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Workshop #11 Public Schooling - Page 2

post #21 of 73
Hello!

I have three kids. My oldest is in grade 2, my middle child is in JK and my youngest is a toddler .
My girls attend public school.


I'm really interested in the topic of standardized testing also.


We are moving from a more affluent school to a less affluent and more transient (student body) school. I am relieved about this. The standardized testing scores are lower at the new school and I'm glad. The major reason I enrolled my kids in public school is so that they will learn the value of diversity. Many socioeconomic groups are not represented in private schools. i am particularly interested in discussing multiculturalism and how children come to understand their peers in a public school setting.
post #22 of 73
I have a 1st grader and a preschooler. My Liz is 6 1/2 and in first grade. She went to all day kindy last year. Maggie is 3 and attends a coop preschool for 2 mornings a week. We started at the coop when Liz was 2 1/2 or so in the parent tot class. I wanted to send her to the preschool when she was 3 1/2 because she loves the class/social part of it. So the parent tot class was a perfect bridge for that plus I met other moms in the area- some who are now my closest friends. Also a co-op style school needs to parents participation in order for it to succeed and we like being involved in our children's schooling and church etc. I am on the preschool board and have been the president for the last 2 school years.

We have a smaller public school in our neighborhood. There are under 300 kids in this school and it serves a very close proximity to the school so we know most of our neighborhood because of this. We could literally have a full PTA meeting at our block parties.

I must add I live in a white middle class suburbia sort of town near a larger metro area. I may have a whole different experience than say my SIL/BIL with their larger city public school that is a magnet school they had to apply so their kindergarder could go. For every student that they took, 13 were turned away. Where we have less than 40 in the kindergarden, they have 8 sections of it- 400 plus in this grade. YIKES!

We pay higher property taxes and 75% of it goes to our public schools. Worth every penny IMHO. When we moved to this part of town, everyone raved about the public school. Also, we have an open enrollment policy, so we have students from all over the town coming to school here. We are a title I school as well. We have about 50 kids who live at or below the poverty level and some come for a year or two and then move away. Its nice to have such a diversity for a public school and we also have the highest testing scores in the district.

To answer some questions:

Requesting teachers: I know several families who do this. Some request a teacher because an older sibling had the teacher or "they heard" this or that about the other teacher or the teacher being requested. We feel that what might work for one child, not the other so we are letting the teacher sorting hat to do just that! At least for now!

more later...
post #23 of 73
I'm not sure how workshops work, but I'm very interested in discussions of public schools. We live in a very high COL area, with "very good" schools. Sometimes it seems like our kids are getting a good education, and sometimes it seems like the school is good at giving them a lot of extraneous work.

DD1 is 10, in 5th grade, DD2 is 8 in 3rd grade. Next year ds will be in KG, and he's already reading at a 2nd grade level. Dd3 is 2 1/2, and will eventually be in this school. So we have a lot invested in this school community, and it being a productive and fun learning environment.

Our best year in this school district has been dd1's 4th grade year. It was her teacher, and I just didn't realize how great she was (in general). She had issues, but we worked things through together, and most of all, she made learning fun for the kids.

We are excited about the potential of this school cluster in high school. It has some great learning opportunities. DD1 will be in middle school next year, and differentiation in education gets "better" at that level. We have been in 2 diff. elem. schools, and one was the "lower end" of the income level for our area. The diversity was awesome. The staff were really excellent. The academic rigor went up appreciably (almost one whole academic year) when we switched to the higher COL elem. school.

Our school district is entertaining thoughts of budget cuts (reality hits). We will see.
post #24 of 73
I read alot on MDC but rarely post. I am very interested in the discussion about public schooling.
My older child is registered to start 1/2 day French Immersion Kindergarten in the fall. The school he will be attending is the farther of two schools within walking distance. The closer school (the one that we are in "catchment" of) offers a regular program. The one DS will attend offers FI, an elementary multi-age thematic integrated "alternative program" and a general English program. The closer school services a much more diverse area culturally and socio-economically. The farther school services a very homogenous (homogenously green/progressive/organic/left wing/middle class and white) neighbourhood. We sit on the border between this neighbourhood and the "poorest area code in our province" next door.
I taught FI early in my teaching career before moving into an off-campus classroom for a specialized youth populations (sexually exploited youth). I attended an alternative classroom just like the one at DS's future school. In fact, my mom was one of the parents active in bringing alternative to Manitoba where we live. I speak French, but not with my kids, my partner does not speak French.
Although I see many places where school reform is desperately needed (many of the topics bulleted as the outline of this workshop) I find that when I am "in the moment" my strength, courage and creativity are not where they need to be in order for me to affect change yet. I am hoping to find my voice in this matter, however gently, as we start the public school journey with ds.
DD will attend 3 mornings a week of Montessori preschool (paid, private) in the fall.

I'm looking forward to reading all that is written!
post #25 of 73
Hi. DS is 4 and goes to two, half days a week to preschool. I always imagined I would homeschool, but so far it seems that DS and I don't have compatible personalities for that. So, we've decided to try pubic school. He seems like a student who will do well surrounded by other kids his age. We shall see. I will always remain open and involved in his education, so that he will thrive as best as possible...

Interested more in lurking here and enjoy reading everyone's experiences.
post #26 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by sacredmama View Post
Hi. DS is 4 and goes to two, half days a week to preschool. I always imagined I would homeschool, but so far it seems that DS and I don't have compatible personalities for that. So, we've decided to try pubic school. He seems like a student who will do well surrounded by other kids his age. We shall see. I will always remain open and involved in his education, so that he will thrive as best as possible...

Interested more in lurking here and enjoy reading everyone's experiences.
I really understand the personality conflict. My middle son simply will not work with me...at all! He works much better with his teachers.

My first son has special needs, and I just didn't feel like I could meet all his needs. Of course he absolutely loves school. We had to fight with him this year when he had a 103 fever because he still wanted to go to school.

We live in a very upper middle to upper income area due to Dh's job. He's required to live on the wildlife refuge he works on. No way that we could ever afford this area otherwise. One thing I do wish was different is the lack of diversity in our school. I also wish that some of the school programs were less expensive. We almost always have to apply for scholarships for them.
post #27 of 73
How timely. I'm interested in discussing things here. I have 3, and my oldest is getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. We've done home preschool, so far and enjoyed it, but DH and I felt public school was a good option. Our district had what they called transitional-k, where the first semester was half-day and no more than 10 kids per class. Then the second semester, classes combined and lengthened to full-day. We thought that would be perfect for DS1, exactly what he needed. Weeeeelllll, they just made the decision to go to full-day year-round. We knew the decision was coming, and we attended board meetings, wrote letters, told all our neighbors and encouraged everyone to get involved, but the change was made. Now I'm back to square one about what to do. I'm feeling the crunch, with 6 months to go until school starts.

On a rather different topic...

As I read through the OP, I was struck again on the topic of grades. It was after I had finished school that I started looking at the grading system and it finally occurred to me how arbitrary it is. The system I had all through school was to have my scores from a certain class translated into a letter, which was then translated back into an integer, which was then averaged with other integers on a continuous scale to get my GPA, on which I was judged. It was such an a-ha moment to realize how crazy that seemed, and how odd it was I never thought to question it. That was just the beginning of my questioning everything.
post #28 of 73
Making the Grade:

One thing our public schools did, was change the report card the last few years. In kindergarden its one way, then 1-4 its another. I think they start the letter grade system in 5th-8th.
Example:
So there is a formal class such as science. They now have a meets/exceeds/needs to work on type system. The first time we received it, then room for the teacher to comment- like loves to learn!

For the primary area in k/1st the focus is reading so the report card is a bit more descriptive in those areas.
post #29 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
Making the Grade:

One thing our public schools did, was change the report card the last few years. In kindergarden its one way, then 1-4 its another. I think they start the letter grade system in 5th-8th.
Example:
So there is a formal class such as science. They now have a meets/exceeds/needs to work on type system. The first time we received it, then room for the teacher to comment- like loves to learn!

For the primary area in k/1st the focus is reading so the report card is a bit more descriptive in those areas.

This is the way it is in our school district also, but they don't start the letter grades until 6th grade. It was so strange for me when I got his first grade report card. I kept thinking, but where are the letters? I think it's so much better for the kids not to have the letter grades. I wish they continued the other type of grading longer.
post #30 of 73
Wow, I just noticed this workshop and I'm excited to see it! The book looks wonderful too. My oldest will be old enough for kindergarten next year and we are considering public school as an option. Our district has a good historic reputation, but the measures are comparable to surrounding neighborhoods. I am nervous about public school, I don't hear many positives at all, and I also feel disconnected from schools and feel like I don't know much about the school we might have our son attend. There seems to be little information out there (people who went decades ago speak highly of our district, but that was decades ago). In the next year I need to find out more about our public school so we can make a good choice.
post #31 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
From what I've seen (and we homeschool), using the public schools in our area is what you'd call "an uphill battle." I tutor two children who go to Baltimore City public schools, and it seems that the school just isn't willing or able to meet thier needs academically.

Our local school was on some list for being really violent, and I believe it. Ds' friend was in fourth grade there last year. He was constantly being beat up at school, either for being Mexican or white, depending on who was throwing the punches. Apparently the school told his mom that there wasn't much they could do to protect him and that she should consider homeschooling.

I am interested in the "improving attention span" bullet point on the list, as the parents of one of the children I tutor are being told by the school to put her on medication for ADD, even though her doctor says she doesn't need it.
Yeah, the school district can really make a difference. My sister was a special education teacher for 6 years in the Baltimore city school district. She was very frustrated by a lot of things that she thought needed to be done. Some of it was lack of funds, some of it was administrative, some of it was bad teachers that they couldn't get rid of for numerous reasons. One being a lot of teachers didn't want to work in those schools.

But I fell in love with her kids. I did environmental education programs with them and then went in to just hang out and help my sister. They were great kids with a whole lot of difficulties to overcome. I was so happy that my sister was their teacher. They needed that.
post #32 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenOfTheMeadow View Post
This is the way it is in our school district also, but they don't start the letter grades until 6th grade. It was so strange for me when I got his first grade report card. I kept thinking, but where are the letters? I think it's so much better for the kids not to have the letter grades. I wish they continued the other type of grading longer.
Interesting. I went to public school from 3rd - 9th grade, and we only got letter grades in 7th grade on up. before, we got E (for excellent), S (satisfactory), NS (not satisfactory).

And lots and lots of space for notes. This was from 1978-1984.
post #33 of 73
I went to public school, and always had letter grades. 1990 - 2002. The teachers were allowed scantron comments, no personal comments at all.
post #34 of 73
In first grade in 1980 we started with letter grades. I used to remember the difference between and A and a B+ was one stinking point! And how disappointing it was to miss that one question and lose a whole grade! Lot's of pressure!
post #35 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by sacredmama View Post
Hi. DS is 4 and goes to two, half days a week to preschool. I always imagined I would homeschool, but so far it seems that DS and I don't have compatible personalities for that. So, we've decided to try pubic school. He seems like a student who will do well surrounded by other kids his age. We shall see. I will always remain open and involved in his education, so that he will thrive as best as possible...

Interested more in lurking here and enjoy reading everyone's experiences.

This is us too. This workshop is particularly poignant for me right now. I was kind of struck when I saw it because of the timing.
I have been adament and excited about my plans to homeschool, but as my 4 year old gets closer to "that age", I am really questioning the decision, my abilities etc.

My experiences in public school were nothing short of horrible for the most part. I've been very against sending my kids, but I am starting to change my tune. It shocks me to even type that but there it is.
I don't think I've fully come to terms with it. I seem to change my mind a lot.
:
post #36 of 73
I'm in Ontario like allgirls, and my older dd is six years old. She is in SK - senior kindergarten.

When I was a child (I'm 28) JK & SK were both half day/every day programs. Now the JK is a full day, every second day, and SK is a full day, every day.

One thing I found was that it was a bit of a shock for dd to be in school all day when she started last year. She's a January baby, so the oldest in her class, but it was still difficult for her at close to five years old.

This may not apply, but my youngest dd is 14 months and is starting daycare in two months. I stayed home for a eight months of mat leave, and since then my mother has been caring for her.

However, dd2 has mild special needs and is really wearing my mother to the bone. So, hence the daycare setting.

I'm a single parents (soon to be) so I'm interested in maximizing both my dds experiences in the public school setting. My six year old thrives in her class, but I do worry about the rigidness of the school she's in (currently in a Catholic school, the public schools around here are horrendous) so I'm interested in discussing that.

There are no private school options, or I would definitely check that out!
post #37 of 73
So here's a question. Whenever I talk to people about the school district, I get mixed reviews. Like "oh, it's a GREAT district" and when I ask why, they talk about the technology, AP scores, and standardized testing. Or, "oh, it's really not so good" and they talk about social problems, race problems, bullying, and inflexible teachers. How do you wade through those comments to make the decision?
post #38 of 73
My sister, the special ed teacher, told me that the single most important factor for a child to do well in school is parental involvment. So that's something to keep in mind. Sending your child to public school does not mean that you are not involved in their education.

There are many ways to be involved, from being a class helper, to checking their homework, and keeping in touch with their teachers. I've done programs for my children's class and gone in on days to read my favorite book to them. So many ways to let your child and your child's teacher that you want to be part of your child's education.

As far as keeping in touch, email has been amazing. There are times when a phone call just doesn't work into the schedule or it's just a simple question that doesn't need a call. I usually hear from the teacher within a few hours.

Also, sending your child to public school does not have to be a permanent decision. You can change your mind if things don't work out. I think sometimes that is the only way you can tell if it works for your child.
post #39 of 73
My DH attended a public school and then Catholic school for a bit before attending a public high school. He will not send our girls to Catholic school because of his experience. He felt it was not a well rounded learning experience and it really caters to that "normal student". Meaning if your child is even a bit above average, they are not going to be challenged and if your child is below the standard for anything, you are going to have to go outside the Catholic schooling system to get the enrichment needed whether a LD, speech or anything like that.

In my area, property taxes are high to pay for the schools and Catholic school in our town is about 3K a year per child in the K-8. So I would have to return to work to pay for this privilage of a 6K education. Add another $1000 or so a year in fundraising, extra activities etc.


I also feel in a public school situation, you can be very involved in your child's education. But you do have to be proactive about this. I would suggest formally introducing both parents to the teacher right away, get to know your child's classmates and their families, get to know the entire support staff at the school. If something comes up whether an emergency or a personal situation, people are more than likely going to asst you in a better manner if they know you already.

Ask the teacher if there is anything she needs done that you can do. You know your talents, let her/him know them. DH built one teacher a large coat rack for the room. I do Xeroxing each week for DD's teacher and the others in the grade. It takes 20 minutes and then she dosent have to do it. My neighbor is an artist and draws up project cards for the kindy teacher. Another friend owns a large van and drives the high school buddies across town once a week to help in our school. I know each and every teacher whether in public or private school has a list of 50 or so things that anyone can do to assist. You just need to ask.
post #40 of 73
Who has EveryDay Math at their school?? This is new to DH and I this year.
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