April works full time in higher education balancing her time between her special needs son, handsome husband, elderly mother, and new baby coming in May 2014. She has a background in theatre, film, and television but somehow stumbled into the educational field. She loves spending time with her family, dreaming of the beach and organizing her house.

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I Remember School Differently…

AZMAMA SCHOOL IS DIFFERENTMy son started kindergarten this week and I already want him to go somewhere else (out of Arizona.)  I want to go back to the schools of yesteryear when parents aren’t prosecuted in court for taking their kids out of school but it doesn’t meet their criteria of excused absence, where boys use the boy’s restroom and girls use the girls’ restroom, and schools don’t put kids in padded rooms or closets.  I’m not saying that some of these things never happened on an individual basis, but it is now an integral part of state education laws in many states.

Some of my friends in California had to explain to their children this year why they might see kids of other genders in their bathrooms at school and it would be ok because it is state law. It’s very confusing to young kids and all of the politics that are involved.  My husband and I had to sign paperwork regarding the padded rooms and court prosecution of us and our 5 year old son if he missed a set number of days excused or unexcused.  No wonder parents are pulling their kids and homeschooling them or moving them to private schools!  Our son’s school is in one of the top rated districts for the state of Arizona and we are so not happy with what we have to allow the schools to do.  But it isn’t practical for our family to pull him out of public school to homeschool him as he needs therapies we can’t afford on our own.

I have always been a big defender of public schools, and teachers in public schools work really hard with what little they have been given.   My main frustration is the politicizing of school and the time students are in the classroom.  Politics have always found their way into the classroom beyond a basic discussion.  School districts have become top heavy like some Fortune 500 companies that are struggling and it’s more evident now with less and less money available.  I am not criticizing teachers, so let’s get that out of the way right now.  I have known superintendents and others involved in the running of districts and they all have said that politics runs the districts more than parents and more than teachers. The political climate is what shapes school districts.

The time in a school day is so drastically reduced that it totally frustrates me.  I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for the teachers to try to cram all of the stuff our kids need to know into the hours they have.  Our district has approximately 1 -2 days of in service a month.  What kind of info are you giving to the teachers?  Most of the time I have heard that they are in meetings after meetings that don’t really mean anything to them. Teachers do need continual training, but not to the detriment of their children in the classroom.  My son has less than 3 hours of instruction for Kindergarten a day, but we can pay for a full day if we wish.  The average family doesn’t have the money to add additional cost to their budget when our healthcare is taking what little we had left.  So, we are back to less than 3 hours a day since we aren’t made of money.

Since they decided to pull my son’s IEP last year, we have seen him move somewhat backwards and struggle with fitting in a mainstream class.  His speech and social issues have not gone away and in some ways were amplified when he was home this summer.  It’s clear they pulled his IEP due to costs in the district and being so close to the line of needing assistance.  I know there have been some issues with running the special needs program in the district and I experienced it firsthand when we first moved into the district. But you shouldn’t throw a child under the bus just because of money.  Yes, be mindful of funds but don’t mess with my child!

I am sure this is sounding like a rant right now, but I am echoing some of the sentiment I see from family and friends who are teachers, administrators, and parents. It’s the total frustration with the system as it gets progressively worse. As a parent, what are some of your frustrations with how your child’s school is run?  Do you feel your child is getting the best education they can get?  What are you doing to make your school better?  I believe that parents need to speak up and get involved more often than we do.  It’s hard when you are juggling a full time job, home and helping your child with school to add one more thing to your day. I know that I feel overwhelmed sometimes by it all because my son isn’t old enough to do his homework by himself and I have to squeeze that into my already long day. But, it is what it is and sometimes you have to sacrifice to push for change.  The right kind of change and not a reactionary change that is short term and costly.



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Comments (2)

  1. April Johnston 09/14/2013 at 11:20 pm

    Have you checked into charter schools? Charter schools are still state funded, but some are more closely aligned to what our kids might need. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Arizona is going to get the change we need unless we have a total do over with leadership at all levels. There needs to be new ideas from people who are currently in the classroom and not some administrator who hasn’t been in the classroom for 20 years. Have you talked to other parents at your child’s current school? If parents work together, you can push for policy changes at the school and district levels. Good Luck!

  2. Melissa 09/03/2013 at 6:33 pm

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m considering homeschooling but that really isn’t the route I want to go. My son will probably go to a private school, although I’m not looking forward to the cost of that. Also, I wish we could all somehow get together and make some real positive change in our Arizona classrooms. I’m just not sure how to do it.