Monday, May 12, 2008

ESL -English as a Second Language or Everyone's the Same Length?

I am so frustrated and upset with our public school system.

I am somewhat new to this public school thing... Jordan is the only one who has gone to public school. Other than Mrs. Robinson in the fifth grade who kept losing her homework, we've had an OK experience with public school. Of course, she was in the gifted education program, and they have a really great program. Even that being said, she and I both have said we wish she could homeschool and she still get her IB diploma. Going to school to sit and do nothing just to get the hours in that the government mandates seems like a huge waste of time.

I have been somewhat disappointed with Josh and Jameson's public school experience thus far. Here's the typical report I receive from them about what they did at school: ate candy, ate ice cream, ate popcorn, watched movies...

I received a call today from the ESL teacher who called to "go on the record" to tell us that holding Josh back in 5th grade (which we're doing because he only actually went for 2 months, and WE ARE his parents) will be detrimental to his social and emotional well-being because he's going to be taller than all of his classmates.

Her platform of disagreement was that the Springfield Public School System does not agree with holding kids back for any reason. She informed us that this decision is basically going to ruin his life. Ruin his social skills. Ruin his self-esteem. I guess this explains why so many people graduate from high school without a clue how to read. She kept saying that holding Jameson back would be fine because of her small stature. But Josh is going to be taller than all of his peers.... She indicated that she had been talking about this with her peers all week, and how they all disagreed with our decision to hold Josh back a year. Wow, we've been a topic of conversation.

So when I asked if we move people ahead based on their height instead of their educational level, she said, "Oh no. That's not what I want you to think. But Josh is going to be so much taller than his peers." What????????

Jeff and I feel that their education has been so shotty in Ethiopia. There are still so many things that they don't know. Josh has minimal reading comprehension. He absolutely has no writing or spelling abilities... Please reader know that I'm not being hard on Josh, but simply pointing out that he is a VERY bright kid who still has a lot to learn. Neither Josh nor Jameson know their multiplication tables. Fingers are still required for addition and subtraction.

Junior high is such a different environment. Josh still needs to be reminded to take his backpack and lunch to take a towel to swimming... We are still trying to make him responsbile for himself and his things. The responsibility is not there yet, and we feel strongly that moving him into a junior high environment is a really bad idea. Talk about getting lost in the shuffle.

I tried to explain that we want Josh to excel in school and not just be passed along because he's the same height as everyone else... I don't want him to just get by. I want him to GET it!

I told her Jeff and I were really going to have to talk about this. Of course Jeff was as upset as I was. He basically said, "Let's just go take them out right now. We can homeschool them better than that."

I really don't know what we're going to do. I'm really disappointed and pissed right now at our school system, and I think that this lack of a backbone of the school system is a direct link to what's going on in our society full of mediocre people who just made it through and didn't get it. We put them in school because we thought the "ESL" thing would help them so much... I can't see that they are doing anything except going on field trips, watching movies, and eating candy. We were hesitant to put them in Gloria Deo Academy with the other kids because GDA is grades ahead of public school, the memory work is very difficult, and it is generally very academically rigorous. I didn't want to stress them out. Evidently public school is not stressful at all because there are no expectations except less than mediocrity.

We are going to meet with the principal, the ESL teacher and the individual teachers about this. Wish us luck! I have a very low threshold for this kind of crap. I have paid a lot of taxes for our public school system, and have not even used it. I expected better than this.


Julie said...

That is so ridiculous! And like being taller is that big a deal. I think that is way less troublesome for kids than being the smallest one in the class. I would spend some time researching the laws in your state regarding language - and the U.S. I suspect that there are a lot of requirements that either they are trying to get around or they don't know about. Research PL 94-142 - it has to do a lot with physical handicaps but I don't know how they've made it apply to language issues. Praying for wisdom for you guys.

Linda said...

You do what you and Jeff feel is necessary. We are all well aware of the crap of "No child left behind". (regardless if he/she can read or write). Tutoring w/someone might be another option. Go for what is right. Linda

Jenny H said...

I would think as his parents that you would know best. Maybe they just aren't used to the parents caring this much. I say go with your gut. So what if he is taller than his class mates. At least he will be able to function in society later not just be.

Mindy said...

Here's to knowing when you need to call a spade a dirty little shovel! You have the Ben & Mindy team behind you 110% percent because you are wonderful parents and Jameson & Josh are bright stars. Bright stars who, by the way, do not deserve to have their intelligence insulted by a system that has clearly turned common sense on its ear!

Anonymous said...

Gina, my girls are "public schooled" for the first time this year. My son has done the public school thing since arriving in our family almost four years ago...because he needed the ESL and also speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. At least Springfield HAS ESL...when we moved to Bolivar this past year, we were shocked to learn that even though ESL is part of Doug's IEP, there is NO ESL in the Bolivar School district. They offered us an extra fifteen minutes of speech in its place! So, at least Springfield HAS ESL...but, I am with you...I am shocked at how much MOVIE watching all three of my kids have done this year in their three separate schools. I can't remember EVER watching a movie when I was in school...but, every time we turn around, the kids are coming home telling us what movie they have watched at school. My husband and I both think maybe the school system shows an inordinate number of movies to the kids as a means of babysitting them. Then they send all this homework home for the kids to do! I don't get it. To my way of thinking, school time is when the teaching should be done and the EVENINGS should be a time for the kids to relax and enjoy being kids! I mean, come on...a KINDERGARTNER who is already at the top of the class anyway, does not need to be doing homework every night. Frankly, I don't have time to sit down an hour with EACH child helping them with their homework (and with a KINDERGARTNER AND A Special Needs Student, that is exactly the scenario)...and the homework they send home is stupid...the kindergartener gets work that is just BUSY work and the Special Needs child gets sent home things that are WAY ABOVE his present level of academic achievement...they aren't teaching him the things in class, yet, that they are sending home for him to do as homework. He is getting kindergarten level work in the classroom, but having second to third grade level stuff sent home for homework. It is so stupid that I finally put my foot down and flat told the special ed teacher that the work that was being sent home for him to do was a waste of his time and mine. I told them, "I will do homework with him each evening, but it is going to be stuff that is actually USEFUL. I will let you know what we do and you can count it as his homework if you want to!" They agreed. Still, I feel like I am teaching him more at home in the evenings than they are teaching him through the day at school. He has lost so much ground since we moved down here last year. It IS frustrating.

As to the whole "taller" thing. That is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard!

Jim & Laurel said...

Homeschooling ... is definitely something you should look at, think about, pray about. The individual attention that you can give each child will benefit not only their academics, but their adoption bonding as well.

I have homeschooled 13 children ... for 18 years. I have extremely gifted children, extremely challenged children, and every where in between. I cannot imagine having put our newly adopted 3 into the public school system, even though the "system" in our town is a very good one.

Praying for you!

Laurel :)