Thursday, November 8, 2007

Public Schools

Let me just start out by saying, how happy I am with the public school my children attend and the teachers that my children have had while being at this school. I am a firm believer in the public school system. Just so everyone knows, I attended both public and private (to be clear, private while my Dad was a mission president in Costa Rica--so it wasn't US private schools) and so I saw both sides of the coin. I live in a neighborhood where there is this frenzy of discussion every year about where to send their children. Do we keep them in our "boundary" public school or send them to another one that people have heard about it? (We could all go together and car pool.) Do we have our kids take the ALPS (Accelerated Learning something or other) test and assuming they pass, send them to an ALPS school? Can we afford private? If so, which one? What about one of the new charter schools? Etc. I have decided a lot of people move their kids out of our boundried public school because it is just a different choice and it makes them look like they care more. Not necessarily because the different school offers a better education.

Anyway, last night was parent/teacher conference and as I met with each of my children's teachers, I was amazed at what they do for my kids and I am sure they do they same of all of their students. Toothsome #2 has always been a reader and is reading way above grade level. So, what does this teacher do? She provides books for her to read at her reading level. She also suggested, since her reading is so strong, that we focus on handwriting and sentence writing. How wonderful to be so strong in a subject, that we have the extra time to focus on ones that she is not so strong in!

Toothsome #1 is having a great year all around. He has his strengths and weaknesses but he is happy and loving school. His teacher feels he has a very creative mind and is really encouraging him to explore it by working on writing creative stories in class. She also does individualized spelling lists for each child, so my child is working on words that challenge him regardless of where the rest of the class is--either below or above him.

I realize I am fortunate enough to live in a great spot in the SLC valley and I have been blessed to have my kids in an outstanding public school, but I know these same type of creative, wonderful teachers are working all over the valley. I also don't have any children with any special needs and I know there needs to be different options available for them but for just the run of the mill, typical child, why aren't people supporting their local school? I feel there is so much fragmenting caused by parents by constantly searching for a different option than "just the public schools." In my ward alone, we have kids attending 7 different schools. And people are wondering about problems with ward and neighborhood unity? Why don't we all just support our public schools and work with each other and each other's children more? We would have that unity and public schools would be better for it. Ok, I am off my soapbox now.


Gabriela said...

You guys look great (from below).

I like your post. I know what you mean about parents just wanting to seem like they "care more".

I have yet to experience public schools-or American schools for that matter, but we plan to put our kids into the public system when we get back.

Kristin (from Boulder) said...

Amen! Well said Janice. I think that there was a lot more neighborhood unity and a lot more pride in the public schools when people weren't constantly looking for something that looked "better"--especially when they did so looking to impress other people! I'm glad that you are so vocal in your support of our public schools and our hard-working public school teachers!!

love.boxes said...

I agree with most of what you said... except that my daughter had a terrible year in public school last year. By the time we were really aware of the problem. They would not let us switch teachers. I wish that she had been in a private school, charter school or anywhere else last year. That said, all of her other years in public school have been outstanding including this year. She has great teachers. However, I am one who is glad that parents have more options these days than they used to.

Janice said...

Tiff: Let me say that bad teachers exist everywhere--private, public, charter. Two my worst teachers ever were very educated, American teachers at my private school. I am sorry your daughter had one.

jo said...

I am very glad your kids have great teachers. I am learning first hand how hard it is to be a good public school teacher (and I'm only a student teacher! whew!). I feel motivated when I hear about good teachers in public school

michelle said...

Here is my opion on charter schools. The ones I checked into required so many hours of parent volunteer work per child per year. Now if that were the case in public school I think people would feel better about them. NOt just because the volunteer work would make them better, but especially because when you are inyour kids school you know what is going on and what they are learning and you see what their teachers do for themand you feel like you are having a better experience. Off my soap box too!