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I have never, not once, reblogged anything. That should tell you how critically important I think this topic is.

As if No Child Left Behind wasn’t bad enough, now we have Common Core. I am loath to think good things about anything forced on folks without full revelation on conversation about the contents.

Here again, we are being bamboozled.

Here again, we’re being forced to accept something unknown and being told to “trust.”  I have my own conspiracy theories ūüėČ  but seriously – that exchange? Can anyone say Delphi Technique (Wikipedia doesn’t give a complete picture- it’s not just about group function, and really, it’s quite effective one-on-one) in action? Gee, gas light much? If I wasn’t on my phone, I’d paste a link. Go look it up. It’s important.

It’s abhorrent that the government is tracking our kids like this. It’s no surprise, though. I’ll take a stand and say I don’t think the government-particularly the FEDERAL government has the right to mandate any kind of education for our children. It is not its place.

If you care about your children, their futures, and the future of our nation, do more than read this.

Tell your friends.

Get involved.

ACT.

DO SOMETHING.

COMMON CORE

Children for Sale

By Alyson Williams

No more decisions behind closed doors!  Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.

 

In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children.  It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No  other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was  complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d  heard about it.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common  Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!

Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who‚Äôd made this¬† decision could be described as ‚Äúselling‚ÄĚ my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free‚Ķ

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When we moved here nearly 16 years ago, our oldest was a bun in the oven.  We had heard that schools here were not the best, but that was not really a huge consideration for us, because, after all, we were only going to be here for 2 years max.  (snort)  (Really, you can stop laughing now.  :D)

By the time the our son was ready for kindergarten, our oldest daughter was¬†3, and daughter #2 was baking.¬† One of the things I’ll never forget was going into my son’s kindergarten class and watching plane hit the World Trade Center’s Tower #2.¬† We didn’t have a home computer then, and we didn’t watch tv in the morning.¬† So, that event was news to me.

The terrorist attack wasn’t the reason we ended up homeschooling.

Kindergarten was by-in-large relatively uneventful.¬† Sure, we had the normal kid stuff and the attempted labeling of our child by the school district.¬† After all, if they get their hands sticky¬†at that age, they aren’t supposed to want to stop the activity to clean their hands, right?¬† The desire to have clean hands surely signaled something was wrong with him, of course (can you hear my sarcasm?).

First grade came, along with the¬†playground bullying, and¬†along with a teacher selected with help of the kindergarten teacher, as a means of attempting to match as best as possible a teacher to my child whereby personalities would mesh.¬† One of the defining criteria was her approach to homework; in that she didn’t believe that 1st graders should have regular homework.

Let me back up a minute.  I grew up in a public school home.  My father started out as an elementary school teacher; worked his way into Elementary School Principal, and eventually Superintendent of Schools.  When he retired a few years ago, he had spent 40 years in the same district; 36 of those (iir) as Superintendent.

As of this writing, my oldest brother is also the Superintendent of Schools in a district, and 3 of my other siblings are certified teachers.

I am no stranger to public schools, and have a lot of knowledge of child development myself. When my dad started teaching, the big debate was over whether or not to introduce pencils in kindergarten (yes, really). Fast forward 30 years, and the debate in my mind was whether or not regular homework was necessary in 1st grade. I clearly fell on the side of homework at this age being ridiculous.

I was pleased, of course, to have found a teacher who had a similar philosophy.  We had zone-exempted to this school (this means that because this school was not the school we were zoned for, we had to get special permission to have our kid(s) enrolled, and there was no bus service available to us), and one of the reasons we chose to pursue this school was because of a more relaxed approach to matching students to teachers.  Or at least that was our understanding.

As a mother who was determined to be involved, I was at school for several hours, several times a week.  I packed up my two girls, snacks and activities for them to do, and off we went.

From the beginning of school, I was watchful.¬† I was aware of things going on that I wasn’t keen on, but tried to suspend judgment in favor of letting the professionals do their jobs.¬† I noticed a huge emphasis on testing, as part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Early on, I was struck by the irony. I had spent the bulk of my youth waiting to grow up and get away from school, so I could be independent and set my own schedule. It didn’t take a rocket scientists to make me aware that here I was, as an adult, being told again by the school what I could do and when I could do it. There was no freedom in anything. There was no freedom to take vacations that actually worked with my husband’s schedule. Sleeping in wasn’t a big deal, but taking naps was pretty essential, first when having babies, and then as chronic illness hit.

Sleep wasn’t the point. Freedom was the point. Ability to have actual parental sovereignty was the point.

Any kind of schedule had to revolve around the school and what it told us we must do. Child is sick? Too bad. Unless you have a doctor’s note (and who needs one for a cold that incapacitates¬†you? I mean, really? You don’t need antibiotics for a virus-it won’t help you anyway. What you do need, though, is rest!), you can’t miss more than 3 days of school (and a regular cold runs at least 7 days) without one, or else you get marked truant for those days. At the time, kids were allowed 10 days of missed¬†school a year. Any more than that, and you would be subject to court, and the possibility that CYFD(Child, Youth, and Family Department) could actually come and take custody of your children. WTH???

We spent both of those years being sick, all of us. Apparently, we hadn’t been exposed to as many germs as we needed to be, and since parents had to send their kids to school sick, every one else got it, too. The threat of having my children removed from the home for missing school too many times ensured that we continued the vicious cycle of sending kids to school sick.

After a lunchroom incident at some point in the year, I was pretty well convinced it was time to start homeschooling.  By this time, we had our own personal home computer, and through my volunteer work, I was in contact with a group of mothers around the country (and even a few in other countries) who were homeschooling.  I signed up for the list several months before the new school year, so I could ask questions and learn. 

I think it helped, too, that my¬†good friend at time (who used to live across the street from us before we moved) had been homeschooling her kids from the beginning, and they were about 5 years older than my kids.¬† Her youngest daughter and my oldest daughter are just a few months apart, and¬†remain best friends, even though we now live over an hour away from each other.¬† She loaned me some books, and a friend of my mother’s, actually, mailed me some materials on home education.

The first two years, although my state didn’t require it, we chose to go with Clonlara, a program in Ann Arbor, Mi, that also had a physical campus. This friend had used Clonlara¬†for years and years, and another friend of my mother’s was one of the contact teachers, and was also involved with the same volunteer organization.¬† We were able to choose her as our contact teacher, and I finally felt comfortable, knowing she would “get” our parenting style and our philosophys, particular as they pertained to child development.

Clonlara offered the kind of support we (well,*I*) needed at the time. They provided us with a contact teacher and a skills guide. The “Why Choose Clonlara”¬†page does a good job of explaining how they support parents. If I recall, we started that first year enrolling one as a second grader and starting our oldest daughter in kindgarten.

As a new homeschooling family, the pressure is immense. There is pressure you have from others (including but not limited to: family, friends, people you know from school, and comments you get while doing your grocery and other shopping with children in tow) and pressure you feel as the weight of the responsibility hits you.

You worry about all kinds of things-¬†you worry about the education they will get- will they be able to keep up?¬† Can they learn to read without being taught in school?¬† Will they have the opportunity to learn all the same stuff like they would get in school?¬† What about socialization (as in, how on earth will they do it if¬† they aren’t around kids their own ages?)? Am I qualified to teach my kids?

I won’t go into answering those questions now, because I believe they are entitled to their own posts.¬† Since this will be our 9th year homeschooling, you might even be able to guess the answer to the last question.¬† ūüėܬ† Or maybe the post on that topic will surprise you!

Fears and questions aside, for us, the perks faaaaaaaaaaar outweigh any kind of reasoning to send our kids to formal school of any kind. I won’t lie and tell you it’s been a piece of cake.¬† I won’t tell you there aren’t times when I want to pull my hair out.¬† I won’t tell you there aren’t times (when, in fact, usually every year around January/February we hit this point) when I wonder why I’m doing it, and whether or not it would be better to have a house that is cleaner and less attitude from the kids (because yes, the house would be cleaner, but the kids are still going to have attitude, and probably more, with the stress of the school environment combined with extra work, etc).

The¬†thing is,¬†as parents, we are going to have these moments regardless.¬† Well, we will if we’re conscientious.¬† We’re going to be evaluating and re-evaluating.¬† At least when you are actually in charge, you have the option to change course if something isn’t working the way you had hoped.

There is nothing better than having the ability to research something and then have the ability to drive the boat; getting to where you want to go, and making course corrections and taking side trips along the way as you see fit.

Check out the Homeschooling page for the upcoming collection of posts and resources!

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