Saturday, September 10, 2011

Response to Comment...

Ok, so there are always people in the world...and they most often tend to be anonymous...who strike a quick blow and retreat.  I can't let this go uncommented upon.

For those who don't read the comments, here is a comment I received on my last post:

I am glad you have such confidence in your decisions.


I would caution you to use neutral words when you discuss the public school system with your children. Life is filled with good and bad fortune, and you never know which will be lurking around the next corner. In the event they return to public school one day, you don't want them to walk through the doors with fear and apprehension in their hearts.


Lots of kids pursue their personal interests in addition to attending public school =)


And, it's none of my business, but with puberty and adolescence on the cusp, and closely-aged kids of opposite genders that are biologically unrelated in close contact all day every day.... is one or two events a week really enough social time for them to make bonds outside their own family? I just keep thinking about how the kids who acted in the Brady Bunch all dated each other when they were growing up, because they hardly ever were around any other kids.


In my own job, I see that the US has been woefully surpassed in education by other countries. High paying jobs are being filled by foreign citizens at higher and higher rates in the US. Why limit your kids' opportunities in life by deciding to predetermine their college paths by dismissing college prep? They probably all have abilities beyond what you have imagined. Keep an open mind.

Let's take this paragraph by paragraph, shall we?
I am glad you have such confidence in your decisions.

Shouldn't we all?  Isn't that the point of being self-aware and following a path?


I would caution you to use neutral words when you discuss the public school system with your children. Life is filled with good and bad fortune, and you never know which will be lurking around the next corner. In the event they return to public school one day, you don't want them to walk through the doors with fear and apprehension in their hearts.

Uhhh...and you have been privy to our conversations when?  You have knowledge of me being less than neutral with my children??  Considering we LOVED our public school teachers, and let them know it at every opportunity, considering we LOVED our school but that sort of grade level teaching could not possibly work for most of our kids, do you really think I have torn it down to our kids?  Do you think I don't recognize that we are totally blessed at the moment to have this as an option...or that we don't do without a lot to make this option possible? 

And did Matt's comment which I shared have anything at all to do with "fear and apprehension"...or was it more about boredom and wanting to be self-directed?  Re-read it and you'll get my drift clearly.  Sorry, my kids...other than perhaps Kenny (who was often teased and for whom it was not always a pleasant place to be), are not afraid of public school and performed quite well there.  They are not weird and unsocialized, terror filled at the thought of ever entering the hallowed halls of a public school again.  Heck, some of their best friends are there!!  The simple fact is, they prefer one method of being educated over another.  Period.  One works better for them than another. That has nothing to do with fear and apprehension, regardless of how you might choose to interpret it.

Lots of kids pursue their personal interests in addition to attending public school =)
 
You are absolutely correct, they do.  I agree 100% with you on that.  However, particularly at middle and high school levels, what is sacrificed so they CAN pursue those personal interests?  I'll tell you in one word:  family.  The amount of homework that a child has after school these days, in addition to time away from home at school itself, then trying to squeeze in that time to really engage in things like drama, art, music, sports, etc. means that nary a family meal is shared, relationships within the family suffer, and sleep is sacrificed.  That can not be disputed. You can read here what is recommended on a Stanford University web site:  http://ed.stanford.edu/in-the-media/what039s-right-amount-homework
 
Here is a little of what they said:

The district plans to use the survey results to reshape homework policies, which currently allow its teachers to assign 10 minutes of homework each day beginning in kindergarten, and increase it by 10 minutes for each grade level, capping at three hours for high schoolers.

3 hours a night for high schoolers.  7-8 hours a day of school not including travel time.  Hopefully 8 hours of sleep.  Throw in those sports, drama and music activities and that leaves how much of a day to interact with your family?

And we wonder why high schoolers have nothing to do with their parents or siblings. 

Oh, but then according to this next twisted comment, perhaps it is best if we ALL remain separated and away from home as many hours as possible:

And, it's none of my business, but with puberty and adolescence on the cusp, and closely-aged kids of opposite genders that are biologically unrelated in close contact all day every day.... is one or two events a week really enough social time for them to make bonds outside their own family? I just keep thinking about how the kids who acted in the Brady Bunch all dated each other when they were growing up, because they hardly ever were around any other kids.

So, I guess I am to take from this that our children are at higher risk for developing incestuous relationships because they are not biologically related and never are around others.  Hmmm....that is a new one, thanks for pointing it out.

SERIOUSLY???

Oh, but I forgot, we are only out once or twice a week around other kids...at the library, at dance class, at church, at volleyball 3 times a week, at taekwondo 2 times a week, at Civil Air Patrol, at art class, at track, at Home Ec class, visiting other kids in their homes, at any other activity we engage in.  Yea, we are at high risk for lack of socialization.

I will have to remember that homeschooling leads to incest.  Thanks.  That takes the cake.


In my own job, I see that the US has been woefully surpassed in education by other countries. High paying jobs are being filled by foreign citizens at higher and higher rates in the US.

And you just made my entire point, that generally, we are failing and our kids...not just mine...are suffering.  Sure, some succeed, but overall those all important test scores continue to decline.  I don't want this for any child, it's not fair that a kid graduates high school and still can't read at even a 10th grade level.  And this is not an anomaly these days, this happens.  How about the following:

http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/home/891733-312/u.s._students_rank_32_in.csp

I quote:  Our nation's graduating high school class of 2011 had a 32 percent proficiency rate in math and a 31 percent proficiency rate in reading, leaving many to question whether schools are adequately preparing students for the 21st century global economy, says a new report.

Or this:

http://myblackaustin.com/lifestyle/2011/08/25/Report-Shows-U-S-Is-Not-Preparing-Minorities-For-Global-Competition.html

Quote:

Of the United States’ high school graduating class of 2011, only 32 percent had a proficiency rate in math and 31 percent had a proficiency rate in reading, reports Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance. When broken down by racial backgrounds, African-Americans and Latinos fared the worst in the report. Only 11 percent of Blacks were proficient in math, in comparison with 50 percent of Asian students, 42 percent of white students and 15 percent of Hispanic students. The minority races also did not rate well in reading proficiency. Only 13 percent of African-American students and 4 percent of Hispanic students were proficient in reading, in comparison with 40 percent of white students and 41 percent of those with Asian and Pacific Island backgrounds.

I am sorry, but this sickens me, it goes against all that is fair and just in this world.  Our school was filled with wonderful, beautiful, intelligent Hispanic kids of whom this 2011 study indicates only 4% will be proficient in reading.  How will they ever get ahead in this world??  How will any of our minority students make it with this sort of abysmal performance? 

And it is not their fault.

We have to figure out what is broken, and fix it.  Not necessarily for my kids, which is why I blog about education often, but for every single student who needs someone to advocate for them. This.Is.Not.Fair.  I remind you, that the above percentages are for high school graduates.  Why are high schools allowed to graduate students who can't read, write or compute???

And that is EXACTLY what they are doing.

And This.Is.Not.Fair.

Simply because I could see with our unique family makeup that our own children were at risk for this very same outcome and I wanted to stop that from happening does not mean I feel we are "better than" others or that I think public education can not be changed to become much more effective.  After all, it sure used to be!  The fact is, Kenny in particular, and very likely the girls as well, would have been in those single digit numbers had we not acted when we did.  We did what we felt was right, not every kid is in their circumstances.

But the statistics show that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are.

My comments about public education failing kids are NOT unjustified, but...and I emphasize this firmly...they are NOT a condemnation of those families whose children attend public school and it works for them.  Obviously, there are kids for whom public school works, and works well.

Just not the majority.  The fact that only 40% of all Caucasian students of all graduating US high school students in 2011 are reading at a proficient level proves my point.  No one seems to be disturbed by that figure either.  40%...that means that 60% couldn't even read proficiently, but received their high school diploma anyway.

If we drove cars that worked only 40% of the time, or if we used computers that only worked 40% of the time, or if our doctors correctly diagnosed us only 40% of the time, we would be appalled and screaming bloody murder!!!  And yet it is somehow wrong of me to point out the failure of our public education system to do its job. 


Why limit your kids' opportunities in life by deciding to predetermine their college paths by dismissing college prep? They probably all have abilities beyond what you have imagined. Keep an open mind.

Who said anything about limiting their opportunities or dismissing college prep?  I am sorry, but we are ALL brainwashed in this society to think there is but a single path to being educated.  I used to think that too, years ago, until I realized just how much I could learn on my own.  College prep does NOT mean cramming for PSAT and SAT tests, spending years on the hamster wheel of having 6, 7 or 8 meaningless after school activities just to "look good", or having to attend the Big Name school which puts you so far into debt post-college that it is depressing to even get up in the morning.  All I am trying to say, is there are other avenues, and we are going to explore them.  You tell me to "keep an open mind"...perhaps, Anonymous, you ought to do the same!  There ARE other paths to getting a college diploma.  (And maybe "college prep" should mean making sure they are reading at a proficient level???  Dontcha think???).  To think otherwise is, simply put, elitist and denigrates all those non-traditional students who, for whatever reason...finances, lack of decent K12 education, lack of family support, can not follow the traditional path.

(PS:  To those who don't understand what I am saying, we are looking to junior college for 2 years then transferring.  And yes, we will likely have to do it online or through the local small satellite campus of our college due to distance.  Living in rural Colorado, we have no junior college even within 2 or 3 hours drive.  With 5 kids, and every penny spent adopting and raising them, we will HAVE to look at alternatives, even if only for financial considerations.  PLEASE...read what I have said carefully, for I have already received emails from folks thinking for some reason that we are going to "deny our kids" a college education.  However, by going the junior college route, it immediately has the benefit of taking us off the competitive merry-go-round that is the norm these days.  Making deliberate choices to walk different, and less stressful paths, is for some reason unpopular...junior college attendance eliminates the whole SAT garbage and high school stress, and costs less to boot!  Win Win, transfer later on, and still end up with a diploma from a major university if so desired at half the cost.  What's wrong with that???)

I think the problem that we, as a whole, have in viewing education is that we have done with college entrance exactly what we have done in ALL of education...boiled it down to a test.  Gaining knowledge has nothing at all to do with a test.  Learning to really think critically has nothing to do with test performance. 

After all, are you going to tell me that 60% of those Caucasian students who couldn't read at a proficient level were not taking the SAT last year? 

And what, exactly, does their score mean...what value does it have if they are not even reading at a 12th grade level.

That's OK, I don't have an open mind...I guess I'll follow along with society's idea of education and "push 'em on through."


Here's where I will absolutely agree with you though, and I saved the best for last:

They probably all have abilities beyond what you have imagined.

Absolutely they do!!

So do ALL kids, ours are no exception to that.  For our kids, that is a tough one though, because Dominick and I think they can be just about anything in this world they want to be...well...with the exception of President of the United States.  But as Kenny said, he'll get voted into office and change that too.

Yea, Anonymous, that's what it's all about, dreaming big dreams...even if they look different than what anyone else thinks they ought to look like.  I just wish every single child in school in America had the same chance. 

14 comments:

Anna said...

"Yea, Anonymous, that's what it's all about, dreaming big dreams...even if they look different than what anyone else thinks they ought to look like. I just wish every single child in school in America had the same chance. " This my friend is all of it in a nutshell. We are made to look bad because we care so passionately about each child as an individual and believe that we,as parents can make a difference. While others, "cant believe you dont want to seek professional help." Comment made by our audiologist when we stated little one was being kept home to continue bonding and meeting milestones at home. Um, thats why we were in her office, to seek the help of medical professionals. (Insert huge sigh here.)

Lindsay said...

The very fact that the biggest critics of the current education system is teachers speaks volumes. Unless very real, creative and brave steps are taken to tackle the failings of the system it will soon be too late to fix it. Teachers want to inspire children to learn, to think, to explore. We do not want to train children to pass tests year after year. Unfortunately those in charge of designing the system are rarely, if ever, educators. Let self-serving politicians loose on education, let them play their power games with budgets and slogans and half-baked theories, let them dumb down complicated issues and ideas for News At 6 soundbites and the end result is easy to predict. As are the consequences for the countless thousands of children trapped in a failing system.

I am a teacher. I consider myself to be a highly skilled and educated teacher. I am also a parent and if I had the financial where-withall to homeschool my children you can bet I would be doing it! I love education. I love how excited children are to learn. I hate the politics that exist in schools. I hate the low expectations of a system based on Piagetian nonsense about what children are not capable of. I hate the loss of creativity as curricula have become more and more proscribed. I hate the fact that the most able spend most of their school day waiting, trapped in a system which seeks to make everyone average. The system we have put in place is mediocre at best. It is shameful what has been done to education in so many of our countries.

Cindy LaJoy said...

Thank you Anna and Lindsey, for understanding that my perspective is NOT based on "Oh, homeschooling is the answer to all" nor is it a condemnation of teachers. It is how schools function that doesn't work, it is how teachers are limited that doesn't work. There are often fabulous teachers caught in a system that stifles and hampers them from reaching the very kids we all need to see reached.

Trisha said...

Forget the education portion of all this. Each family knows what works best for their individual children and their lifestyle.
It's the incest portion of the commentary that blows my mind. So your kids are not blood related, and they know it. Pretty sure they also know they are brother and sister and I'm sure they know how siblings act towards each other...no matter their age.
Also I'm quite sure there is much more pressure at the public school to become overly sexualized at a ridiculously young age then there is at your house. Just guessing.

Anonymous said...

How do we work toward each child having not only quality education but at least one adult who is behind them, supports them, cheers for them? Anonymous, I wish you could see the people and programs that Cindy has pulled together for these kids to expand their wisdom, knowledge, physical, spiritual, psychological abilities.

As a former teacher I know that even the best of us (I was not one of the best)cannot be attentive and in tune with every student all the time. We may miss the quiet achiever while dealing with the brash disrupter. We may not hear the yearning for challenge when we are teaching set curriculum, and on and on.

Teachers are working to educate and enrich their students, but there are some inherent difficulties which grow with budget slashes. Even the most staid system is now having to look hard at how we deliver education to meet the needs of each child, and many are looking at broadening the definition of education.

My grandson goes to a magnet school in the LA area. His needs are being nurtured but...he had to already demonstrate from his kindergarten records that he would be an academic asset to the school. His parents had to pledge a specific number of hours of volunteer work and to work on fund raisers for the school.

Very few children have this opportunity even in an interested, involved family. And, sadly, there are many families with further stressors. When parents are disinterested, distracted, working two jobs, single parents, financially distressed, addicted, limited English, overcommitted,in a violent home, etc., there is not the support there for the child, the school, the educational program or the parents themselves. These are the kids that have a much more difficult time in succeeding in any aspect of learning.

Oh, that every child should have support from family, school, and society, that every child should be surrounded by people who nurture creativity, curiousity, and love of learning, that every child should have competent, compassionate, excellent teacher--how do we make that happen?

One way is that we who no longer have children at home or never had children mentor a child. What are other ways that you have found?

As for incest, child sexual abuse--or the reporting of that--is on the rise or more noticeable. It comes most often from trusted adults. It makes headlines daily. When incest occurs in families, I daresay, it is no more prevalent in families with adopted children than in familes with all biologically-related children. Again, who is watching, caring, teaching these children?

Anonymous raises many fears, many defensive-seeming statements. Now how do we promote safety, security, confidence and learning?

Just asking,
Lael

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,
I could not agree more with everything you have said! Spot on! Have you read "Weapons of Mass Instruction"? It is all very interesting but what I found most compeling was the history of education in America. This nation became great because of open ended education (individuals seeking out their teachers in fields they we passionate about). On the other hand, literacy has decreased every decade since the push for compulsory schooling has increased. Any how, it is an interesting read.
Take care,
Teresa F.

Hilary Marquis said...

I couldn't agree more, Cindy! Those that know you, know full well that you were not "bashing" the public schools. You are doing an amazing job with your kids. Annonymous needs to go jump in the lake!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I can't get past the "Brady Bunch" comment. Really?! That was a job for those children...it was not their family. I'm not sure how the leap was even made.

I think you're doing a great job based on all of the successes you've shared so far. We don't homeschool but I love to hear your thoughts on the subject and to see how well it is working out for you and your family.

Stacye

Julie and John Wright said...

OH MY GOODNESS.. how do you keep your cool when you are clearly in the presence of such an "осел"....one who is clearly suffering from some serious levels of instability them-self, and is possibly trying to project their own problems and issues on to your family... You did a great job at being clear and polite... Better then I could have done .

schnitzelbank said...

I was the anonymous poster at 10:51. Not the off-the-mark one you responded to, but still an anonymous poster, nonetheless. I just usually choose anonymous when I can, because I'd rather just have people read the message, and not the messenger, you know what I mean? Anyways, I wanted you to know that I'm not hiding behind the label, and I'm always willing to chat, if you want to.

Anonymous said...

Why, why, why do we have to take "sides"? Why, because Cindy believes that homeschooling is right for her family is she therefore "bashing" the public schools? At what point have we lost the ability to see nuance and anything other than one pole or the other?

Cindy and her husband have made choices that are right for their unique family. It is their prerogative to do so. I am not sure what gives others the right to imply her children will have sexual relations because she homeschools.

Homeschooling=incest??? Is this one of those Glenn Beck type chalkboard exercises?

I am sorry, Cindy, when you posted that there was some sort of "war" between those who homeschool and those who don't I didn't understand. I guess now I do.

I am sorry because I know that you put an incredible amount of time and thought into your decision to home school, something that I was privy to at the time. I know that you did not go about it as a lark, but with the full commitment it requires. I also know what incredible sacrifices your family makes to ensure the kids can continue to be home schooled, because it is the best for your kids. I also know that you would never assume it was the best for anyone's else's kids, either, including mine because we have talked about it.

I am glad you keep writing your blog, it is thought-provoking and interesting and lets us see more of your family than we usually are able. I give you credit for opening yourself up to all manner of comments from all sorts of sources. I give you props for sticking with it when I personally would have packed in in the face of commentary like this.

KR

Christina said...

"Only 13 percent of African-American students and 4 percent of Hispanic students were proficient in reading, in comparison with 40 percent of white students and 41 percent of those with Asian and Pacific Island backgrounds."

The exact reason why I teach public school, but my children attend private. I cannot allow my african american children to participate in a 13% success rate. Thankfully I have another choice.

Anonymous said...

Cindy,you and Dominick are doing a fine job with your kids.I am a former teacher,mother,grandmother etc etc. I wish I could have home schooled my children.I honestly believe it would have made a big difference.
Continue doing what you know is best for your family. I am really proud of you.
Elva

Lori @ Five of My Own said...

Wow, just caught this. We're not a home school family but we are an adopted/bio kid family and that comment suggesting incense between siblings who are not biologically related was gross.

You have more grace than I do.

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