Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Stay tuned!

Stay tuned to Random Thoughts on TPS, we are about to begin updating things here. Many may not like what we have to say, but the future of our children's education depends on it! Would you sit back and pretend you did not know what was going on in order to save your child from being a target or would you stand up and be a voice so that all the children received the education they are legally obligated to receive? It is not an easy position to be in, be we feel that the future of all children is worth far more than money!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lack of communication flows over to transportation

As I stated in the previous post, I am back to dealing with the Toledo Public School system. For the most part there have been no problems other than the typical ones that are to be expected. I still find it very frustrating that the schools do not communicate well with the parents and have been told time and time again that my child is just going through a stage and it will pass. Although I do not like blanket type answers, I have grown used to them so they no longer bother me the way they used to.

But this post is not about the schools or their inability to communicate, it is about the transportation department and how their lack of communication and refusal to change this has gone past the point of being ridiculous.

We have gone through several bus changes since last fall. This is due partially to a move to a new home, but for the most part because of changes made by the transportation department.

When we moved, although we provided legal documentation to the school in a timely manner, it took them almost two weeks before they finally changed my childs bus pick up and drop off to our new address. During the two weeks of waiting we would have to take our child to our old address to be picked up in the morning and then go back to the old address in the afternoon to get them off the bus. For the most part it was not a problem but if something would have happened and I would not have been able to get to our old address on time in the afternoons there would have been nowhere for my child to go to seek shelter from bad weather or from being harmed if a person who meant to harm my child were nearby. They did eventually get things straightened out so that the bus was coming to our new address.

But shortly after they got that part straightened out my childs regular driver went on a leave, putting a substitute driver on the route. The first morning with the substitute driver we were standing at the end of the drive only for the bus to drive right past with no indication that they were slowing down or even stopping, however, they did stop at the very next house up the road. I called the transportation department and was told about the substitute driver, given an apology and assured that the bus would stop the next day, but was requested to take my child to school, which I did. The next morning brought the same results; no indication of slowing down or stopping from the bus even though my child was waiting at the end of the drive. Once again, I called transportation, but this time I was told that they actually had no record for my child to be picked up or dropped off at our new address, and after entering the name I was told that they actually had a pick up/drop off registered for my child back at our old address.

We did eventually get that straightened out, but it was not the end of the stress and frustrations. My childs bus pick up time in the morning most recently has varied from them being picked up one day at 7:20 AM to being picked up the next day at 6:58 AM. After a lengthy conversation with someone at the transportation department yesterday I discovered that my childs bus route has once again been split which has altered the morning pick up time by more than 20 minutes, but I received no advanced warning or notice of the changes. When I came right out and asked if it were possible to receive notification of these types of changes I was told by the person on the other end of the line that they do not do that.

So once again we have a division of Toledo Public Schools that makes changes or decisions that alter things but they are not willing to communicate this information to the people that it affects. If we lived in town this might not be that bad of a thing, but we are actually out in the country and 20 or more minutes from my childs school, almost to the furthest point possible away from this schools boundaries. So walking or riding a bicycle to school when the bus comes 20 or more minutes earlier than expected and you miss it is not an option. And I am not always home when this child is getting on the bus, so if I am already gone for the day this child has no way of getting to school unless I turn around and come all the way back home and take them, making me late for where ever it was that I needed to go.

Toledo Public Schools has an automated system in place that calls parents with announcements pertaining to their childs school, what would be so difficult about using that same system to place phone calls alerting parents to changes in their childs bus routes? If the automated system can be used to call the parents of children at a specific school, why can it not be used to contact the parents of children that ride specific bus routes?

The careless attitude of the transportation department is in serious need of an overhaul ASAP! They feel that it is completely acceptable to inconvenience parents by altering their students bus route with no notice or warning. Yet I am certain that if it were not possible for a student who has missed their bus because of an unknown bus route alteration to get to school, the absence would go against the student when in fact it is not the students fault.

One year later

Obviously I have not been here to post or update in quite some time. For those of you that have visited regularly, I do apologize. There just has not been anything that I have wanted talk about as far as TPS goes. I had a period of time that I did not have to deal with TPS, but it was short lived.

As you already know Bill Harner is not the permanent TPS Superintendant, he turned it down and John Foley was given the contract and position. I do think that this was a smart move for TPS!

Debra Barnett stepped down from the school board and Jack Ford was appointed to fill her seat until the next election in November. Although Mr. Ford stated he had no intention of actually running for the seat for a 4 year term, he did end up running as well as Lisa Sobecki, Cheryl Catlin, Ted Jobe, Harold Mosley, and Chris Myers. In November Jack Ford and Lisa Sobeki were chosen by the voters to 4 year terms on the school board to replace the seats that were vacated by Ms. Barnett and Larry Sykes.

We have also recently heard that Robert Torres is stepping down from the TPS school board because of his acceptance of a job offer in another town. We'll soon find out the names of the applicants to be considered for appointment to his seat on the school board.

From my perspective things at TPS have drastically calmed down in the past year. I will not pinpoint the changes on any specific event because I feel that they have happened because of a combination of things. Many feel that the fact that Mr. Sykes is no longer a member of the school board is the main reason for the change, others feel that the early addition of Mr. Ford to fill Ms. Barnett's seat have been the biggest reason for the change. I do not know why the changes have happened, but I do know that I will not complain. For the first time in a very long time it feels as if things for TPS and the school board are on the right track! Lets just hope it stays that way!

My next post will be a little less nice, but not at all related to the school board!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bill Harner voted new TPS Superintendent

Unfortunately I haven't done much in the area of "research" other than that that has already been posted here, but my only reservation at this point about Mr. Harner is the fact that he, as most of the others that applied, does not have much consistency in his previous jobs where Mr. Foley has served 30 years with TPS which to me shows loyalty to the school district. I would hope that Mr Harner would take this chance and show some consistency for himself and for our childrens sakes. I would like to be the first to wish him the bes of luck if he is indeed appointed as the new Superintendent.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

First full gradecards

Since I've updated you on some of the things with the kids since switching their schools, I figured this was a good time to give you another update.

Today we received the first full quarter grade cards for both kids from their new schools.

For my youngest child, who had been an A/B student in the years prior to last year and the first quarter of this year at TPS, I am THRILLED to say that they are once again an A/B student and their grade card has the following comments from the teachers:
Band: Consistent worker (although I must note that band grades were good at TPS)
Reading: Good study and work habits
Math: Pleasant and hard working
Social Studies: Actively participates in class
English: Excellent effort
Science: Works cooperatively with others, Actively participates in class

This was the child whose teachers consistently told us that the problems and bad grades laid with our child all of last year and the part of this year that they attended TPS. I never once told the teachers that I didn't believe this, but in my heart I doubted them simply because of previous years teachers and grades. I still do not believe that my child was 100% innocent, because I know what a little turd they can be at times, but if the problem laid within my child I thoroughly believe that they and I would still be experiencing the same problems at the new school, which we obviously are not. Their GPA from the 1st quarter with the TPS grades figured in was 2.667, their GPA this quarter with only grades from the new school is currently sitting at 3.643. I am 100% positive changing this childs school was the best thing for them!

My second child, however, isn't doing anywhere near as well. Now, I did not pull this child out of TPS because I felt they were being graded unfairly by their teachers, I pulled this child out of TPS because of the outright discrimination that I seen and experienced with my own eyes, and because of the fact that the principal was unwilling to deal with a child who assaulted my child on the school bus. This being said, I did not expect this child to receive outstanding grades, mostly because they have never had outstanding grades. So opening their report card and seeing poor grades didn't come as a total shock to me. The one thing that I will say is that this child is under EXTREME limits and is seriously grounded because of their poor grades and sadly, if the grades do not change immediately, this child is currently at risk of having to repeat this grade next year. I am not ok with this and we are having a meeting at their school with their teachers this week. Even though the grades haven't really changed since changing schools, the severe amount of detentions and suspensions have stopped. I don't excuse this childs grades, nor do I approve of them, but any type of changes with this child, since day one, have always been done slowly with baby steps, and I do truly feel that we have, in some ways, conquered one problem and are now moving on to the next. I would have liked to have seen some improvement in the grade area though.

So, that's the latest update. Some good news, some not so good news. I'm semi happy, once the grades of child #2 come up I'll be more happy, and if I find out that this grade isn't going to have to be repeated for said child I'll be even happier!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New Website Draws Criticism

I know that I spoke the other day of the newly created website by Ms. Fisher and Mr. Torres, but I had to bring your attention to an article in today's Toledo Blade about it. Here are just a couple of excerpts from the article:
Board member Larry Sykes asked why the district and three other board members, including himself, were not made aware of its existence in advance of a public announcement that went out Monday night

"It's an elected official's Web site," Mr. Torres told Mr. Sykes. "It is directed toward my positions on education."

I'm sure that Ms. Fisher and Mr. Torres knew they would come upon this type of criticism when they created the site, but I still believe that with or without the entire board backing it, this site is genuinely needed! Hopefully the other board members will also realize the need for this site and join Ms. Fisher and Mr. Torres and show a little bit of unity among the board.

What I cannot believe is the fact that The Blade wrote an article showcasing this criticism! Is The Blade so against any type of improvement or feedback from parents and community members about TPS? It is blatantly obvious that people cannot speak their feelings openly at the board meetings, and most attempts to contact board members and administrators are futile, with exception of one or two. This website gives parents and community members the ability to post their thoughts and feelings, which is something that was way over due, in my opinion.

So check out the above mentioned Toledo Blade article and check out Talking Toledo Public Schools if you haven't already done so!
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Some updating

So, it's been almost a month since I've posted here and I do apologize. It is more and more difficult for me to address "problems" I see and hear about with TPS simply because it is no longer a part of my life.

There are a few things, however, that I thought I needed to post about.

The first is a website that Ms. Fisher and Mr. Torres have launched. Talking TPS allows us to "interact" with these two board members, giving them our thoughts about questions that they have put out to us. Although I do applaud Ms. Fisher and Mr. Torres for the site, I feel that it is not that much different that the "group" that Mr. Sykes, Ms. Barnett and Mr. Steele formed and is just another form of proof as to the split on the TPS board. I'd support the site more if it were a group effort rather, but that does not mean that I don't feel their website isn't something that is good. My hope is that all 5 board members will pay attention to what is being said by those that post their comments at the site.

The other thing is the Superintendent search. As there are many other sites that have posted information about the applicants, I will not take the time to post it here, but rather will send you to Glass City Jungle and Toledo Talk for starters. Both sites have all of the info that is currently available to the public about the applicants.

Sadly, I personally do not think that any of the candidates hold much promise for TPS, other than Mr. Foley. I think if those are the ones that we have to choose from, in the best interest of the schools, the best choice at this time would be to keep Mr. Foley on. My question is whether or not this was the true intention with this search. But I also can't help but wonder what "real" candidate would actually apply for this job knowing the burden that is going to be thrown at them the minute they take the position.

Just more proof for me that taking my children out of TPS was in all of our best interests! I'm so happy that I do not have to deal with any of this anymore. There is much less stress in my life these days, and I don't know about the rest of you, but less stress is always a good thing in my life!

And speaking of stress ;-) in case I don't get back here I'd like to wish each and every one of you that read this blog a VERY Safe and Happy Holiday Season! May your holidays be filled with joy and blessings and may you be surrounded by people that bring happiness into your life! May 2007 be a turn around year for TPS!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Kids new school update

And now that I've got the bus post out of the way, I thought I'd give you all an update on the kids and how they are doing in their new school.

My youngest child who went through heck and back at their previous TPS school is doing very well. For all of last school year (05-06) and the part of this school year that they went to TPS I kept hearing over and over again that it was my childs fault this was happening and that was happening, it was my childs fault they were doing so poorly in school grade wise, even though in thier prior school that had received almost all straight A's.

Since changing schools I am VERY happy to say that this child is once again getting awesome grades and is back to loving going to school every day. I get great reports from all of their teachers and on the mid quarter report that came home last week I read things like "actively participates in class", "good study and work habits", "pleasant and hard working", "self motivation is excellent", "consistant worker". Now tell me, if my child was such a "difficult" child at their last TPS school, why wouldn't I be hearing the same things in their new school? Instead, I'm hearing what I heard at the TPS school they last attended in the 2004-2005 school year.

I still will not say that my child was in no way at fault in their prior school, but I would love to walk into that school and show them the papers and reports that I have now and have them tell me that it was all my childs fault as they were saying. I see it more as a teaching problem and the fact that the teacher from last school year was a jerk, and then went to the teacher my child had this year and filled them with all of the negativity they felt towards my child last year. I witnessed it the night of open house, there was the teacher from last year talking to the teacher from this year, last years teacher looked up and seen me and my child walking down the hall, looked at this years teacher, put their hand up to their mouth so that I could not see what was being said, then this years teacher looked up at me and my child, said something to last years teacher, then they both walked into their respective classrooms. As soon as we walked into my childs classroom and seen their teacher you could literally feel the attitude.

My other child is also doing better, but not as good as I would like to see them doing. But as with the youngest child, school is no longer a hassle, they actually enjoy it. They are involved in a few different activities and feel as if they "fit in", which is a big change. They feel they are treated fairly by the administration and staff, which is a HUGE change.

What I feel is the big difference in their new school is the fact that this school literally takes the extra steps to assure a child understands what they are being taught. There is a period at the end of EVERY day, a full 45 minute class, where the students can use the time to work on homework, make sure they have everything they need to take home that day with them, and even go back to a teacher to get help with something they don't understand from that days class. At the very beginning of this class period they are asked and have to correctly answer one question from last years proficiency testing BEFORE they can move on to what it is they want to do. This type of environment supports learning and harbors the feeling that the staff cares about the students education. The teachers are in constant contact with the parents if there is something going on that requires their attention, they don't wait until a child is so far gone that the situation is virtually impossible to rectify, they are on top of it from the get go!

So, my suggestion to TPS would be to start changing the environment in the schools. Make it an environment of learning, make it an environment of support, make it an environment where the kids feel like they WANT to be there. Deal with the bullying, not only from their peers, but also from their teachers and staff. If kids see a teacher or staff member being a bully, they will take the attitude that "If a teacher can bully, then it's ok for me to". Yes, I know that kids will be kids, there are certain things that are simply going to happen, it's just part of life. But you need to know that we as parents KNOW our children, and if we see something just isn't quite right and we bring it to your attention, we're not doing it to cause problems, we're doing it to help our children and other children. Stop shutting us out and start listening!

School Bus Maintenance

I know I touched on this back in September with THIS post, and I also know that since then Channel 13 did a big story on School Bus Maintenance. But there is something that I see every day that really makes me scratch my head.

First, please know that I will NEVER claim that I understand what the maintenance people at the bus garage go through in order to try to keep our school buses running. But what makes me scratch my head is this. As an automobile driver one of the things that I make sure I keep an eye on are my vehicle lights, to make sure that they are all working properly I check them on a regular basis. But every morning for the past few weeks I have noticed a TPS bus drive by my home that has more lights that are not working. I'm not talking about headlights, those are both fine, but the lights I'm talking about are VERY obvious and it's easy to see that they are not working and are not something that could easily missed.

Maybe the bus driver has turned in a report that they have lights that aren't working and are just waiting for someone to fix them? I'm unsure as to why they've been in a nonworking condition for so long. But it makes me wonder, if something as simple as lights aren't being checked and/or taken care of, what more serious things also are being ignored? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

And if you want to pass along the info to the bus garage, the bus I'm talking about is bus #598. And if I notice that the lights are in working order again, I'll be sure to let you know!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving note

I know it has been a while since I've posted here and I do apologize, things have been a bit busy. But I wanted to take a moment today and wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving! Don't forget to take the time today to remember what you are thankful for!