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View Full Version : Lurking in Texas...now what?



Museling
04-01-2010, 04:29 PM
Hello ladies and gents, I've been lurking on here for a bit (okay, honestly less than 24 hours) but got up the guts to introduce myself.

My name is Denise, and mom to a precocious 6 year old red headed little boy, Logan, and wife to a wonderful man, Mike and I'm just a culinary student who just wants to find one more way to incorporate butter into my diet despite how much I don't need it.

Right now we are two months away from completing what has to be a school year worthy of National Lampoon's Griswold Family Vacation. The main highlights include being screamed at for how horrible my son is on the fourth day of school, witnessing a student punch his teacher and being reported to the Criminal District Attorney for truancy because the attendant clerk forgot to input the note that he was under his doctor's care for 3 days that excused his absences.

So, now we are trying to learn and educate ourselves on other options available to us, which is between the new school that the district built that he would be attending for first grade or taking a step outside the box and giving homeschooling a try. Right now, our biggest pro for home school is not having to deal with 'the system' that seems like it is actively trying to fail us and our biggest pro for public school is that our son, despite these issues, does enjoy the time he spends at school and has been getting a satisfactory education. Cons for home: can we do this and benefit our son, con for public: are we going to have to go to war every year, every day, to make sure that he gets what he needs from public school (and is it worth our family's sanity?).

Right now, I feel like we're on the fence, leaning to homeschooling and I know that homeschooling is right for some parents, right for some kids and wrong for others and I'm looking forward to hopefully learning so that we can do the best for him.

Thanks for having this outlet to go to, I hope I can learn from you and contribute as well! Take Care!

Denise

camaro
04-01-2010, 10:47 PM
Hi, Denise. Welcome! When we started homeschooling last August, we just kind of dove in head-first without really knowing what to expect. I can also tell you that 8-1/2 months later what we do now doesn't look much like what we were doing when we started. I've certainly found that there's no way to know if you can do it until you do it and then it's a matter of discovering what you and your child(ren) work best with. Beyond enjoying learning new things I have no qualifications and I think most homeschooling parents are the same. So it's quite likely you would do fine if you decide homeschooling is the way you want to go. :)

crstarlette
04-01-2010, 11:32 PM
Hi and welcome! Good luck and if you've got questions or concerns I'm sure plenty of people here have answers and reassurance (and maybe their own public school horror stories if you just want to hate on public schools for awhile:)).

Snoopy
04-02-2010, 08:49 AM
Welcome Denise! They reported you to the state after 3 days of absences? Did they not contact you first to clarify why he hadn't been in school? That's crazy, especially since you'd already provided the documentation! Arrgh. I can sympathize. I have 5 kids and stepkids in p.s. and yes, if you decide to keep Logan in p.s., you will have to "fight the system" every year, for one reason or another. The parents who say that they don't need to are probably just complacent, IMO. I think that my kids had a great education in their elementary school but still I had to go in and deal with the teachers and administration on issues that I felt weren't being handled properly. You have to choose your battles and sometimes it seems that I choose to fight them all, lol. But, as I said, I was never disatisfied with their education in elementary school. Middle school has been more challenging, some teachers are truly incompetent. And then there's the endless demand for paperwork, fundraising, admonitions to the parents for one reason or the other. I chaffe at that. High school... oy. My son had a biology teacher last year that was so awful that I am prepared to descend on the school and scream and holler if any of my younger kids ever get him.

Homeschooling, on the other end, lets you be in control, for the most part. But really, it depends on the state and even the county. You really need to join the TX group and ask the parents over there what their specific challenges they have had (if any) homeschooling in TX. I think Kim (the most active TX homeschooler here) has said that homeschooling in TX was easy. Even here in Florida we have several options to homeschool (through the county or through an umbrella school) and the requirements are different for each option. I chose the umbrella school option because in my state that qualifies my son as a private schooler (even though I'm the one who teaches him, the umbrella school only records the attendance that I submit to them) and allows us to not have to take standardized tests and not have to submit a portfolio for review. So, depending on how your state and county handle this, you might STILL have to fight the system.

As far as worrying whether you can handle homeschooling, David is 100% right. You can do all the research you want (and I do suggest you plan, even if it's in broad terms, so you have a small idea of what you will do) but at some point, you're either going to have to do it or not and then see how it goes. Here's the really good news: if at first it doesn't work for you (for whatever reason: you don't like the curriculum you chose, you don't like how your day is structured, whatever...) YOU CAN CHANGE IT! I change my approach all the time: even though I plan everything and sometimes to the extreme, I'm always game to chuck the plan out the window and start anew if we have to. Homeschooling is WONDERFUL in that sense. Yes, it can very very challenging, but this is why groups such as this one are essential to our sanity. You can read about what others people do and try out new ideas, new curriculum, avoid their pitfalls... you can share frustrations and triumphes. You can ask advice. You can share a laugh. Hopefully you can even find someone local with whom to hang out (check out the Resources page and scroll down to the "Secular Groups by State" to see if one is listed near you. I would suggest trying to join a local group even now to start building connections in your community, because there will be days when you feel all alone and you need someone to hold your hand. We are always happy to do this for you here too... if you do it for us as well! So post away, read the archives, talk to people from TX, build your connections, and then make the decision that is right for your family. No one here will begrudge you the right to decide whether homeschooling is right for your son or not. Good luck!

Topsy
04-02-2010, 10:41 AM
Museling,

Instead of popping in to add something helpful to the discussion, I just wanted to tell you that I love your writing style and I sincerely hope that if you don't already have a blog that you will start one right now!! (my love of writing sometimes supersedes even my passion for homeschooling) Try to pop back in with more helpful support and encouragement later!! :o

Topsy

Museling
04-02-2010, 12:08 PM
Thank you everybody! Even before I decided to join and participate, this website and the people involved has already been a wellspring of information in helping us decide what we are going to do.

David - I think that what you said has been the things that we have been scared about. Talking about it with Mike last night, the hardest thing is going to be getting through the idea that once we've climbed out of the box that we can make it and we'll be fine and, I guess, to trust that we are doing the right thing for our family. Especially since the first objection raised to us by his mother was, "Well, you and Mike don't have a college degree (mind you, I'm in the process of getting one)." After some of the things we've experienced with Logan and what I experienced in my primary education, it makes me wonder if there's a special idiots degree for some of these people because of what they've done or thought was 'right'. But thanks for your insight, knowing that other people have trusted themselves to go forward with a plan and feel good about it makes the leap much less 'leapy'. :)

crstarlette - my, my! Like I said, the things I listed were just the highlights. Probably the worst thing that has happened that I haven't listed was watching my boy who is one of the most emotionally connected person I have ever met become callous and sarcastic towards people. I know that kids change, but he has always been a fundamentally caring person and watching that go away has been heartbreaking. We had to have a long talk about why we should still care about the kid who punched the teacher because he has a lot of problems and nobody has taught him how to understand his anger or sadness. Trying to keep my son from casting people off has been the hardest thing because that how they've taught him to act. Everybody here has already been so helpful in so many ways but thank you for the welcome! :)

Snoopy - I have to say, reading through a lot of the forums and threads on here, you have been one of the most entertaining and educational! I have a friend who is a little bit deeper into the process (and who I'm trying to convince to join in on here) and thankfully within Texas there isn't much we have to do to satisfy the state. A few years ago, an ISD decided to go after a family and lost which gained a lot of laws and legislation in favor of homeschooling in Texas. We don't have to submit any sort of curriculum, do testing or even register. All we have to comply with is assuring the state is assuring that we are teaching (which is just a certified letter). A lot of this is because of how strong our religious community is around here, so I don't mind piggy-backing on the force they're able to show. :) I guess that getting comfortable with the freedom that we have is what has been the hardest part of all this. Trying to find secular information out there is the hardest and is also part of the reason we're looking into homeschooling. Make no mistake, at least where we come from, religion is in the public school system and part of the curriculum. And we believe that forcing a child to be any religion is like forcing a child to be a doctor or a teacher or a artist. Mike and I believe that religion is a personal matter and the decision is one that should be left up to the individual. So, finding a support community/group that more or less has those same values was priority number one. And thank you for the welcome, luckily our experience so far hasn't been too begrudging in real life (my mother in law is always appositionally defiant to what I want to do, look into or explore -I can guarantee that she would fight to keep Logan homeschooled if we decided that going back to public school was the best thing for him). But I cannot thank you enough for all this information -I hope I'll be able to contribute or else I'll feel like I'm cheating! :)

Topsy- oh darn it, you caught me! I LURVE writing. I haven't done a blog in awhile, but I think I might start one now to document this whole experience. Now I just wish I had started one when Logan started school. A lot of it would have been where you'd laugh until you cried and cried until you laughed! But blogging will help me (and hopefully others) on what we decide to do. I think the biggest thing that all of this has taught me is that we have been allowed to be 'tricked' and become complacent that school is the only environment where learning can take place, so for that knowledge, I am already in debt to this website!

camaro
04-02-2010, 06:55 PM
Denise, in regard to whether you and Mike could educate your children I dug up some encouraging information for you. This comes from Dr. Brian Ray's National Home Education Research Institute. He was the speaker at the first conference I attended when my wife and I were deciding whether we could homeschool our children and his message was very encouraging. This is what he said:

The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.)

Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.

Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.

Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.

Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.

Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.


The website is National Home Education Research Institute (http://www.nheri.org/index.php) if you would like to see more of the information from the studies.

CroppinMom
04-02-2010, 11:37 PM
Denise,

Welcome! It's really nice to see a fellow Texan on the boards.

We decided to homeschool after being less than impressed with the public school system. Mostly it was based on standardized testing but we also had a problem with truancy issues while Matt was in K. My only sister was getting married 4 weeks into the school year and we were going to California for two weeks for the wedding. I spoke in depth with his teacher about our trip and received "work" for him to keep up with class while we were gone. Unfortunately his teacher was a first year teacher and didn't know anything about the truancy rules that required I send I note excusing his absences BEFORE we left. So we went on vacation thinking I'd covered all my bases - I was brand new to this whole school deal and trusted that his teacher would have mentioned any issues when we talked. I came home from vacation to a bench warrant for my arrest and a fun filled day in court. It was a complete circus that was eventually figured out and all charges dropped but don't think I didn't hear about it from my husband (who thought that it was HILARIOUS - once it was figured out) for a very long time!

That is just a long winded way of saying WELCOME and we can all relate to that time when there are so many questions and even the answers can lead to more questions.

Museling
04-03-2010, 12:47 AM
David: I passed all of that stuff onto my husband and thank you for giving my link...now that I've 'come out of the closet', to coin a phrase, on what we're doing this statistical data is definitely going to give me ammmo!

Kim: It's so nice to meet you too! When I first joined up on here, I was worried because I didn't immediately see a Texas group board and thought, "Oh no! Am I the only one?" We're also not happy with how test happy Logan's school is. Every six weeks they spend a whole week working on testing them for the material which always ends him up in trouble because of the "sit still and perform for the teacher" aspect. I think he's too practical in the sense that he doesn't understand the constant need to prove himself whenever he has already proved himself over the previous five weeks.

What a nightmare! I think that would have had me in the looney bin! We have our meeting with the criminal district attorney this Monday to discuss the truancy issue, even though we had it cleared up with the school. We want to make sure that this doesn't 'ding' our record. What is complete BS too is the teacher informing us that another kid in her class is tardy everyday and nothing has been done about it. The whole system of it is looney! And thank you for your welcome, knowing that we're not the only one who's gone through this sort of thing, especially locally, is comforting. It's quite scary in the sense because you never know if it's a fluke or if it's truly an issue- Mike is going to LOVE hearing about this!

CroppinMom
04-03-2010, 07:13 PM
Denise -

I hope my alarming tale will help Mike know that it unfortunately it is a wider problem than just 1 school.

Of course, My mom always says "If you can't be a good example, at least you can be an cautionary warning!"

The inconsistency in enforcing the rules is so annoying!

Museling
04-03-2010, 09:40 PM
Kim,

That's been the kicker in our quest for this pursuit because we have a shiny, sparkley brand new school being built in our area that he could go to and everybody keeps saying, "Give the new school a try." It's still the same ISD, It's still the same rules and regulations and overlords enforcing it. Tie a bow around a cow pattie, it's still a cow pattie. What's really scary is that I went up there the other day to look inside after the construction people left and it looks almost identical to the old school -except the classrooms are smaller! You can't tell me that the ISD is going to reduce it's class sizes just because they make the rooms smaller!

Shoe
04-03-2010, 09:51 PM
It's still the same ISD, It's still the same rules and regulations and overlords enforcing it. Tie a bow around a cow pattie, it's still a cow pattie. I think you've hit the nail on the head. It is not the physical facilities that determine the quality of education, but rather the staff, the administration and the curriculum. If those are all the same, there will likely be little change from the previous problems in the new school building.