As the new school year gets underway, I find myself, once again explaining why we’re not at our neighborhood school.
You see, I made the decision to yank my kids from our awarding winning public school, and place them in a public charter.
It’s ok. That’s the reaction I usually get. You see, my kids are bright. And active. And while my son was doing just fine academically at our neighborhood school, he was stressed. Conforming to the traditional setting did not suit him at all. In fact, it was sucking the creativity and the life right out of him. My bright, bright boy was struggling to keep his hands still and his mouth shut and his eyes and heart were glazing over.
When his then teacher suggested we use medication to stifle what little spunk was left, I was done.
Now mind you I’m not one of those mother’s who is blind to their child’s faults. We also sought the advice of pediatricians, school psychologists, and a therapist. Its been a long road for a kind-hearted boy who wasn’t a bad kid, but was quickly being labeled as one because he would roll his pencil in his fingers or had trouble sitting for more than 20 minutes at a time.
There he was, standing against the wall at recess because he hadn’t finished a work sheet…when what he needed more than anything was that 30 minutes to run free and climb and play.
So without knowing what I was going to do, but knowing this had to change, I pulled my son from his Kindergarten and sought an alternative. For all I knew that meant I would home school, or we’d sell body parts for a private school…I didn’t care.
As luck would have it, a spot opened up at the brand new charter in our valley. The first, in our valley. Project learning based. Hands on. Individualized learning. Something his then teacher said she couldn’t do for him, due to a lack of resources. And let me be clear… I do not fault her, or the old school at all. They did what they could do and they managed their classes as best they could with the resources they had. But it was a one size fits all solution…one I couldn’t accept for my son and now, my daughter.
I have the utmost respect for the teachers union. For educators. For the system that is being held together by strings and band-aids and for those who work so hard every day to keep it together and educate our kids. But that system does not work for every child. It’s leaving so many of our boys and girls behind in it’s wake, and I refuse to let my kids suffer while the system gets fixed.
I couldn’t wait another five years, or another round of elections, or another anything. My kids are in elementary school NOW and I have no time for this system to change.
I’m lucky, I found a solution in my own neighborhood. Others are not so lucky. But I would have homeschooled and worked full time if that was my only other choice. I would have gotten a second job to pay for that private school. There are no limits to what we’d do for our kids.
I was talking to my husband the other night about telling this story. About how our family ended up at a charter…and I hesitated. You see, even in our growing valley, traditional ‘values’ run deep and there is already the nay-sayers that are complaining about the ‘un’learning we do at our school. I didn’t want to stir that pot.
But, in the end, I wanted to share our story because it’s not just ours. You see, I’m seeing many families transfer over from those award winning schools. I’m hearing other stories of the struggle with hours upon hours of homework, killing and drilling, soul sucking teach to the test.
There are many.
And while our charter is NOT for everyone, it is the perfect fit for us- the quirky family with the writer mother and artist father and two amazing children who learn through play and encouragement and love.
I’m Erin, and I support charter schools. I also support public education. Those two things can- and sometimes do- go hand-in-hand.