How would you feel about this school?

Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001
How would you feel about this school?
10
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 11:10am

Last year was a disaster. The local public schools are a mess. They rank top and we are in a wealthier area. But kids are doing drugs in the classroom, having sex on school property (bathrooms, locker rooms, etc), some of the staff is abusive and some even seem quite mentally unstable. Almost 30% of the teachers are uncertified (in Texas, you do not have to be certified to teach in the public schools). My daughter was seriously and openly sexually harrassed and the staff would do nothing about it. They just said "boys will be boys."

SO, we heard all these great things about this small charter school. We put our children on the waiting list there. They both ended up getting in by the 2 weeks before the first day of school. It is supposed to be a math and science school. Problem is, it is project learning. Everything seems to involve a project, literally. This might not be so bad, but they seem to have gone to an extreme.

They spent the first just over week and a half doing a group project, school wide, not assigned to classes yet, to teach team building and how to do a project and such. Then, they broke in to their classes. BUT, with that, each class started a project. But these projects are not really related to the subject. This is high school. These are supposed to be high school level courses. In fact, they are supposed to be preAP and AP. Yet, here we are, 4 weeks in to the 36 week school year and they have not even started Chemistry. Algebra 2 just now started, but they are doing review from preAlgebra and before still. I am concerned. So we are now 1/9 of the way through the school year, and they have not even touched Chemistry or Algebra 2. Oh, and there is an issue with the French class so that has not even started yet. That class is a study hall until they can start it.

I am considering that I should consider looking elsewhere. The problem here is that for private schools where we live, entrance exams have to be taken in the fall and then get those back and applications due in January. Admissions letters do not go out until March and you usually have a few weeks to commit to a school so we have time to make the final decision. But if we are considering switching, we need to at least get signed up now to take the entrance exams this fall.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-17-2010
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 11:47am
If you keep them in a school where they are not learning then you are putting them at a disadvantage. Why not look into a different public school? or why not look into homeschooling for this year while you are applying to the private schools. There are online home school programs such as http://www.k12.com/enroll-or-buy/find-a-school-and-enroll/ , they also offer a free public online school depending on where you live in Texas.
I wouldn't keep them in the Charter school where there isn't a lot of learning going on.
Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 11:52am
They are very happy at the new school, and it is too late to get in to places like K12 here for the year (I already looked). We do not have open enrollment so if they went to the local public schools, it would just be the one with the out of control staff and the sexual pervert stalker who was threatening my daughter. I cannot put her safety and wellbeing at risk like that. Mostly, what we are looking at is supplementing this year and then perhaps transferring to a different school next year. But it would have to be a private school. Unfortunately, the better private schools all seem to only take kids by attrition after 9th grade.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-01-1999
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 11:58am

The project based schools in our county are hotly sought after. Yes, they do require a certain leven of "faith" from parents as they are untraditional in their aproach to academics. However, they test super high, their kids go off to all the top universities and they get tons of corporate funding.

Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 12:11pm
My children were in the gifted program when in the regular public school and my daughter in particular is quite advanced. She is in Algebra 2 as a 9th grader. But they have not started that, or Chemistry, or French. I do not know if they have done anything in World Geography yet, I do think the project in that class was actually related to the topic matter. But I did find out that in English, the kids were put in to groups and told to read the first couple chapters of a particular book and then answer worksheet problems and turn it in as a group project. Realistically, you cannot read a book as a group. My daughter did the work and the entire group turned it in as theirs. She said the other kids in the group did not read the book at all.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-01-1999
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 12:26pm

But that's what I'm saying, these sorts of schools require a certain level of "faith" because you aren't always going to see the connection. Have they had "back-to-school" night yet? Any parent orientations? If not, why not set up some conferences and find out from the teacher's how they plan on addressing the academics. Certainly look at other schools. We always look even when we are happy. We just like to know our options. I'd just keep an open mind this year as you don't have any other choice. You might be surprised come end of the school year. Like I said, my DS is in a blended school and he (and most of the kids in his class) continue to be very advanced.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 3:28pm
What would be the harm in taking the private school exam now--you don't have to commit to going. My DD took the exam in 8th grade & applied to a girls Catholic high school but the cost of tuition ($10,000/yr) and the fact that there was no bus transportation killed that idea & she stayed at public school, which she ended up being glad she went there. Are there any other parents you could talk to whose kids went to the charter school last year, or teachers or guidance counselors who could explain the program better? I really have no experience w/ this kind of situation. But I've heard of a lot of home schooled kids who don't learn in a traditional classroom way but do much more independent kind of learning and still manage to get into college. Where your DD is smart anyway, maybe she will be able to pick up on the other subjects quickly.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2010
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 4:25pm

They have uncertified teachers in Texas??! Anyway..I'm not exactly certain

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 4:48pm

The entire point of group projects, is for kids to learn how to work together as a GROUP. They learn how to team build, how to compromise, how to set goals, and it develops leadership capabilities. There are any number of ways to run this project. The team could choose to make each person be responsible for reading and providing the answers for one section. Or they could choose to all read the assignment, and then get together and brainstorm the answers. They can choose a leader, or one or two leaders could emerge by personality. A good leader will engage all the members of the group, and eliict input from everyone.
Or, the group may fail to coalesce, fail to work together, or punish group members they don't like or who fail to inspire the team, by refusing to cooperate.
Grading is determined as much by the quality of the group interaction, as it is by the results of the group.

Even regular schools are doing a lot of group projects now, because the workplaces of today demand good team players, and effective group leaders.

Not everyone can thrive in this setting, but THAT is the point also. It separates the wheat from the chaff.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 6:35pm

Looks to me like teachers in Tx ARE certified.

What are the basic requirements for becoming a teacher in Texas?
You must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
You must complete teacher training through an approved program.
You must successfully complete the appropriate teacher certification tests for the subject and grade level you wish to teach.
http://www.sbec.state.tx.us/sbeconline/certinfo/becometeacher.asp?width=800&height=600#basicreq

Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §230.5(b) requires every person seeking educator certification in Texas to perform satisfactorily on comprehensive examinations. The purpose of these examinations is to ensure that each educator has the prerequisite content and professional knowledge necessary for an entry-level position in Texas public schools.
http://www.texes.ets.org/tecprogram/

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-14-2010
Mon, 11-15-2010 - 4:24pm

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