Thursday, June 3, 2010

Having Enough

Just the other day, I blogged about tapping into positive energy and when you think positively you attract more positive energy.  I need to calm down and get back to that place.

This has been a trying couple of days.  My mom needs surgery.  Also this week, I have discovered that sometimes people you think you know on facebook turn out to be very different in real life.

It has been in the very high 80s here in New Jersey.  I am sure that in the classrooms and the girls' schools it is over 90.  This morning, I sent A to school in a loose, flowy top that is less revealing than a tank top, but the straps are not two finger widths wide, so she had to call me and ask me to bring her a sweater!  Instead, I brought her a tank top, which is clingy and form fitting and has the wonderful, magical, beautiful two finger thick shoulder straps!  In our town, fourth graders are in the middle school and as such are under the rules of middle school.  So while they are only ten and undeveloped, they can't wear the clothes that I saw many, many girls wearing in P's school this morning!  It infuriated me that my daughter can not be comfortable in school.  I think a loose, flowy top is a lot more comfortable on a 90 degree day than a clingy, form fitting one, who cares how wide the should straps are!  It's not like she's wearing Daisy Dukes!

I have held my tongue for three years about so many things in our school system.  This morning, after bringing A her tank top, I wrote a letter and I was so, so tempted to send it to the BOE, the principals and the superintendent and the local newspapers.  I am tired of the Superintendent kissing me on the cheek and winking at me and the other mothers at BOE meetings and school concerts and LEAD group meetings.  I held my tongue when a little girl in A's first grade class was being abused at home and the principal didn't want to get involved, and as a result turned things around and tried to get me not to believe IN my daughter.  She didn't accuse my daughter of spinning a tale, but she did twist things because she was intimidated because I have experience as a child advocate and everyone knew this little girl was being abused.  There were many conferences with many different parents, all of whom were noticing things about their own children that they were upset about and all of it lead back to this little girl.  The teacher even commented to all of us, several times, about how this little girl clung to her in the classroom and cried and wouldn't let go; and how the teacher witnessed her being mean to anyone that the teacher paid attention to.  There were so many things that happened that year that leave no doubt in anyone's mind that that little girl was going through hell at home.  To this day, I have extreme regret that I didn't go above the principal and contact the appropriate authorities.

  In addition to that, when A was in second grade, all year I was told that she was making appropriate progress.  then we discovered that she "more than moderately" farsighted - between moderate and extremely farsighted.  Suddenly, her teacher said that she had been considering calling to tell us that A was not making good progress (this was in April!) and that she was willing to tutor A for $60 an hour.  Jason said that if this teacher could not reach A in the time she had, then we would go to someone else.  A very good friend of mine has a MA in Reading & Literacy and heads up the Reading & Literacy department at a very well ranked school not far from us.  Lucky for us, she was also on maternity leave and was willing to tutor if I would watch her newborn son while she worked with A(I got my baby fix and A got her tutor!).  After a few sessions, she told us that A's problem was confidence and that was the area that needed work.  I could not help but wonder if the many, many discussions about the little girl that I know was being abused the year before was having an impact on the way the principal and teachers were treating my daughter.  I could not help but wonder if the experience of what that little girl said to her was having an effect.  And I could not help but blame the school system for not handling the entire thing better!

Last year, in third grade, I received emails from A's teacher:  12:13 A is looking out the window; 1:19 A is doodling on her paper; 2:04 A is giggling.  I would reprimand A and speak with the teacher.  Apparently A was giggling because the boy across from her was talking to his pencil. Well, I would giggle too.  I promised the teacher I would talk to her.  After the second email of that sort, I told the teacher that maybe if he didn't talk to his pencil, A wouldn't giggle.  To which she replied, "if she didn't giggle, he wouldn't have an audience and would stop talking to his pencil."  What came first, the chicken or the egg?  Eventually, A learned to ignore the boy.  But when I spoke with other parents, they too were getting messages that their children were gazing out the window, looking at the floor, kicking dustbunnies around on the floor, etc.  We started to wonder how much time this teacher spent emailing and how much time she spent teaching.  We began to wonder about her classroom management and maybe that was why the kids lost focus.  But all the while, we kept in mind that they were kids and they were human, and heck, we all look out the window and nibble on our pencil and doodle on our paper from time to time.  Eight days before school let out, several parents were called in by this same teacher and told that their children "were already on summer vacation, but there were still eight days of school left and that means eight days of rigorous academics"!  It was June, it was ninety degrees, we were all in summer mode.  This is not the worst thing to happen to a child in school, but at 9 does every minute right up to the last minute to the school year have to be about rigorous academics?

This year, just before the NJ ASK was given, the Vice Principal of A's Middle School came in and told the kids that they better do well, because they don't want to be in Basic Skills Instruction, because BSI is bad.  Is she trying to make them choke on the exam?  Is she giving kids permission to tease the kids that need extra help?  I know there is pressure on the administration, but come on, that is just unprofessional.

I have just HAD it.  I held my tongue for long enough.  I wrote the letter.  School is getting out soon.  I may just send it.

For now, though, I am going to think positively.  I have a great job and beautiful, healthy daughters that are their own people and I am so proud of them for that! My husband is experiencing some very exciting success in his career and has the Discovery Channel film crew following him around today.  We are lucky.  We are blessed.