When I first started considering the idea of relocating my family, the one thing that concerned me most was, taking my children from a lackluster educational environment to a phenomenal one. I knew (without truly knowing) that the Texas school curriculum was going to be more advanced and rigorous, than what we’d grown accustomed to in Michigan.
Out of my three school-aged children, I was only concerned for the younger two.
Two of my children have the tendency to start the school year off on the weak side. They struggle in mainly in the area of reading (on and above their grade level). But with my usual and constant help, along with a willing, supportive and patient teacher, I was certain that both of them would be able to kick it in high gear and get on the same page as their peers.
Last school year, we arrived nearly a month after the start of Texas schools. This concerned me because it wasn’t advantageous for two of my three. But, I stayed positive and got them enrolled in their respective schools and grades. My oldest was a high school freshman, the second child was an eighth grader and bringing up the rear was my youngest son, a new third grader!
As expected, my oldest blended right in. He picked up on the curriculum, as if he’d been doing it all his life. Easy Peasy! Much to my surprise, the second child also jumped right in and blended effortlessly. Whew! That was such a shocker because she’d never done that before. Admittedly, it was such a relief! I had one less child to worry about!
Sadly though, it wasn’t seventy-two hours post-enrollment of my third grader that I got the anticipated call from a school administrator– She needed to meet with me concerning some observations that his teachers made.
To make a long story short, I expected there to be an issue with his reading, like I stated earlier. I was going into this meeting expecting that we’d put our heads together to devise a plan to help him be successful with his reading. Imagine my surprise, when I got everything but that!
At the meeting I was bombarded by the assistant principal, two teachers, the reading specialist and some other administrator lady. I was told, “that after close observation we are worried with our findings”. (Remember: He was a student for less than seventy-two hours). He’s reading below grade level. He doesn’t know place values. He’s not able to add or subtract……”
They went on and on, with a list of things that they claim my third grader couldn’t do, before telling me that he needs to be placed back in second grade.
I was completely shocked and caught off guard! One, I was shocked by the long list of things that he “couldn’t” do. It was all untrue, with the exception of his reading below grade level (I tested him on everything that they pointed out, and he passed every area. This they would have known if they’d tested him or spent some more time with him!).
Two, I was shocked that this was their first and only recommendation, and that they’d resorted to intimidation tactics to get me to go along with what they were saying.
Three, I was shocked that no other factors were even taken into consideration.
My response: Woo! Really? This is the plan that you all came up with after knowing a student for barely two days? As an educator, putting a child back an entire grade would NOT be my first recommendation to a parent, especially after having a child come into the classroom nearly a month later than everyone else. I definitely would spend more than two days observing and getting to know him and his personality.
There are many factors that I would take into consideration before making such a drastic conclusion. The first being, he has relocated from across country. Second, he’s brand new to the school, to the classroom, to the teacher, to the students etc. Third, he’s a rather shy and quiet child. He doesn’t like to be put on the spot or embarrassed. Instead of answering a question and getting it incorrect, he’ll simply say, “I don’t know.” Lastly, I would invest more time in observing him, minimally two weeks. Then after all of that, I would tell the parents about my areas of concern and together we can work on those areas, to fight effortlessly to get him on the same path as everyone else. If after several weeks (before the oh-so important state testing) then if there’s no improvement, we can discuss options and devise another plan.
Holding a child back, is the last option, not the first option.
Even after all those well made points, they still wanted to put my son back an entire grade. They already had their minds made-up and they didn’t take anything that I said into consideration.
In my opinion, it would be easier for them to put him back. Putting him back meant no need to put in any extra effort towards ensuring his success. And, their numbers and test scores meant more than all of my points and his self-esteem combined. When I realized that this group of people didn’t have the best interest of my child front and center, I removed him from Katy ISD. I decided that I was going to home school him instead of leaving him at that school, with those people over him.
What I’ve learned since moving to this state and to this school district: Eff your feelings! Our numbers trump you and your kid’s feelings!
Up next: Numbers Trump Feelings Part II: What happened upon fourth grade enrollment?