Back in February, I wrote that we had decided to put all of your kids in school in the interest of my own sanity. Homeschooling moms will tell you not to make any educational decisions in the dark month of February because the cold, lack of sunlight, and general burnout will get to you every time. I suppose that’s true because by May we had reversed our decision and were trying to figure out how to make it work with all but the one already in public school staying home for another year.
Last week he asked if he can come home too. He’s done with public schooling, he says.
After we looked at his final grades, we agree with him. There’s something wrong with the way public schools are teaching our children.
He failed Algebra II for the year (He’s given me permission to tell people that.) Summer school starts next week, so I thought it might be a good idea to do a review in preparation for it. What I discovered is that he doesn’t have a good enough grasp on the basics to even begin to understand Algebra II. In my dismay, I pulled up his grades for last year (Algebra I), past the simple grade book, and into the teacher’s notes. (I hadn’t looked before because he’d passed, so I hadn’t worried about it.) Every grading period included “extra credit” points that had pushed his grades into the mid 70s every time.
He should have failed Algebra I.
I mean he really should have failed Algebra I. If they’d failed him, he’d have gotten the chance to re-do the class and actually learn the foundation for all of the math that was coming up next. Instead, they looked at my nice boy who “tries really hard” and didn’t want him to “end up discouraged.” (Per an email exchange with his teacher yesterday.) Instead they left him hamstrung.
He’s an amazing kid, but math has never been one of his strong talents. Most years we’ve been ecstatic if he managed a B. He isn’t afraid of working hard, and put in the work with Algebra II as well. There was just no way he could pass without a basic grasp of what was going on.
In one of our parent-teacher meeting in the winter, I pointed out that not only was he going to class five days a week, he was also voluntarily attending an hour of tutoring with his teacher after school 3-5 days a week, and going in for extra help most mornings. And he was still failing. Where did the fault lie, I asked. Was it the teacher, the curriculum, or my son who was the problem? Because no one should spend 8-12 hours a week in school for a class scheduled to take up five hours of his week and still not be able to pass. There was definitely a problem. I succeeded in offending the teacher, but not in getting solutions.
By the last six weeks, we recognized that summer school was inevitable, but encouraged him to do the best he could. He went to every tutoring session. We again offered him help or a tutor, but he said his teacher had told him that wasn’t necessary. If he worked hard enough he could pull it out and pass for the year.
Then came this week and the revelation that he didn’t understand the FOIL method or absolute value. He couldn’t even correctly identify polynomials.
We opted out of the Algebra II summer school for this year, and we’ll be spending the summer reteaching him the Algebra I that he never learned. Math has to build up layer by layer or it can’t be understood, and he needs to be able to do this.
I’m so disappointed. This is the second child we’ve attempted to send to public school (his little brother attended third grade in Oklahoma), and the second one who has been failed by the school system.
I never want to hear again about how I’m unqualified to teach my children because I’m not a trained teacher. Not when I’m spending our vacation fixing the mess that trained teachers and the policy of “social promotion” have created.
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