Thursday, September 30, 2010

2:30 a.m.

I just published this poem on my other blog:, but I wanted to put it here, too, because a couple of friends have been lamenting their sleepless nights with crying babies lately, and I wanted to commiserate with them. Christy and Katie, this one's for you.

At 2:30 a.m.
waiting for the baby to sleep again
I discover
why the electric bill is so high.
The A/C has been running for an hour--
some contest to outscream him?
or try to get ahead of the Florida summer?
I wonder who will last the longest
in this battle of wills and lungs?

Surely I can outwit the air conditioner--
turn up the thermostat and
make it go to sleep.
But the baby?
He must struggle along as he can,
screaming his anger out alone
in the dark
to uncaring gods who will wean him
of bottle and breast
and make him learn.

Life is not fair, baby.
For you, whose body and soul
I cradled nine months inside me,
who has no complaint I do not feel,
must now find your own way
back to sleep.

You can check my other blog, occasionally, for poems and other random thoughts. No pictures on that one, though.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Warning: This is a Rant

If you don't feel like listening to me rant, please do not read this.

Disclaimer: I freely admit to being stubborn, proud of my education, my homeschooling efforts, and, sometimes, my stubbornness, and prejudiced against public schools. This post is only anecdotal; it is not hard and fast evidence, and I am not in any way objective.

My latest facebook status update reads: Shaunna Sanders wonders what she was thinking when she put the kids in public school this year. Well, what I was thinking was that Elijah was so young and such a poor sleeper, and it was only for a year, and John really encouraged it, and it couldn't be that bad, could it? Ahem.

When I registered Joe and Priya, I asked the front desk staff about the absence policy. They said that there were absolutely no unexcused absences allowed, that I could not pull my kids out of school just for vacation, and that illness had to be accompanied by a doctor's note in order to be excused. I asked if I could sometimes pull them out early, and they said, sure. But then I mentioned that my home school coop had planned a poetry, art, and nature study class every Wednesday afternoon, and that I would like to take my kids out after lunch on each week on that day so they could attend the class. The front desk staff got very defensive, said that they would notice a pattern and that I would get taken to truant court. She also added that Plantation Oaks Elementary had an art and music program. (It's just the P.E. teacher they cut because of budget constraints). That's where it all started.

Well, actually, that's not. When I registered them, I had no paperwork for Joseph. He's always been home schooled, and I don't believe testing is necessary; I teach him oneon- one every day. I know what he knows and what he doesn't know. After checking with the district, they told me that he could register for the second grade but that after nine weeks, his teacher would have to evaluate him to make sure he could stay in that grade or, if he wasn't up to snuff, he'd have to go back to the first grade. I asked what would happen if he was more advanced--would they move him up to third grade? No.

When I met Priya's and Joe's teachers at orientation, I spoke to them about the coop class. Priya's teacher was fine with it. Joe's teacher seemed okay. She checked their schedule and found that Joe had math on that afternoon, but I assured her that he would be fine missing one hour of math instruction each week. He had already finished the Math-U-See beta level and was ready to start multiplication. That was dumb, I now understand. Shouldn't have said anything that could be mistaken for bragging. I only meant it as reassurance, but it seems to have been taken as a challenge.

I took the kids out early for our first Wednesday class on September 8th. The following Friday, September 10th, John answered a phone call from Joe's teacher. According to John, his teacher said that the administration was concerned with Joe missing an hour of math lecture each week. John asked if Joe was having trouble in math. His teacher mentioned one lesson when he struggled a little with the skip counting concept they were working on, but she spent a little one-on-one time with him, and he got it.

Since his teacher implied that it was the administration who had issues with my taking him out early on a regular basis, I decided to take it up with the administration. I wrote a very polite email (I had John read it to make sure) to the principal explaining my intention and kindly reminding her that I felt it was my responsibility to educate my children and that the school district was helping me in this endeavor, for which I was grateful. That was on Friday.

The following Wednesday morning, right before the next class, she wrote back to say that she understood my desires but that the math classes taught at the school were very interactive and Joe couldn't afford to miss them. She said that if I took my children out early, she would have to count it as an unexcused absence. I suppressed my frustration again.

I wrote another email to the principal and one to his teacher. The principal's email said that I had talked with my coop and they had agreed to meet a little later. Joe's schedule said he had math right after lunch on Wednesdays, so if I picked him up after that, at, say, 1:45, he wouldn't miss any math. Would that be alright? She hasn't written me back.

The email to his teacher made mention of the same proposal, as well as thanking her for her hard work and letting her know what I had done to work with Joseph concerning a deficiency mentioned in his interim report. That, in itself, is obnoxious. Joseph's interim report marked him as below grade level on reading comprehension. I examined his tests, on which she based her evaluation, and found that, of all the questions he missed on the reading comprehension section, all but one of them were missed because he had not answered the question. If he had answered them incorrectly, then I could see how you might think he had a problem with reading comprehension. But to omit them completely indicates a problem with checking over the test and making sure you haven't skipped any. When I went over the questions with him at home, he
answered them all just fine. Also, he had 100% on all math tests and assignments.

Joe's teacher wrote back and said that the schedule she had sent home was simplified and that he actually had math on the last hour of the day on Wednesdays. She ignored my statements about having minored in math in college and tutored it extensively, my offers to purchase the math book so that I could keep up with the class (I have since found it available for free online) and my assurance that I could certainly make up any lessons Joe missed. She also dismissed my offer to volunteer in her classroom, saying she would let me know if she needed anything.

I wrote back again saying that I would see if the coop could move the class to Fridays. Would that be alright? But she did not respond. When she does write me emails, she never uses my name. She just starts the email with Hello, and then goes right into it. When I talked to my next door neighbor, she said that last year, she took her kids out of school seventeen days for vacations and other things, and that nothing happened. When I told her what the principal said, she said that the principal can't do that. If I check him out anytime after 10:45 am, he can't be counted absent. The problem is, I don't know if it's the teacher or the principal or both. If it's the teacher, I could ask to switch teachers, but if the principal is in agreement with her, then that won't do any good. I could take him out anyway, but that is sure to displease his teacher, and that would only rebound on his head. So what do I do? Stupid public school system. No wonder I have vowed that this is absolutely the only time I will ever put any of my children in public school. Duh.