I will be the first to admit that, even though we had to do a lot of volunteer work and take a class to get a scholarship to afford it, we were extremely privileged to be able to send The Kid to the most wonderful private school I could have ever stumbled upon. When we interviewed at a Montessori school, I was concerned that the travel time would be too much for me since we were moving across the Island, and I would have to drive against morning traffic. That school’s administrator recommended a tiny school closer to us that she thought would both fit what we were looking for education wise as well as accommodate us in distance from out home. She was right, and we fell in love w/ that school, which became part of our family. We were so fortunate for that scholarship from a private party who wanted to fund children for Polynesian studies. Leaving that school was one of the hardest parts of leaving Hawai’i.
When we moved to Korea I promised to give the DoDS a try. It was rumored to be pretty much the best DoD school in the world. I didn’t let the fact that the “pod” where they keep two of the eight first grade classes could have fit the ENTIRE K-5 of Kid’s old school overwhelm me (too much). I tried to bite my tongue when I felt brushed off by the school counselor giving us a tour, even when she answered all the questions that the Air Force Colonel asked (some the same as the ones of mine she dismissed as “nothing to worry about”). I took deep breaths when Kid’s new teacher informed me that she didn’t have enough time for Kid to be allowed to use the method she had always used for Math, that we had to help her conform to the new method if she was going to keep up, even though it meant that she had to take three huge steps back, going from double digit addition/subtraction and multiplication to addition of 0’s, 1’s, and 2’s only, for a full month, b/f being allowed to move on.
Then, some more shit went down, and I had to restrain myself from going to the school and losing my cool.
After Kid missed a whole week of school w/ the stomach flu (at the same time I busted my ankle), we sent her back to school. Although the levels of Yellow Sand were not particularly high, we knew it was aggravating her lingering cough. I sent a note w/ Kid to school asking that she be allowed to stay indoors for recess until further notice, indicating that even low levels of Sand were aggravating her. About eleven that day, The Guy, just off of a 14 hour night shift and still sleeping, gets a call on his issued cell phone from the school nurse, telling us that 1) children NEED exercise and that we shouldn’t be restricting her outdoor activity, besides what would they do w/ her while she was indoors? and 2) that the Sand wasn’t that bad and that we shouldn’t be concerned. The Guy reiterated what we sent in the note, more politely than I would have, having my parenting undermined. They agreed to ONE DAY indoors, but would not allow her to miss any more activity. In my opinion, it isn’t up to the school to determine how bad the Sand is, if we, and our doctor, know that it is aggravating a cough that makes the Kid gag until puking, causing her to be sent home from school, then yes, I have a right to request such a thing. I am fully aware that kids need exercise, and if they are so concerned, maybe they should have more than one PE session a week or longer than one 30 minute recess, but the point was that my kid was healing from an illness.
Then, we find out that Kid has a project due the day she returns from being sick. Having a husband who works 14 hour days, having a sprained ankle limiting my already limited mobility, and two people w/ stomach flu for a week, we didn’t get around to doing the project. Also, it was one of those projects that yes, your kid turns in, but we all know they expect parents to help do, b/c it was supposed to be a scene in a shoebox or some other arts and crafts project. If our Household goods were here, then we would have a hugely ample supply of craft supplies. As it stood, moving was expensive, and we had to scrape the money together for things we would have had on hand (scissors, glue, construction paper…we didn’t even have a shoebox to put it in). I sent a note reminding the teacher that Kid had missed the previous week of school, had no handouts on the subject matter (I had to help her do all the research herself that the other kids got at school), and asking for a couple of extra days to catch up. She emailed me, telling me “no problem, turn it in whenever”. For the next three days she lectured The Kid, telling her it needed to be turned in the next day or she would receive a reduced grade. I am not particularly fond of a teacher telling a parent one thing and a student another. We should be working together, not against each other.
Kid told me yesterday that a boy in her class brought a Pokémon trading card to school (they aren’t supposed to bring toys to school). One featuring Pikachu, the iconic Pokémon. A normal teacher reaction would be to confiscate the card until the end of class, w/ a reminder to not bring it back. Kid’s teacher snatched the card and ripped it up in front of the boy. A little hostile for first grade, if you ask me.
Kid also came home to tell us that she learned about the history of Easter. That’s right, that Easter began when Jesus died on the cross and came back to life. From a fucking Department of Defense public school. Inexcusable. There is no room for religious education in public schools, unless they are going to explore Passover, Eostre, and anything else that is associated w/the season. And, I can think of a few ancient Celts who might object to the little “history” lesson they received…
We have conferences this Friday. Only a handful of students get conferences, those who are new or recent additions to the class. I have a smallish list of things that I plan to bring up, and am practicing my calm and reasonable demeanor. The re-enrollment forms for next year came home b/f Spring Break. I haven’t returned them yet. The Guy has mentioned that while we can’t afford the private International School here right now (although there is a fledgling program that may allow funding meant for a DoD student to apply to that particular school for some Armed Services member, something I am not sure I support), he will support me if I want to home school.
I can’t even believe I am considering it. For so many reasons.
It is a major privilege to be able to even consider it at all. That kind of shakes my world up on its own. But as Rachel* says, we sometimes make decisions on behalf of our children b/c we find them worth it:
I’ve heard the arguments that homeschooling or sending your child to a private school is elitist and takes resources away from the public schools that need them so badly. And yet, after tutoring kids from the public schools for more than a decade, and teaching freshman courses at the college level, I would homeschool my kids in a heartbeat if I had the option. And that’s the nature of being a parent – you have to make the choices that you think are best for your kids, even as you realize that just having that choice is a privilege.
I haven’t even finished my AA or BA. How in the world am I qualified? I have about zero confidence in my abilities.
While I have known people who came out of home schooling extremely well off, brilliant, well socialized, and who have pursued higher education at prestigious places (a very dear friend of mine was home schooled and is now a Senior at West Point, having had to have Independent studies created for her two years ago b/c she was so far ahead of the game), I also know more who have come out barely able to function in society. Education is so important, I don’t want to fuck this up.
I don’t want to hate on public schools, but I don’t find this one acceptable. The teacher couldn’t even allow five minutes for Kid to pass out birthday invitations, and I find that they are held into the curriculum no matter the child’s level. Kid is now doing well at Reading, but has yet to be properly evaluated, placed in the primary group b/c she is new (teacher has “no time”), and is being held back in Math, something in which she excels b/c the class isn’t “there” yet. Teachers have a hard job, but her former teacher had a similar sized class, mixed grade, and was worlds better.
I don’t even know where to begin finding out about how to Home School. What if I am having a bad pain day? It will take a lot of effort to keep her socialized. We would have to find extra curricular activities for her. It is very overwhelming.
I am lucky to have the option available to me. I fully acknowledge that. I just don’t yet know what to do w/ the feelings I have about the issues of Home Schooling, but if I can find a way to be satisfied w/ my child’s education, isn’t it worth it? Even as I struggle daily to check all of the unacknowledged privilege in my life, I am inclined to use what is available to me for the benefit of my child. I simply will not stand by while my kid is exposed to a hostile learning environment that privileges certain beliefs over others and ignores children in the name of conservation of time. Her future is too important to me, and that is something I knew I had to consider when I chose to become a parent (while I also recognize that not everyone is able to actively choose Motherhood as I was able to, or that she will have the resources available to make the choices I do).
Please, use the comments for advice, suggestions, resources, etc. This is not a place for judgmental blanket statements about public school, private school, home school, or parents who choose any of them. Parents/guardians make the best decision that they can for their unique family situation. I don’t tolerate shaming of any kind.
*There are a few points that Rachel makes in this guest post that I don’t agree w/, as noted by a few people in comments, such as that I felt the general spirit of the post was a tad bit shaming about food and body, making links that I have seen debunked at places like Shapely Prose. The excerpted part, however, is no less relevant. Rachel acknowledges that she should have been more careful in how she worded those things.