Life at Warp Speed

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Review: Waiting for “Superman” August 25, 2011

Filed under: Education,Homeschooling,Parenting,TV & Movies — lifeatwarpspeed @ 11:30 am
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Amazon.com: Waiting for “Superman”: Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, Davis Guggenheim: Movies & TV.

I finally had a chance to watch this film yesterday. I highly recommend this film if you haven’t seen it. It will make you think a lot about the state of education in the United States and about your own family if you have children. Even if you don’t have kids, you are a stakeholder in the educational system simply being a citizen since we are all impacted by how well we educate our country’s future.

A lot of thoughts come to mind. My heart simply aches over the painful dilemma of these families who are trapped in an educational system that simply doesn’t work. For the alternative solutions via charter and vouchers, there just simply isn’t enough to go around to fulfill the immense and overwhelming need that is out there.

As a mom, I completely understand the desire to provide the best education and all the opportunities you can for your child. This is why the pretty good, better, and best school districts keep going in that direction since people mortgage themselves in order to buy homes to live in those districts. This is also why people with children are fleeing the school districts in San Francisco and Oakland for alternative schooling options.

If you know me IRL, you know that I read a lot of public policy and education books. I am very interested and passionate about education even though I am not a professional educator. I try to stay current on the state of public education. Quite honestly, it is a pretty depressing scene. I greatly appreciate the efforts of those people like Michelle Rhee who are working their hardest to change what seems to be an impossible situation. I really admire Michelle Rhee and was disappointed to see a lot of her efforts unraveling. I have very little love for teachers’ unions even though I greatly value teachers. I am not a supporter of teacher tenure which will probably make a lot of people mad that I said that. I believe seismic change must happen quickly. All the sacred cows of education need to be on the proverbial sacrificial block.

To be honest, as much as I am passionate about educational reform, I don’t believe that the current system will serve my son well. So, our family is choosing to opt out of the system and go the homeschooling route for our son. Homeschooling is a fast-growing movement with more than 2 million students in the US. It will likely always be a minority in the educational community, but it will exist and is a vibrant and diverse community.

We have been homeschooling in one form or another since my son was a baby. It has become increasingly apparent to us that public school would be a huge step backward, and his needs would be lost in a class of 25 or more K students. My not quite 3 year old son already has a reading vocabulary of over 500 words, mastered phonics over a year ago, counts to 100, understands quantity, taught himself to write his letters and numbers a few weeks ago, and is currently working on single digit addition and subtraction. Where will he be in two years from now? Who knows? I have no idea where this journey is going, but I do know he won’t be a good fit for Kindergarten.

I know now that my current calling is to educate and nurture our son on his educational journey. This is a huge sacrifice for our family since it means giving up any income that I used to generate. It means a lot of work to prepare lessons, modify curriculum for a young learner, and a lot less time for myself. I am passionately committed to continuing to nurture his gifts, his passion and love for learning and to be able to go at his pace even when it is a lot faster than I want to go. Everyday is a new experience for the two of us on this journey. Especially as I continually learn to be flexible and to release my carefully laid out plans.

I imagine people might ask me whether or not I feel guilty about choosing to opt out of the system and not working from within to reform. To be honest, I don’t. I feel that we are making the best and right choice available for our family and our son’s needs which is the only thing that anyone can expect any parent to do.

L@WS

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5 Responses to “Review: Waiting for “Superman””

  1. J.Flo Says:

    Yes and amen. I’m a public school teacher, but I, too, would opt for homeschooling. As it is, I’m actually in the process of starting my own private school. I plan to keep my class sizes down to 12. And my now almost-11-month-old daughter will be one of its first students. As you are talking about everything your son’s already mastered before the age of 3, it makes me wonder how we can organize the new school’s curriculum to cater to someone like him, versus a kid whose parent didn’t give him the time of day. In any case, GO FOR IT. I am right there with you. Dont let anyone let you feel guilty. While everyone else is trying to save the burning building (our public school system), I’d rather we save the kids. And no one knows what’s best for our kids more than WE PARENTS do. =)

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    • Thanks for your comment and your encouragement. I actually was surprised at how many public school teachers that I know actually told me that I was making the right decision for my son. It is very exciting to hear about how you are headed in the direction of starting your own private school. Best of luck with your new calling.

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  2. J.Flo Says:

    Thanks! And you, too, Sister! If you need any leads, I read a LOT of blogs by homeschooling moms. Just let me know!

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  3. Jen Says:

    I am a mom of an 8.5-month-old, a former public high-school math teacher, a current private one-on-one tutor, and lover of learning. I completely agree with you that tenure is a bad idea. No other job gets tenure the way teachers do. Rubber rooms and the time and energy and money it takes to let go of a horrible teacher are appalling. When I was teaching I would have been fine not getting tenure – I think doing a good job is the job security you should have.

    I’m also considering homeschooling for my daughter, but I don’t know how I will feel about losing myself in the process. I am a mom, but I’m also a wife and a friend and a woman, and I want to be able to get restored myself so I have energy to pour out into my kid(s). That’s great that you’re willing to sacrifice.

    I will also point out, though, that the movie was talking about inner-city and other extremely poorly performing schools. I live in Sunnyvale, and schools in Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Los Altos, Palo Alto… none of them can even compare to the schools in the movie. Even if they’re not absolutely perfect, I know that my kids would be ok in them if I was involved in their education, provided enrichment, got excited with them as they were learning, supported their teachers as much as I could, etc.

    Just a few thoughts. Thanks for yours!

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    • My apologies for not replying back sooner. I saw you comment while away on vacation in September and then life happened. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.

      I also struggle with my own identity and balancing that with homeschooling and all the other roles I fill in my little world. I think that for each family, the right answer is really depends on that family’s circumstances and what the needs of your child(ren) are. For children attending the best schools, you are right, the children will probably do okay especially since most of them are from families with involved parents which I always think is a key factor.

      I will share with you that where I am in my journey with homeschooling a young gifted child that I have come to the conclusion that for my son, homeschooling is necessary and essential for his continued well-being. There are aspects to the way he learns and also his personality that does not make him a good fit for public school. I know with certainty that he would be the child that I would get notes sent home about needing to work on listening and following directions. Once he gets engaged in something he is interested in, it is very difficult to redirect his passion and attention. When he wants to read, spell, write, do math, or whatever, he can be engaged for hours. That is definitely not conducive to a classroom environment that depends on sticking to the schedule.

      I definitely wish you all the best as you discern God’s leading for your family. As with all things in parenting, nothing is fixed in stone. Once you think you got things down pat and worked out, your child(ren) will turn it all upside down. Sheer madness for type A parents like me!

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