Friday, October 17, 2008

My Political Statement for the Night

I was talking with my neighbor yesterday about how each of our kids' school years were going. In the course of the conversation, she told me about a child in her son's second grade class that was obviously struggling just a few weeks into this school year. The child was having a lot of problems with reading, so the parents decided to pull him out of second grade and put him back into first grade. Obviously, it was a tough decision for them but they felt he just wasn't ready for second grade and they wanted him to have a better grasp of the fundamentals for continued success.

Do you know what the school said?

They told the parents that they weren't allowed to retain their son. The school had determined that he had met all the requirements of first grade the previous year and that they didn't want to spend the money to "re-educate" him again for that grade.

Do you know what the parents said to the school? "Say hello to our lawyer."

Then the school said, "Hmmm, okay, first grade it is.

For Pete's sake, it's going to take more than piles of money to fix this nation's educational system. How about a system that actually puts the best interest of the child ahead of a school's funding and reputation.

That's it. I'm done. Go back to your previously scheduled programming.

9 comments:

Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

I tend to be a bit cynical about our educational system, but my first reaction is that the school is not happy about having to pay for another year of education for this child.

Technically in PA now, the school should have brought in the Instructional Support Teacher and started some form of intervention under the Response to Intervention (RTI) program. This does not require any sort of evaluation and is part of general ed, not special ed.

Natalie said...

Trish,

You know the school system too well. Actually, your first reaction that the school didn't want to pay for another year of education is spot on. That's exactly what they told the parents. I can't even imagine telling any parent that, even if it is the truth.

On a similar note, I just wanted you to know how much I admire your perseverance and dedication to pursuing the best for Michael. I think the system is designed to wear parents out so we just do what they want. Kudos to parents like you who fight the good fight for their kids.

With Josiah, I'm only interacting with the IU on a very, very small scale. And so far I've had no problems. But I can see perfectly how the red tape, bureaucracy, and political correctness would be enough to make you spit nails.

Michael is lucky to have such great parents!

Promises Fulfilled said...

I just want to say that I don't know this specific situation, but since I know you, I trust that these parents are doing what is best for their child.

As a former teacher, I do want to say that I always had the student's best interest at heart, and I don't appreciate the reference that all teachers and administrations do not really care for the students, and only care for funding, etc. I encountered many parents that were only involved in their child's education when they wanted to blame someone else for their child's struggle or failure. There were even parents that wanted me to pass their child, even though they failed the class and did not come in for extra help, etc (I did not cave to the parent's request - their child earned their grade). However, I would not say that all parents are like this. I did meet many that were very supportive of their children - and took action before the end of the course, to help their child get on the right track. I would think, "If only all parents were like this..."

I sometimes tire from hearing complaints about schools and teachers, etc. - and not the positives about it. So, instead of keeping my thoughts to myself this time, I decided to share them with you - from a (former) teacher's point of view.

Natalie said...

Promises,

Thanks for speaking up! And thanks for calling me on lumping the good with the bad. I meant no offense to the thousands of good teachers who are making a difference in their classrooms everyday. I'm privileged to be friends with many great teachers who would bleed for their students.

But it seems that teachers are increasingly having their hands slapped or bound by crazy rules and laws that are more concerned with test results and funding than individual progress.

I guess what I should've said was that it's not teachers that are failing our students, it's the system.

From a teacher's perspective, what do you think needs to be changed so our schools and students can exel?

Thanks for dialoging.

Natalie said...

To better clarify my opinion, and to remove all snarkiness, I edited the post a little. I would prefer to not offend any more teachers :)

The Gang's All Here! said...

I'm guessing, from personal experience and friends who teach, that the pressure to speak out about the cost of "re-educating" the child was coming more from the top administrators than from those who actually work with the children. Unfortunately, often the administrators have too much to say about the daily decisions that impact the students. Much like the mess of our healthcare system. I, for one, would love to see a voucher system enacted - to enable parents more "say" in the decisions and directions that our kids need us to make for them. Unfortunately, it may be a bit of a band-aid on a gaping wound at this stage of the game.

Livin' Life said...

I highly agree with your post Natalie. We are seeing this more and more in our school and just talked with a mom who had to fight to get her daughter kept back into 4th grade. Then they had to diagnose her with some learning disability to do so as councled by the school psychologist. It was a hard fight but they won in the end. However, their daughter is still failing math and they continue to do nothing about it. The parents have gone to paying an outside source for help.

We were told if we did not keep our youngest back a year before entering Kindergarten we would not be given another chance if he did not do well. All three of our boys are in public school but it is a tough battle for parents. I believe talking to the teacher most of them have their hands tied and are not able to step in any more. I am very concerned for the public school system. I wish this was one of the main concerns for our political candidates. Lets through out this "No Child Left Behind" act as soon as we can.

Classic MaMa said...

Preach it! I saw it happen first-hand and wish that parents were not always viewed as the uninformed. Some parents ACTUALLY know their kids and have an idea about what is best for them.

Promises Fulfilled said...

Natalie~

I have not been on the computer long enough to respond to your question. It is a good question and a tough one to answer. I have been thinking about it over the last few days and I think that the answer is not simple - if it was, I think that things would be better already!

The first thought that comes to my mind is that parents need to be involved in their child's lives - they need to know what is going on, how to encourage them, direct them, etc. I think that too many parents don't know how to parent (I am not referring to your post, or probably anyone that is reading this - so, please don't be offended) and are leaving it up to the school, church, etc. However, I know that when there was support at home, a child seems to excel more than if there is no support at home. (These are all generalizations and/or things that I have experienced).

I believe that students need to be motivated to do their best. How do you motivate someone? This is different for each individual. I was a self motivated person, but the majority of people are not.

I believe that "No Child Left Behind" was probably written and passed with good intentions, but let me tell you, it seems so impractical. The gov't has tests that students have to take, but these tests have NO CONSEQUENCE, etc on the child, so where is the motivation to do well on it? These tests in turn have a consequence on the schools - funding, if the school will be taken over by the gov't etc. I remember proctoring the exam and right before it, I overheard one student telling another, "all that you need to remember is ABBA CADABA" - that was what he was hinting at what he would write in for the answers on the answer sheet - wonderful.

It is hard to say what is the best thing to do, and it is hard to compare our school system (who educates all) with others country's (who educate some). I think that students would do better if they are encouraged to do so by parents and teachers (working as a team) and if their needs/struggles are assessed and if intervention/extra help is given ASAP. I am not sure what I feel that the role of the gov't should be. It is important to keep teachers accountable, but how is that assessed? It could not be based on how students do in the class that is being taught, and I have not really read up on how officials are saying it should be done.

These are just a few of my thoughts that have been going on in my mind. I am sure that there are other great ideas out there, but these are just a few to think about at the moment.