Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My School Grade: D

Recently there's been many articles and blogs about grading parents on their children's success in school. I've read there's many different places parents would be graded- their children's attendance, participation in school, test scores, homework completion and parents involvement in school/volunteering/attendance at school functions. I find this idea off the wall.

Its said this is a backlash from teachers tired of being blamed for students continuing falling test scores and not wanting to be the only ones held responsible- that they are doing what they can but its not enough. I have had at least one child in school for the past 13 years and at this point am at the highest for the amount of children I'll have at one time in school- currently 5 of my 7 attend school. My youngest is in kindergarten and the oldest is a senior in high school (scheduled to graduate in just 5 days). I have a very long time until I am done with schooling and children. Over the course of my life as a parent I'll have had 30 years of children in school (1998 was when my oldest entered kindergarten and my youngest will be entering kindergarten in 2016, with an expected graduation date of 2029). In just the past 13 years I've seen a turn for the worst but I'm not blaming it on the teachers. No way...my kids have had Great teachers! I blame lack of financial support and a standard that can't be met- in short I blame No Child Left Behind.

{Soapbox Rant} 

Everyone (parents and teachers alike) agrees (at least that I've spoken with- which is numerous) that since NCLB was instituted schools have gone down hill and  can not meet the needs of the students. Be it too much pressure to preform highly or lack of funds, to give our kids an education that will help them succeed. NCLB takes funding away from schools that are not meeting the expectations of the government (the government that is not in our classrooms). Take away funding and the tools that are necessary to help the students can not be afforded. It's one of those stupid cycles- HOW on Earth can teachers teach without the funding to buy required materials (and I'm talking books here people- text books. My children have been going without, or going with photocopies of pages for years. Loose pages get lost, no matter HOW organized a kid is, and for those without those skills its a hopeless cause. I know, trust me! With one child with an IEP that states he needs 2 text books, one to be left in the classroom and one for home so there is no transition, this can't happen because the schools don't have an extra to send home for him.). George W. left a huge mark on the public school system, and for whatever reason this mark is left unfixed. But hey fixing this problem would involve putting government money were it SHOULD be going, back into society where it came from, and that would mean less money elsewhere.

I have one child left in the public school system- the others attend charter schools. If there was a viable option in a charter school for her, she'd be there. The public schools here are over crowded, literally. 30+ students in a class with one teacher, schools unable to add more students because physically they don't have the room, or space for classrooms. Many students, and parents, are leaving simply because of this- one girl in my sons high school transferred from a public high school because there was 45 students in her class and kids were sitting on the floor of the classroom out of necessity, not want! And teachers are expected to get our students to learn in that environment?! Ready for standardized tests, no way is that thought even attainable in my head.

Alright back to my "Grade". Why a D?

I'm being honest and hard on myself. Because I could be doing better, and someday I will- but I am not a supermom. If my kids have made it to school, are fed, have done their homework, gotten a good nights sleep, have been loved on, and been happy that day- I've succeeded in doing a good job. But honestly there are times when homework hasn't been done. Or I haven't been able to physically force a child out the door onto the bus when said child has refused to go to school.  Or my teen has gotten up late and didn't have time to eat breakfast or hasn't wanted anything. Or the reason that same teen got up late is he didn't get to bed early enough, and didn't get a good nights sleep. There's are things I struggle with as a parent of a student. And in part don't have a lot of control over. My kids, at a certain age, have to start to learn the natural consequences of life and making bad decisions. And they get too big for me to force them to do anything. That is not in my parenting philosophy.

Do I volunteer at my children's schools? No- We have 2 little ones at home, and 1 car. Most schools don't provide childcare for younger siblings, so parents can help. Do I attend parent/teacher conferences? For the most part- I have missed one this year for both of my older kids. Do I respond to teachers when they call/email with a concern? Always, because if its become a concern at school, its probably a concern at home too. But don't expect me to be able to change the behavior you're experiencing, I can't shadow them at school, and they have minds of their own. I will speak to my kids, let them know we are aware, are here to help if they need it, and that there will be a consequence if it continues. After that its out of my hands. Do I attend every school function? No. I try to get to most, the ones that are free. But so many now are  school function fundraisers (because they lack funding), and the going price for these functions is usually $10 a head, and with 9 people in our family, it makes attending most of them out of our budget and unattainable. Do my kids get plenty of sleep and a healthy breakfast before school? Yes these things are provided, for the younger ones always. For the older ones they are encouraged but not forced. Do you children have good attendance records? Most- the youngers have almost perfect attendance, as does my oldest two. My middle, well that's been an on-going issue- one I've been fighting the entire school year to no avail. If she misses the bus on purpose, I can't drive her but she does suffer consequences at home. If she says she's ill, do I force her to go anyways, yes sometimes, sometimes no- on the times I do she'll go to the nurses office and tell them she's sick, to which I get a phone call about and am expected to pick her up. What else can I be doing? (Really I don't know!) Do my children complete ALL their homework? For the most part. I help when needed, remind when needed, ask nightly if they have any. BUT I am of the belief that homework for elementary children does nothing but ready them for harder homework in upper grades- it hasn't actually been proven to be a beneficial tool to learning. In other words it doesn't help them learn more. There's very little evidence that homework in middle school does much either. High school is the only place where its been proven to help slightly. Clarification: School work that is not completed in school is important for children to finish at home, IE. projects or classwork. Busy work, IE. worksheets that are "extra", is just that busy work, just drills to get children to "remember" more. One or two sheets is acceptable but when they are bringing home as many pages to do as they are old, its too much!

So I am not the best school mom out there- not nearly close. My children all do well, and get higher than average grades, and attend almost 100% of the time. Could they and I be doing better? Probably but then that's all we'd be doing and school is not life. So maybe my priorities are off but life is all learning in some respects and I believe there is way too much to learn outside of books and the classroom. If I do get "graded" then my kids will come out of the school system because if what I'm doing now is not good enough then it never will be and the government can back out of my life. That's one place that really needs to get its priorities straight!


  1. Thank you for writing this.
    I will be a first time public school mom next year and I am finding myself increasingly nervous about it. I want so badly to be a "good mom" and do the right things once they go but honestly just dont even know what I am supposed to do without seeming over board or pushy. How do you strike that balance between involved and over involved?
    For what it is worth I think you are being far to hard on yourself. ((hug))

  2. I honestly feel I'm under involved and wish I could be more, but at this time I don't have the resources to do much. I hope this will change as the littles get bigger, and in the mean time I hope I don't miss out on too much.

    You are probably right that I'm being too hard on myself. I'd probably deserve a C but am dealing with some guilt involved in missing the youngers school concerts this year (there have been 2- both during the school day.). I know I'm probably not the only one who did- since they were both during working hours and many parents can't take the time off to go- I wish the school would try and accommodate that a bit more. I just feel bad for them- I never missed things like that for the olders, but things were different and we had 2 cars. Thank you for the hug!

  3. Wow that is strange that they would schedule stuff during school hours like that. I imagine many parents are not happy about that.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love hearing from my readers! Many blessings to all.