The Truth No One Wants To Hear

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Many of you don’t know how my struggle with the school system ruined a handful of years of my life. I remember the days when I would sit at meetings with teachers and administrators demanding they follow through on my sons accommodations so he had the chance to be successful at school. It’s all about the children, that’s what they say until something becomes inconvenient and then it’s a list of reasons why they cannot follow the accommodations your child so desperately needs. I was called a bully for fighting for my child and the top of the top threatened to cancel my sons 504 meetings. Imagine if I marched into the school lobby, the principals office or stood outside a classroom window holding a sign with my closest friends screaming “DO YOUR JOB!” What do you think the reaction would be then? Would teachers rally behind me for a common cause because you know, it IS about the children?

Don’t get me wrong. I have made peace with my own hell. It almost destroyed me but I realized that if the end goal was truly getting the help Chase needed, I had to take a different approach. I stopped demanding and started reaching out. How can we give Chase what he needs together? What is something that would work for all of us? Slowly and surely the teachers attitudes began to change. Today I am happy to report that this has been an amazing year because finally after fighting a hard battle, I finally got the type of teachers that Chase needed. They go above and beyond, not just for him but for all their students. I am so grateful for them. It was the state of Oklahoma and the teachers here that taught me a hard lesson. Making demands turns a deaf ear and makes people resist what you demand from them even more. This isn’t the way. I support their cause but I do not support their path to get there. There are two sides to every story and unfortunately the media chooses a side and that is the only story you will ever hear. This is the first time in years that the officials we elected did something positive for teachers. Is it really a surprise that they are resentful and angry that they are on the receiving end of demands and chants? Teachers lining the Capitol and chanting “Do Your Job” and “We Won’t Leave”. You bet they’re pissed because they worked long and hard to make this much progress. This situation is lose-lose for everyone. Maybe it’s time to rethink this plan and try again. Just a different perspective from the one you are hearing. Just my opinion but attacking the people who could give you what you want and humiliating them with words on signs is probably not going to work but then again, what do I know?

Living With Fear

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How will we survive in a world we are growing to fear? There is so much more to worry about today than when I was a kid. The people have changed, the world has changed but I have not changed. I will never let what is happening on the outside seep in and poison what is on the inside. Everyday I will make a choice to choose love and hope and kindness and not be transformed by the hate and fear. I will live as if this day may be my last because in all reality, it just may be. Don’t let fear stop you from living your life. In fact, the best way to beat all the evil going on around you is to do just that, keep on living, keep on smiling and keep on loving.

I Always Hated Puppet Shows

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I am constantly learning about how effective my parenting actually is. My children’s behavior, their attitude, and their habits are a direct reflection of whether or not I have done my job. If I am being honest, I would give myself a C at best. I have two kids who are completely different which is why I have not totally failed. The biggest area that is lacking seems to be my daughters work ethic. I just cannot understand how she can go to bed on any night when her work is not finished. She seems to really believe that the world will revolve around her schedule and she has little concern for the consequence that follows. She can be doing so well in school and hit a week that she just quits. She becomes so bogged down by all the work that she gives it half her effort or just doesn’t do it at all. I have to ask myself, what could be so different at home and at school that these kids think the work they are supposed to do is optional and on their own time? Is there anything we can do to turn this around, anything I can do? Part of me says, these are her choices, they are her grades and I should let her experience the consequences. How then, can I separate myself from her bad attitude or bad habits so that I do not feel like I have completely failed?

I often wonder if we are teaching these kids the wrong things. They are self centered, bold, self absorbed. Maybe we should teach them about discipline and commitment and give them no other option but to obey. They are a challenging generation. They challenge everything, their teachers, their parents, rules…the list goes on and on. Why do they think they have a choice? This is something that really beats me up on a daily basis. I know for a fact at school, at home and in sports there are special rules for special people. There is also a lack of follow through at every level. Kids seem to be running the show. In school, they just don’t hand in their papers or they hand them in whenever they feel like it. At swim meets I see swimmers sitting in the bleachers socializing with their girlfriends instead of cheering on their other teammates and being allowed to skip practice without consequence, even though it counts as a class. What are teachers and coaches doing? What are parents doing when our kids look us in the face and say, “I’ll do it when I feel like it’, or “you can’t make me do that”. It’s as if they have some kind of control over everyone who is supposed to be in control of them and they are actually getting away with it. This positive reinforcement scares the living hell out of me. The little people, the teenage minds, the ones without experience are running the show while we, coaches, teachers and unfortunately parents have become their puppets. We yes them to death and we treat and respect them like they are older and more mature than they actually are. This puppet is tired. I want to retire. I want to be the one who holds the strings, the one who is back in control. We can’t beat our kids at home. Now we ask them how our terrible parenting makes them feel that we are so incompetent. We used to hit with a ruler in school and now we hand out demerits like they are a piece of candy. Can you imagine hearing, “if you do that again I will give you a demerit.” Seriously, what happened to going to the principals office and detention and being grounded and having everything taken away. We just hand them more, more, more and eventually we make fools out of ourselves while our children are watching and we hand them twenty dollars to go out for lunch along with the car keys. Is there a solution, an answer, a hint of a way we can come together to make this better? If so, my ears are big and I am ready to listen. These kids are running the show and somebody’s got to pull the plug.

Behavior as a Grade?

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“and is NEVER a discipline problem in the classroom.”

“Also, he is no problem in class!”

These quotes were taken directly from emails between Chases teacher and myself. I was questioning some of her grading methods and one of the things I strongly disagreed about was a child’s behavior affecting his grade. I have always and will always believe a child’s grade should be based on his learning and his ability to express it through many forms of schoolwork such as tests, worksheets, projects, papers, etc. That being said, I was very surprised to see this grade come across the internet today. These emails took place earlier in the week so can someone attempt to make sense of this for me. Calling all teachers! Help me with this one. This is what I stumbled on today:

Score Detail
Score 85 (85%)
Comments
Assignment Detail
Name Europe- Classroom Behavior
Due Date 01/19/2015
Date Assigned 01/19/2015
Total Points 100
Multiplier 1

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Why Doesn’t It Seem To Mean Anything?

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Oh the news. I vowed to stop listening to it and low and behold I heard a little snippet going into a commercial break. The reporter was saying something about an atheist group trying to enforce the removal of a poster in the front office of an Oklahoma middle school of two children in front of the American flag with their hands together in prayer.

We fight about this and we fight about that. We fight, fight, fight. We demand and demean and threaten and bully. We want everything to be exactly the way we want it and feel it’s entitled to be. I say this…if you don’t believe in God, don’t look at the picture. Don’t acknowledge God or anything pertaining to the topic at all. If you do believe in God, drop on your knees wherever you please and pray. Look at pictures or God or children praying to God and then mind your own business. This is not about separation of church and state anymore. It is a battle of the wills and inflicting what you believe onto everybody else. Give it a break and find something important to change in the world. It’s really getting exhausting the constant bickering and suing and I’m pretty sure the only thing it really causes is more anger and more hate. It’s got to stop and it is sickening to watch. Time is so important and people should start to use it to spread love and kindness and stop using every second to create more wars. Imagine a world where our goal was to spread respect. What does that word even mean anymore? It is Just my opinion but just like everyone else, I’m entitled to one. However, I am not entitled to inflict and force my views on everyone else. People have the right to make up their own minds and live the way they choose. That is where the entitlement ends. Leave other people alone keep your control issues to yourself. Be careful what you spread out into the world. It does make a difference.

One final School Fiasco- You knew it Was Coming!

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I am sitting here absolutely dumbfounded. Seriously, it is the last week of school and the excitement I should feel has been crushed with frustration and disappointment. If you follow my blog closely you understand some of the difficulties I have had dealing with schools. I am going to start by saying this, my frustration is with the schools my children attend. This is not to be taken personally by every teacher, administrator, etc. I will tell my story though because the truth and the facts have to get out there so parents become more aware about what is and isn’t going on at least inside of my schools.

When a child is tardy or absent, I get a notification. In fact, I get several. Every phone number tied to the parents gets a call with the notification as well as every email address. I got 2 last week for Chase, both instances resulting in a mistake on the part of the teacher marking the wrong kid absent.

As a parent, I can’t help but wonder each and every time I get a call if my child is possibly cutting class. I mean I am not so out of touch with reality to believe I have perfect children all the time. So, when I get all these notifications I wonder. The policy is that once you get an alert, the parent has 48 hours to contact the attendance person. So, like a good, responsible parent, I make the call to the high school today. I have questions about the policy so that I am fully aware of all it’s implications. I simply ask why am I getting a call asking where my child is when he or she is under the care of the school. I rudely get dismissed and am told that it is my daughters responsibility to go to the teacher that marked them tardy or absent so the teacher could then email the office to verify where that child was. Let’s look at it this way….you want a kid that is bold and irresponsible enough to even possibly skip a class to go to the teacher that turned the kid in to have a conversation about it so the teacher can clarify with the attendance office. If I even have to explain why the whole idea of that is ridiculous then you should stop reading right here and move on to the next blog. I ask the lady to explain why this is the protocol and she becomes defensive and tells me it is not her job to email the teacher and find out what’s going on, it is the students responsibility. Wait! You are the attendance person, what is your role exactly and again why am I getting a call asking where my child is while in your care? If you don’t know, and I don’t know, this conversation is just a waste of time.

Every time I deal with a school I hear the same line over and over again. “Your child needs to be responsible for herself.” Hmmmm….really? How are you being responsible? What lesson about responsibility are you teaching my child? I am about to clear that up now. The woman told me they contact the parents to make them aware. I asked what the next step is. Guess what? There is none. That’s it. She did tell me Kayleigh has been tardy 4 times and after the kids have so many they get in school suspension. Really I asked, how many? No specific answer. I hated to do it but I couldn’t help but point out the obvious. Can you imagine if after one or say 2 tardiness you sit face to face with a principal explaining one more would lead to a meeting with the parents and in school suspension, how few 3rd tardies there would actually be? After a very long, in depth conversation, it became clear to me that there are no consequences. The kids are told they are responsible for themselves, they can come and go in and out of the school as they please, AND there are NO consequences. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We spend years raising kids, teaching them right from wrong, to respect rules and to have fear the consequences of their actions and the high school, who we place the care of our teen in for hours of the day, completely teaches the opposite. No wonder kids are not respecting parents and rules. It’s this confusion coming from authority or lack there of that decides whether or not they will respect rules and laws or really believe they are above them and can do anything they please.

This is really getting out of control. There are so many policies that are so broken and what’s worse, people follow them blindly. What happened to common sense and thinking things through? As it is, freshman are not supposed to leave campus at lunch but you wouldn’t believe how many I see at local restaurants everyday. The attendance secretary explained that they can’t have a cop at every door making sure these kids don’t leave. What? Maybe not but I suggested how valuable it would be if the principal or assistant principal showed up at Chick-fil-A on a random basis. The truth is they really don’t care that the kids leave. They know they do. See where the message gets mixed up in the mind of the kids. Rules aren’t meant to be followed, teachers really don’t care. If that’s the case, change the rule. If you are not going to enforce it or have consequences then CHANGE THE RULE!

I see a lot of finger pointing back at parents. I know my kid is home when she’s supposed to be home and if I catch her breaking a rule, there will be consequences but the school and the parents have got to be on the same page. Otherwise, parents become less significant to the kids and slowly over time, we lose their respect. They aren’t afraid of us anymore because really, why do we make a big deal out of everything? The school doesn’t care. It’s like two parents negating each other. The kid plays one against the other and the child gets away with murder. It doesn’t work and I am watching it happen in front of my eyes. I can’t even stop it. I have one kid who was missing from a class for 4 weeks before they discovered he was in the wrong one, and another one that should be responsible for herself. What exactly are our schools responsible for? Because last time I checked my kids aren’t legally at age to care for themselves. Why do these schools not know where my kids are when they are in their care? And furthermore, if a teacher screws up for weeks not realizing a kid is missing or a kid takes it upon herself to have multiple tardies or cut class, who is responsible? The answer is nobody, and that’s exactly why these things are happening in the first place. What in the world is going on?

Let’s Hit The Pavement Walking

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Well, the school interrupted this peaceful spring break with a reminder that we have a busy nine weeks ahead of us and were gonna hit the ground running. Well, I’ve felt that the way the entire year and a little secret between me and my readers? I hate running. How about we take a different approach and hit the pavement walking. Maybe this time we can move slow enough to get more right and spend less time rushing through the wrong. I am dreading this week. Not because we are headed back to school but because I am headed into take number 2 of our 504 review meeting. Disastrous would be the only way to describe how the last one went and now this one requires more people to attend and more frustration on my part. How do we discuss whether 504 accommodations are working if they are not being followed? I have begged and pleaded since the second week of school for us to prevent a situation from the one we are in and at this very late date in the school year. Everyone wants to point a finger and place blame or perhaps even explain their way around the one fact that we all know to be true. Chases accommodations are not being followed. What’s the big deal anyway right, I mean his grades are fantastic and he seems to be happy at school, so what Mrs H does this fuss seem to be all about?

No-one knows the struggles we face at home. No-one cares about the amount of work we have to do as a family to play catch up in making sure Chase learns the information he was unable to grasp by reading an entire unit and making his own notes with absolutely no guidance or mentoring the first time around. It is frustrating as a parent to be part of the percentage of moms and dads who do care about what happens in school. However, when I feel I have taken over the entire responsibility of teaching because of this new self taught teaching strategy and my accommodations are not being followed because I too then need to read the unit, make notes and learn the information enough to teach it to Chase and when he can take his notes into a test and still get a 64, I say something is broken. I don’t know about you, but for me, a test grade reflects how much of the information was grasped, both on the part of how effective the teacher was at teaching and how effective the student was at learning. And when supposedly, all of this has taken place, and a student can use notes on a test(that no one checks), and they take the time to do a study guide on their own that nobody goes over, and the kid gets a 64, what does that say. Really? Am I reading too much into this or is someone missing something very important?

There are good and bad teachers in our schools, same as every profession. The difference here is that a child’s self worth and self esteem is at stake. That’s a pretty big deal to me especially because I’m a mom. Even as a parent, we have to step back and decide what is it we are doing that is or isn’t working and we have to make adjustments. When teachers are getting email after email from parents and these kids seem completely overwhelmed and confused by the information they supposedly learned, when will the higher ups stop explaining the situation away and demand we fix it? It is not personal, it is not picking on someone or the job they are doing. It is a genuine concern for the kiddos sitting in that class and the effectiveness of the learning going on for the class as a whole.

So, Tuesday, wish me luck. I really hope this meeting doesn’t take the emotional toll that the last one did. And for the record, I will no longer allow anyone in the school to treat me like a perpetrator. I am my child’s advocate and he is a victim of some blatant complacency and lack of accountability of the team that is supposed to assure his success in each one of their classrooms. Fact: he has accommodations. Fact: they are not being met. Period. No explanation necessary.

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Do You Need This?

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As I sat in a school meeting today gently guiding the administrators to a plan that would lead to our kids success in school, I was reminded of a small wooden token I use to give as a gift. I have a very logical and honest approach to sense of humor, so if I can use my sense of humor to leave someone with a lasting reminder of my incredibly gifted amount of knowledge, I stick my neck out and give it a go. Minutes and minutes went by with words filled with hope for a plan of action. Lots of planning, lots of talking and lots of time slipping slowly away. Of course my mind was thinking the school year is more than halfway over so we need to hurry this process up, so I thought of sending every teacher and administrator involved a little token of my appreciation and a forceful reminder that we are quickly running out of time. My gift idea? A round tuit. I really think I may be ordering them in bulk as soon as today. So, here it is, for those of you who have not yet heard of the history of the round tuit. Isn’t it amazing that so many years ago there was an awareness of a problem that has only grown worse today. So I invite you to sit back and pay attention. At least years ago they were smart enough to try and come up with a solution, but today it has become our way of life. And we wonder why we are in a vicious cycle of not getting anywhere quickly.

King Arthur & the Knights Of the Round Tuit

In Medieval times, the legendary King Arthur had assembled twelve chivalrous knights of the realm to protect the kingdom from evil and harm. Unfortunately, there were two problems within the ranks: infighting over status, and chronic procrastination.

Thus, King Arthur asked the wizard Merlin to fashion a finely crafted, large round table (known as a Round Tuit) to be used for the assemblage of the twelve knights. The round table ensured that no single knight sat at the head of the table and, being a Round Tuit, it also stood as a symbolic reminder to go out and get the job done.

Later, as the knights ventured further from Camelot, King Arthur had twelve gold medallions minted, depicting the Round Tuit, and reminding each knight of his duty to never falter.

The medallions also showed King Arthur and the twelve knights of the Round Tuit. As time passed, the medallions themselves became known as โ€˜Round Tuitsโ€™ โ€“ to serve as a reminder to get around to it and complete the task in hand.

Will you be receiving one as a gift soon? Do you need a round tuit to remind you to get around tuit? If you don’t follow, send me a private message and I will explain as soon as I can get a round tuit ๐Ÿ™‚

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PLEASE TAKE ONE, THERE ARE PLENTY TO GO AROUND!

The Tattle Book

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Years ago our family would vacation together. My niece and my daughter are a year apart and sometimes when we would all be cooped up in the same small space for hours on end, quite a bit of tattling would be taking place. One day, I came up with this fantastic idea and the “Tattle Book” was born. We told the girls to write every gripe and concern they had in that little book and at the end of the day the “adults” would look it over and someone would get back to them the next day. They loved that book. Every time they tried to tell on the other, one of us would say “tattle book” and they would write it all down. To our unexpected surprise, it worked. There was less tattling and the adults had less aggravation. And, the next day never even had to come.

In the last few years I have faced some pretty unique circumstance with athletic clubs, and especially the schools my son has attended. For years I kept quiet, afraid of what the consequence might be for my children if I became the voice of the squeaky wheel. I have been avoided, shunned and humiliated all at the expense of preventing others from having to go through similar situations that maybe my squeaky voice could prevent. I can’t remember the day I found the courage to stand up for what I believe is right but I realize the consequence of sometimes public humiliation is not nearly as bad as the consequence of remaining silent. The first time I spoke up I felt a fire deep inside and I knew my voice had to be loud enough to speak for the ones who would always be silent. Tomorrow, I have a very important meeting. My squeaky voice has caught some attention and now someone has no choice but to listen. My question though, is this just an adult size tattle book I will now be writing in that no ever plans to read or will someone consider my complaints significant enough to take some action and make some serious change? The truth is I really don’t know, but it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, ” Speak the truth, even when your voice shakes”. I have been writing in that tattle book for more years than I care to remember. I think that’s the point though don’t you? Keep em writing until they get too tired to hold the pencil. I am tired. I am drained, but for the sake of my own child and every child out there in the world, I will find the strength. If my words and my persistence makes a difference for even one person, than I served them well. Sometimes it’s not about changing a situation we are personally involved in ourselves, but taking one for the team to make change when you may not ever have the opportunity to see it for yourself. If we don’t sacrifice ourselves for the better good, what kind of a person are we anyway? This girl here is never going to find that out. Tomorrow I will hear my own shaky voice tell the truth and state the facts. I will represent every single child that has fallen through the cracks. I will represent every single mother that has spent every hour of every year devoted to the full time job of being their child’s advocate, and somehow, someway, I will find the courage and strength.

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The School Has Run Out of Excuses This Time!

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Some days are not like all the others. They start out the same way and then bam, things change in a second. Today is one of those days.

Tuesday, I got several notices from the school that Chase was missing 8th hour. This is a frequent notice that usually ends up as a result of a teacher mistakingly marking him as absent. So, this morning I called to tell the attendance secretary that this must be another one of those mistakes. She was very dismissive at the time mumbling something about being very busy in the middle of her morning rush hour. Well, I too, had to stop what I was doing to listen to messages from the school on 3 separate numbers as well as read the notification in two different email accounts. AND, I actually was literally in the midst of morning rush hour because I was driving both of my kids to their different schools.

Later, I stopped in the office to pick Chase up for a dentist appointment and addressed the issue once again. What I was about to find out was disturbing, alarming and definitely a cause for major concern. I am not the type of person that makes a mountain out of a molehill. If I say something is significant, or a big deal, believe that it is.

My son, several weeks ago was switched into 8th hour orchestra. When he walked into the class, the teacher was absent. The kids explained that this was their normal orchestra hour and NOT the usual rotational orchestra class and that maybe he belonged in the band room. That day and from that day after, he spent every 8th hour in that band room. My first question is where was the sub that day? Did she not think to call down to the front desk to see where my kid belonged? He kept telling me he didn’t understand how the class would help him since the band teacher didn’t know anything about playing a violin. It didn’t make much sense to me but most things don’t, so I shrugged it off. Until, the second I realized that his orchestra teacher was the one who reported him as missing.

In the 6 or so weeks he has been scheduled to be in her class, this is the first time she noticed he was on her schedule and missing. And, if that isn’t bad enough, the band teacher let him sit in there all those weeks not even knowing, even though he doesn’t have a band instrument, that he didn’t belong in there.

This might be something that seems funny at first until you really sit back and think about it. How could 2 teachers over that period of time, who are supposed to be responsible for the safety and well being of our children, screw up so very bad? Then, the secretary tells me this is not the first time a situation like this occurred.

This is a perfect example of why I pulled my daughter from this school 3 years ago. This is a result of an ongoing lack of leadership, communication and follow through that is at the very core of why this school is so dysfunctional. I don’t take this lightly. My children are so precious to me, and to know for sure, that I place them in the hands of people that are just incompetent is seriously frustrating. I am still waiting for them to rally together and get their stories straight. It will be very interesting to hear what the counselor has to say. In the end though, facts are facts and there is no excuse for a situation like this one to go on for such a long period of time. Inexcusable if you ask me. If this is the example set for our children, is it a wonder why they are so scattered and irresponsible? I just thought this story was an important one to share. We send our children off every day believing they are safe and in competent hands. Now we know that isn’t the case. How would you react if this was your child? I’d love to hear some thoughts.