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Check Next Door to see what neighbors say about the school. Sometimes that's helpful. Sometimes it's just crazies. School is such a struggle for parents now. I get why people go to homeschooling. It really bothers me but  I can't even buy a house on my salary so I get why it's hard to hire good teachers or staff. But property taxes are so sky high it's why I can't even afford a house on my own. Society is constantly teaching us about struggle, I swear. 

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Oh, I'm not actually worried. It's widely considered to be the best elementary school in the district (E's is a close second and it's literally within spitting distance). It's just an older building, but I think the school culture will be better for her. I was very impressed with the school counselor who very much understood that Q needed a quick campus tour to feel better about this transfer, and from talking to her and a few other parents on our block, the school seems to be very focused on incusivity and meeting kids where they are (i.e. our 2nd grade neighbor sometimes gets roaming paraeducator help even though he doesn't qualify for services). And honestly, I think they will be much more respectful of her 504 plan (counselor is also the 504 coordinator). She has to go back to public school eventually, and I think waiting until high school with be a big culture shock for her. Our local school is also K-6, and I think she will benefit from an extra year of elementary instead of jumping into all the awkwardness of middle school.

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On 10/22/2022 at 11:32 PM, Hobbes said:

I agree individual students have various learning and developmental timelines...just like they do with their bodies.  All students have different developmental needs and strengths--whether that be emotional, cognitive, social, or whatever that factor into the students achievement level.  But as far as saying that a student is "behind" does not correspond to real learning, I very much disagree. 

I completed my doctoral dissertation in educational equity within elementary stem education so a lot of this will be through that lens.  When we talk about educational equity and social justice--whether that be racial, economic status, gender, etc--a key component is  students having the skills necessary to access in demand and higher paying jobs.  STEM careers are the fastest growing and highest paying careers.  There are two foundational benchmarks of whether or not a student will be able to graduate from college with a degree in a STEM field: being at grade level in third grade for literacy and 7th grade in math.  If students are NOT at grade level at those two markers, although possible, it is highly unlikely that students will catch up.  The qualitative SAT score is the biggest predictor of success in STEM college degrees.  In order to obtain a strong quantitative score, the student should be hitting those state/national benchmarks.  The converse of this--the farther students are from peers at these grade levels  are more likely to drop-out, be incarcerated, etc.  I know it was often misquoted in some political debates that prisons predict future bed numbers based on third grade scores--but there is strong correlation between low literacy and incarceration rates

Let's say I have two schools.  School A has 90% of students reading at grade level and school B has 10% of students reading at grade level.  School A is in a white, affluent neighborhood and school B is in a black, poor neighborhood.  If I were to say, "students in school A are just on their own learning timeline than students at school B".  That is straight up racist and many people hold that worldview to justify why white students out perform black students without looking at the structural racism built into our system.  There are multiple educational organizations that are going into low performing schools and turning them around resulting in strong longitudinal impacts in higher earnings, lower incarceration rates, etc for their students.  Their primary focus--getting students to grade level.  If a student is at grade level at these benchmarks, the odd of them falling behind is significantly less.

I love reading your insights on education from an institutional perspective. I generally speak from a more personal level on these things, both from my experience and because homeschooling lends itself to being able to teach and learn on a personal and individual level. With homeschooling, we're not typically dealing with the same level of inequity as school systems as a whole, as most homeschooling families also tend to be fairly affluent and white, so my sample pool of anecdotes are similarly fairly homogenous. There aren't too many statistics available surrounding homeschooling (because of our general avoidance of things like benchmark testing, I'm sure), so I unfortunately only really have anecdotal evidence to offer. But it's anecdotal evidence collected over 8ish years and many different online groups, so I feel mostly justified in making the assertions that I do. 

That said, it's not uncommon for kids to fall into homeschooling after being considered "behind" in public schools only to have them "catch up" either fairly quickly or eventually. Most of the parents I see worried about their students being behind are still imbued with a public school mindset where, unfortunately, being behind can compound rather quickly without intervention because of teachers' limited ability to differentiate. That's simply not how things work in our homeschooling world. We have the luxury of a super-tight student to teacher ratio, the ability to slow down or speed up at will, and also the ability to switch gears at the drop of a hat if need be. So we as a group spend a lot of time assuaging these fears. 

But I have some uhh...thoughts...about this sentence:

"When we talk about educational equity and social justice--whether that be racial, economic status, gender, etc--a key component is  students having the skills necessary to access in demand and higher paying jobs."

What other key components are there in assessing educational equity? How is it determined that students have these skills should they choose not to pursue in demand and higher paying jobs? Does encouraging natural aptitudes and interests play any part in assessing this equity? 

I know several homeschooling parents who've been reamed by family members because their kiddos chose not to go to college or bother with the SAT or ACT. Most of these kids discovered a passion and were allowed the latitude to dive right in. Now many of them are in blue collar careers that suit their personalities and passions. To me, I'd consider an informed and happily productive young adult a greater educational success than one who's been forced into a more "desirable" or "high-achieving" path. But this kind of thing is hard to get qualitative data on, so I'm just wondering what other criteria there might be to assessing educational quality or equity. 

Also, I really hope your district does a better job with phonics than either of my nephews' districts. (And I'm sure it does. Texas education sucks balls in general.) Other than learning a few letter sounds and some CVC word families, their phonics instruction is well...limited at best. And I never would have known this or noticed this had I not researched and implemented phonics instruction for my own kiddos - phonics and history have been the two most eye-opening subjects that I've taught my kids so far. There was SO MUCH left out of my own learning in each of those, and so much I don't see being taught to students now still.

Just think, most students are only taught one phonogram for ch. /Ch/ - chair, cheese, chicken, chocolate. But rarely are also taught that ch also says /k/ and /sh/. Many times these are taught as exceptions, but there are so many words that utilitize these sounds! Christmas, school, schedule, chef, machine, crochet. English doesn't have nearly as many exceptions to phonics rules as people think. We're just not taught all of the rules properly. 

 

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First day of new school tomorrow. I will take prayers, good juju, whatever you got for Q. She is so nervous about making friends. They put her in the all 5th grade class, which I think is better for her socially. She will do fine academically. And new teacher says no homework other than reading for pleasure. I am all about that. Her former school assigned so much busy work that just contributed to stress for us because she had soccer practice, Girl Scouts, or something going on most school nights.

E has been having a rough time. Teachers have been out sick, and he's started eloping from class. Principal called me Thursday frustrated as hell and its a good thing it wasn't in person because there might've been hair pulling. Honestly, I'm convinced she is half the problem. She was talking back to him when he was escalated and I told her she wasn't helping and she flipped out. She is a control freak and wants compliance and wants it NOW. This is her 2nd year and while some families like her, I hear through the grapevine that many families do not, and she is a total bureaucrat. Thankfully the school psychologist intervened and helped come up with the rewards plan I have been advocating for all along, but the special education teacher is either too lazy or too ignorant to implement. FINALLY someone who gets it. Friday was his first day on the new plan, and he was super successful. Is it a lot of work for them? Yes. Do they need a mindset change from negative reinforcement to positive? Yes. Even though positive behavior intervention systems are the hot new thing in public schools (lol its like a 2 decade old concept), no one actually knows how to practice it when it's hard.

Also I found an ally at Cub Scouts whose older son is on the autism spectrum and has been through the same program as E. Once I brought that up she was like OH I GET IT. I am not sure we are going to stick with it, though. His den leader was kind of a prick when we met him, so it's all going to depend on if my new friend can help me get through to him.

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Schools, government bureaucracy and military structures take the longest to adapt and implement “new” things. It’s some kind of weirdness I find. Like computers or upgrading to technology. I kinda think it is hilarious that it took Covid to stop textbook sales. How long have kindles been out?

sending the best juju for your kiddos. 

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I also submitted a request to evaluate E for autism and also an alternative diagnosis that I think matches better, but would require genetic testing. Unfortunately, this alternative diagnosis is not a pretty one. I don't like going and looking for bad news, but I think we need to figure out what exactly is going on with him.

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On 11/4/2022 at 7:09 PM, Cerina said:

I love reading your insights on education from an institutional perspective. I generally speak from a more personal level on these things, both from my experience and because homeschooling lends itself to being able to teach and learn on a personal and individual level. With homeschooling, we're not typically dealing with the same level of inequity as school systems as a whole, as most homeschooling families also tend to be fairly affluent and white, so my sample pool of anecdotes are similarly fairly homogenous. There aren't too many statistics available surrounding homeschooling (because of our general avoidance of things like benchmark testing, I'm sure), so I unfortunately only really have anecdotal evidence to offer. But it's anecdotal evidence collected over 8ish years and many different online groups, so I feel mostly justified in making the assertions that I do. 

That said, it's not uncommon for kids to fall into homeschooling after being considered "behind" in public schools only to have them "catch up" either fairly quickly or eventually. Most of the parents I see worried about their students being behind are still imbued with a public school mindset where, unfortunately, being behind can compound rather quickly without intervention because of teachers' limited ability to differentiate. That's simply not how things work in our homeschooling world. We have the luxury of a super-tight student to teacher ratio, the ability to slow down or speed up at will, and also the ability to switch gears at the drop of a hat if need be. So we as a group spend a lot of time assuaging these fears. 

But I have some uhh...thoughts...about this sentence:

"When we talk about educational equity and social justice--whether that be racial, economic status, gender, etc--a key component is  students having the skills necessary to access in demand and higher paying jobs."

What other key components are there in assessing educational equity? How is it determined that students have these skills should they choose not to pursue in demand and higher paying jobs? Does encouraging natural aptitudes and interests play any part in assessing this equity? 

I know several homeschooling parents who've been reamed by family members because their kiddos chose not to go to college or bother with the SAT or ACT. Most of these kids discovered a passion and were allowed the latitude to dive right in. Now many of them are in blue collar careers that suit their personalities and passions. To me, I'd consider an informed and happily productive young adult a greater educational success than one who's been forced into a more "desirable" or "high-achieving" path. But this kind of thing is hard to get qualitative data on, so I'm just wondering what other criteria there might be to assessing educational quality or equity. 

Also, I really hope your district does a better job with phonics than either of my nephews' districts. (And I'm sure it does. Texas education sucks balls in general.) Other than learning a few letter sounds and some CVC word families, their phonics instruction is well...limited at best. And I never would have known this or noticed this had I not researched and implemented phonics instruction for my own kiddos - phonics and history have been the two most eye-opening subjects that I've taught my kids so far. There was SO MUCH left out of my own learning in each of those, and so much I don't see being taught to students now still.

Just think, most students are only taught one phonogram for ch. /Ch/ - chair, cheese, chicken, chocolate. But rarely are also taught that ch also says /k/ and /sh/. Many times these are taught as exceptions, but there are so many words that utilitize these sounds! Christmas, school, schedule, chef, machine, crochet. English doesn't have nearly as many exceptions to phonics rules as people think. We're just not taught all of the rules properly. 

 

I agree with everything you just said. 

I actually had a similar thought process.  If someone wanted to be in a career that was lower paying profession, that is what that person wants and should be supported.  In some ways I felt it was insulting to use a preparation for a STEM career as a measuring stick.  I had a professor shift my thinking by explaining that regardless of what the person wants to do, whether it be a STEM field or be an artist, a student should be able to have the keys to access that career.  To quickly beat a dead horse, being on grade level in third grade in reading is the biggest predictor of success regardless of their chosen profession--STEM or not.  To your point, participation in extracurriculars are important for students whom are struggling...especially when it comes to drop-out prevention.

I agree again regarding the use of income as a measuring stick.  Especially understanding there are underlying factors which are incredibly impactful as education... if not more, especially early childhood development--mainly students growing up in poverty.  We don't have control over that, but we do have control over providing the structure needed for a student to read at grade level.  If a student grows up in poverty having a quality education they have the best chance at breaking the poverty cycle.  If a student is in poverty AND can't read...

But to your point, what is a high quality education?  Shouldn't the arts or cursive or programming or PE or yoga all be part of a high quality education?  I think so.  Yes.  Here's the problem...our school day is 7 hours.  Electives are an hour.  Down to six hours.  Lunch and two recesses total out to an hour.  Down to 5 hours.  Morning meetings and mindfulness breaks everyday.  4 hours.  Our literacy curriculum takes three hours a day to do the full thing (which we don't)--so let's say 2 hours.  Math is 90 min.  That leaves 30 minutes for science, social studies, interventions...  Oh, our counselor does 30 minute weekly lessons in each classroom and what about class celebrations, field trips, etc.  So the question becomes what do you prioritize?  So yeah, when you say so much learning was left out that is a relative statement.  Even the Common Core standards would take over 25 years to teach them at their recommended length of time. 

Every person has an opinion of what should or should not be taught in schools.  One of the reasons I picked EL Language Arts is because it hits heavy on science and ss standards.  It also digs deep into the subject matter and making cross-curriculr connections and promotes higher thinking skills.  For example, 6th grade is reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind while also teaching about renewable vs non-renewable energy sources and embedding that learning into a multi-sources informative essay.  However there is a trade off of maybe not being exposed to more common historical events in exchange to knowing a lot about a few. 

I got a pissed off letter from a parent because we don't teach cursive and had this research to support it--and I didn't disagree.  But my reply is always, "I agree we should teach X, what should I cut?"  Educators are already stressed with the workload.  Not only do you have to teach X, but you also need to differentiate it for the different learning needs in your classroom.  Even cursive, which might seem totally cut and dry--what if the kid has fine motor issues and does voice to text?  What scaffolds are you supplying?  What about the kid that already knows cursive--what will they be doing?  Let's say it is a niche thing...who is going to teach it?  I am at a rural school.  I always get complaints for a lack of electives but I post for a music teacher or foreign language teacher every year and get 0 applicants. 

I believe you on phonics--it might be the #1 lagging skill we have with students new to our school.  Phonics is a major component of every curriculum, but they challenging to teach.  They need to be done in small groups in rotations.  The time is very direct, but not too entirely long.  Students that have poor attendance really struggle to keep up because it requires such intensive direct instruction.  So they fall behind...what do you pull them out of to catch up?  Math?  Recess?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Q had a bit of a rough start but I think she's finally settling in. She misses the kids at her old school, and she needs to make friends, but I think she's on her way with a few girls. She does like that there's no homework, though, which is a big change compared to nightly homework for the last few years (I was over it already). She also doesn't have to wear a uniform, and I am glad they have decided not to enforce some of the dumber dress code policies regarding leggings (sorry, my kid is skinny and athletic, it's hard to find pants that fit well).

Speaking of athletic, what caused problems initially is that we had to learn the lesson again that boys really do not like losing to girls, especially 5th grade girls beating 6th grade boys at recess games. My husband was super pissed and I had to talk him down from going off on everyone. Honestly, this stuff pisses us off because if she was a boy this would be a non-issue. I hate this crap, and I'm pretty sure it will become a non-issue when there are actual school sports in middle and high school.

Soccer unfortunately continues to be a hot mess because of mean girl antics, but fortunately we have 2 weeks left and we can walk away from this team. I took her to a tryout for a pro team academy tonight. She did decent, she might get a call for their second team but I doubt they would take her for the first team. Realistically she won't admit that she is a defender or defensive midfielder and keeps trying to play forward because that's where the glory is, but her skill set/mind set is wrong, so she would need to be on more of a development team with a coach who is going to work on putting her in the right role. (She is currently playing some sort of weird withdrawn forward that is really an attacking center mid, but she doesnt score because she's so busy trying to take the ball away from the other team the moment they try to counter attack. Hilariously, this has translated into a weird statistic that only we've noticed: the opposing team has only scored one goal the entire season when she is on the field. All the other goals against them have happened when she is on the bench.) Unfortunately it is not in a great location in terms of traffic, but I wanted to take her mostly for fun and a confidence boost. We ultimately probably cannot make it happen, but I really wish we could. I need a teleportation device to get her to practice.

We did a medication change for E and it was a game changer. Super happy with how well he is doing now. The rewards plan helps, too, but getting the teacher and paraeducators to keep with it is like pulling teeth.

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Dude, eff that! Boys need to be beaten by girls more often. My kid gets smoked by girls on the regular, and it's fine. Now granted, he's not super competitive by nature (whose kid is this...seriously?!) and he's also like the complete opposite of athletic. But this is one reason I love having him in the linked troop in scouts. He sees the girls achieve at a high level all the time, and he sees them blow the boys out of the water constantly. Our girls troop has won the overall competition at camporee (a scouting skills competition) 3 years in a row beating out boys troops that have been around for DECADES. 

Also, Luke has turned out to be quite a cusser, but he doesn't like it when we say "bad" words. We're not allowed to say "dammit", "what the hell", or "crap", but he has no issue calling his dad, AND I QUOTE, "a fuck". Parenting fail. 

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You know how we talk about giftedness? Kids can be gifted in more areas than just academics, music being one of them. In this case I am pretty sure Q is gifted athletically, and my husband is too. He was ridiculous in college intramurals. Something about his fine motor control is just off the charts. He's just not a big guy, though. She's pretty small, too, and that's really the only thing that holds her back. But her 3rd day of school they suggested she try tetherball, and she beat everyone 1v1, so she offered to play 3v1 and still beat everyone, so everyone was mad. Like what the hell am I supposed to do about that? I'm not going to tell her to hide her gifts. I was a good all around athlete but nowhere near their level.

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