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Friday, November 05, 2010

Mandated Child Torture

Today we have a post from Emma Weylin.

As you will see Emma can write quite well - but that was not always the case.

As Emma struggled in her early youth the the modern notion of learning to read, so now does her daughter.  This reflects my own experience with "Title 1" reading when my own children were in school - and my experience was some 25 years ago.

But let's let Emma tell her story in her own words:

State Mandated Torture of Children? 
Or School Mandated Torture to meet criteria set by the No Child Left Behind Legislation?

Evidence: 

State Mandated Reading assessment for all children.

Child with verifiable anxiety disorder and learning disabilities.

Procedure:

Force child to participate in an assessment they know they will fail.

Here’s my story:

My eight-year-old has dyslexia and an anxiety disorder.  This is a problem we’ve been working with the cyber school for the last two years.  They know her problems.  They understand she has special needs and are more than willing to accommodate them, even to the point of special private testing for the State Tests in March where what she knows gets thrown into a pool of statistical numbers for the government to assess if the school is performing adequately or not.  (We won’t say that the state mandated curriculum teaches children to write and speak improper English and they think they can accurately assess what she’s learning or not learning, but that’s a subject for another post.) 

So this “reading” assessment comes up. The first thing they do is schedule my time for me. Now remember this is a cyber school.  The children are expected to participate in one pre-scheduled class a day.  Fine, no problem, so the first strike against them with this event is an email notice that my child MUST attended a specific online class on a specific day and time only two days before the event.  I have no problem with them calling me and scheduling as they have done in the past.  I do have a problem with them deciding what I am going to do with my personal time above what I “agreed to” when signing my children up for this “school”.

Now, I was told my child cannot skip the assessment because it is used to determine the child’s reading level.  I was forced into a meeting with the school at the beginning of the school year. I say forced because they called on a Friday just before everyone leaves the office for the weekend and demand I show up on Monday so that my child can partake in another assessment at their office.  I’d dealt with the school the previous year about my child’s issues.  I was told she has ODD or Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  I told the school’s psychologist she was full of crap.  My child had done everything the teacher asked her to do except read.  The reason for this meeting last year was to assess the child’s ability to read at grade level.  I told them she wasn’t going to read for the teacher and I told them why.  The specific demand placed on my child was to read what she could.  There wasn’t anything in those papers she could read.  I know. I was in the room looking at the papers when she was asked to read them.  The result was the child not reading and the psychologist (who had spent no time with my child) labeling her with ODD.  This came after this psychologist attacked my child and told her (remember she has an anxiety disorder) that both I and her father were disappointed in her for not doing what the teacher told her to do.  Thankfully my child isn’t stupid, though she has her disabilities.  Before we left that morning I told my child that no matter how well or bad she did on the assessment it was ok as long as she was respectful of her teacher and did what she was told to the best of her ability.  This quickly lead my child to determine the psychologist was lying to her and therefore not trustworthy.  Way to help a child struggling to read!

Back to the main focus of this topic.

So we have this reading assessment that MUST be done to determine her reading level.  My child is already enrolled in their Title 1 Reading and Math Programs as per the “No Child Left Behind” act.  She meets with her special reading and math teacher once a week, which is an hour drive up to the office, and hour at the office and an hour back.  The school already knows my child’s reading ability.  The school knows about her anxiety disorder, especially when it comes to interacting with adults she’s never met before online or in their office.  The school has witnessed firsthand the kind of stress my child is under in specific situations. So what do they do?  They force her to take an assessment with a teacher she has not met in an online class room to read words above her reading level.  This is done during a week in which her academic advisor and the principal are out so there is no way for us to talk with the only seeming rational people in the building about what my child is going to have to endure because of State Mandated Tests that will happen in March.

My child tried her best and read the few words she knew all while the teacher insisted (badgered her) she try to sound out words. Now, if this woman had known my child, she would know that when she gets confused or overwhelmed she “shuts down” and no progress is made.  Instead, since this woman doesn’t know the child, she kept insisting the child keep trying to sound out words all while my child is in near hysterics because what she sees on the page looks like gibberish.  FYI:  the more stress a dyslexic experiences the more jumbled letters and numbers become.  This goes on for fifteen minutes while the assessment is only supposed to take 2.

The result?

An assessment the school cannot use and would use (if they could have gotten an accurate assessment of the child) to place her in the Title 1 program of which she is already enrolled.

An anxiety attack on the part of my child.

Conclusion:

The child is seen at the school weekly to do one on one lessons with her Title 1 reading teacher. A woman my child has built a trusting relationship with over the last few months of school.  Every other assessment is allowed to be administered by this woman in person.  The child is up there weekly and will perform to the best of her ability for her.   Why was this changed midstream?  I can only make guesses, but my current hypothesis is that the “brains” of the operation we gone so the whole system collapsed.

The psychologist didn’t want me labeling my child with something as horrific (I am assuming) as being dyslexic so that she could label with her with a disorder of her own choosing instead of using the symptoms the child exhibits.

Later I find out this school psychologist has her own “practice” outside of the school setting and “offered” we take our child there for an assessment.

Needless to say it didn’t happen.  We found our own doctor who tells us the child has an anxiety disorder (which by surprise runs on both sides of the family!)    

All of this in the name of the No Child Left Behind act which, according to what I have witnessed in my children’s class rooms, is not working. Those who excel get bored and frustrated easily while those who are confused and don’t understand don’t get the critical one on one time they need.  Cyber School alleviates some of this as I am the one responsible for making sure they learn their lessons.  There is an absurd focus on making sure every child know they are doing a WONDFUL JOB! Even if they missed every single question the teacher asks.

To be fair, I don’t really care what kinds of tests they issue and demand my youngest child take.  She is capable and above grade level in almost all of her assessments.   She is your classic over achiever.  The usual methods of school apply to her and she is learning the concepts with ease.

Still, in researching types of schooling I find Cyber School is the best.  I don’t have to come up with lesson plans or have to try to figure out the convoluted wording of what the State requires a child to know, and I have control over what they are learning from compulsive hand washing to who the first president was. (Guess which one I emphasize.)  The school supplies free material which is a wonderful bonus for family who want a better education but cannot afford other methods. The curriculum is advanced so if you have a child who does excel they aren’t too bored during class time, and once their school work for the day is complete they can get up and be a kid without being labeled with hyper activity.  Public and private “brick and mortar” schools lack educational materials and purchase new metal detectors every few years to keep the children “safe.”  Private schools have their own agenda and push their own concepts onto children and family.  A true homeschooler who does daily lesson plans still has to deal with State crap and will be fined if they aren’t following their specified curriculum AND have their child dumped in a dangerous, drug infested school environment if they fail to show their child has “standard” knowledge for grade level.  All around the education system sucks.  Your best bet is to keep your children at home and participate in the new trend of Cyber Schools.  You still have to deal with the crap, but the child has a better education and the unexpected side effect of being well behaved and respectful of adults and other authority figures.


Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalized_anxiety_disorder

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppositional_defiant_disorder

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pennsylvania_system_of_school_assessment_%28pssa%29/8757

1 comment:

The Smiths said...

Oh my goodness. Bless her heart! I worked in the public school system for three years helping bilingual kids. Oh the hoops one must jump through! I was also a homeschooler from birth :) and look forward to homeschooling my children in our very relaxed (so far!) state of Alaska. Thanks for sharing about cyber schools, though. I have a friend in Virginia who chose that route with her daughter. I will keep this in mind for the future!