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!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Local School Evacuated

This is scary and simply too close to home. BUT, it just goes to prove that schools and administrators need to change how they deal with kids. Too many kids go to school feeling unsafe and unsupported which, in my opinion, leads to stuff like this! This is very sad, that a kid felt it was necessary to take bomb making materials into a school. Thankfully the bomb was never made and no one was hurt, but they need to look into why this kid felt this was a viable option!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

School Safety On Election Day

If you read the article linked in the title you'll see where some local schools are opting for election day to be an in service day so that the kids aren't in school while people are coming in and out while voting.

I personally thing it's a great idea to have the kids not be in school on election day simply because of the fact that complete strangers are going in and out of the schools and although I'm sure the schools that do have voters coming in and out take precautions, there is always the chance that something could happen.

TPS has opted not to close the 29 schools that have polling in them on election day. I'm sure that they do have their reasons and it's not for me to question, but if you read down into the article you'll see where they interview Crystal Ellis and his reasons for not closing TPS schools on election day.

Considering what I have personally been through regarding violence in TPS, Mr. Ellis' explanation comes as no surprise to me. I'm not sure if those are his personal opinions or if it's an across the board answer, but I think it's sad that this is the approach they take to protecting our children! This sentence got me the most - "We'd end up curbing our freedoms if we made everything so secure," he said. I don't think it's curbing our freedom to protect our children one bit, but maybe I'm wrong.

Thank you for reading!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Good morning

Good morning, the kids are off to school and I've gotten ready for work and had a little time so I thought I'd stop by.

I had a neat thing happen this morning while I was waiting for the kids school bus. After the bus pulled away I was flagged down by a vehicle that was behind the bus, so I pulled over to see what was going on. See, even though my kids are riding a bus in the morning to their new school, before they can get off at this bus stop in the afternoon, I have to speak to the family that lives at this home and approve it through them so that incase something happens and I don't get to the bus stop in time in the afternoon the kids will be ok waiting there and could come inside in case of bad weather. But my attempts to get ahold of anyone at this home haven't been successful, so I've still been picking them up in the afternoons, which I really don't mind.

Anyway, the person that flagged me down this morning was the mother of 2 kids that ride my childrens bus, but she lives actually closer to where we do than our actual bus stop at this time. She flagged me down to let me know that she sees me at the bus stop in the morning and wanted to let me know that if I would like to I can actually change my kids' bus stop to her home, that she is always there before and after school and that if I didn't happen to make it to the bus stop in the afternoons that the kids were more than welcome to come into her home to wait for me or if I needed to drop them earlier in the morning, that was fine also. We exchanged phone numbers and I thanked her very much for flagging me down.

This is something that I have noticed about many people at the new school, whether it's staff members or other parents. People are very friendly and helpful and go out of their way to make not only my children, but myself feel welcome at the new school. In all of the years my children were at TPS I didn't see alot of this. Parents weren't very warm when you were a newcomer at the school and alot of the kids were "cliquey". Even the teachers have said how cliques are not the norm at the kids new school. The Phys Ed teacher told me that in most schools, when you walk into the lunch room, you easily see the divisions into the cliques, but he has not seen that at this school. He said that during lunch and other times when the kids are together, they really intermingle with each other rather than separate into groups. Now, I do understand that this new school is a MUCH smaller school (105 in my eldests grade compared to more than 300 in the TPS school), but from going to a very small school myself, I remember how divided we were when we were at lunch period and pep rallys.

I find that my kids new school is a much warmer experience for them. I see the principal and other staff members greeting the kids with smiles and kindness when they go into the building in the morning, rather than having to yell and bark out orders to them like what happened at the TPS school. The school has an open door policy in the mornings and opens up the gymnasium more than half an hour before the school actually opens so that the kids can come inside rather than having to stand outside in the cold and inclement weather. They have things for the kids to do in the mornings when they do come in early, and teachers are there in case they need help to finish up their homework. It's a much better learning environment than what I've seen at TPS schools the past couple of years. But once again, it is also a much smaller school, so that probably has alot to do with it.

There are a few other things that I wanted to talk about, but I really need to head out to work, so I'll try to post about those tonight or over the weekend.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

November changes

Hello everyone! As you all know from the weather outside, November is a month of change for our area weather wise.

It is also going to bring a change to this blog. My original thought when I pulled my last child out of TPS was that I was going to let this go and wash my hands of everything TPS related. It's very disheartening to see this go on in my own family, but from the comments and emails that I have received from those of you who read this blog, I have also found out that I am not the first to go through situations like this, nor do I feel I will be the last.

We are pursuing legal action, not only against the child that assaulted our child, but also against the principal and the school district. Our goal is simply to see that no other child or parent has to go through what we have gone through. Children should always feel safe when they are the responsibility of a school, whether that is in school buildings or on a school bus. In this day and age with so much violence going on in schools across the country I feel that all schools should take a front seat approach to protecting a child from any sort of abuse, harassment or intimidation, whether it is from their peers or a person in authority in the schools. We need administrators in our childrens schools that will treat each and every child with the fairness and equality that we all strive to get as an adult. If our children are not treated fairly and equally when they are young, they will not treat others fairly and equally as adults.

With that being said, the change that is going to happen here will be that I am going to start documenting the changes in my children after pulling them out of TPS and enrolling them in a neighboring public school district. I will also talk about the things in their new school that I feel make the school a much more positive learning environment for not only my children but the other children that attend there.

The one thing, however, that I will not do, for my children's safety, is mention the school district that I have enrolled my children into. I will say though that if you feel a change of schools is something your children need, but do not feel charter schools or home schooling are an option, investigate as to whether or not your neighboring school districts do open enrollment. Many that I know of do. Some charge for your children to attend, some don't. Some will work with you on transportation, others won't. But I truly feel that as a parent we have to stand up and do what is in the best interest of our children, whether it is for their safety or for their education.

My family is having to make many sacrifices in order to change our children's school, most of them good ones, but I have no doubt from what I've seen from them already that ANY sacrifice we make will be well worth it.

So keep checking back, as I get time I will start telling you about their new school!

Thanks for reading!