Non equal schools

My oldest son is in first grade.  He’s goes to the school about a mile up the street.  This school pulls from a fairly diverse socioeconomic area, but it’s predominately poor (well more than half the students are on the free lunch program).  We bought this house when my wife stayed home so our income was about 60% of it’s current level, and that played a factor.  As did our desire not to max out our income to buy a big house like most people.  Given our incomes now I’d hazard a guess that we’re in the upper range of incomes for this school.  I mention this because I found out tonight that a friend’s child, who is in 1st grade in a predominantly well off neighborhood, is getting a better education.

He comes home from school with homework every night (I don’t agree with this in 1st grade) but just this fact means that he is being presented with more possibilities.  I also know that because they don’t have to spend so much time in the fall re-educating that they are at least 3 weeks ahead of my son’s school.  Over 6 years of elementary school that adds up to another 18 weeks (4.5 months) of extra education.

I guess I’m not surprised by finding this out, really, but it’s still a concern.  The theory behind public education is that everyone is to be educated the same.  I knew it didn’t happen that way, but I didn’ think I’d have to experience it with my own children.  It’s kind of a “well that happens to other people” problem.

We’re lucky in the regard that both of sons are exceptionally smart (in fact, troublingly so for their parents) and they are hungry for knowledge.  So we spend a great deal of our time educating them about a lot of things that aren’t taught in schools and are things that most would consider above their age group.**

But I’m concerned about what they might miss out on that we aren’t teaching them and the teachers aren’t either.  My son’s teacher is very open to assigning him extra tasks (and in fact he is like a little 1st grade teacher helping the other kids with their schoolwork as part of his extra work) but what if next year’s teacher isn’t?  Or the one after that?  What about all the kids who don’t have parents who push them?  Already I’ve noticed a huge difference between his friends and him.  How will that build over the years?

Should I even be that concerned about this?  10 years from now he’ll be 16.  How many kids will still be in school at that point?  Will a traditional education matter at that point?  Will schools even exist then?  Who knows.  I don’t know, I guess sometimes when you are confronted with the ugly reality of that fact that even in something as simple and basic as education, all kids are not created equal, it just sticks in your craw a little.  That’s what’s going on with me.

**My oldest son got in trouble in preschool for telling his classmates about Peak Oil and discussing what happens when they can’t afford to buy oil any longer.  The teacher told him something like that wasn’t true.  I assured him that it was a mathematical fact that it will happen sometime, we just don’t know when.


11 responses to “Non equal schools

  1. LOL on the **

  2. Wish I could provide more insight on this, but the schools I taught at only had 1 elementary school in the districts. But, if you did move because of it, it wouldn’t be the first time a parent moved because they were not happy with the current school or school system. Is there any chance of talking to the school district “powers the be” to see if there is any other option for Z&E? Is there any kind of open enrollment option?

  3. I laughed at your son talking to the other kids about Peak Oil. It’s too bad the teacher was so clueless, and completely negated what he was saying. It would have been a perfect opportunity for her to empower the kids with things they could do to mitigate the worst effects of what most “experts” agree WILL happen, not “might” happen.

    As for the school issue, I can’t offer any support. Your experience is just one of many reasons why we chose to homeschool our children.

  4. I honestly wouldn’t worry about the school very much – studies have shown that differences in per-pupil spending doesn’t produce vastly different learning outcomes (the Coleman report being the most famous). What does play a fairly decent role however is parental income/educational attainment etc, parental involvement, and the like. It sounds like you are very involved in your child’s education – you’re paying attention, you teach him things, and he’s catching on. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t approach the school about concerns, just that you shouldn’t get hung up on being in the “rich” school district or the “poor” school district.

  5. Debbie said PEI has some good schools.

  6. We made similar choices, living on the outskirts of a fairly large city (originally believing we weren’t going to have children). My wife being a public school teacher and I a consummate believer in equality did a great deal of soul searching before electing to send our kids to catholic school. We still pay school taxes, and by virtue of our rather modest…or rather cozy home we have enough of a margin to send the 9 year old, and the 2 year old is obviously too young. Given the rather rough history of the local district, I’d just assume be safe rather than sorry.

    That being said, my wife is adamant that parental interest and involvement in a child’s education has a greater bearing than the available resources of a classroom for children who can be classified as typical within the spectrum of the general populace. So I think your sprouts will do just fine.

  7. Hey Kory, FGLB’s brother here, just checked out your blog and what do I see? A can of Hite in one of the HFCS videos. That is probably the WORST beer EVER made. hahahaha. It is korean, so I know all about it over here. We try to avoid at all costs, even though it is quite a bit cheaper at the bar than real beers. Put an “s” in front of it and you have our name for it. LOL.

  8. FWIW, my younger daugher, the most able in her special ed class in some was became the little helper — she tied everyone shoes, and bought people their walkers, etc. and when she partially mainstreamed it backfired big time in that she kept trying to do what she’d been praised for (helping others) and not understanding why last year jumping up to pick on someone else’s pencil was a good thing and this year, it was not staying in her seat.

    If you don’t get a teacher who understands what your son is doing next year, he might end up being considered some sort of troublemaker.

    May come to nothing, though. You never know.

  9. Sigh….
    No enough time or space to re-tell the issues over the last 9 years of public school ed for my two sons, 12 & 13

    One thing you may want to watch… it was the practice in their elementary school, k-5, to avoid any prep work on standardized testing with the above avg students. If the above avg students scored too high, the school’s range of scores would be too wide and apparently that screws up the federal funding.

    Just check that your children are being exposed to the state required curriculum. Do it at home if they won’t at school.

    Public school has been a great lesson on the bureaucracy of knowledge sharing, power and money. My boys have learned a lot.

    Best of luck.

  10. Mea–He is helping with the teacher’s involvement. She is new this year (but young and still fresh) and at took her about 2 days to realize that he need more challenges, so he is allowed to go around and help the others when he finishes his work. She also gives him extra work to do and also let him do a ton of extra reading and art work when he finishes his work. I’m thankful for this.

    Mary–It seems like the schools only focus on teaching to the tests, which drives me crazy.

    Thank you all for the thoughts.

  11. The public schools here are notoriously BAD, which is the reason for all the “hagwons” or private academies. The kids are in some sort of organized school until about 9pm for elementary kids and sometimes midnight for middle school and up. The public school “teachers” spend at least 2 weeks preparing, errrrrr, cramming for all national tests, after which time the kids forget everything. Some of the classes I have observed here are just complete jokes. To give you a different idea, when I explained to my principal that the worksheets were too hard for the kids because they did not know the alphabet and they were supposed to be reading sentences, he told me it is not important. I said, “it’s not important that they learn how to read?” he said, “No. They just need to experience the English and have fun.” And I continued on to clarify this with him several times to make sure I understood him correctly. He continued to stress that it wasn’t important if they were learning or could understand what was going on in class. This could be a MAJOR reason that Korea is so far down the list of English speaking countries despite the fact that they spend more money on English education than any other ESL country Needless to say, I made my own adjustments without telling him anything, and things have been more or less stress free ever since, and the kids are learning more. ;o)

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