Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thank You, Public School

For those who don't know, I homeschooled my children for 5 years and then last year, after my husband abandoned us, I enrolled them in public school for the first time.

Public school has been both better and worse than I expected. Some parts of public school have actually been good, and maybe some day I'll post about that. But I've come through this experience with a firm conviction that homeschooling IS the best option if one can manage it and if one has the social support to do it without going crazy or keeping the children isolated.

To come to the point here, my subject line is entirely sarcastic. There are many things I do thank the public school for, but this post is tongue in cheek.

So, here are the things I'm "thanking" public school for this week:

1. My darling boy, my just turned 9yo Christian Gentleman son, walked up to me this weekend and said "Hey mom, what is a F*cker?". Now, I TRULY almost dropped into a dead faint at even hearing the word come out of his mouth.

[I will confess to being a potty mouth at times - you can take the girl outta the Corps, but you can't take the Corps outta the girl you know. But the extent of my cursing is "Hell" and "Damn" and that's about it. Oh yeah, there was that one time I let "Ass" slip out [and heard it repeated by one of my adorable children less than 2 hours later]. But the "F" Bomb? No way man.]

So, AFTER I picked my jaw back up off the floor, I said, pretty calmly "Son, where did you hear a word like that?" and he said "Oh, that's written on the wall in the bathroom at school. It says 'Tommy is a F*cker'. What does that mean mom?" [For the record, "Tommy" is one of his best friends]. I decided against a full anatomical description of exactly what a F*cker was and instead went with "that is a very bad thing to say about someone. I don't want you to ever repeat that word, OK son? I'm sorry someone wrote that about your friend. That was a terrible thing to do."

2. My lovely 7yo daughter informed me today that all of the boys in second grade had decided that they were "Gangsters" and they spend recess fighting each other. The teachers have been told and threats have been made. But my 7yo is upset because apparently these fights are getting very violent and some of the boys are being harmed and there is lots of talk along the lines of "We are gangsters and you better not mess with us! We'll kill you!"

3. My sweet 5yo is becoming completely neurotic because she keeps getting extra homework. She's in speech therapy 3 days a week and keeps missing important parts of class. She's becoming obsessed with what she is missing and is certain she's going to fail Kindergarten because she's getting behind. There seems to be some sort of disapproval from her teacher or something that is worrying her - she feels like she's being "punished" for going to speech. As far as I can tell she's doing well, but she's extremely anxious about going to speech now. Do I pull her or leave her in? I have no idea what the right thing to do is....

4. Thank you public school - all 3 of my elementary age kids have already [4.5 weeks into the school year], spent SIGNIFICANT time watching television. SOME of this TV has actually been educational - "The Magic School Bus" and such. But much of it has been just junk - stuff I wouldn't even let them watch at home. When I ask "Why are you watching TV at school?" I am told "The teacher was busy and needed to get some work done." or "The teacher had to do Dibbles testing so we watched TV all afternoon while she did it." Great.

Our Tax Dollars at work.

5. Speaking of dollars - we've already, in 4.5 weeks, been subject to THREE fundraisers between the elementary school and the middle school. Yes sir-ee, THREE. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. *sigh*

6. Thank you public school PE coaches for totally ruining physical exercise for my children. I spent 5 years of homeschooling them, teaching them that exercise is fun and worth doing. When I brought them to you last year, I had kids who LOVED to run, loved the challenge of physical exercise, and would do crunches and push ups for fun.

In less than a year you've convinced them that anything other than lying on the couch with a Wii remote in hand is torture and to be avoided at all costs. Did you really NEED to make them run till they puked? You couldn't come up with an interesting game that would have kept them running AND having fun? What exactly did they teach you in college?

And seriously, 6th grade PE coaches - do you NEED to tell the 6th grade girls that if they can't run a 5 minute mile they are doomed to be fat and unhealthy and die an early death? Cause, you know, 6th grade girls don't have enough body image worries as it is... yeah, thanks a bunch for that one.

I applaud your success in creating yet another generation of exercise-phobic couch potatoes. OH - and women with eating disorders, let's not forget that. Bravo.


I had one of those "I should pull them all out and homeschool them" moments today. And then that tiny shrill voice in the back of my head [you know, the voice of my last shred of sanity] shrieked "Are you nuts?!! What, you don't have enough on your plate?!!!"

In an alternate universe I'm still homeschooling these children and they are doing great. Everybody loves to run and nobody says the "F" word or even knows what a "gangster" is.

But here, in my universe, I know that I can't do that - not here in a place where I have no friends close by, no homeschool contacts, no homeschool groups to join and no homeschool resources to use... and how the heck would I even buy curriculum? It is not even possible. It just isn't.

So, I'm taking a deep breath and praying a lot. I'm working hard at home on their faith formation and their morality - and I pray that I can counteract whatever damage may be done.

God brought me here and I have to Trust Him to get us where He wants us to go.

God bless you!


  1. I am nodding my head over here, but I must comment further on the "more work because you're pulled" The same thing happens to Nate (pulled 2x/week for speech) and Colin (attends orchestra 2x/week) When we attended Open House, the 4th grade teacher rudely said "If you CHOOSE to have your child participate in orchestra, then your child will just have to deal with extra homework. It's not like we can wait for them to play music." I walked out so angry and worried about how Nate would do next year (can't be in orchestra in 3rd, but he definitely wants to join in 4th) Talk about being supportive & helpful! URGH.

  2. Oh, but I would NOT pull your little one from speech. I would go to the Speech Pathologist/Therapist and see if they can help you/work loads. I'm grateful that Nate has an awesome support in his speech pathologist. She's a jewel and has gone to bat for him multiple times already this school year.

  3. eeek!

    All that tv IN school!!! That IS shocking!!

  4. Failing Kindergarten? C'mon. What important learning could she be missing that can't be caught up?

    I can't believe they're actually watching TV!!! That is ridiculous.

  5. My friend Michelle asked me to post this for her. My blog seems to be having some problems and wouldn't let her post - it is supposed to let everyone post. Sorry about that Michelle.

    Here is what Michelle said:

    "ok, as an employee of a public school, I feel I should say something, so here goes. Has it occured to you guys that the problems in the public school system today are a reflection of the problems in our society as whole? When society was still into personal responsibility, obeying rules, and actually punishing those who broke them, the public schools were fine. Today public schools are being blamed for things that are way outside the control of the school. We can only play with the cards we are dealt. Example: a kid in the cooking class who refused to do the dishes in class. She said " I don't do the dishes at home, I am not going to do them here". At the parent conference over the child's behavior, the parent said " She doesn't do thte dishes at home, why shold she do them here?" Public schools CANNOT fix that. It used to be if the kid got in trouble at school, the kid got in trouble when they got home--now it is very much if the kid gets in trouble at school, the SCHOOL gets in trouble when the kid gets home. Antoher example--a parent went all the way to the state board of education becsue her child's cell phone was taken from her becasue she was using it during a standardized test. The child was offered ways to get the phone back (Saturday work program, or just wait a few weeks) but the parents thought this was just unacceptable and actually tried to have our Principal charged with THEFT for taking up the cell phone! Parents need to be parents first --NOT thier kid's " friend". Kids today are faced with so many challenges that most kids were not faced with 20 years ago-- such as having one or more parents who is in jail or has been in jail, not haivng enough food to eat or not knowing if they are even going to have a place to sleep that night. We have older siblings who have to stay at home with the younger ones when they are sick becasue mom can't miss work or she will lose her job. These types of thngs happen way more than most people realize these days. Public education just cannot fix those situations. Yes, there are some isues with the public schools, but these issues did not start in the school system--they started in soceity as a whole. The schools can participate in the solution, but until society gets back to the basic values upon which this country was founded, it is not going to make much of a difference. "

  6. Michelle, I agree that the problems with public school are a reflection, in many cases, of the problems we have as a society on the whole. It doesn't stop me from mourning the opportunity to homeschool - where my kids were not affected by these problems. It doesn't stop me from being frustrated by some of the things happening in school.

    I need to do a post about my children's teachers and principal - because I have very good things to say about them [other than the PE coaches]. ;) But this post was about the things making me angry and frustrated at this moment.

  7. And hopefully you know, having seen me with my kids, that I am ALL about personal responsibility and my kids would be punished at home if they disrespected their teachers - in any way. And they know this - they know dang good and well they had better not come home with a bad report on their behavior! And thus, none of them ever have. I promise you that no matter what punishment they got at school, they'd get twice that at least at home.] ;)