There's a direct correlation between the peaks and valleys of taking care of College Guy, High School Girl, and Scooter the Wonder Dog and nurturing the Knitternall blog-realm. Hence, the looooooooooong break between posts. If I thought the family was busy when the kids were little, that perception has most definitely changed.
Thanks to Council Guy's commitments, I've met many fascinating people who have broadened and deepened my viewpoints on education, community service, sustainability, child rearing, self-employment, and other issues of special interest to me. I am impressed with the stamina of people who wade through the logjams of public education, launch new businesses, wrestle with lifechanging legislation, and take leadership roles in civic organizations.
I appreciate their positive spirit because I've been very frustrated with the state of public education in our own community. While excellence happens every day in the classroom, the vagaries of politics and "wait for it" breath-holding while the new superintendent decides what's next are considerable impediments to success. For example, the DHS School Council has asked DeKalb's central office to give us a year-long schedule instead of the year-in-a-semester Block Schedule for eight years.
Does it make sense only to the parents that students need year-long math and writing? Does the school system not see the negative impact on arts education with the highly restrictive block schedule? Can they not understand that having multiple schedule models within the same school system makes it impossible for students to transfer from one school to the next? Isn't it obvious that students with ADD/ADHD, a different native language, difficulty in a core academic subject, and developmental delays find the pace of instruction in a block schedule and the very long class periods to be particularly challenging? Do they not see the falling yearly scores for students who need support?
And each year, the central office comes up with another reason to keep the block schedule. They've mandated multiple surveys of parents/teachers/students, changed the rules and forms for making the request, "forgotten" to look at the paperwork until it's too late to act on it, and even neglected to tell the School Board that such changes would no longer come under their purview. The latest reason? That teachers would need special training to teach a year-long schedule, so administrators need another year to think about this.
Despite the chronically changing policies of the central office administration (and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Cheryl Atkinson's leadership will indeed improve things), Dunwoody High School, Peachtree Charter Middle School, and our local elementary schools thrive. Our high school ranks among the best in the state and the Southeast, graduates students with competitively high number of scholarships, acceptances to top colleges, and a high number of AP courses making them exempt from many freshman requirements. Students' special interests in arts, music, athletics, service, scientific, and math advanced programs are satisfied with a robust selection of extracurricular activities. Teachers give far above and beyond the basic school day to their students.
That's what I try to remember when I'm beating my head against the bureaucratic wall.