Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Damn the System

I am so terrified of the educational system we have to put our children into these days. 

I volunteered at Max's kindergarten class today.  I was really excited to go and help out.  The kids have been working on 100 sight words for the last 6 weeks or so.  Ms. Marsh has been going over them in class with the kids.  She, also, sent all the word home on cards for the parents to use to work with their children.  I was so excited to go and help.  

Turns out that I was not so happy when I left.  Max and one other child were amazing.  Max knew all of them and the other kid knew 98 of them.  I was so thrilled to see that...those were the first two kids I tested.  After that it was all down hill.  One other student knew about 30 of the words.....the rest were less than 10.  There is one girl who only knew the word "a."  No, REALLY.  I know that Max's teacher has been doing the words in class but they are just not getting it.   I am sure that some of the parents are not helping at home. 

I cannot blame the teacher for what is going on in the class.  It is really hard to teach reading when some of the students cannot even recognize all the letters.  There is such a vast difference between the levels in the class.  I know all about differentiated teaching.  I get it.  I know that teachers are suppose to teach to all the kids...figure out different lessons for different levels.  I can understand that and it is a good theory.  It works if the students are a bit closer in ability.  There is no way to overcome the vast expanse between not knowing all the letters and reading at a 1st grade level.  

I went on the offensive for my child today.  I want him to be challenged at his level.  I knew that he was advanced and doing well in reading, but now I am afraid that he is way above and beyond.  He is so far ahead of all but one other student in his class.  I have been working with his teacher trying to get him into 1st grade reading groups, but found out tonight that the 1st grade teachers do not want to move students around for reading.  They are not willing to take Max for reading.  Max's teacher is new to the district this year and is finding out these things just before I do.  She is doing all she can for us.  She begged the 1st grade teachers, but they won't do it.  Her plan now is to do a separate curriculum for Max.  It will be something that Max will get to work with a teachers assistant and in small groups.  She will also be sending work home for me to work with Max.  I am beginning to understand that there are some parents out there who are not willing or able to work with their kids.   I am so glad not to be one of them.  

I have come to understand in the matter of hours today that I am the one who is ultimately in charge of my son's education.  I am not sure what I am going to do.  This is an ever evolving situation.  I am going to see how this new plan of his teacher until the new year.  If I do not think things are getting better, I will have to take the next step and meet with the counselor and other staff members.  I want to make sure that my child is taken care of and challenged.  I will not let my kid not get be forgotten.  He will not be left behind because he is so far ahead, but what do we do now?  The whole No Child Left Behind thing that the government dropped upon us SUCKS.  There are children still being left behind, but the kid who is behind still gets extra help.  There are programs for those kids.  But, when a child is advanced and going above all the rest, they are being held back because our teachers are so busy trying to go down the middle of the road.   Where does that leave my child?  We cannot afford private school to ensure he is getting challenged and there is no program at his school for advanced students.  

I know that Max is only in kindergarten, but if I don't start working on this now, who knows where he will end up.


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