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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Lovely Wife on Education

This is a rant from The Lovely Wife, on education, and schools. It's longer than most anything I've ever written here, but probably a more imporant read. Because of the length of the article, you'll have to click this "Read The Full Post" link to get it all to come up.

Ok everyone, I am using Crazypolitico’s blog to rant on my most favorite subject. Education in America. I just finished watching Oprah, she is running a two part series on education in America (see www.oprah.com). They showed an inner city school in Chicago and one in Naperville, the differences were astounding. However, just the physical conditions of the schools weren’t the only difference. We all know that and have heard about “inner city” schools not performing up to the level of “suburban” schools. Well, let’s look at that for a moment. First, “suburban” schools have more money, yes they do, but because their property taxes are higher, there are more home owners in the suburbs than in the inner city. Ok, we all can understand that. The term today on Oprah was learned helplessness. When we all have decided that there is no way an inner city child can learn more or is less valuable than a suburban child. As suburban parents and taxpayers we have decided that most “inner city children” are products of welfare, drug dealers and such they will never amount to the same productive citizen as the “suburban” child.

Just because it’s a “suburban” school DOES NOT make it a better school for “YOUR” child. We all have a responsibility to determine what is best for our children. If you are in an “inner city” school, what are you as a citizen and parent doing to ensure your child succeeds? Do you know what your child’s test scores are? Do you know what your child’s school looks like? One parent from the Chicago school had never been in the gym, she didn’t know what the physical condition of the gym was (the ceiling had a hole in it and basically allowed all the elements in).

This just goes to show that many parents pay lip service to wanting their children’s school to be better; however, many parents are clueless either by choice or ignorance as to what is going on in their child’s school. These are not questions that pertain only to “inner city” schools. There are “suburban” schools that are in bad shape also, they just have more (I know, I know, not all the time) money to “hide” the problem. Many of the suburban schools do have a better physical building, however, that brings us back to the tax dollars. Ok, enough on the physical aspect of schools.

Now, for the academics of the schools. I personally have an extremely low tolerance for “ignorant” parents. Having raised two children (a good chunk of the time by myself, Love ya honey, but let’s face it your jobs kept you away a lot) who both graduated from high school with B averages and above it is not easy. We lucked out with our youngest, she is beautiful, bright beyond words, and adapted (though she’ll deny it) easily to the different schools and moves they endured. Our oldest is also bright beyond words, good looking, and a big teddy bear, however, his intelligence has a problem showing itself in written form. If he could’ve given oral answers and reports he would’ve been on the honor roll.

As a parent, I kept telling the teachers he was bored not dumb or lazy. As a parent I should’ve pushed to have him tested for a learning disability. Unfortunately, we didn’t know until his sophomore year in high school. Freshman year he received a D in algebra and we were told he MUST take summer school because it wasn’t above a C and you can’t get into college with a D in algebra. When I questioned the teacher if my son needed a C in algebra to graduate and go into the navy, the teacher told me that was a “piss poor career choice” at that point (big brownie points for me) I hung up the phone and called CP at work and told him. He got that teacher straightened out (that was when he was still active duty). Then we had problems with his history teacher, he failed 1st quarter and was pulled from the class, then at semester when the teacher tried to place him in lower level history class the department chair said no, he was too smart to go in a lower level course and they put him back in the same class with the same teacher (went over real well in our house and we tried to get him a different teacher, didn’t work).

Then, his English teacher called and said he wasn’t capable of keeping up in her class, we told her he was just bored and maybe she could try harder to stimulate his interest. Oh no, that couldn’t be the problem she IS the teacher, she IS having his reading comprehension tested, of course we said tongue in cheek go ahead and test him, well two weeks later she called and said they wanted to test him some more. I asked what the reading comprehension test showed, she hemmed and hawed and said that wasn’t the problem, as a sophomore in high school his reading comprehension was at a third year post grad level.

Ok, so now they are finally realizing I have a genius. J They tested his verbal IQ, he missed one question. When they tested his written IQ he scored in the bottom ten percent. Now we were finally getting somewhere, which was also when we moved to a different school. The high school he was attending was Highland Park High School in Highland Park IL, this is supposed to be one of the better schools in the county and state. We moved to Zion IL; keep in mind this new school is still in the same county and state. He didn’t have enough credits there to be a junior (crud), they had him repeat his sophomore year, he excelled, and he graduated on time.

What I’m trying to get across is the fact that parent involvement is huge. Parent awareness of what is going on in their child’s school is priceless. It doesn’t matter how much money the school district does or doesn’t have. It doesn’t matter how many kids graduate (which brings up a whole other problem, according to reports I have seen the last few days, most high school drop outs are bored). What matters is knowing the best place for you child. YOU as a PARENT need to be aware of what your child’s school is teaching, how is your child being taught and treated by his/her teachers.

As a parent do NOT be afraid to speak. There are things as a parent YOU can do. Bill Gates has a foundation that is trying to help the education system; the site is http://www.standup.org/, also check out Oprah’s website. Time magazine has an issue out on high school dropouts. Please as a parent don’t fall into the “learned helplessness” . You have a voice use it, be aware, be involved. I don’t care if you work, CP was gone a lot, yet he was PTA president one year, he still knew the teachers and the schools. There a ton of ways to be involved.

Please do not count on the schools to do everything. If you need move to another district, if it’s best for your child do it. If your child was visiting a known child molester you would do something, why won’t you do the same for your child’s future? Schools will write your child off if you let them, please don’t do this to our nation’s future. Find the best school for “YOUR” child, maybe it’s an “inner city” school, maybe its not, however, you as a parent MUST be INVOLVED and AWARE in your child’s education.

Here a few simple things you could do:
If you’re planning a move checkout the schools BEFORE you buy the house, look at the test scores, and look at the number of students who graduate.

What is the truancy rate?

What do you expect the school to do for your child?

Will the school listen to you?

Did your previous school “hide” disruptive students (one school district we were in did this, they shipped “hard to handle” and students with learning disabilities, and physical disabilities to other districts under the guise that particular “service” isn’t available for your child)?

Please, please be a part of your child’s education. Volunteer, chaperone, do whatever to be involved. Go talk to the teachers. Talk to the administrators. DO NOT BE HELPLESS.

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4Comments:

Blogger Crazy Politico said...

I think what's bothered me most about schools in general has been the parents. I can deal with pain in the butt students, and teachers. But it always seemed the most opinionated and obstructive parents were also the least involved. They had no problems bitching about things, but no time to do anything to make it better, or even suggestions.

8:33 PM  
Blogger crazypoliticoswife said...

Not us if we were any more involved the schools would've had us arrested for stalking. :)

9:02 PM  
Blogger ablur said...

My son's teacher knows who I am. The office knows who I am. When they send home notes and permission slips I get edited versions. They don't want me to call or show up.

Parents shouldn't just sign permission slips because the school sends them home. They better include Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. In detail!!! This is my kid we are talking about.

This is one topic I could have quite a field day with myself. You did a fine job laying it out. Now if we could only "Lay Out" the trouble makers who call themselves parents.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

Great rant Mrs. B! I agree with everything you said. As far as checking out a school, you might also check to see how involved the other parents are.

11:19 AM  

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