I took my children to the book store last night, to pick up Charlie's teacher's gift (I'm giving her What your First Grader needs to know), and at least one book for each of them. I bought Waiting for "Superman" and What your first grader needs to know. I started reading Waiting for "Superman" first. I have not yet seen the documentary, but I am working on finding it. The book outlines what is wrong with our school system in the US, and it goes far beyond rich schools/poor schools, and points out what ALL schools as a whole are doing wrong. Our school, so far, has made several of the mistakes listed in the book.
I will be meeting with our principal because I want to talk to the her, get her feelings on the things I feel are wrong, and see where we go from there.
1. My son's teacher is an airhead. AN AIRHEAD! She is not a first-year teacher, she's been there several years, and had the audacity to tell me that my son could not possibly be reading "level D" books at home because he only demonstrated a "Level A" in class. She went on to tell me how she knew my son better after 2 weeks than I know him after 6 years. There is no way she knows what is best for my child, and I don't care that she has him doing what she feels is appropriate at this stage. He is being restricted, and if you tell a child they can't, after a while, they believe it. I can't even tell you how much I HATE HER. I've been in there several times and I've pretty much taken on my son's education myself.
a. There are 2 problems at work here.
1. Tenure. Our teacher is tenured which means that she could suck really bad, and be the worst teacher ever, and it doesn't matter because she will always have a job in First Grade at our school as long as she wants it and doesn't molest/abuse a child. It does not matter if her class scores low, they don't care.
2. Unions. We are also a union district. When I was growing up, I was completely pro-union. Both my Mom and Step-Father held Union jobs, and I believed it was a good thing. However, the unions protect the crappy teachers, they keep them secured in positions they should not have,and help them achieve pay and benefits they do not deserve.
2.I was reading about review and repetition and how it holds our children back, and that's EXACTLY WHAT I'VE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT since the first day of school! My son went IN to school this year reading at a "D" level, he came home 2 weeks later with "A" level books. I was FURIOUS! They put my son into a "specialized" reading program that has only continued his backsliding and he came home on Tuesday crying to me that he's stupid because his best friend (in another class) is reading chapter books. Well...my son SHOULD BE TOO! He reads beautifully at home, but at school they have held him back so much he must believe he cannot do it. I am OUTRAGED.
3. My son's lack of willingness to try, and lack of pride in his work is disturbing, the teacher sends home these papers that I can't make heads or tails of with backwards letters and nonsense words and a stamp that says "Good Work" or "Way To Go"-I'm sorry, No. If I can't read it, it needs to be erased, re-written, and it needs to make sense. I have him writing in a journal at home, and that's exactly what I do, I make him erase it and start over.
4. Creative spelling. I'm not a supporter, believer, nor a fan of this piece of educational fodder. Why would I teach my 6 year old to spell "Stool" - "STUL" because he sounded it out and that's how it sounded to him, and then 5 months from now correct him and tell him he was wrong? Why should he have to learn it "twice"? It makes no sense so me, give me the phonics books, games, and spelling tests.
a. This is another idiotic thing our school system has adopted. I don't see it heading us anywhere but straight to dunce-land. "Yo, sup dawg" is something I hope to never, ever hear out of my son's mouth, or, any of his friends for that matter, and it has nothing to do with ethnicity!
5. Integration. Didn't we tackle this matter already, in the 50's, 60's, and 70's? Then tell me how a brand new school went up across the street from me and has first-grade classes of 14-18 students while my son's school carries as high as 27 students? We're not even talking race here, we're talking NEIGHBORHOOD. Just because these people paid $500,000 and more to build their houses, and I paid $219,000 for mine that was already built, they get to go to the school while my son gets to be bussed 8.99 miles from my home. Instead of splitting our neighborhood off, and sending the children to the school that is actually in our town, they are bussed to a neighboring town so that the "elite" can have their own school. Tell me, what is going to happen when these people have their 2.5 kids, and are done, or are too old to have children anymore? Are they going to close the school? Who will attend? It is an insane abuse of money by the parents/homeowners, and an incredible disappointment by our local government and school board.Just because my house isn't "up to snuff" they have deemed my children unworthy of a good education. Because this school is outside of our district, it doesn't have the same ridiculous philosophies ours has, and rates higher according to greatschools.org.
6. Classes are not learning the same thing. While I understand that some classes may take 2 days to learn something and others might only need 1, they should be on relatively the same schedule. However, in our school, my son is learning how to use a number line and the class across the hall is doing what I would consider "real math". My son has a friend in that class, and it's just too different, and while I don't like to compare, he brings home far different homework than MY SON does, and the level of difficulty is far above where my son is at. I am not happy with my son being "Average" or "Normal", I want him to do his absolute best every day, I want him to want to succeed and excel, and this school is not teaching that. They are preparing our children to be a group of mindless drones that cannot possibly hope to obtain scholarships. I am terrified to find out what percentage of our high school children in the last 5 or so years have gone on to college, graduated, and are holding jobs earning at least $50,000/year. I would bet, not many, perhaps only the white collar children who can obtain employment at Daddy or mommy's company.
7.The other disturbing thing our system has is a FREE, government sponsored preschool packed full of children that don't deserve to be in it. These children all come from white-collar families that donate money to the school board every year. The under-privaledged children in our district have to either go to the park district or other "private" programs, if they can't afford it, they don't go. Next year I am looking at it costing me roughly $250/mo to send my girls to the best, but still sub-par "private" pre-K programs (One will be 4, the other 3) because our school screens the students on a flawed system. My daughter had some speech issues due to fluid in her ears and she didn't qualify, but another child I know who had the very tip of her smallest finger cut off after being slammed in a door got in. HOW is 1/16th of the "Baby finger" missing more detrimental to her education than not being able to hear/talk properly? It makes NO SENSE. NONE AT ALL. It's not about the money, it's also about the fact that the kids in the school pre-k are getting a better education. They are there all day instead of just a few hours, and they are learning independence and socialization where my daughters are attending playgroups to gain these experiences. It's another thing on my list for my chat with the principal.
a. A physical disability should not be an automatic "in". It should be case-by-case based. The boy across the street with cerebral palsy? He deserves it, the girl with 1/16th of her baby fingertip missing doesn't. that slot could have gone to the child in my son's class that has a stutter (no, he didn't qualify either). However, I assume that since he was from an under-privaleged home, he was passed over for someone that donates money to our school/district.
8. Illinois is going bankrupt, and where are they most likely to cut the money? Education. Why is it that education and healthcare are always the most likely cuts for state budgeting when they could easily cut out other extraneous crap? How about taking less pay if it means one school would get enough funding for 1 year? How about cutting a few road projects that are not in dire need and concentrating on our children's futures? Politicians have it all wrong, they have completely bought into the "ME ME ME" generation mentality, and have forgotten all about the fact that the children of todady are the leaders of tomorrow. At the rate we're going, there won't be any qualified leaders and our country will follow the movie "Idiocracy" straight to hell. I believe that children in our nation could be so foolish as to think putting gatoraid on a plant would make it grow better than water, and that scares me to death!
Our nation's school system is in great peril, and I am only through the first few chapters of my book. I can't wait to get all the way through so that I can speak to the principal and our useless PTO and spread the word of what is going wrong. I will not let any of my children become another useless statistic in this country. I will home-school them before I will allow them to be morons.