Friday, January 27, 2012

Sad, Sad State for Charter Schools

Back in June, I blogged about a Georgia Supreme Court ruling which declared that the statute authorizing Georgia Charter schools was unconstitutional.  I found the logic of the court's ruling very questionable and disturbing.

Interestingly enough, when I spoke to parents who had children in these charter schools which were affected by the ruling, they seemed quite unperturbed. Surely it would not affect them.  All would be well.

Well, here we are six months later.  How are things for these charter schools? Uh, not too good.  Not too good at all!  It truly saddens me.

Ivy Prepatory Academy is an all girls middle school in Gwinnett County that opened as a Charter School.  The plan was for the school to grow one grade a year to encompass high school as well.  As parents of a current 5th grade girl, living in Gwinnett County, our family has been keeping an eye on this school. We have seen some very good things coming out of this school.  After all, if homeschooling didn't work out well this year, she would need to go to school somewhere, right?

Not simply trusting parental word-of-mouth, we were interested in as much factual data that we could acquire.  It certainly helps when trying to see how a school is performing.  So, how does Ivy Prep measure up compared to the typical Gwinnett County Public School (GCPS)?  Take a look at some of the statistics.  I stole the nice table from Peach Pundit.

6th GradeReadingSocial StudiesScienceEnglish Language/ArtsMath
Ivy Prep100%78.0%87.0%100%86.0%
7th GradeReadingSocial StudiesScienceEnglish Language/ArtsMath
Ivy Prep100%93.0%89.0%100%97.0%

So what action has the Gwinnett County Board of Education decided to take regarding Ivy Prep? Why deny an extension of the school's charter, of course.

What in the world is my County doing?  You have a school that is working.  Working better, in fact, than most of your other schools.  Don't support it.  Don't try to learn what they are doing better than the rest of the schools.  Don't try to emulate it.  Actively work to shut it down!  
Friends have wondered why I didn't want to use the public schools.  Why don't I have faith in the public school system?  I don't trust them.  Our values regarding education are clearly not the same.  I don't believe that the Gwinnett County Board of Education places providing the best possible education for the children of Gwinnett County on its priority list in any sort of a leading position.  Perhaps providing an "adequate" education is on their list, but certainly not providing "the best possible" education.
Outside of health and safety, there is nothing more important to me than ensuring that my children receive the best possible education that we can provide.  What a sad state of affairs that exists in Gwinnett County (and throughout the rest of Georgia too)!  I predict that the homeschool movement will continue to grow, particularly in Gwinnett County, while the local governmental approach is so hostile to innovation and effectiveness. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


For those of you with children in private schools, you know that this is the "crunch time" for your decision making process with regards to re-enrollment. Deadlines are looming, deposits need to be made ... do you keep your child in their present school or move them somewhere else?  As a veteran of five whole months of homeschooling (bah, ha ha), I am having the same thought process too.  After all, if homeschooling is not working and we are going to return to the world of brick and mortar schooling, we need to be making our decisions and FAST.

As much as I agonized over the decision to homeschool last year, this is almost a no-brainer!  The kids are learning-- A LOT!  They are getting along really well (phew!).  We are getting into a real groove.  We are starting to branch out a bit and meet other homeschoolers. We still see some of our old friends (albeit not enough and I need to make a concerted effort to get back in touch with several of them).  I am actually really liking the learning process as it pertains to all of us.  DFACS has not been called.  I am not drinking.  No one has been maimed in the educational process.  This is actually working!

Alas, (INSERT big sigh here) I do miss several things about traditional schooling.  I miss being able to make a hair cut appointment or doctors appointment with ease.  I miss being able to have lunch with a friend.  I miss the ease of Christmas shopping while the kids are in school.  I miss hanging out with friends while waiting to pick up the kids from school.  I miss volunteering with amazing women for one various school function or another.

But on the other hand, there are a number of things that I don't miss.  I don't miss the pressures of a 6:30 a.m. alarm clock.  I don't miss frantically enforcing bedtimes to the point of turning into a screaming banshee because I know that the alarm clock is going to be going off at 6:30 and I will have snarling, grumpy kids if they don't get to sleep immediately! (Just writing that run-on sentence is enough to make me lose my breath and feel stressed.) I don't miss making school lunches in the morning and screaming, "Hurry, Hurry!" every five minutes.  I don't miss rushing out the door so that we won't be late.  I don't miss the kids being sick all the time because someone else thought their child would be "fine" even though their child threw-up that morning or was running a fever.  I don't miss the tears and anguish caused by "So and So" who was being a bully or hurt a friend's feelings.  I do not miss fighting with my kids about doing their homework.  I do not miss deadlines imposed by teachers which could not be more inconvenient for our family's schedule.  I must also confess that every month I think about how delighted I am to not be sending tuition checks.

Our family lifestyle has changed dramatically in the past few months.  Overwhelmingly, the changes have been extremely positive.  Our decision to homeschool again was the briefest of conversations between my husband and I.  It didn't really merit a big discussion.  It just seemed to be the obvious conclusion to continue with homeschooling.  The factors which led us to our decision to homeschool had not changed and we are happy with the results.  Taking simple wisdom and applying it, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"