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Author Topic: Let's be Thankful  (Read 9178 times)
optimist
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« on: May 24, 2010, 02:44:18 PM »

Let's be Thankful for what we have: an excellent school system with dedicated administrators, wonderful teachers, and passionate parents in a wonderful community.

I've seen a lot of postings on this forum that are very negative toward our schools.  And, I don't disagree with many of the comments.  Yes, sometimes if feels like District parents aren't receiving a lot of communication from the school - the transition to the Charter school could have been more transparent to those in the community.

And, yes, some of the comments on Mr. Dunton's blog were inappropriate.  However - instead of reacting so negatively to them, perhaps they should make us stop and think about the underlying message.  Complaining, accusing, and perpetuating myths are not effective ways to create change.

One thing his blog says is, "How are the children today?"  Let's take a few minutes to reflect on that, and be thankful.  Here are some of my observations:

1 - There is a great sense of community in our schools.  This is evidenced not only by the multi-age classrooms, but by other, deliberate structures in place to teach our kids about what it means to live in a small community.  My child's classroom has a "buddy" classroom.  In the buddy classroom, which has older kids in it, there have been several opportunities for the older kids to teach the younger kids (about salmon hatching, etc).  Also, the older kids come and read to my child's classroom on occasion.  What a great way to encourage everyone to help one another.

2 - We have a beautiful facility.  Nowhere on this forum have I seen comments about the mural that was just finished in the grade school.  It looks GREAT, and my child has been so proud of his contribution, which will be on the walls for him and others to enjoy throughout his primary education.  Great job to all who helped with this beautiful project!

3 - There are so many opportunities that other schools simply don't have.  My child went on SIX field trips this year.  SIX.  I cannot name another parent that I know in another school district who's children had even half that many opportunities.  And, there are 24 children in my child's classroom.  Other districts have classrooms numbering in the mid-30s... and it shows in the engagement of the students.

4 - We have great athletic opportunities for kids in grade school.  The Corbett Youth Sports group spends a lot of volunteer time to make sure that everyone - even kindergartners - has the opportunity to participate in all kinds of sports.  And, the wrestling team puts on a fantastic wrestling camp in the early Spring that my child absolutely loved.  Thank you to those involved for your time and care.

5 - Children have the chance to excel.  When I hear about a high school teacher coming into the grade school to teach high school level math to 5th and 6th graders, and I personally meet a freshman who is taking, and succeeding in, AP Calculus, I have to applaud the approach, because clearly something is working.  (I took AP Calculus as a Senior in high school, and was considered in the most advanced level in my grade - and, it was challenging.  Kudos to the kids who are tackling this subject, and others, at such a young age).  I love the approach that my kids can advance as fast as they are ready for, and that their learning won't be slowed by their peers - or, conversely, that they can have extra time to master a subject, and aren't moved ahead if they aren't ready.

6 - We have a great music program.  Music is so important for kids - and studies have shown a clear link between musical success and mathematical success.  There are so many districts who don't have a music program at all - ours is thriving.  Oh, and congratulations to the high school band for taking first in State - what an awesome accomplishment!!

There are so many other things to be thankful for... let's take a few minutes to celebrate the good in our schools, because there is a LOT of good to celebrate.
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corbettfamily
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2010, 09:16:52 PM »

Optimist, you said: " Complaining, accusing, and perpetuating myths are not effective ways to create change." May I say that neither is putting our heads in the sand and waving our butts to the tune of people that never address parent's very REAL concerns and would rather people just hush up than really solve issues. ( What myths? What does that even mean anyway? ) Maybe you mean myths as in the mysterious posts Mr. Dunton puts up and down on his blog or the myth of how our high school numbers are REALLY arrived at! ( Thanks Open Door, Moms and Dads that home schooled and Phonics Factory not to mention all the AP tests taken and retaken to gain the golden newsweek statue. ) There are definitely two sides to this coin and the biggest problem I see now and have felt from the School Board and from Admin is taht we aren't supposed to get involved if we don't agree with only the positives.  (How many people have withdrawn their kids from Corbett Schools in the last year? Do you know? both public and Charter side? ) And how many more have been told that their transfers would be signed if they wanted to leave cause this wasn't a good fit. How many letters have been submitted to the school board and how many weird cases of older kids doing completely inappropriate things with younger kids? They aren't myths. I know they are facts. I know the kids and parents that feel completely thrown under the bus for speaking out anout things we shoudl be solving not sweeping under the carpet and Do you think these parents and their stories and heartache and the way they have been treated is something to be thankful for? ( Thankful it isn't you maybe.)  I am thankful for the parents that brave the labels given so openly from the school's superintendent in emails and on his blog - they have been passed around and they are so insulting to parents.  CSB citizen's advisory committee is about change and doing it effectively and I will be on it. ABSOLUTELY ABOUT TIME. As parents we all should expect and demand school boards be able to answer questions instead of going into silent mode. ( Which is what ours does to the letters/calls and pleas at board meetings for explanation. ) What happens? NOTHING. No explanation or newsletter or email out to district parents to explain all these things they are doing. we just hear about it after they do it in some letter about ships headed for a rocky shore or some other such nonsense and then we get to read nasty attitude from an inappropriate person in an inappropriate position. ( Which is many people's opinions after reading Dunton's blog over. ) Why wouldn't you want to stand up for other people/kids in the community and not make people feel bad for trying to understand all the cahnges but just go all pollyanna and look at the cup that is half full and forget about the kids taht aren't getting what THEY need.

If you want to only focus on the positive - then there are a lot of places that people can do that like at Corbett School board meetings where Mr. Dunton asks people to come or write letters to talk about how great their eductation under him was. The problme with that si thtat the changes ( liek the large grade blends and imaginative learning ) were NOT PART OF THEIR EXPERIENCES. It's great your an optimist. But even an optimist needs to take in some reality sometiems. Here is some of that that comes to mind 1. My kids go to the library only once in a while ( its been weeks and weeks right now ) because we can't afford a librarian, right? But the school board is going to approve giving Mr. Dunton $130,000 as a discount from the rent on the school for his Charter program classes? ( I read that here on this forum and checked it out - that is real! ) THat is more than a small problem with me and when without public outcry our school board voted to block kids coming into our pubic school ( money in our bucket vs Charter ) to preserve seats for the Charter - We can do better than the board we have! 2. Imaginative Learning is what again? Oh right - we have to go online to learn what the school is doing wiht the kids and our schools. I mean we were doing fine before the Charter/IL ( except in managing money because I guess we had to have a Charter school ?)  3. Self-directed learning programs are great for the kids that do great in self-directed learning programs. ( The rest are going to school ... but being taught at home by their parents if they are lucky!. ) This also falsely gives the school credit for all our time teaching our kids at home for where they aren't getting it at school. but what is our choice? Leave or pad their numbers in support because we won't let our kids fail? 4. Ask to see what you can expect your kid to learn next year. Oh right - there isn't anything to see. You never know where your kid should be and We should NOT put our collective head in the sand and ignore these real problems for these REAL kids and families so that our school board/dunton/trani/schools don't lose face. A lot of the things going on that are most disturbing to us now are happening because we weren't paying attention earlier. I hope even more peopel read this forum and understand why there is cause for alarm and then get involved too. ONly then can we all be optimists and trust our schools and school board really are on our kids side. Yes there are great things about Corbett Schools which is why i care so much about it. Why are we changing it? That would be my quesiton. It's weird. It smells wrong and when soemthing smells wrong i won't drink it and I sure the heck dont' want kids left to drink it because some things are great so this will be too.
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optimist
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2010, 08:19:31 AM »

Oh... Corbettfamily.  I'm sorry that you only reacted to the one single line in my post that was negative.  I truly think there is a place for the concerns about our school that many parents and community members have - for goodness sakes, there are a dozen topics on this very forum for those feelings.  They are valid.  You feel that the school is letting you down.

I'm simply trying to create a place for the other side of the story.  Is our school system perfect?  Nope.  I'm not saying it is.  I'm not saying that I don't have some of the same frustrations as others who post here.  I do.  I'm simply trying to create a place where some of the good can be celebrated - because there is a lot of good, too.

I ask my son every day what was the best part of his day (and I ask about the worst part of his day too... I'm not just an optimist).  He always has something to tell me about a project he is working on, friend he is playing with, teacher who complimented him, etc.  He is PROUD of his school, and proud of his accomplishments - I am proud of him, and proud to be a part of this community and school as well.

So... please, if anyone else sees things to be thankful for, let's tell that story too.
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corbettfamily
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2010, 09:34:02 AM »

Optimist: " I truly think there is a place for the concerns about our school that many parents and community members have - for goodness sakes, there are a dozen topics on this very forum for those feelings.  " Kudos to you for sharing your positive spirit and love of the schools. I do apologize if I over reacted to your post.  I just meant that there is already plenty of other places where the positives are thick about our schools as mentioned and this feels like one place where peopel are being honest about things that need work.  I post in response to areas where the school ACTUALLY IS letting people down and it isn't just feelings or a bunch of words on this webh site and then the schools and dunton continue to downplay their frustrationss. We teach our kids to be grateful in this life. That includes for all that is right in the school too so you would be off base thinking all these parents just live angry negative lives teaching pessimistic behavior.  ( We love Mr. Kilgore and our music program and for the most part our very hard working teachers and PTA members et.c  ) I also woudl hope you don't skip about whistling all day as that would be sjust as weird of an assumption about you and your life based on yoru positive attitudes. I wonder though would you support a recall petition for the board members that are clearly makeing decisions pro-charter to our own community school's loss, that I menitoned? Or woudl you just want to keep being postiive without working to put in place a board that stood up for us? Woudl you want to be on the advisory committee? Have you added your name yet? Being postiive is great but that alone doesn't make things better. There are so many things right now that are not going right that I am not sure i can only focus on your list without wondering how much you really care about those families that are being derailed and those kids. What if it was you or your son or daughter with these experiences? How would you feel if you read your post and were in the middle of finding a new school because yours wasn't on your side? I just wonde.r how you woruld react to your list. That's all I am saying here.
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optimist
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2010, 07:00:38 PM »

I have another item I'm thankful for...

Thank you to the PTA.  You are the un-sung heros at our school.  My son LOVED the bounce houses as the reward for the jog-a-thon, and the ice cream social on the last day of school was also a huge hit!  Thank you for the time you spend in making our school a better place for the kids!
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bull
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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2010, 05:25:58 PM »

Optimism is a state of mind, not a force that creates progress, and sitting still with a smile on your face and your hands folded peacefully will not overcome an unwillingness on the part of school leadership to address parental concerns. You say "complaining, accusing, and perpetuating myths are not effective ways to create change" and yet the school leaders have indicated on several levels that they have no intention of changing anything so what are we left with? Either get off the ship or convince the captain to start bailing water but playing the flute while it goes down helps nothing.

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."
- C. S. Lewis
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2010, 06:05:48 PM »

Yes, thinking positively is good and promotes healthiness, I'm all for it...but there can't be balance with out addressing the negative. You have to talk about the negative so you can clean it out and move forward.     ying & yang 

There is definitely NO balance in the CSD and it's SCHOOL BOARD. The decisions they are making for our school supports an agenda that has been in the making for years and is now surfacing and being crammed down our throats!! An agenda that (thus far) is NOT beneficial to the community or our students. Obviously solutions must be made, and sacrifices to be had as a result of the poor financial management of the school budget. BUT now they want to add debt on top of debt to create space for MORE students to filter into the Charter or maybe add another charter at Springdale?!? 
*(Oh and all of that was just supposed to be a rumor???...hmmm now it's coming true just like a bunch of other "rumors" in the past?)* 
How can we ever TRUST these school officials again...HuhHuhHuh?  Sometimes I think these school board meetings are just "lip service" because by law they have to be made public. All the while rolling their eyes, gaveling anyone who may say something "negative" and "hmph'ing" genuinely concerned community members! GROW UP!

In my oppinion, I believe the ball has been set in motion and they are going to just do what they purpose to do whether we like it or not. SAD! Like someone mentioned in a different subject on this forum, why didn't Dunton just fight for the 170 and negotiate for those students since some Corbett students TRANSFER from Corbett to attend Reynolds anyway? Seems that would have solved a great deal....

It's sad and disappointing all the way around.
Maybe the people who don't like what is happening and don't live in Corbett can just leave and go somewhere else...but those of us who LIVE out here need to fight for our schools even at the risk of being looked at as "NEGATIVE".  Sad
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stongeastwind
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2010, 07:55:05 PM »

I could laugh about the people that think that things are going well in the CSD and charter school.  When I read this originally I was thinking that this person really doesn't know what the agenda is of the current CSD admin and Charter school admin...

To clarify the points I will post them and what this really means for our kids.

1 - There is a great sense of community in our schools.  This is evidenced not only by the multi-age classrooms, but by other, deliberate structures in place to teach our kids about what it means to live in a small community.  My child's classroom has a "buddy" classroom.  In the buddy classroom, which has older kids in it, there have been several opportunities for the older kids to teach the younger kids (about salmon hatching, etc).  Also, the older kids come and read to my child's classroom on occasion.  What a great way to encourage everyone to help one another.

What this really is saying: Teachers let "older" students do their job and if the student doesn't get it (or the "buddy" is a "bully") the student can move on to the next set of blended classrooms to be shuffled through until they are deemed a problem and moved out of the school.

2 - We have a beautiful facility.  Nowhere on this forum have I seen comments about the mural that was just finished in the grade school.  It looks GREAT, and my child has been so proud of his contribution, which will be on the walls for him and others to enjoy throughout his primary education.  Great job to all who helped with this beautiful project!

What this really is saying: It is a nice school that is paid for with public dollars and we should privatize it so a few people can make a bunch of money and not do what they should when running a school. 

Kids should be decorating the facility so that they have pride in their school and have ownership in their surroundings.  Go and read the book "The Giver" and let me know if this book haunts you.  If it does you may have had a teacher that cares about how not only you have learned how to read but also prepared your mind for the real world.  If you have read this book you already know what I mean and already want what is best for your children along with society...

3 - There are so many opportunities that other schools simply don't have.  My child went on SIX field trips this year.  SIX.  I cannot name another parent that I know in another school district who's children had even half that many opportunities.  And, there are 24 children in my child's classroom.  Other districts have classrooms numbering in the mid-30s... and it shows in the engagement of the students.

What this really meant to the school: The kids had a great time at the various locations and the teachers have received overtime pay.  Wait, you mean when a person is paid salary (remember we are in a recession) that they get overtime too.  That is time and a half by the way.  I am in a salary position and when I work 55 hours in a given week I get paid for my regular 40.  It makes me think that the teachers have forgotten that summers off, overtime pay, excellent benefits, no accountability, and other perks are not enough for their time.  I am sorry if I have offended anyone here reality stinks, but you already know this...

4 - We have great athletic opportunities for kids in grade school.  The Corbett Youth Sports group spends a lot of volunteer time to make sure that everyone - even kindergartners - has the opportunity to participate in all kinds of sports.  And, the wrestling team puts on a fantastic wrestling camp in the early Spring that my child absolutely loved.  Thank you to those involved for your time and care.

What this means- CYS will disappear unless it is sponsored and run by parents.  High school sports as we have known it will be cut and the administration would love to put those extra dollars to better use in their personal bank accounts.  It seems that things are as we think they have really been.  Are they hiring???

5 - Children have the chance to excel.  When I hear about a high school teacher coming into the grade school to teach high school level math to 5th and 6th graders, and I personally meet a freshman who is taking, and succeeding in, AP Calculus, I have to applaud the approach, because clearly something is working.  (I took AP Calculus as a Senior in high school, and was considered in the most advanced level in my grade - and, it was challenging.  Kudos to the kids who are tackling this subject, and others, at such a young age).  I love the approach that my kids can advance as fast as they are ready for, and that their learning won't be slowed by their peers - or, conversely, that they can have extra time to master a subject, and aren't moved ahead if they aren't ready.

Fact: If your child excels they likely transferred into the school, sorry.  There are sharp Corbett kids but the model will be pinching them out shortly.  The new model is that if you can't succeed you should find a different place to occupy space. 

6 - We have a great music program.  Music is so important for kids - and studies have shown a clear link between musical success and mathematical success.  There are so many districts who don't have a music program at all - ours is thriving.  Oh, and congratulations to the high school band for taking first in State - what an awesome accomplishment!!

What they are saying: If this could be cut to make the school completely charter the band would be playing for meth addicts under the Burnside bridge (no offense to meth addicts).  I was trying a little humor since everything coming from the CSD school board has been: eye rolling, hand slamming, no-more-public-commenting, and everything else to make the school a private entity. 

Most people laugh off these comments but just wait until what is coming shortly.  The school board knows that a storm of unhappy people are getting together and that the election of new people is not far away.  Charlie and Maureen "sis" will be voted out and everything that needs to be voted on to make the entire school charter will need to happen before they are gone, otherwise it will likely be shot down. 

This is a community effort to get anyone who nods their head to the current administration.  I want what is best for everyone's children and it will take a huge shake up in the board to make this happen.  There is a reason that the Charter board just does what they are told.  We need an elected board that is acting on the behalf of our kids. 
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optimist
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2010, 04:07:07 PM »

Strongeastwind... please do not twist my comments into "what this is really saying."

Really, what I'm truly saying is that we have a lot to be thankful for, and all I was trying to do is create a bit of balance on this board, which is primarily a litany of complaints about our school.  There are things that are less than perfect.  But, I maintain that there is also a lot of good.  So, let there be no mistake.  What I was really saying is:

My son is in a great school.
He is thriving.  He is engaged, participating in class, and excited about learning.
He has a fantastic teacher.
We love the "buddy" system, which helps give him confidence and a new way to learn.
There are wonderful parent (and grandparent) volunteers in his classroom helping.  And, before anyone says that the teachers should be doing all the work of the parent volunteers - try volunteering.  It is rewarding, and enriching for the students as well.

Are there issues?  Yes.  Show me any organization, school, business or otherwise that does not have them.  They all do.
Are people upset?  Yes.  You have every right to your opinion, just as I have the right to mine.

Please don't disrespect me, "bull," by assuming that I'm sitting idly by "sitting on my hands with a smile on my face." 
I'm making a difference where I believe it counts.  In my son's life at home, and in his classroom.  I believe there is a lot to be thankful for - I see what is going on in other school systems.  This one works for me, and for my family. 

I'm sorry if it does not work for you.

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Victoria
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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2010, 04:34:53 PM »

Hello,
For all of you posting your frustrations, and those of you who aren't but want to, here is the Corbett Policy and Procedure manual site:  http://policy.osba.org/corbett.  In this manual you will find the procedure for filing a complaint against anything from texts books, to the blended classes (that did not work well for one of mine, but worked fine for the other) to a teacher, Administrator or even a Board member.  You will also find how to get your child into testing for an IEP, what actions need to be taken prior to your child being asked to find a "better fit" for their schooling, how to approach the School Board regarding any issue (it has to be in writing, submitted,) etc.
I think some of us feel thwarted every way we turn trying to get the experience for our child that Optimistic has gotten for hers.  The way to get this for our child is to understand the rules governing our schools and working within the system instead of continuing to be shut out.  Right now we need to be showing up at Board meetings and letting our Board members know what we think about starting a second charter before this one has been proven and settled in.  What we feel about the fact they have applied for a million dollar loan to fix up the Springdale school when we are facing a $600,000 hole to start next year with and the State is projecting a 15-20% cut in funding for the 2011-2012 year.  The vote to go to year round high school is being made by the first part of January, how do you feel about this?  (To fit in the additional 300 HS students they want to bring in to another charter this is going to be a complicated schedule.)  Find a portion of the manual that pertains to your situation and teach others what is in that portion.  Lets see if we can all end up feeling a bit more in control of our child's education and happier with our schools.
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stongeastwind
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2010, 09:19:30 AM »

Sorry that I hurt your feelings. 

The point of view that you post is not the same for the entire school (either CSD or charter).  Some of the teachers have issues (just like employees in any large corporations) but overall I am seeing a top down leadership that makes me fearful when the school board meets (charter school board was hand picked and meets mostly behind closed doors).  From talking with a few of the open-minded CSD board members (not the ones that roll their eyes or just stare downward) the agenda changes frequently (the most controversial topics left off until the last minute) and the nights when the frustrated parents turn out in droves public comments are limited or not allowed at all.

I am glad that your child is enjoying an enriching, fulfilling, and rewarding time at Corbett.  My kids are stuck with the same disgruntled teacher (since they are in multi-age classes) that are going through the motions.  I have been working at home each night with both kids trying to keep them up to speed.  All I ask for is my kids to be instructed and taught not just babysat by their "buddy" or the class bullies that I have had to talk with their parents since problems are not being confronted.

Enough of that...

There are a growing number of parents that want to see change from the top down and I am one of them.  Tori has been a thorn in their side which is a sad statement since administration and board members should have been leading the charge.  When the board meets I expect a lot of controversial votes to be passed which will be for the detriment of the school for a long time. 

What can we do to make sure that Corbett has a chance to get back to original greatness? 

- New school board members and the "bobble-heads" got to go.  The board members that need to go are: Maureen "sis" Childs, Mark Hyzer, Brian James, and Charlie O'Neil.  There are a few others that are on the fence but they haven't "rolled over" enough to warrant the public attention yet.  I do want to add that I like the board members as people and have talked with them and they are well spoken people.  They have good-intentions mostly but their votes, preparation, and actions have spoken how they represent the administration instead of the community and what is best for our children.

- Voting Trani in as superintendent felt great and I was all for him to lead the school in a new and better direction.  After having him say that there would never be an all-charter Corbett school and then a few short weeks later said in a board meeting that an all-charter school would be a good thing makes me wonder if I should believe a single word he says. 

- Stop the school from being political.  Not the in democratic, republican, or dictatorship sense.  The administration and principal of the charter are not being truthful to their intent and to me it is obvious.  If all of the kids were successful I would not be writing anything in this posting section and we all would be quiet.  That is not the case here on the post, in the schools, at board meetings, and when we talk with other parents.  We have a problem and part of it is a failure to communicate and the other part is a failure to do the job for which they were hired to do. 

Optimist, it was not my intent to "twist" your words as you mentioned.  You are really in the minority and most of the people in the school do not feel the way that you do.  If it made a difference I would be happy to bring graduates of Corbett in the past two years that think the school was a joke (current students as well).  I could also bring kids that thought it was great.  CSD is a public school and needs to teach to 100% of the kids and not just the top 20% of any class.  If you did some research you would also learn that of the top 20% of the last three years of kids had 60% of them transfer in from private, home-school, or other high achieving programs.  What does that say about our kids academic performance and how far behind the curve are they really?

Yes, I am frustrated and if I had the money or waivers I would be gone in an instant.  If Corbett gave me the money to spend on my kids own education I would be gone and wouldn't care about the school or all of these posts.  Unfortunately the lottery hasn't hit, waivers are not going to happen, and I have to be another angry parent not happy about how the education is doled out.  Now I have to get to work to afford to keep buying lottery tickets at "Big Bears" and hope my numbers come in.     

   


Strongeastwind... please do not twist my comments into "what this is really saying."

Really, what I'm truly saying is that we have a lot to be thankful for, and all I was trying to do is create a bit of balance on this board, which is primarily a litany of complaints about our school.  There are things that are less than perfect.  But, I maintain that there is also a lot of good.  So, let there be no mistake.  What I was really saying is:

My son is in a great school.
He is thriving.  He is engaged, participating in class, and excited about learning.
He has a fantastic teacher.
We love the "buddy" system, which helps give him confidence and a new way to learn.
There are wonderful parent (and grandparent) volunteers in his classroom helping.  And, before anyone says that the teachers should be doing all the work of the parent volunteers - try volunteering.  It is rewarding, and enriching for the students as well.

Are there issues?  Yes.  Show me any organization, school, business or otherwise that does not have them.  They all do.
Are people upset?  Yes.  You have every right to your opinion, just as I have the right to mine.

Please don't disrespect me, "bull," by assuming that I'm sitting idly by "sitting on my hands with a smile on my face." 
I'm making a difference where I believe it counts.  In my son's life at home, and in his classroom.  I believe there is a lot to be thankful for - I see what is going on in other school systems.  This one works for me, and for my family. 

I'm sorry if it does not work for you.


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bull
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2011, 08:51:16 PM »

Optimism and a $1 bill will get you a regular coffee at Starbucks.
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