Special Education

powerful-educationAre you thinking this is a real no-brainer?  When your child is old enough to attend school, you simply enroll him.  Professional educators are better equipped to teach and make educational decisions for all children, including those with disabilities.

Wrong!  Would you allow a teacher or school administrator to decide what your child is capable or incapable of learning?

Based upon their personal opinion of your child’s abilities, would you then let these folks decide what your child will and will not be taught or who their school friends will be? Would you also allow them to choose whether your child will go on to college, or a technical school or even receive a regular high school diploma?

Of course not!  Suppose school administrators were to tell you, “It is our opinion that reading and writing might be too difficult for your child to master.  We’re going to focus instead on teaching those skills that will enable your child to eventually work at a job we feel is more appropriate, like for instance, janitorial work or slinging hash in some fast food place.”  You would be justifiably outraged.

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What does family mean to you?

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For me, family is everything.  I live, and would die, for my family.  Included in this are some incredibly close friends who have become de facto family members. But everyone’s version of family is different. My parents (and D’s parents) will celebrate their 34th wedding anniversaries this year.  This dynamic and the fact that my parents are still married definitely impacts our relationship.

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Kids can say the darndest things

friends-iconAs a child, I had several hated household responsibilities. Scooping up the dog shit in the backyard and making my bed (which I still hate doing) topped the list, and cleaning out the bird cage? Hated it.

But right up there with all of those loathsome chores was waking my mom up from an afternoon nap, something I never looked forward to.

My mom just didn’t take a nap, quote unquote. She fell into a mini-coma. Waking her up was not unlike rousing a bear out of hibernation – she got a tad bit vicious when I’d try.

I used to poke her in the stomach a few times and then bolt, and she’d sit on the edge of her bed, smoke a cigarette and stare into space for a while before ambling downstairs to smoke and stare some more.

Julia takes after my mom in this particular area and one afternoon last week, she woke up crabby and grumpy, like a little bear.

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The best and worst of our charter school experience

Vector School Building

I was beyond thrilled when my older daughter got into the charter school of our choice. This particular school has been featured on Oprah, 60 Minutes, PBS, and countless articles as a pillar of what the best of charter schools can offer.

Unlike public schools, this school had longer hours. Instead of an 8-2 day, my daughter was in school from 7:25 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. While this sounds like a lot for a 5th grader, it allowed more time in the class for teachers to work with the students, she had Art, P.E., Technology, and Music as part of her school time (instead of carting kids around to after-school programs), and even time for recess and lunch.
I fell in love with the school on the very first day. Their rules were strict, but the teachers and the principal were extremely compassionate and positive. They believed in every student’s ability to succeed.
My daughter went from an average student to a straight A student. After she got used to having 2 hours of homework a night, she rarely needed help (but knew it was just a phone call away, as the teachers were required to be available by cell until 8 pm). Instead of a PTA, we had breakfast with the Principal one Saturday a month. Everyone contributed, and we all had an equal voice. We could ask any and every question, and through those meetings, new concepts were implemented. For example, after the Principal heard many parents voice their concerns, he included information on the weekly newsletter about cognitive and physical development at our student’s age. I had never before felt like I had such a partner in my child’s education.

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Is a Private School the Right School For Your Child?

education_iconSince charter schools are modeled after private schools, in many ways they are similar in terms of pro and con arguments. But, there are some significant differences between the two.
The most glaringly obvious difference is tuition. All public schools, whether regular, charter, or magnet are paid for by tax dollars. Private schools charge tuition to parents. Many people believe that because the parents are paying for their children’s education, that private schools must have more money than public schools. That is not necessarily the case. Karen Arnold, from San Jose, CA, taught at a parochial school for 9 years and has recently moved to a public school. Says Mrs. Arnold “The public school I work for has had its budget cut back considerably in the last couple years, and it is still not as frugal with resources as the private school was. At the private school, we used to have to ask parents to donate school supplies. We even asked parents to send us paper that they were going to throw away that was only used on one side so we could use the other side.”
Even affluent private schools that charge a high tuition often don’t have resources to deal with “exceptional” kids on either end of the spectrum. Unless you have chosen a private school specifically for the gifted or the educationally challenged, most private schools aren’t equipped to meet those extraordinary needs, whereas public schools usually are. Likewise, most private schools don’t have access to staff to meet specialized needs that “normal” learners may need at various points in time, such as psychologists, speech pathologists, etc.

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Is a Magnet School the Right School for Your Child?

terug-naar-school-icon-set_1085-27Magnet Schools began to be widely implemented in the mid-1970’s as a political tool. At the time, public schools were trying to desegregate to comply with a Supreme Court ruling, but found parents resistant to sending children outside their normal school zone. Educators realized that if they created superior, specialized schools, students would volunteer to go out of zone for a better education in their field of interest.
Magnet schools are open to any child within the school district, though not all school districts offer magnet programs. Parents have to apply, and children are chosen based on criteria set by the school. Up until 2007, race was usually a component in the selection criteria, however, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed their decision on mandatory desegregation, so in most cases, race is no longer a consideration.
Magnet schools get the same amount of district funding as regular schools, and also qualify for special federal funding, as well. On average, magnet schools spend about $200 more per student. Performance wise, students tend to do better academically in magnets than their counterparts in regular schools, with higher graduation rates.

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Is A Charter School The Right School For Your Child?

In my last post “What, Exactly, Is a Charter School?“, I stated that charter schools are an extremely complex and controversial topic, then went on to explain why they are complex. In this post, we will explore why they are controversial, and how to decide if a charter school is right for your child.

Before we get into the controversy, here is a summary of what we have discussed so far:

* Charter schools are independent from a school district and are run like a private business.
* Charter schools all have special curriculum and/or teaching techniques that differentiate them from a regular public school. Every charter school is unique.
* Charter school formats are experimental, so some schools provide excellent education, and some do not.
* Charter schools are not necessarily local to you, and your child may have to commute.
* Charter schools choose students based on a lottery, not admission criteria, so some children will have an easier time getting into a charter than a magnet (or vice versa).

There are four aspects of charters that garner controversy. The first is that charter schools are allowed to be for profit. The second is that the people who found charter schools are not required to have to have an educational background. The third is that charter school teachers are rarely part of a union. And, last but not least, in some states charter school teachers do not have to be credentialed. Continue Reading

Get To Know About Organic Baby Clothes

Organic baby clothes refer to the kinds of vestments that are mainly worn by babies. These garments are biodegradable and are very much friendly to the environment. Parents more often than never like purchasing these attires for their babies or infants because they cost less expensively, hence affordable.

There are several types of attires for babies. They range from the top to the bottom. This means that there are those which are worn on the head and include caps. Others are worn on the other body parts and include tops, vests, pairs of trousers, pants, and nappies, pairs of shorts and also socks. There are also some additional accessories.

The sizes of the attires range from small up to big. This often depends on the size of the baby. The small ones are usually more suitable for the small infants while the larger ones for the big babies. Besides, there are also some that are oversize. These are mainly used by the obese babies.

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What, Exactly, Is A Charter School?

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What is a charter school? The definition is “a public school operated independently of the local school board”. It sounds simple and straightforward, but the reality is that charter schools are an extremely complex and controversial topic. Charter schools were first introduced in the early 1990’s in response to a nationwide call for sweeping public education reform. Most states passed legislation where they would allow the formation of some publicly funded “experimental” schools to give parents an alternative to the traditional public schools that were under so much fire at the time.
What does “experimental” mean? First of all, charter schools are not part of a school district. They are independently run businesses that follow a private school business model, except instead of charging tuition, they get public funds. In a traditional system, the school districts set the curriculum for the schools in their domain, receive money from the state, and distribute it among the schools. In the case of charter schools, the individual schools set their own curriculum and receive money directly from the state. Niki Mohr, a teacher at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, a charter school in Pacoima, CA says “Personally, I think our school is more efficient with money than a school district because we do not have district administration costs to pay, so more money goes directly to the classroom.”
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