Summer break is almost over and, for the first time ever, “back to school” holds meaning for me. At five years old, N~ starts kindergarten in a couple of weeks. People tend to assume that this means that life is going to get one-kid-less easier for me. Not so.
OK, plenty of people will take issue with me giving the virtual academy that designation since the government still has its face all up in my business, but I’m the one teaching and it’s happening in our home. Good enough for me.
For those who aren’t familiar with the K12 Virtual Academy, it is an online charter school. N’s allotted tax dollars pay for a computer, books, and teaching aids to be sent to my house. Lesson plans are provided over the internet. We have to complete a certain number of hours of school per week, which is kept track of over the internet. We will still have to take the idiot proficiency tests, and a certified teacher will be
checking up on collaborating with us. But it’s very well organized, and it’s free, so I can live with a little bit of big brother.
While I don’t have all of my materials to start the school year, our lesson plans are already available online. In his first week of kindergarten, N~ will be learning eight phonemes, learning about the earth, starting basic mathematical concepts, reading Cinderella, and goodness only knows what else.
I don’t know about you, but I remember making puppets out of brown paper lunch sacks when I was in kindergarten.
We now live in the school district that I grew up in. When we moved back here, we were informed that our taxes had just gone up to help fund every building in the district being torn down and replaced with brand new ones. These buildings maybe needed some upgrades, but they certainly didn’t require demolition.
The next year, the schools tried to pass a levy to raise taxes for operating expenses. They were “in crisis” and couldn’t go on without more money. Of course, they knew that they were having problems before they asked the residents to spring for new schools, but they waited because they knew there was no way they would get those new buildings after taxes were raised for operating expenses. They thought our community wouldn’t leave them without the “needed” money after the schools were built, though. I’m proud to say that they were wrong. They have tried over and over to pass that levy in the past four years. They’ve never even come close to succeeding.
So, they have “cut expenses” by eliminating advanced placement courses (those kids still have to have teachers to teach them, so it doesn’t decrease the load at all that I can see), and ROTC (which is funded by the military). In other words, they’ve been going for blackmail.
I could go on and on why I couldn’t imagine trusting our local government schools with my children. A childhood friend’s mom is an elementary teacher in our school district. She was bragging to me once about her integrated classroom. I asked what that was.
“Well,” she enthused, “I have kids with severe disabilities in my class with the other students.”
“So,” I asked, “normal kids are mixed in with kids with serious learning problems?” (I found out later that this doesn’t even begin to describe some of the kids in her class.)
“Doesn’t that slow things down for the kids who don’t have learning disabilities?” I asked.
“Well, sure, my class is behind the other ones in our grade, but it’s great!”
Um, yeah. I stood there thinking, “I would never, ever, want my kid in your class.”
I’m not going to say that the virtual academy is perfect. But there is soooo much more I could say about why I hate public schools.
At least I know that N~ is going to get a real curriculum. And he will get to learn at the pace that is right for him.