A Debate With The Husband

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I volunteer at the school a couple hours a week helping my kid’s teachers. Usually, I am sitting in break room stapling, sorting, cutting out laminated items, etc., but every once in a while I spend time helping the teacher in the classroom. So my husband and I recently had a discussion that turned into a debate about parent volunteers in the classes. We are very fortunate to have our children in an excellent public school. The school has an outstanding staff and a great deal of parent involvement. Both things I feel are vital for excellent schools.

The debate began when my husband and I started talking about parents in the classroom. Jonathan (a.k.a. the husband) does not recall parents helping in classrooms when we were younger. His opinion is, since it is a public school, parents should be able to help at the school but not in the classrooms. Why? He feels public schools are meant to be equal for all children. Therefore, it is not fair that one child’s mother can help due to a flexible work schedule and another child’s parent cannot due to a different work schedule. There may be one child that their parent’s inability to help at the school really has an effect on.

His thought is valid in my opinion, but I think the benefit of having additional parents helping in a classroom far exceeds the potential downfalls. Due to struggling budgets in school systems these days, the student/teacher ratio has been raised in many places. As a result, a teacher is expected to teach to 23 children at all different levels, keeping the advanced ones challenged and reaching out to those children that learn a slightly slower rate. Is that possible?

I am extremely lucky to have two children that are very bright and advanced (of course we read and learn new things at home, but I feel we owe a great deal of where my kids are academically to the Primrose environment that they were in from newborn through Pre-K). For example, my 2nd grade child is reading on a 4th grade level. Although wonderful, having an advanced child comes with its own challenges…my child can cause disruptions in class if he gets his work done too quickly. A friend of mine often goes into the class and takes the advanced readers into another room and works with them on things so the teacher can focus on those that need a little more help from the teacher. To me this is a benefit to all the students. Another example is the weekly fluency tests. Every week each child must read a story so the words they read per minute can be measured. A volunteer parent can handle that while the teacher continues teaching, or the teacher can give kids some busy work while she tests each child individually. I feel the parent involvement is beneficial in this situation as well. So my question to you…what is your opinion? Should parents be allowed to help in classrooms?

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Public, Private, Home School? Common Core?

Well, let me start by saying, my kids would quickly get behind if we went the home school route!  My first grader comes home telling me there are over 100 rules to remember in spelling.  Huh?  I have two rules…learn to spell the word or use spell check.  I’m sure I learned the official rules or at least an abbreviated number of spelling rules, but they obviously did not stick.  Except for “I before E except after C.”  I use that one every once in a while.  Anyways, I hear there are many ways one can make this home school thing work.  Part-time home school and part-time at a school for the home schooled.  Whatever that means.  And then those that just home school.  Which I am still trying to figure out…I see many facebook notes saying their kid(s) got the day off because they are doing so well, or just because the weather is nice and they want to be outside.  As for private, not really against the whole idea of private schools, just against the price tag that comes with them; I’d fully support uniforms. So, like it or not my kids are joining millions of others in the public school system.  Now we are very fortunate people…we live in a state that offers school of choice, so we did lots of research and selected the best public school for our children.  And we love it!  However, we do have concerns about this Common Core Curriculum.  In a recent conversation with my son’s teacher I learned that Common Core is not really implemented in his school at his age.  Fortunately it does not really come into play until my child reaches 3rd grade and starts taking the CRCT, so I am hoping it is removed before then.  We have been blessed with two very bright children, therefore, the challenge Common Core sends our way is keeping our children challenged.  They have his current class divided into four sections based on where they are academically.  This allows the more advanced children to move at a faster pace and allows those that are further behind to move at a slower pace.  The perfect set up if you ask me.  But why so much pressure on test scores as they get older?  I have been out of college and working for 15+ years now and I can’t tell you a single time my boss has walked by my office and tossed a multiple choice test on my desk to see how I perform.  Isn’t there another way to measure school performance without the stress and pressure on our children?