I'm not going to say anything bad today about our local public school system. Really, I'm not. All four of my kids have had some excellent teachers (and some not so excellent ones) throughout their years in regular school.
But things have changed over the years. Oh, how things have changed.
When Todd (our oldest) began kindergarten way back in 1995, he spent the hours between 8:00 am and 11:30 am learning to read, write, count, get along with others, keep his hands to himself, and open his own milk carton. The Opening of the Milk Carton was quite a huge, hairy deal at his elementary school. In fact, none of the kindergarten teachers would assist the children in the Opening of the Milk Carton at lunch time...ever. It was absolutely essential that all 25 children master that important life-skill immediately upon entering the lunchroom that first day. Because who ccould expect a woman in charge of a posse of five year old to do such things as open cartons? They're busy people! If they open milk cartons, the next thing you know folks will expect them to tie shoelaces! Where does it end?? (My kindergarten teacher found time to do all those things plus wipe noses, buckle belts, help children on with their coats, dump sand from shoes, give hugs, patch up wounds and we still managed to go to first grade reading and counting just fine. Hi, Mrs. McKnight!)
Fast forward to 2011. Our daughter, now seventeen and in her last three months of high school, has had many amazing experiences during her public school career. Experiences she may never have had if she had been taught at home as her brothers are. Experiences such as being told when she does and does not have to use the rest room. (An experience that the boys don't miss very much, as evidenced by Ryan's comment to me last week, "Mom...one of the BEST things about homeschool is that you never, EVER tell us we can't PEE!") Experiences such as being told that seniors who have early dismissal may not return to campus for pep rallies (because leaving and coming back later could result in danger!)...but they absolutely must return for their fourth period class once a month when the entire school system has early release day and the schedules are rearranged so that the kids go to 5th, 6th, 7th and then 4th periods. Yeah, that makes sense!
Experiences such as being told that she is not actually aloud to read her textbook during class.
Silly me, I thought getting an education included reading the textbooks assigned for classes??
Last week, poor Heather was read the riot act by her teacher. The teacher had declared that there would be free time and the students should, "Take out a book and read quietly" until the bell rang. But before I go any further...wait...
I should probably point out that this woman is the Advanced Composition teacher. She's supposed to be teaching the kids to write some jam-up awesome papers before they head to college this fall. It's an honors level course. They're written two papers so far this year. Two. Papers. In Advanced Comp. All year. Surprisingly, none of the students did very well on them. They've spent most of their class time engaged in such meaningful learning activities as writing in their "journals" and sharing with the class so that they can laugh and joke and make fun of each other for an hour. They have also made a poster representing what they "got out of" a book she had them read. Good stuff. They were given a grammar test last week, as well, and were told that they could bring whatever they wanted in the way of notes to use for the test. Heather took the twins' GRAMMAR BOOK with her and she was allowed to USE it during her test. This is also the woman who informed them that all of their rights as citizens and human beings ceased to exist once they walked through the doors of the school.
Oh, the excellence in education going on in that class just astounds me. I sent her a copy of Bill O'Reilly's Kids Are Americans, Too!
But back to my story. The class was told to get out a book, shut up, and read. The teacher said a book. She didn't specify what book, she just said a book. So Heather took out her Sociology textbook and began to study. Soon the teacher looked up and noticed her there, quietly perusing the pages of her textbook and trying to commit to memory all that she would need to know.
SHAME on her!
She was immediately told to put that textbook away! The teacher did not mean for the kids to take out TEXTBOOKS when she told them to read. She meant a book. (I'm assuming she had prize-winning novels in mind, but she never said.) She informed Heather that she would have to put the textbook away because the principal did not want them reading textbooks during free reading time. If she didnt' have another book with her, then she could just sit there. And do nothing. And waste her time. When she could be studying. In school. Where she's supposed to learn.
Does anyone find that odd at all??
I told my girl to stick a copy of Green Eggs and Ham in her book bag. Next time she's told to read...well...it isn't a textbook, right? So it should qualify??!!
All of this rambling to arrive at this point: my twins? Will return to prison over my cold, dead body!