Evaluations and More
A good evaluator works for the parents, assisting them in meeting legal requirements and in supporting them when districts overstep their bounds."
Every time I meet a classroom teacher, or a homeschooling parent who was previously a classroom or was trained as a teacher, and we start to chat about teaching, they have so many horror stories to share. Almost always those of them who aren't homeschooling their own school-age children, express the wish that they could.
I, too, have my own horror stories to share
--as does my husband. There is so much wrong about what goes on in schools--public or private (I taught in both and my husband taught only in public schools).
I can give LOTS of examples of problems in them. I can regale people with stories about them for hours and days. If I throw in my husband's stories, then I can tell them for weeks.
Schools cover up a lot.
I saw this is in the very first school I worked at full-time and in many others afterwards. For example, when I had two students in my first classroom who clearly seemed high (and I was incredibly naive, so if I noticed it, it was obvious), I asked the principal about it because I wasn't sure what to do. So, she pulled them out of class to speak with them and investigate--the next day. By that time, the symptoms were gone and they made up a story to explain it and she declared that nothing was wrong and let them get away with it.
In another school, a boy--a teen--pulled a gun in my classroom and pointed it at the head of another student before I saw what was going on; I took it on myself to go towards the teen with the gun to get his focus off the other students and get it on me. I talked him into pointing it down and walking out of that room but administrators later swept it under the carpet.
I listened to a district spokesman tell a group of reporters that a teen caught with detailed plans to bomb his school had been expelled and would never be in our district's public schools again--only to have him show up in my classroom with an ankle bracelet on; even the big linebackers were scared to walk within 10 feet of him.
It took years and lots of other situations before I understood that schools do this sort of thing intentionally. Administrators know that if the students who are in school high or drunk, or bullying others, or doing sex acts in classrooms, or whatever other awful situations involving anyone in their schools are dealt with in a way, their schools will look bad to the public; then too many parents will pull their students out of the school, too much funding will be lost, and the administrators themselves are too likely to lose their jobs and positions of power, etc. So, they cover up.
Anyone who has been involved in schools for decades has seen a lot of expensive programs come and go, seen a lot of fads in teaching come and go, and seen standards drop more and more. College test courses such as the SAT have seriously shown this--though most don't recognize it because the SAT has been reformatted about once a decade to dumb it down. Schools have pushed teachers more and more to give good grades even when students aren't performing well. Teachers are urged to change grades so that students don't fail--whether they've learned anything or not. Schools push so many students on to higher grade levels despite not meeting the standards the schools say they should--while misleading students and parents about how well they are doing. Florida colleges used to not give credit to students who took remedial classes because they weren't ready for college level classes. A number of years ago, apparently because too many public school graduates weren't ready to take college level classes, Florida colleges changed and started giving elective credit for classes that weren't college-level. Down and down the standards have gone.
Testing in schools today is not like testing from decades ago because of the role modern testing plays in education. No longer are students told to just get a good night's sleep, bring a number 2 pencil, and do their best on testing so everyone can see how much they've learned. Instead testing has become such a big part of schooling that it has driven what is studied. Many schools have stopped teaching anything not on those tests. Testing has taken so much time on the school calendar. A few years ago, my husband brought home a calendar from his school that showed that between 1/3 to 1/2 of the school days that year were devoted to testing--not testing every student every one of those days, but impacting teaching to students who weren't testing either. It's also affected what is taught. Not just home economics and shop were victims of testing, but administrators push teachers to not teach things like writing research papers or more. It's been a long time since I was in the classroom, but even then I was pushed by administrators to focus on getting good test scores from my students, to ignore good teaching methods and really preparing students for the future if it might get better test scores.
Schools cover up a lot and don't deal with issues. Issues like bullying and drug use and more. Some schools try to convince their teachers that there aren't that many fights or that much bullying going on--gaslighting them. In addition to students being bullied or hurt, I saw other teachers threatened or hurt and nothing was done. I was threatened a few times and told that I was over-reacting, but a football coach was threatened by one of the same students I was and he told me that he was scared by it, too. I saw teachers who called in the police (not the school police, but outside police) to protect themselves. I know of a district meeting in which teachers were told not to notice bullying and were threatened with being moved to the worst school in the district if they did. I saw these sorts of things in lots of schools and came to the conclusion that schools were creating a culture that helped create violence as the bullied went further and further while others covered up for them and eventually did worse and worse, and the bullied were likely to eventually realize that no one was sticking up for them and were likely to decide to take drastic actions--either way violence was likely.
Morals and Faith.
I don't see schools these days as supporting my family's value system and/or faith.
I've read lots about child development and age-appropriate learning. Often these were presented at faculty meetings or staff development, and yet what schools do, their methods and practices, rarely fit what their own research says about how to teach. Schools have taken more and more autonomy from their teachers, allowing them less and less leeway to use their own professional-judgment in how to teach and reach students.
There are a lot of good teachers in schools. But there are a lot of bad ones and many of those bad ones are incredibly bad. I don't want my children exposed to teachers who know so little algebra that they tell their algebra students and other teachers that fun trick apps build on basic algebra must be reading their minds in order to know the number that was guessed. Or be in class with a teacher who keeps coming drunk to school. Or be in class with the teacher who missed 1/2 hour most every day in every class and never explained nor helped his students figure out the assignments he gave. Or...
Teachers I talk to who are still teaching in classrooms tell me that schools have gotten much worse than when I was in them. And all of that stuff is part of why my husband and I are both passionate about helping other people who want to homeschool, as well as a big part of why we homeschool our own.
You might want to read this article and the comments on it to learn more about why lots of teachers have chosen to homeschool their own:
(We also have reasons for wanting to homeschool (as opposed to just not wanting schools), but the reasons for not wanting our children to be in schools are big.)
Cheryl--homeschool mom and evaluator since 2003
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