and lesson plans so that you don't need to do that, but just cater each one to your child's specific learning style.

Deanna said...

I think the style is called "Drill and Kill." Read the recent Newsweek article about the U.S. failing our children in terms of thinking creatively. Our country's innovation and entrepreneurial spirit (which I assume you and Richie both know well!) is being killed by a model that's both a) recognized to be inefficient and harmful and b) being widely implemented in schools.

Sometimes I think homeschooling is the answer for our family. Other times I think that if all the involved, active and interested parents homeschooled it would be to the detriment of the local school system. There are no easy answers (wouldn't it be nice in parenting if there was one or two softballs for us to hit?); but I am satisfied that if we at least take the "learning begins at home" tack that we can help shape innovative, creative, and socially aware children.

richie said...

Deanna,

That's one of my favorite articles.

Karey said...

I have lots of thoughts on this, but my two biggest are for parents and teachers. I've done both and let just say that no matter what the government or administrators say or do, parents and teachers are THE biggest factors in how children learn.

I started my schooling with some pretty traumatic teacher deficiencies and it hurt my confidence and ability to perform my best. I wrote an article about the importance of teachers at http://kareywhite.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-important-are-good-teachers.html.

Parents are their kids biggest advocates and if we as parents won't stand up and insist on what's best for our kids, no one will. Let me just say that no one--teachers, administrators--no one knows better what their child needs than an involved parent. And who cares if you look like one of "those" parents. We have to fight for what's best for our child and since each child is different, they might need something different. The best teacher for one child may not be the best teacher for another child and it's high time that administrators listened to parents who have concerns about their kids' situations.

I've become weary of fighting the battle to be sure my kids get what they need, but I will still fight on, because no one else will. We HAVE to be involved.

JH said...

Great post! I'm not a parent yet but it hasn't been all that long since I was in school and I totally agree with you....We are VERY MUCH broken!

The Tesimales said...

I know that there are so many problems with the school systems. After teaching I saw how big of a difference each teacher makes. I was able to go to my nieces amazing charter school and absolutely Loved what I saw. I could tell how big of a difference a school can make to the teachers and the students. Some encourage innovation and creative thinking others not so much. That being said, much more important than any school you could send your child to is what you're doing at home. READ. Lots and make it fun. Huge. My passion in teaching. Teaching a child to love reading teaches them to love learning. Second teach them naturally at home. The more natural the better. I could go on for a year about all my opinions. Oh and one last thing: especially when they are young don't stress if they haven't learned something yet. The lights turn on in time. K that's it. You're an amazing mom and teacher. Your kids will flourish.

bfinlayson said...

I have three Boys and one daughter< my three boys have had such a hard time learning in the traditional public school way, I know that they are amazing kids, and I know that will make many mistakes along the way I hope that they do, I am Here to guide them and partner with my childrens teacher. I rarely get to involved after Jr. High only because I want my children to handle it with me beside them encouraging them on. My oldest struggled especially as a sophmore in high school. got kicked off His beloved soccer team, but He learned from it. and made the Honor roll ever since and is now at BYUH going to play soccer for the seasiders Yay! It all works out, let them make mistakes while they are home Be involved but also teach them how to handle things. and be a mama bear when it's warrented.

Watson Family said...

Trust me... TRUST ME... I know it's not for everyone and there are plenty of mixed feelings people have on the subject, but homeschooling is great. And I do know it takes LOTS of time, especially for large families... but I do think some of the reasons you mentioned in your post, is why homeschooling is rapidly growing across the States.

utdaisy said...

There are certainly many things that can be done to make our system better. I do recognize there are some schools that are terribly broken. And as in any profession, there are a few bad eggs, but for the most part the majority of teachers and administrators are there because they do love it!

We need to realize that "the system" should not be considered a stand-alone. Teachers need reinforcement from home for discipline so they can do their jobs. Sometimes our children may need a little extra academic help...we can give that to them!

We must also be their advocate because we know what is best for them above anyone else.

Unfortunately, there are core requirements mandated by the federal, state, and local districts. When assessing children, it is necessary to have something concrete to assess. It's not a perfect system, but there needs to be some method o gauge improvement. Don't focus so much on what is "normal" for the world. Focus on what is normal for your child.

It's also important to remember that when our children are not performing to "normal" that we not take it personally. It is the teacher's job to encourage the children to strive for perfection...otherwise we are settling for mediocrity!

Kids, teachers and parents all have differing personalities--and rarely are they all going to align perfectly. Children are not going to enjoy every minute of every day as teachers try to various activities to reach all children. Try to encourage your kids to tell you something fun they did. Just like adults, children have a tendency to focus on what they don't have rather than what they do have:)

I had to remind myself to never undermine the teacher to my child. My children have come home with complaints about their teachers on occassion and I try to help the child see the situation through the teacher's eyes and why they may have responded the way they did. It is important that the children learn to respect authority, even when that authority doesn't always best align with the child's personality or desires. I think you will find for the most part, if you discuss you child's concerns with the teacher, they generally do not even realize the problem and are usually more than willing to work with you and your child. And you don't need to wait until conferences!

And sometimes the conflicts are more us than the kids! I have not always agreed with how teachers run their classrooms, but when I have discussed my concerns, I can see they have good reasoning behind it and they have found a system that works well for them. And sometimes, they find ways they can improve and are appreciative of my suggestions.

As a former teacher, I have had a lot of people ask me why I don't home school. I know home schooling is a great thing for many families, and I do not want to detract from them. My personal feeling was that the teachers have a greater resources than I have. My children only spend 1100 hours per year in school. I feel that my children get a lot of teaching from me during the other 7660 hours they are home with me and that it is good to learn from someone with other insights.

I know as my children start to leave elementary school my focus will shift more towards academics, but for me, what it boils down to is are my kids enjoying school and do they feel loved. I graduated in the top 1% of my high school class and attended college with a full-tuition scholarship. Now I'm a mom, and even when I was a teacher, none of that really seems to matter. What really matters are the ethics and values and morals that my parents taught me.

I apologize for rambling, but these are things I wish had learned sooner! Thanks for opening the discussion. I've learned a lot from the other comments.

Kelly said...

(First of all, picture me standing up in my living room clapping "Bravo! Bravo!")

Okay, now for my comment...I agree with the fact that public school does not challenge students as well and as individually as one would hope. What bothers me more is that the mainstream is complacent. Parents these days seem more concerned with passing the grade and moving on. My oldest went to private school until she was in 5th grade. I have DEFINITELY noticed a difference in the public school system since then (she is now in 8th, unfortunately we could not continue to put her in private school).

I supplement my kids' education that they receive by teaching them at home as well. Both my school-age children were reading well before Kindergarten, and all my children articulate very well and have an above-average vocabulary. I think a lot of it does have to do with what you do at home, and too many parents rely on the schools to do the teaching solely. It doesn't work that way. My two youngest will be doing phonics with me at home on their off-preschool days, because I simply don't want to leave it up to the school. I want to KNOW they are ready for Kindergarten.

There are SOOO many teachable moments day in, day out in daily "life", too. You just have to know how to spot them. Also, foster the question asking! I've seen some parents get exasperated with their child asking too many questions and tell them to "just be quiet". So sad. If you can't answer them, look it up with them!! Maybe you'll learn something, too! It's okay not to know, but not okay to remain ignorant out of laziness.

Great post, Natalie. Loved it. So glad there are people like you who recognize the need for further instruction. There are TERRIFIC teachers out there, but let's not expect them to do it all alone. It's a partnership for sure.

(And don't even get me started on the government.) :)

Goosey said...

I AM an old lady like you, I just don't have kids yet. ;D But when I do, I'm seriously considering home schooling. I won't send them to a plain old public school without some serious research into what they will be getting into.

Also, my word verification for this is "flobbly." That's a great word.

-Jennie A.

stef j. said...

nat -

thanks.

this is one of the foremost issues that i'm currently mentally, emotionally, everything torn about. it seriously has my brain in a frenzy... i worry worry worry about what to do with my kiddos. and i could go on and on until i make a full circle of why i should or shouldn't send them to laie or hau`ula, or should or shouldn't homeschool or charter school, or should or shouldn't do this or that and all the other things.

so when you figure this one out, drop me a text, eh friend. :)

April said...

The problem with our educational system is that we keep trying to fix social and societal problems with educational reform. Until parents teach their kids to be good citizens and active learners, teachers and schools will only get so far. Unless you have spent a year in a school as a teacher or administrator you have no idea how passionate and committed these people are to helping children.

Anonymous said...

Natalie--

I went through this--and I STILL am! I have a son who was diagnosed at age 2 with sensory integration dyfunction. Luckily, I used to work as a skills trainer and my brother has autism, so I already understood the school system and what it already had to offer. When I put my son in school at age 3, I saw both great and bad things happen with him. But some of his behaviors were indicitive to me that additional intervention was necessary. I knew that traditional school settings would not suit him AT ALL!! Plus, I wasn't sure if I wanted to waste my time and energy on a system who does not have my son's best interest exclusively. It really is all about accommodating the masses (which from their standpoint I can almost understand, but I was unwilling to settle for that.)

My family went to an agency in UT called the National Association of Childhood Development (NACD). This is an amazing agency Natalie. I would love to give you my CDs and have you listen to the philosophy behind this. You can even talk with Angel Naivalu who actually interned at this agency and can just tell you about it in a more eloquent way than I ever could!!!

Anyway, this agency is all about unlimited potential in children and they look at them from a neurodevelopmental perspective. These people were able to explain EXACTLY what was going on with my children, and how to FIX the problem AND encourage overall brain development. They SHOW you how to do this. They coordinate with all the professionals involved in your child's life and they empower YOU to continue it at home.

My relationship with my son was always strained because I didn't understand how he learned. But since I have learned how he ticks, it has helped me be a better mother, teacher and advocate for him. Most importantly, It has helped me LOVE him even more for who he is and I honor that much more than I used to. In three months with NACD, he became a totally different person.

Interestingly enough, my daughter, who is now in kindergarten, I had her evaluated and found out that she can process and retain information after hearing it only once. So I have kids on different sides of the spectrum. The school she goes to is allowing me to control her academic curriculum so she doesn't get bored. It still makes me nervous to work with them, 'cause I know too many stories, but I am willing to try.

If you want more information, the website is www.nacd.org. It is truly amazing and I hope this info benefits you like it has for me!

As for the public schools, I think we can all agree that the system is broken, but it truly is my responsibility as a parent to make sure that my children get what they need. If the school can't provide it, I will. If I can't, I will either find a person who can, and/or pray for the atonement of Jesus Christ to act on mine and my children's behalf! Usually I do all the above! :)

You can email me at rachel_hikida@hotmail.com if you are intersted in the cds/more info. Take care!

rachel

Carissa Lang said...

after teaching sunday school to teens in waialua, I realized how parental involvement is key for a successful education!

the public (and even private!) school system is far from perfect so I think as parents, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to make up the difference at home by encouraging learning (being involved with homework, projects, etc) and with extra-curricular activities like sports, music, art, etc.

and the great news is: I think that it is not only a benefit to our kids but for us as well!

Katie Jo said...

Mrs. Woolsey is amazing! hehe :)

Betsy, short for Elizabeth, formally known as Esther said...

Loving this post! My daughter, 7, was diagnosed with ADD a few weeks ago. When the entire idea that she could have ADD was thrown around, a lot of people immediately recommended medication. I was outraged. Medication to make her CONFORM? She was kept inside at recess for not finishing her work. She is a right brain thinker in a left brain world. She is smart, beautiful and unbelievable creative. Why would I squash that with medication! I love this post because here in the Commonweatlh of Massachusetts we struggle with all that you point out.

Angel Naivalu said...

Instead of fighting it - transcend it.
Follow your gut. Follow the impressions you know you're having.
It's not anyone else's problem.
It's your opportunity.
Every moment is a "teaching opportunity." It doesn't matter where your child is. It's not a black and white "public school vs. homeschool" argument, nor a "phonics vs. memorization," nor any other "rearrangment of the deck chairs on the Titanic" argument.
Read Ken Robinson's The Element and just do a dance of joy as you feel freed, LIBERATED, that YOU, who was raised SO well by such great parents, YOU, the gifted, insightful, teacher that you are, it's YOU who gets to teach your boys - every day. No matter where their routine takes them. When they're with you - YOU are their teacher - better yet, their MENTOR. You share the journey. You don't need to impose any magical curriculum that will "make them smart" - THEY ARE SMART! You ask questions. You listen. You provoke and promote critical thinking. YOU READ, READ, READ, READ, READ, READ, TO THEM. And you revel in the very innate - natural - intrinsic - curiosity and development of these beings called "sons." Do not worry your pretty head any more. THERE IS NO WAY THAT YOU AND RICHIE WILL EVER LET YOUR SONS DOWN IN TERMS OF EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES. You've already given them the world.
One suggestion - that I must add, is that if you ever see, if you ever SENSE, that a love of learning any subject is being diminished - INTERFERE! INTERCEPT. INTERCEDE. You can totally say, "We're not doing that. Homework/shmomework, that is unecessary, let's go play soccer." You just respectfully tell the teacher why the homework (and anything else like it) wasn't completed and ask her/him to grade the child on what he CAN DO and what he HAS DONE and not what he didn't need to do.
the end.

Stephanie said...

Hi. Another public school teacher (10th grade English,)coming out of lurkdom.

1. I agree with the other posters who mentioned that saying the "system is broken" is a harmful metaphor. I think it places unneccessary blame on public education.

Because what part of our current society isn't broken? Health care is broken. Law enforcement/creation is broken, politics, finances, everything is broken.

If we focus on the negative, it is all we see. I think it is much more accurate to say that PARTS of the system are broken. There are bad teachers, there are are bad schools. It isn't just public education that can hurt creativity, it's our society. I read the article in Newsweek on creativity as well. Everyone (not just teachers) are responsible for the decline of creativity in America.

2. Quality of public education depends on location. For me, I see this as the biggest "broken part" in education. A kid in Hawaii deserves the same quality of education as a kid in Utah. The differences in funding and programs between each state is amazing. And depressing.

So, who is responsible for fixing the inequity?

You are. Voters are. The public is responsible for proving to elected officials that we care about education.

Our funding,our mandates for state and federal testing, all come from elected officials. If you want less "drill and kill" VOTE FOR PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT EDUCATION REFORM.

It kills me to see people complain about education in Utah, then vote for people who support budget cuts that eliminate programs for our kids.

When Americans care more about education than whether or not President Obama or Sarah Palin said something stupid, we will start voting for people that care about improving education.

The rare drill and kill teacher aside, most of us our good teachers trying to do our very best to fix the broken parts.

3. Parents, I've been told that you are the children's primary caregivers.

Act like you care.


Sigh. That was a really long and probably unneccessary rant, and it wasn't directed at you, or any other person. Sometimes you hear a good rant, and you just want to be included. :) Thanks for caring about your kids, and thanks for being involved.

Oh, and if ANYONE is still reading this, I love it when parents come and meet with me before school starts.

apryl deeter photography said...

people as so touchy about this subject! i home school. i grew up in public school, so i know a bit about both:) many people criticize home schooling that have no experience. that always amazes me. anyone who truly cares about their kids can home school. many peole think they could not. why not? if you can parent, you can teach, right? there is so much about public school that in general, most people are unaware of, so they don't even know what they are/aren't defending. school administrators/principals/teachers don't like home schoolers because we affect their bottom line: receiving more federal $$. it is scary & it is not changing for the better. and sad to say, we parents cannot change it because the federal government is in control, because we've put them there. we are a confused nation to say the least. in a nutshell, i tell people, if you want your child learning from the standards of the lowest common denominator, then public school is the place for them. otherwise, you can do better!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Natalie. said...

anonymous, your comment is being deleted. :\ While yes, I agree that the comment you referenced could be interpreted as being a little undercutting to teachers, I don't believe it was intended to be that way. . .

We need to play nice here.

All y'all:

I'm ALL for the sharing of opinions as long as it is done respectfully.

jen said...

just read an article ... i'll look it up if you want ... where several other countries (china ... and gah if i can remember...) but they were speaking with someone about education and noted that the us is quickly moving towards their past education structure, while they are racing towards what our education structure was.
did that make sense?
we are going BACK to what they have since realized didn't work (memorization, reduced arts, teaching to the test). and they are going FORWARD to what we just gave up (play based, art based, teaching interaction and friendships).
CRAZY.

Annie Link said...

I talked to our local PTCO president and got her permission to start what I'm calling a "Grandma Brigade" here in Alpine. Why shouldn't we help out in the classroom--or wherever we're needed around the school? We love kids, and most of us don't live near our own grandkids, so this is a perfect opportunity to pitch in. Now, if someone will just do the same in La'ie and Corona to bless my grandkids' schools . . .

Yvette said...

Liz's comment on 8/12 was a very accurate take on today's educational system. Before I became a stay-at-home-mom I worked at a school as special education support staff (while pursuing my BA to eventaully become a teacher) and witnessed the pressure on teachers for test scores. Now I volunteer at my daughter's school and see the same test score pressures on teachers. This is the result of "No Child Left Behind". We are fortunate to live in a wonderful school district. But for those who live in under-performing school districts science, history, and art have been eliminated. The schools want students with low test scores to focus solely on the test subjects (math, reading comprehension, and grammar). How can expect kids to grow up having an appreciation for our country and the world if they don't learn history/social studies? How do kids learn to tap into their creative spirit if they are not taught art? How can we expect kids to appreciate the amazing world around us if they are not taught the intricacies of nature through science?
Parents really do need to learn to hold their children accountable. Are there some duds out there who are truly bad teachers? Yes. But most don't "hate" your kid or assign work that is "too hard." If you want to know what your child's teacher is like, get to know them and keep an open mind! My daughter missed a few recess periods last year for not getting her work done. And I feel the teacher was justified. It's not that she couldn't get the work done in the time alotted, she chose to be a busy-body instead. And parents, don't excpect your child's teacher to constantly e-mail you or write you daily reports. Imagine how much time that would take for all 25 students every day in addition to all of the after-school work they already do! I spoke with one teacher who had a mom request that she e-mail her every hour with updates on her child. And the principle supported it because they are often loathe to stand up to parents.
All of this experience has compelled me to change my career path. Between dealing with test scores, not being able to teach what you want or how you want to teach it, and overzealous parents I have lost my desire. In additiona to all of this there are no teaching jobs in California because our legislature can't agree on a budget and the housing bubble burst in a really big way. This has resulted in tremendous cuts to our educational system. Teachers now have less money but more more pressure and higher expectations. The eternal optimist in me hopes the system changes for the better. You can never give up hope!