Lottie’s Texas Homeschool

I’ve decided to give it a shot.

Back in October, I wrote a post about how I was thinking of removing my son from public school and teaching him at home. In that post, I explained some of my reasons and said that I would give it until Christmas and then re-evaluate the situation.

Well, Christmas break is here, and I have decided to start homeschooling on January 5th, when school reconvenes. As previously stated, I work from home so I have the flexibility to manage it. Mike will help via the internet until he is able to to join us permanently.

Quite a lot has transpired since I first wrote about this. Not all of it was bad enough to qualify as any kind of deal breaker, but it certainly didn’t tip the scales in the school’s favor. I won’t bore you with everything that got under my skin, but I would like to talk about the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Apart from the rampant bullying, potential gang activity which no one at the school seems to know how to handle and the other problems I mentioned in my other post, many of the staff members seem incompetent and out of control.

Of course, there are some very good teachers there who have been just great and I mean no disrespect to them, but they can’t control or make up for what I see as abusive behavior from the others. Simply put, many of them just don’t seem to understand about appropriate boundaries, much less recognize when they’ve been crossed. Not surprising, though, considering the type of leadership they have.

As mentioned in my October post, the Principal announced that parents had better not call and “complain” to her about anything unless we were willing to help out by volunteering at the school. Yes, we should all leave (and possibly lose) the jobs that we get paid for to come and help them do what they get paid for. Otherwise, we’d better just keep quiet because we’re not bieng team players or something.

That aside, the final straw came this past Thursday. I received a call from the school informing me that my son had been given ISS (in-school suspension) for an entire week and would not be allowed to attend the school dance that afternoon. Why? Because he had been late to gym class that day.

I thought this was extremely harsh and disproportionate and I said so. The secretary explained that there are “just a whole bunch of kids who are constantly late” so they made an “administrative decision” (translation: knee-jerk response by the Principal) to lock the doors as soon as the bell rang. Anyone left outside would be dealt the same punishment regardless of how many times they’d been late because — get this — they don’t know which of them are chronically late, because they don’t record tardies. They don’t follow any sort of protocol for dealing with it at all.

So, because of their own haphazard administration, and finally getting fed up with the result of it, they decided this was how to handle it. But that’s not all.

My son was late that day because the teacher of his previous class had kept them after the bell. He had never been told anything about being late, didn’t know it had been a problem, and didn’t see this coming at all. When the students who had been locked out were taken to a secluded area, the Principal shouted out them, “You have pissed me off! And you don’t want to piss me off!”

Now, I’m no prude when it comes to language, but this is a school Principal addressing students, for crying out loud! This whole ordeal demonstrates poor leadership abilities, lack of professionalism and plain old bad judgment.

I will not go along with this extremely harsh and disproportionate measure. And I will not frustrate myself by attempting to reason with a woman who has consistently displayed irrational thought and behavior. So I contacted Pupil Services to inquire about my options for a transfer to a different middle school.

The only option available to me at this point in the school year is an “administrative transfer” which is based on “evidence that either a safety/emergency and/or a medical condition exists which hampers a student’s educational success”. I thought I could make a good argument for it being a safety issue because of the bullying and a few other things, so I asked to have the forms sent.

Well, guess who has to sign off on an administrative transfer? The Principal who we’re trying to get away from and avoid dealing with. Catch-22 anyone?

Yes, after I submit the request along with “substantiating documents”, it will be reviewed by Principals at both campuses. I will then be called for conferences at both schools. Following that, the Principals will contact Pupil Services to confirm the conferences and offer their opinions. Pupil Services will then make a final determination and contact me in writing with their decision. Meanwhile, my son is to remain enrolled and in attendance.

I don’t think so.

Is it just me, or is something inherently wrong with expecting a child to remain in attendance pending a transfer request based on a safety/emergency or medical condition?

Besides that, I’ve had it. They don’t own me or my child and I’m tired of having to comply with their ridiculous demands while also having to tolerate their irrational behavior. I’m not putting myself through this process or forcing my son to go back to a place that we both feel is unsafe, where the person in charge behaves no better than some of the students I don’t want my son associating with.

I am sending a letter of withdrawal, and will begin homeschooling on January 5th. As of now, this is a temporary arrangement; I am also planning to move to an area where he can attend a different school without having to jump through a bunch of flaming hoops.

I’ve done a lot of homework on this and still have a lot to do. I am currently working on putting together a curriculum, some of which will be internet-based. I have a lot of ideas that I think are very good. I’m getting excited and will write more about it as I’m working it all out.

I’m sure you’ll be reading more about this in the days and weeks to come. Any suggestions or feedback you may have will be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

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23 responses to “Lottie’s Texas Homeschool

  • jhcckkm

    Hey!! Thanks for leaving the message on my blog!!I was SUPER excited for you when I read this!!
    Congratulations!! 🙂

    From what I have read, your son seems to be “gifted” – – my oldest was, too (although never tested for it, ’cause her grades were always crap (except when she homeschooled).
    Anyway, what I did with her was a combo of some “unschooling” and school with college textbooks. She LOVED using college textbooks – – made her feel “grown-up”!!
    I would do one month my studies and one month hers. For example, one month, she wanted to learn about the Holocaust, so I got as many resources for her as possible. Another month she wanted to learn about religions….that was a super fun month!! LOL!! (At one point, she was thinking about becoming a Buddhist.)
    My daughter is 17 now – – and just took her GED last month. She scored the exact same as I did (303) and is eligible for a college scholarship.

    Let me know if there is anything I can help you out with!! 🙂

  • Gary Murning

    This is very obviously the right decision, Lottie. That degree of incompetence simply isn’t something that can be worked around.

    I know I haven’t exactly been around all that much recently, but I think you probably know that I’ll certainly be willing to help in any way I can. Whether it’s advice on books/literature, composition — whatever — I’m here, so please don’t hesitate. Just ask.

  • dam

    Wow. You did the right thing withdrawing your son. What kind of quality education can he be getting with a 5-year-old at the wheel of the school? The principal should be canned.

    I truly believe the school district should give you the money that they would be spending on your son next year so that you can buy books, etc. They didn’t do their job; they shouldn’t be getting paid.

    Good luck! I’m excited for you and would like to hear how it all goes.

  • Lottie

    Heidi: That’s a great idea! We’ll probably go shopping for books some time next week. He’ll love the idea of using college books. He is GT, in fact. For the past couple of years he’s been in GT and AP classes.

    I’m setting up two new blogs. One is for me and it’s sort of modeled after yours. I’ll log assignments there and whatever else I think is necessary as I go along. The other is for him. I thought it would be a good idea to have him do writing assignments on a blog. He can do online research, etc. It’s important in this day and age. I’ll write more about it when I’ve got it all worked out. It’s still under construction at the moment.

    Thanks for your support. I’m sure I’ll be in touch with more questions.

    Gary: Thank you very much! I would really appreciate your help. I’m work on putting a curriculum together right now. I was thinking about literature and language arts last night. I’ll email you when I get a solid plan and you can let me know what you think.

    Thank you for your support. I know some people will think I’m over-reacting, but I don’t think so. What I’ve written here isn’t even the whole story. I kept it as short as I could for a blog with the title Rambling On. LOL

    Dam: Thanks you! As a parent, I’m sure you know how tough a decision like this can be. I don’t want to jeopardize my son’s education, but his safety has to come even before that. I’m hoping to be in our new place by February or March. He’ll be allowed to attend the other school from there, but Ill probably homeschool for the rest of this year anyway. Who knows, maybe it’ll work out well for us. Maybe it’s just what he needs.

    I’ll definitely keep you posted on our progress. Thanks for your support and encouragement.

  • deldobuss

    Good for you! We started homeschooling when we lived in El Paso because they wanted my oldest to go to mandatory, all-day, four year old kindergarten. I didn’t feel comfortable with that, or with the school. We have never looked back. We have been to 3 different states since then, and still feel that homeschooling is the right path for us.

    There are so many avenues and resources for homeschooling, the main thing you have to worry about is spending too much!!

  • Lottie

    Thanks for commenting.

    Have you ever had trouble with the authorities or been asked to explain why your children aren’t in school? That’s my main worry at the moment.

  • saintpaulgrrl

    Lottie: [John’s] safety and the quality of his education must come first. He is too gifted of a young man to have either of those things compromised. You’ll do fine as a teacher, and it sounds like you have a lot of fine, supportive people to help. Time to take control of this situation!

  • Lottie

    Thank you, Bonnie. Your support means a lot to me. This has been a very difficult decision, but I think it’s what needs to be done, at least for the time being.

    I have joined a local support group as well. It’s a secular group which, frankly, I was surprised to find in this area. I’m not certain, but I think the founders are Wiccan. Ha! Odd coincidence, given recent events, huh? Anyway, their mission statement is to embrace all religions. Wiccans are included on their lists, as are atheists. Tolerance is a requirement of membership.

    I’m there! 😀

  • Gary Murning

    Some people will always think something, Lottie 😉 Doesn’t mean they’re right. As someone very wise once said, “Screw the detractors and the horses they rode in on.”

    Talking about literature, has “John” read John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids (I think it was published in the States under the title Re-birth.) I’m currently reading it — just discovering the rest of Wyndham’s work years after reading The Day of the Triffids — and it struck me that it might be the kind of book he’d get a kick out of. Lots of material for discussion, too. There’s a summary here: http://www.wikisummaries.org/The_Chrysalids

  • Terra

    I totally support your decision, not only because it is yours but it is my opinion it is the right way to go… 😉

    I don’t know if you are interested but Heaven attends RedOak (it is in Texas). Heaven adores Mrs. Fischer  (she does holidays like “national pirates day, dressed up like a pirate and told her students to walk the plank and such.) Anyway, it is intense. They go through tons of work, but they have “real” class. The students watch streaming video of the teacher, and then interact via a chat platform. Heaven is in high school, and I wasn’t confident in my abilities to teach her completely (I am not a math/science person, nor do I speak a different language.)

    If you need any help with resources let me know. This isn’t the first time I have home-schooled Heaven. When we lived in a small town in
    South Dakota, she was bullied by the Christian children. They would push her around and say it was because she was going to hell and stuff.
    That time I did it all myself, and there are tons of free sights that help. A couple examples would be McGraw-Hill and  EdHelper.

  • Lottie

    Gary: Thanks for the recommendations. That one looks really good. I know he’ll like it. It reminds me a little of a book he reads over and over called The Giver.

    I’ll add it to my list right away.

    Terra: Thank you so much. I appreciate the support and the resources as well. I’ll definitely check into them all.

    My son was picked on by Christians too and threatened with hell on a regular basis. It’s one of the things I finally contacted the school about.

    That Christian love can be an awkward thing, huh? 😉

  • girldujour

    In our neck of the woods we have something called SoloQuest, which is a self-paced ACCREDITED learning program.

    You may be better off with something like SoloQuest rather than home-schooling so that he can get into colleges.

    Of course, I’m not in Texas and I could be wrong, but I’m just sayin’…

  • Obi-Mom Kenobi

    Welcome to the fold, even if only temporarily. We also started out as ‘just for the rest of this year’ homeschoolers…6 years ago. 😉

  • Lottie

    Hi, Girl!

    Right now we’re just looking at this as a temporary arrangement until we move to another area. Even if we decided to do it long-term, though, as homeschool is becoming more mainstream, homeschool students don’t really have trouble getting into college anymore.

    Thank you for your concern, though. That’s definitely a major consideration.

    Thanks for the recommendation too. I’ve never heard of SoloQuest. I’ll definitely have a look. It may be something I could use later on if we decide to stick with homeschooling.

  • Lottie

    Thanks, Obi-Mom! We’re really looking forward to it. My son keeps saying that he can’t wait for school to start again.

    I think it’s going to be fun! 😀

  • thehun

    I have nothing to say other than that was… really fucked up!

    Sorry to hear your continued troubles there.

    This only reenforces my low opinion of Texas… stupid adults “teaching” kids to grow up to be stupid adults, some of whom will make “tomorrow’s children” stupid.

    Like the circle of life… but more like the circle of dumb.

    Best of luck on the home schooling.

  • truthwalker

    Well, for starters, don’t sweat it that you are now solely responsible for your son’s education, you were all along. The school you chose, the home environment you maintained, etc. You were already running the whole thing. The only thing that’s changed is now you don’t have to compromise.

    At the time I was home schooled, it was only semi-legal in the state of Iowa, and we joined the home school legal defense association (http://www.hslda.org/join/default.asp) They’re sort of the ACLU of homes schooling, and worth investigating.

    If you want to talk to two adults who were home schooled as children, feel free to email me, or call if that works better. Both Becky and I were home schooled all the way through high school.

  • Lottie

    Matto: Thanks for your support. It helps to know that I’m not the only one who thinks what happened was completely wrong! Another thing they do in this school district is try to isolate parents and make them feeling like they’re the only ones who have a problem; like we’re crazy or something. So the validation is much appreciated.

    Truthwalker: You’re right. And thank you for pointing that out. It’s always been squarely on me, only now I don’t have the added pressure of having to deal with all their BS.

    Thanks for the support. You’ll probably be hearing from me again.

  • B.T. Murtagh

    I think you’re making a good move, Lottie. It’s plain that your son is not being well served by his current school. It’s very fortunate for him that he has a mother willing and able to take the task on, and I’m certain he’ll benefit greatly.

    As long as you have control of your son’s curriculum, perhaps you might consider a little formal teaching of critical thinking. I’ve long thought that that should again be considered as being at least as important as literacy and numeracy. (It used to be; that’s what the “forgotten R” of Rhetoric was all about.)

    Just a thought. I look forward to reading of your progress!

  • Lottie

    Great minds think alike, B.T. 😉

    I’m definitely planning to make critical thinking part of the curriculum. Socratic Dialog was one of the exercises used in one of his GT classes. We might start with that since it’s familiar and we both enjoy it.

    I’ve been reading The Critical Thinking Community. I’m open to any other suggestions or recommendations you might have as well.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • deldobuss

    Unless things have changed, Texas has no laws regulating homeschooling, so as long as you inform the school that you intend to school your children at home, you should not have any problems from the authorities. I have never had anyone even ask, in the 4 states we have homeschooled, but we have never been involved with public school either.

    Maintain a positive attitude, not a defensive one. Most people have heard of someone homeschooling or know homeschooling families now days, so it is not as “weird” as it used to be. If questions arise (and they will, usually just by curious people) explain what you do. Usually that will squelch any further intrusion. If not, just explain that homeschooling is perfectly legal, and the hours and times you actually do your studies does not have to match public school hours.

    Here are some sites about homeschooling, and homeschooling in Texas:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=FAQ+homeschooling&btnG=Search

    http://www.homeedsa.com/Texas/FAQ.asp

    http://www.homeschoolingintexas.com/gettingstarted/legal/statelaws.aspx

    http://homeschooling.about.com/od/usatx/Texas_Homeschooling.htm

    http://homeschooling.about.com/od/faqs/FAQs_About_Homeschooling.htm

  • Lottie

    You’re right, there are no regulations per se. The only real requirement is to provide a curriculum teaching reading, spelling, grammar, math and course in good citizenship. The curriculum does not have to be approved, however, and it can come from any source.

    I don’t think I’ll run into any real problems, but one of the reasons I’ve decided to do this is because the people in charge don’t behave rationally. That being the case, I want to be prepared for the worst case scenario without expecting it, if you see what I mean.

    Thanks for commenting and for all the links. I’ll definitely check them out.

  • School Days, School Days « Rambling On

    […] one represent you. However, one of the reasons I withdrew my son from his middle school was the Principal’s out-of-control and consistently-irrational behavior. That being the case, there’s no telling how she might respond to John’s withdrawal. As […]

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