School Decision Makers… Revisited

Emily responded to my “School Decision Makers” post and shared her frustration that she is apparently sending her son to a school that, as best as she can tell, is not the right place for him, and there seems to be little she can (as a parent) do about it except for pulling him out of it.

Eric's Middle School

Eric's Middle School

What kind of real collaboration can parents and public middle school teachers have when it comes to finding the right educational path for each kid? When our son Eric was going to a public magnet middle school, his mom and I were lucky if we got to speak with each of his teachers more than once or twice a semester, and then often to find out that making any adjustments or accommodations for individual students was impossible either due to school policy or the size of the class. That was extremely frustrating for us as parents. All we could do was basically drop him off at school at the beginning of the day and leave him to his own devices to deal with this large bureaucratic institution… take it or leave it.

And in the end, in the middle of Eighth grade, after days on end of begging me not to make him go to this school, we played the only card in our hand and took him out of that school. In our case we were blessed to even have that option, for even if you wanted to move your kid to another public school, what are your chances of getting them in another public school in the middle of the semester, and one that’s really any different than the one they left? And even if you found a significantly different private school, could you afford it?

In our case we did not have the money for private school, but did have the resources and the flexible enough work schedules ourselves to let our son homeschool instead. But that’s a story for another post.

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3 replies on “School Decision Makers… Revisited”

  1. Emily says:

    Can I just say I love the sign you posted in your picture? “Learning begins at 7:50 a.m. Be prepared.” It reads more like a warning than being a friendly place to learn.

    We’re already at the begging point with our son in the middle of sixth grade. He asked me the other day, “Can’t I be homeschooled? I promise I’ll listen to you.” It just about broke my heart.

  2. Jason Howard says:

    Yes, that sign. It says so much. As though learning were something that could be shoved down someone’s throat. “Be prepared to be ‘learned’ to death.” That is just such a small piece of it. This kind of dictating, one-way, faux-serious conversation by bureaucrats who control and think they know better pervaded my entire school experience. It was really inculcation and indoctrination.

    I’ve seen schools where real relationships happen, where adults genuinely care rather than saying they care and taking on a “we know best” mentality. These two sorts of schools cannot be any more different. I’m beginning to think that humility, compassion, and a sense of awe are the three most important qualities a teacher can posess.

  3. Cooper Zale says:

    When I found that picture of my son’s middle school with those words on the sign I had to laugh… it was so right on!

    I have also seen situations, with adults and youth, where real respect and collaboration happened. What I remember most was my JLO theater group, a theater company with some 70 youth and basically just 2 adults to rent the space, encourage us and make sure we did not burn down the building.

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