Workshop #11 Public Schooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Workshop #11 Public Schooling

Welcome to our Eleventh Natural Family Living discussion: Public Schooling; This discussion will key in on
Part 6 – Educational Alternatives from Peggy O’Mara’s book Natural Family Living.


Some of the topics we'll discuss are;


Chapter 21 - Public Schooling

Where Do You Fit Into Your Child's Education?
  • Request a teacher
  • Observe your child's classroom
  • Volunteer in your child's school
  • Share your expertise
  • Keep in touch with your child's teacher
  • Support teachers who are doing a good job
  • Look into your school's discipline policy
  • Get involved at policy level


Reinforce Learning At Home

Talking To Your Child About School
  • Ask Open-ended questions
  • Offer acknowledgment and empathy
  • Address hypothetical questions
  • Bring family news to school

Being Your Child's Advocate

When To Start Your Child In School

Standardized Tests: Poor Measures of Success
  • They are not a valid measure of intelligence
  • They are not obective
  • They are biased
  • They favor the wealthy
  • They are used to perpetuate damaging tracking systems
  • They encourage teachers to, "Teach for the test"
  • They inhibit development of the intellect


Making the Grade
  • Nurture your child's talents and motivation for learning
  • Let your child now that you consider grades secondary to learning
  • At the same time, let your child know that grades are the way success is measured in schools
  • Discuss your views with your child's teacher
  • Supplement learning at home


The Learning Disability Debate
  • The Attention Deficit Epidemic
  • The problem with labeling
  • Alternative approaches to learning disabilities
    • Public schooling alternatives
    • Alternative schooling
    • Improving attention span
    • Homeopathic treatment of ADD
    • Other alternative therapies for ADD
    • The Tomatis Method

Education in the Twenty-First Century
  • Commercialism in schools
  • Multiculturalism
  • Arts Education
  • Technology
  • School Lunch Reform

College: It Isn't Over Yet
  • Encourage your child to consider why she wants to go to college
  • Choose a school based on the quality of the education it offers
  • Consider size and location
  • Consider alternatives
  • Don't let cost be a deterrent



Please join us in discussion on Public Schooling. We welcome everyone to share their personal experiences, what works for your family, your struggles and your ideas. This is an open dialog and we ask that everyone be respectful of others' opinions. Take what feels right to you and leave the rest behind. Please be respectful to all our members so that the workshop can be a place of meaningful and respectful discussion for all our members. If you have a favorite quote from Natural Family Living, please share it.

We would like to invite everyone to join us no matter where you are in your thinking or feelings. These discussions are meant to be nonjudgmental so please keep in mind when reading members' responses that this is a true discussion based on Natural Family Living and not a place to debate or criticize. For more ideas and information, please see our Learning at School forum.

We’re excited to offer this workshop and hope it will give our members a glimpse into the grassroots of Mothering magazine and Natural Family Living.

This workshop will be facilitated by allgirls, QueenOfTheMeadow, lauren, Rhiannon Feimorgan, and Abimommy. They are here to guide the discussion and keep it on topic. They will occasionally post references or ask questions to keep the conversation flowing. Please feel free to contact them at any time with questions, suggestions or concerns. Please keep in mind our workshop guidelines and current user agreement at all times.

We are compiling a Natural Family Living Resources Sticky which we will update with each workshop. Please feel free to refer to it for more information.

Not all those who wander are lost 
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#2 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello everyone and welcome to our newest workshop. I am looking forward to discussing this with everyone.

My dd is in second grade in public school.

Please keep in mind this workshop is for Public schools, Homeschooling and Alternative Schools will be forthcoming.

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#3 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 09:31 AM
 
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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.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds   11yo dd  9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds  
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#4 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 12:36 PM
 
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I am very interested in participating in this workshop. My dd is currently homeschooled but planning on part-time enrollment in a public, charter school in the fall. I am interested to hear the views on tracking. While I agree that rigid tracking is detrimental and doesn't allow for late bloomers, gifted but poor test takers, or asynchronous learners to get the placement they need among other issues, I also think that some sort of fluid ability grouping does benefit learners. The studies I have read and my personal experience seems to indicate that kids learn better in groups with similar abilities/skill levels. It will be interesting to follow the Colorado school system that is going to eliminate grade levels and follow a mastery based system. I believe the age/grade lockstep is detrimental in many ways.

I have been considering beginning a second career in education. My career as a biochemist has taken a back seat while we have been homeschooling. I have found I love teaching math and science and would like to pursue that as a new goal in a few years, perhaps along with school reform.
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#5 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 12:51 PM
 
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I have three children in the public school system(here in Canada) and it has it's challenges but what I've discovered is that very good things can come out of a public school depending on the administration and the school board.

I have a daughter in kindergarten every other day right now, a daughter in her first year of high school(who LOVES it) and a child about to enter junior kindergarten in the fall. I have an older daughter who is finishing her final two credits of high school and she has had the greatest challenges with school although I believe a great deal of her problems were due to stress in her life, bad decisions on her part and to some degree the school's inability to inspire them to want to attend. Who wants to go somewhere where you are yelled at? Why would you suspend a child for skipping school? Things like that.

I have found that working with the schools is the way to go but I've also found that getting involved with the school goes even further. I volunteer a lot and I'm a presence at the school. I will continue to be.

Public school can turn out some wonderfully well-adjusted, well-rounded and well-educated people. It has it's flaws but it can be positive and enriching as well.

I'm looking forward to this workshop!
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#6 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 12:52 PM
 
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I'm very interested in this workshop because my dd will be beginning public school in the fall. She will be going to the neighbourhood French Immersion program. We are supposed to have a very good school here, but I am concerned about how our fairly relaxed life at home will translate. I think dd will like school and do well, but I don't agree with lots of the school policies. I want to go in with a positive attitude, though; since it has been decided she is going to school.

I'm confused about how to enroll in the workshop, though. Is there a list of required reading or anything? Do people come online at certain times? I'm probably just missing a very big, obvious sticky about this!

Oh, okay. I see it's based on chapters from Peggy's book. Is that all I need to read?

Thanks.
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#7 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 01:16 PM
 
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Welcome carfreemama. My oldest went through a partial French Immersion program a few years back for several years. I"ve not enrolled my 5.5 year old in FI though because she'd have to switch schools and french isn't spoken in my home. My older daughter was at a disadvantage that way however when she was older and we had moved and she wasn't in the FI program any longer she did core french and her french was way ahead of other kids who hadn't done FI. She would be chosen to read things in french whenever required because she had the best pronounciation and grasp of the language. It really benefited her.

I'm in Ontario.
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#8 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 01:51 PM
 
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Hi, I'm Karen. I have one dd in public half day pre-k and she is thriving. My 7 yr went to kindy anpre-k at our public school, she is homeschooling now. I plan to send my 15month old to pre-k if the same teacher is at the school.
I also work with associations who work towards policy change, policy improvement and support for public schools.

I am friends with many public school teachers and have heard of there concerns. I think public schools can be great under good administration/leadership, trust in the abilities of those who teach and when parents become involved.

I am looking fwd to this conversation

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#9 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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I'm so glad to be able to read all of this helpful info. Our son will be 3 in April, and schooling is very heavy on my mind lately. Thanks everyone!

Carrin Mama to Sawyer 4/06 and TTC #2 I am a WAHM!
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#10 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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I'm going to lurk around here because I'm still deciding whether to send DS to a public school or keep him home. He's a baby, so I have a while, but I'm interested in the discussion.


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#11 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 05:35 PM
 
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Hello! I am a 6th grade teacher in a public school and my son attends day care at a public high school as part of the school's vocational training.

I am interested in discussing the challenges public education faces, particularly standardized testing issues, and the learning disability debate.

:
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#12 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 08:18 PM
 
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Hello,

Although I homeschool my children, I went to public school here in NH and worked in the public school system for a number of years. We tried the public school system for DD2 who is autistic & decided against it.

I would not be against DD1 going to school if I knew she would be protected and not subjected to teachers/school systems wanting her on medications for ADD.

So though, we have decided to homeschool our children, I am very interested in both sides. Especially the testing (as many know homeschooling is under fire here in NH, but that's another thread )

I am looking forward to these discussions. I am all for ANYTHING that helps my children learn better - no matter where it comes from.
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#13 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 08:53 PM
 
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I'm kind of lurking. Both of my kids will be in public school next yr. Youngest will be in public preschool (tuition) and oldest will be in 1/2 day K. I have mixed feelings. The public school they will be going to is one of the best in the area, BUT we live in a rural area, so I think the stds are low. I'm afraid that our public school system won't be very competitive and I guess I don't have a very positive opinion about public school (negative socialization) in general. I went to public school and had a horrible experience overall, it was social suicide, and although I did well academically, I realized when I got to college that my education really wasn't as great as I was told it was (I went to a public school system that was supposedly well regarded). If the tuition for the private secular school we like wasn't so high (would req me to return to work to pay the tuition), we would have sent our kids to the private school. At this point, I am willing to give public school a try, if it doesn't work out, I plan to homeschool, which we did do on the preschool level last yr.
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#14 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 09:20 PM
 
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We're leaning very heavily towards homeschooling my 7m/o DD (and all subsequent LOs) when the time comes.
But I know that public school may (or even probably will) come into her education at some point. It's also a hard decision for me to make to hs because a) its such a commitment and b) practically every member of my family is a teacher--so I'm not used to the idea of school at home.

Anyway, I'll definitely be following along and asking questions about how to create a fulfilling public school experience when you're in a district that is less than stellar.

student momma to two great girls

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#15 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 10:43 PM
 
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my oldest is starting kindergarten next year. He and his younger brother have been at a great cooperative preschool for the last few years, and he loved it. I am a tad worried about him getting lost in a big class.

The good news is that we live in one of the best school systems in the country, and we have some friends who are teachers/administrators, so we are getting the "inside scoop" on good teachers, things to look for, opportunities for magnet schools, the Gifted and Talented programs, etc.

Both DH and I went to public school and our biggest issue with our education was how our parents didn't pay enough attention to how we were faring, with a general assumption that the school would take care of educating us. DH and I want to be very involved in our kids schooling.

We work full time and don't have the capacity to home school, though we definitely plan on supplementing and extending what the kids learn in school.

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#16 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 11:15 PM
 
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I have three little boys. My first son is in public school in a special ed program. My second son is in a regular ed program, and ds3 is still at home until next year.

So far we have been incredibly blessed with the two school districts we've been in. The current school they are in has blown me away. I see a lot of willingness in the teachers and administrators to let the children really mature in their own way and time. I love the educations ds2 is getting, but I'm even more impressed with the education ds1 is getting in the special needs classroom.

I tend to be very involved in my kids education. I am in contact quite frequently with my kid's teachers. I let them know what is and isn't working for my children and either make suggestion of what would work better or ask them what they think would help. I haven't had one teacher been at all resistant to my suggestions or working with me to come up with a solution.

That said, I think it is very important to do your research and be very clear about what you need and want for your child. I tend to be a mama bear when it comes to things like this, and I will not allow myself to be shrugged off.

 
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#17 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 11:22 PM
 
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My child attends a public school and I work for a different one. I'm interested to hear from teachers or other school officials to see if my experience with public school is similar.

student/sahm to three awesome girls who are always on the go!
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#18 of 73 Old 02-13-2009, 11:25 PM
 
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Hi, I am in the process of deciding whether we will send our 5yo DD to public school for K next fall. My DSD(10yo) is currently in the 5th grade. She is BP/ADHD and we are pulling her through school right now. It has ALL of us incredibly frustrated by the lack of support for her. It really has been hit and miss with her teachers. That has seemed to be directly affecting whether she has a good or bad year. I hate that we can't hand pick a teacher that works well with her personality.

DSD's mother works FT and is very mainstream. She would never dream of allowing us to homeschool her. I have stopped fighting that battle. I am just trying to decide which way we will go with our girls.

Mama to Ava (12/03) , Leila (4/06) , Violet (11/08) , and bonus mama to Madison (7/98)
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#19 of 73 Old 02-14-2009, 12:09 AM
 
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Hi- I'm a mom of teens who have experienced private school, homeschooling and public education in that order. I started working outside the home after a 17 year hiatus from a career in the medical field. I'm now working as a part time teacher's aide in a 2nd grade public classroom and love it.
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#20 of 73 Old 02-14-2009, 01:14 AM
 
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Subbing...

I have one in 1st grade and one in 1/2-day.

mom of 3 , homeschooling the oldest with google and the internet
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#21 of 73 Old 02-14-2009, 06:00 PM
 
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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.

4 kids under 10
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#22 of 73 Old 02-14-2009, 06:54 PM
 
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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...

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#23 of 73 Old 02-14-2009, 07:09 PM
 
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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.
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#24 of 73 Old 02-15-2009, 12:13 AM
 
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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!
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#25 of 73 Old 02-15-2009, 01:34 AM
 
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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.

*Liz* : mountain mama to DS 12/04
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#26 of 73 Old 02-15-2009, 10:51 AM
 
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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.

 
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#27 of 73 Old 02-15-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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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.
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#28 of 73 Old 02-15-2009, 09:10 PM
 
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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.

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#29 of 73 Old 02-15-2009, 10:26 PM
 
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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.

 
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#30 of 73 Old 02-16-2009, 09:23 AM
 
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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.
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