Je ne regrette rien

Education: Decision Made

socializationgifI’m Catholic, not quite non-practicing, not quite practicing. I have issues with some of the doctrine of the Catholic church and it has been quite some time since I have attended mass, though I have sought counsel with a priest when I was facing one of my more difficult times in life. My daughter has religious education free of dogma and I don’t believe that I NEED to gather with a bunch of people of my same faith in order to have a relationship with God.

Another thing that I’m not is an uber-conservative. I am pretty liberal, actually, empathetic perhaps. I don’t really subscribe to one political ideology and have voted both conservative and liberal, but I have no real ties within the religious right that guide me in my decision making process. I don’t agree with the two party system, nor do I agree with bailing out for the sake of bailing out, or voting based on what the church tells you to. That’s just me. Life isn’t black and white, and I tend to live in the gray.

After much thought, I have decided that I am going to homeschool my daughter. There, I said it out loud to someone other than my friends, so now it is real.  Why did I bring up my religious and political beliefs? Because I didn’t want the basis of my decision to be lost on the stereotype that tends to follow homeschooled parents around: ultra-conservative and very religious.  My decision is based upon the fact that: 1. New Orleans public school system is a disaster 2. More specifically, the Recovery School District is a disaster 3. With the exception of a handful of schools, the schools are a disaster 4. I value my daughter’s education.

Somewhere between the pro and the anti  propaganda lies the truth about homeschooling.  I’m a middle ground kind of girl – see religious and political beliefs – so I choose to take that as I go into this venture. It isn’t something I went into lightly. I did my research. I compared teaching models and curriculum. I spoke with people who had both positive and negative experiences homeschooling. And I weighed the pros and cons of keeping her in the particular school she was attending while in the Recovery School District, and the pros of homeschooling her far outweighed the pros of not.

There are some things that I am still researching and a few people I plan on contacting about their experiences and recommendations, but to homeschool is the final decision made at the end of the day. I do wonder, though, how many have chosen this option (if it is even an option with the fact that so many families need two incomes to survive) because the schools lack a lot of things down here, the good ones are impossible to get into and  waiting lisst extend out what seems endlessly, and private school simply is not an option for them?

Another point of interest, at least to me, is that back in the small area in Wisconsin I spent most of my life, many people I went to school with have opted to homeschool their children and the education system doesn’t face nearly as many challenges as ours in New Orleans. Are more people simply deciding to take control of their children’s education?

I have decided to create another blog, though, to chronicle my adventures in homeschooling. Mostly as a reference clearinghouse for myself, but to share my struggle with the decision and the steps I have taken. I’m not only a list maker, but I’m a chronicler too. 🙂

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New Orleans Education: Parents Association Denied

In this post, I discuss the observations that I have made while volunteering at my daughter’s school. Some of the observations were disturbing, some disheartening, and just plain frightening to me, not only as a mother, but someone relatively new to the “public school system” in New Orleans.  I’ve been in the unique situation to speak to both teachers and parents about the apparent disconnect between school, staff, parent, and child and really wanted to do something about it¹ and I created a proposal to start a Parent Association at my daughter’s school. I even volunteered my efforts to its creation and implementation.

I spent a great deal of time researching urban education models and parent associations and the comparisons of a parent association to the PTO/PTA model. I also spend a great deal of time researching the effectiveness of parent associations, particularly in urban communities and in communities that are under-funded, unfortunately something that generally goes hand-in-hand. This isn’t a concept new to the school, as it was mentioned previously by a school social worker and the principal to meet with them about getting this going. Currently, our school has nothing – no PTO, no parent association, nor a parent teacher liason that actually does their job. ²

I received a response yesterday denying the creation of my proposed parent assocation. I was told that an administrator would have to be involved and that currently, the school was not ready for this internally.

What?

You have a parent here who is trying to make a difference in your school, reduce the complaints of staff being over-worked, and helping parents, teachers, and students be on the same path for a better education and you are denying the creation of such a powerful tool? Come again? It has nothing to do with budget. This parent association wouldn’t require one single cent of the school’s funding.

My proposed parent association would not be a fund-raising effort. There needs to be a base of support outside of school administration for parents and children before fund-raising could even be considered, and in an urban area full of crime like New Orleans, I don’t think selling candy bars is really a great idea. That point was met with agreement, actually. Essentially, the proposal included real support for students and teachers like a homeroom parent³, school-wide newsletter produced regularly informing parents on important things like days off from school well in advance, progress the school is making, and upcoming events. Currently, parents are given a note a few days before school is scheduled to be out, the date of LEAP test hasn’t been communicated, and we have no idea why there are people walking around the school with blue prints and visitor passes. Weekly newsletters from teachers letting parents know what will be expected for homework the coming week, so there can be no excuses of not knowing what the homework assignments are for, or letting parents know of class achievements and recognition of students doing well that week. If it were not for the fact that I volunteer in my daughter’s classroom, I would not know most of the children in her class. Quite frankly, I believe that is tragic.

Small steps that could mean so much.

Denied.

Do schools REALLY want parents to get involved, as they cheer-lead in orientations before school starts, or do they really want to be in charge of it all and hope that parents will simply comply with the status quo?

School by Supertramp

1. Because I am foolish and have this whole save the world to make it a better place complex.

2. The same staff member I talking about smacking her child aside the head.

3. Something the school sent sign up forms for in September and have yet to do anything about the information they collected.

Book Blabber: Latter Library Sale and Mr. Book Hoarder

Posted in 100 Things, Book Babble, life, new orleans, research, Uptown by Amy on January 25, 2009

latterlibrary18 lib 1I love Wednesdays and Saturdays for one reason and one reason alone –  the book sale the Latter Library on St. Charles Avenue.

I am like a little kid on Christmas morning, waiting anxiously for Mom and Dad to wake up so I can tear into my gifts, seeing what surprises are hidden inside each beautifully wrapped box. I look at the clock, tap my foot, look at the clock some more, try to wake my husband up, watch the clock, try to wake my husband up again, and as soon as it hits 9:45 am, I am waking him up with an edge in my voice, wanting to go see what treasures I can find. As soon as I get there, I follow the same routine. First I look in the books that have had movies made from them, then the award winning books, then to the children’s section, self-help section, and ending with the trade paperbacks. I never leave empty handed, leading to the problem of too many books, not enough space that I am trying to tackle in my house now. Everyone wins with the book sale: owners get rid of old books hanging around, I get new books to hang around, and the Friends of the Library raise money for things needed in rebuilding the library system. The way I look at it, the more I spend, the more I am helping, right?

It may seem like such a simple thing, a library book sale, but how many of you get to go to a library that was once the mansion of a silent film star? Yeah, I didn’t think so. *sticks tongue out*

There is only one thing that burst my bubble on library sale day. PMS, Whiney Child, Cranky Husband, More month than money, illness, rain, sleet, snow

Mr. Pseudo-Intellectual, Book – Hoarder.

You see, every time I go to the book sale, which is nearly every week, twice a week, Mr. Pseudo-Intellectual, Book -Hoarder gives me and my husband the stare down. He sees us coming, he clutches onto his books a little tighter, starts searching a little harder, and douchebags it up a little better. He has watched us, my husband and I, and has studied us. He knows that I look for classics, while my husband looks for first editions of local and regional writers. He knows that I have a fetish when it comes to old, hardcover books. He knows this because, we intimidate him. Why? We could potentionally scoop up something that he missed.

He will hover over those work the sale, watching as they bring new books out, making sure he is the first person to see what is newly in place to be sold. While he is busy preying, his books sit on the stairs, and he will not be afraid to let you know that “Those. Are. Spoke. For.” as he pushes up the glasses on his face that have slipped down. Normally, I browse around him, knowing what his gig is, preferring to simply not acknowledge him.

Until today.

You see, Mr. Pseudo-Intellectual, Book Hoarder is too busy hovering and preying and hoarding to wander into the back rooms where the memoirs and the trade paperbacks call home. Me, well, I prefer the back areas – less people and more time to truly consider your choices! Today I came upon a heck of a find – Surprised By Joy by CS Lewis – Second Impression – from England – from 1955.

As we were in line, behind him, he noticed the book. My husband happened to be holding onto it, as I wanted him to check it out and my hands were full and books were close to falling out of them.

“Can I see that?” he stammered.

“Uh, yeah, sure man, ” my husband said, looking at me.

“Is that a first edition?” he asked, hovering over my husband, like a striped hyena hovering over a bird egg. I swear I saw him wipe the corner of his mouth, a direct result from the salivating he was doing at the thought of a first edition C.S Lewis book.

“No. It’s second impression, unfortunately.”

You could see the color drain from his face. He was clearly disappointed. Why, I am not sure, since my husband was holding onto the Holy Grail, clearly intending on bringing it home to the Promised Land.

“It is still quite a find, ” he said, almost like he was waiting for us to tell him to go ahead and take it.

“Honey, ready?” I said to my husband, waiting for that final book until our transaction could be complete and we could be on our way home to laze away the afternoon and read our new finds.

As we walked away, I looked at my husband, who was looking at me.

“Can you believe that guy?” my husband asked.

“No kidding, right? Every single week it is like this. You know, I really wish it would have been a first edition so I could have seen the look on his face as we walked away with the one that got away.”

Moral of the story: Don’t be a Mr. Pseudo-Intellectual, Book-Hoarding Type. There are enough books to go around for you to hock on E-Bay and for the rest of us to enjoy.