I Protest to Your Protest

I used to have a different view on education than I do now.  I started out in private school in California in my elementary years.  It was a good school.  My parents had a difficult time getting my teachers to understand my problems with eating sugary treats, but other than that, my experience was pretty good.

Then, my parents moved across the country to the Carolinas.  Again, my parents chose a private school.  This time, my experience was different.  At the time, private schools were not required to hire people with a degree in education.  The school was small, and there were multiple grade levels in each classroom.  However, most students usually get the attention they needed.  But, I was bored.  I wasn’t being challenged, and I often had problems completing homework because I just didn’t see the point in doing it.

no-bully-sign-wmI faced other challenges in this school, too.  I was being bullied.  The school staff weren’t really qualified to help me with my situation.  I can remember at least two occasions I was paddled for something my bully did.  My teachers always believed her story over mine for some reason.  She loved getting me into trouble.  After all, she was good at it.

After my fourth-grade year, my parents realized it was time to change schools.  I distinctly remember my teacher pulling me aside to tell me why I didn’t want to go to public school the next year.  The “evil heathens” there would bully me worse than I was experiencing already, and they would never give me the education I needed for my bright young mind.  He frightened me a little, which I think was his intent. stand-up

Regardless, a change was needed.  My parents enrolled me into public school.  The first thing they did was test me to find out where to place me.  My results showed they needed to place me in gifted classes.  From day one, that private school teacher was wrong.  In my case, public school was the better option.

I was lucky, though.  I grew up in a great school district.  The teachers were highly qualified, and the educational programs were stellar.  Sure, I experienced some bullying in public school, but the school staff did the best they could to help me when I needed it unlike my old private school.

When I grew up and had a child of my own, I had to make the decision of where I wanted my son to go to school.  My husband and I differed in our opinions.  After my experience, of course I wanted my son to go to public school.  I truly thought it was the best choice to ensure he got the appropriate education and socialization.  At first, I was impressed with his school.  But, things changed.  If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you already know a little of the story.  In the end, I had no choice but to pull my son from that school and enroll in a homeschool program.

studying-hard-wmThe school I chose is still within the public-school system.  It’s a virtual charter school, and the same standards are required as with a brick and mortar school including mandatory testing.  That stuff is really a pain, but my son is getting a better education and he isn’t getting bullied anymore.  I honestly think we made the best choice for us, and I have no regrets.

So, now that you’ve read my story, you can probably guess where I stand on school choice.  I really don’t know what I would have done without the right to choose how my son gets his education.  Every parent wants what is best for their child.  That’s why I don’t really understand the latest controversy regarding education.  Frankly, I’m baffled.

convenientThe nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is making waves.  School choice and charter advocates praised her appointment. Union officials, Democratic activists, and public school advocates slammed it.  My question is, what is wrong with having a choice?  As a parent, I just want what is best for my child.  I’m sure you do too.  Public schools can be great, but other types of schools have their advantages.  My parents had their reasons for starting me out in private schools, and there’s nothing wrong with the choice they made for me.

policySo many public schools are having problems.  They’re underperforming, and the latest standards imposed upon them are choking the learning process.  I’ve heard complaints from parents and educators that they’re teaching for the test rather than teaching to learn.  Essentially, they’re teaching students how to cram for a test, and that doesn’t work as far as retaining knowledge.  So, don’t we need a change?  Something has got to give, because kids are going to college not knowing how to write an essay or determine percentages.  I’m sure you can imagine how frustrating that can be to a professor who must stop to teach what these kids were supposed to learn in high school.

The teacher unions have been very vocal with their displeasure at DoVos’s nomination.  They say she wants to destroy and dismantle the public-school system.  After looking at her record, I don’t see how they can actually think that.  Since when does making a choice for something mean you hold hatred for the opposite choice.  For instance, if I like the color blue, I might buy a blue shirt.  It doesn’t mean I hate the color red.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to destroy all of my pink or brown shirts.  Furthermore, it doesn’t mean I’m going to protest your choice to wear a yellow or green shirt or demand my local department store sells nothing but blue colored clothes.  It just means I happen to like the color blue.one-way-1-of-1

We know some things need fixing in our public schools right now.  Standardized testing has gotten out of hand.  Teachers’ hands are tied and they’re somewhat limited having to stick with common core.  So, what is so terrible about making some improvements?  Perhaps it will take someone with different opinions and experience with other types of schools to formulate a plan to ensure our children all get the best education.  All we need to do is hear Mrs. DeVos out.  However, some folks don’t want to let that happen.  Protesters are attempting to physically block her from entering some schools.  First of all, why are these people even on school property?  These days, you’re not supposed to be on campus if you don’t have a reason to be there.  Most schools keep their doors locked these days, and you have to be buzzed in for security reasons.  The real outcry should be about these people trespassing on school grounds and disrupting our kids’ learning time with their protests.

So, why not let DeVos in?  She went there to listen and learn about what schools need.  The protest is counterproductive.  If they’re protesting because they’re unhappy with their children’s school situations, they’re getting in the way of progress.  If they’re protesting because they are satisfied with their kid’s education and don’t think their schools need improvements, they might need to reassess their stance.  I’m not saying all public schools are failing.  As I said before, a great public school helped shape me as a kid.  But, some do need changes.  It would be beneficial to open a real dialogue between school officials and teachers, parents, and the new administration.  If a school is really doing great, it can be used as an example of what works in education.  For Pete’s sake, let the lady in!  Otherwise, we might find ourselves stuck in a stalemate with no way to move forward or grow in education in the future.  Our children will be the ones who suffer for our stubbornness.  Then, where will we find ourselves later on down the road?  I suspect we’ll be even more frustrated with the system than we are now.

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