This has been a particularly rough school year for the children.
They moved from Missouri to Mississippi.
They moved from a private, faith based school to public school.
City schools stink here. There is a state mandated curriculum that requires all testing to be done in multiple choice. Yes, you read that right. Even the spelling tests. You are asking yourself how a child can learn to spell if it is only required that they "chose" more correctly than not.
I asked that question myself to the teachers and the guidance counselor (Yes, they feel it necessary to have a guidance counselor for first graders.) Apparently, if you want to raise your national school rating, you need to give the kids a chance to score better, hence the multiple choice outlet.
Whatever happened to teaching them better/more/different?
And on top of that, the homework was insane for a six year old. An hour a night of writing his letters correctly over and over again four nights a week. And then on Tuesday and Thursday, add math to it. Am I crazy or does that sound a bit intense for first graders. For heavens sakes, they are still little kids. So, I did the motherly thing and wrote the reading teacher and explained that I believed it was too much homework and that it wasn't helping our son academically or emotionally.
The response was quite interesting... long letter from Palmtree (name we have given her) and an invite to have a meeting if I didn't accept that she was right and I was wrong. Huge paraphrase, but that was the gist of the note.
So, I opted for the meeting, because I wasn't backing down on the Dude's homework. I have plenty of things for him to do after school and if he is having trouble with something in school, I assumed the teacher would let me know and it could be addressed.
So, the day for the meeting came as I was recovering from the flu. Not in the best of moods and was not ready for the ambush I received when I got there. I was to meet with the reading teacher, but two other people were there as well. Okay... have it your way, I put Mr. Finn on speaker phone and he joined in. He is worth at least two of them.
My breakdown of the meeting:
1. They moved our son to a medium reading class because they needed him to raise the ratings because he reads at a much higher level.
2. They are not concerned with the emotional well being of our child, although they felt the need to hire a guidance counselor for their school.
3. They were not under any circumstances backing off on homework even though they could not say he was falling behind or having problems with any concepts they were teaching.
4. The guidance counselor is just a mouth piece for all the political crap they are trying to make you believe so you should just do what they say. She kept telling me over and over that my son was not completing his work during class. You should know better than to spout something that is not true. I will and did call the teacher on it. Serious deer in the headlights when confronted, with a healthy amount of serious backpedaling.
I was told that the principal felt it was more than generous of Palmtree to allow my son to bring all the work home on Monday and bring it in on Friday when it was completed, whereas the rest of the class would be required to bring it in daily.
Need I respond! I firmly said that I could and would not guarantee that it would be completed. I told Palmtree that I expected her to let me know if my son was struggling and I would help him with whatever it was he needed additional help with, but I did not need him to have an hour of busy work. For heavens sakes, this kid reads at a third grade level, he does not need to practice writing his letters. He knows them obviously.
It was confirmed to me that homework is not graded anyways, and I let them know that there is more to my sons education and well roundedness outside of school. That they had him for seven hours, after school was my time and I, as his parent got to decide how he spent that time.
Well, the backlash was immediate after the first Friday without turning in all the homework. I was informed on Monday, through a note, that he was graded on that ONE page we did not do and he received a ZERO for the week. But, he could do it and would be given a reduced grade because it was late.
Are you kidding me?! What the heck is wrong with these people?
I was informed that from now on, all his homework would be graded.
This is the child that gets 100% on every test he has taken. Really?!
So, after talking to Mr. Finn and praying...
I picked him up from school on Friday early and asked him what he wanted to do. He sat there for five minutes and then said, "Let's get me out of this school!". So we walked into his school and signed him out. They made it easy for me. Surly, nasty woman that works in that office. After three months of this school, I have never once been greeted nicely.
We have not looked back. He is happy at his new school in the county. More often than not I get the response from him that he had a good day. I got that only twice at his last school. I wonder what else was going on in his classroom that made him feel that way. I feel great about the decision every day.
I was asked by a mother why I didn't just have him changed to another teacher. The answer is simple... the principal was on the side of the teacher. Changing him around wouldn't have changed things for him. I couldn't trust that they would give him a fair chance and my son is worth more than that.
I will always go to bat for my children. They don't have anyone else to protect them. Sometimes they need protecting from the very institutions that are supposed to be there for them.
Sheesh! This is has been a rough three months.
Now, to get Miss Boo moved. That story next! I know... you are wondering how both kids can be in the same situation. Unbelievably, they have/had different experiences, but it is the way it has been handled that bothers me the most.
The Dude is now going to school with his friend JT, who lives behind us.