This is a rant. I can’t help myself.
I’m pretty good about keeping my homeschool opinions to myself.
I’m a firm believer that people need to make decisions based on what’s best for their familes, and what works for one family may not work for the other. I don’t judge people for sending their kids to private or public school, and I have this radical expecation that people not judge me for keeping my kids home.
I also know that homeschooling may not always be the right choice for our family. I think each year deserves a fresh outlook and evaluation. There are obvious deal breakers, like me having to go back to work, or something like that, but we’re closing in on the end of our third year, and I’m positive we’re continuing with it next year.
As a homeschool parent, you go through tons of emotions about whether or not you’re making the right choices for your children. Even though I choose to homeschool my children, I still worry about that choice sometimes. Many of the same reasons people don’t homeschool are probably some of the insecurities I carry as a homeschooling parent. But, just when I wonder if I’m making the right choices, Florida never ceases to impress me with their failing educational system.
Why isn’t education ever about the students? Why isn’t it ever about the teachers? The two parties that should be the ones who benefit from the system the most, don’t benefit at all! Teachers are underpaid, students are overlooked, and obviously the standardized testing system here is flawed!
Not only did the most recent FCAT scores show that only 27 percent of fourth graders had proficient scores on the writing portion of the state’s test, it also showed that 50 percent of ninth and tenth graders failed the reading portion of the test. Now, one might say, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe how low those scores are!” But, in an attempt to look at things objectively, I don’t think that these scores are true reflections on the education (or lack thereof) that our students are receiving. I also know that the test is harder this year than years passed. It’s the new and improved FCAT 2.0. Hmmm? I wonder if making the test harder has anything to do with the new merit pay system for teachers? Just a hunch, but I’m pretty certain the change in the test has absolutely nothing to do with our students!
The testing system here is pure politics! Nothing more. Well, I take that back. It’s also a pretty damn good fundraiser.
I believe that standardized testing is an important tool needed to evaluate a student’s ability. Tests are not only a tool to monitor academic ability, but a skill students need in life to prepare for college. But, in order to measure a student’s true academic ability, you give them a test to see what they know. You don’t teach to the test all year long, and put pressure on the teachers and students to score high in the hopes of raising funds for your school. I do not believe in teaching to the test! I just don’t think that teaching a student how to take one specific test can measure their true strengths and weaknesses. It’s a flawed system. Period.
So, Florida is making headlines again with their most recent solution to the educational problems here. Are you ready for this? The solution to failing test scores? Lowering the standards.
Bravo. Great idea. Not.
How about this, Florida? Quit teaching to the test! Measure a student’s individual ability by these crazy things called grades. Ya know? If a student has mastered something they get an “A”, if they still need practice in that area they get a “C”, and if they really need some help or tutoring they’ll get a “D” or maybe even an “F”.
Here’s the thing.
When my child doesn’t understand something or master a skill in a particular subject area, we do this crazy thing. We keep working at it! I seriously could NOT imagine grading my child, giving him a “C” or a “D”, and then moving on to the next chapter. But, that’s what these kids are able to do at public school.
Students are pushed through to the next grade with moderate to poor understanding of a subject or skill, but Hey! They know how to take that FCAT.
It’s no wonder the reading and writing portion scores are so low! Most kids do not even learn the simple skill of handwriting at public school. I’m not talking about writing skills, I’m talking about letter formation. My son did not learn this in public school. WTH? Because, of the lack of practice he received in letter formation, he struggled with writing. GO figure?!
So, thank you Florida for giving me the peace I needed today. I think I’ll keep homeschooling.
My kids’ worst day home is better than their best day at one of your schools!
(I’m getting down now. Soapbox over.)