with Dr. Kerris Dillon
What is wrong with children, today? After moving schools 3 different times from Kindergarten to 6th grade, I finally decided to home-school my son, Kalan. I was a public school teacher for 10 years and left the field quite exhausted, but anxious to begin teaching college. Let me tell you, teaching college is a breeze compared to teaching public school. When I hear professors complain about teaching, I either turn my head and roll my eyes or laugh to myself thinking, “You don’t have a clue!”
I learned how to teach and manage a classroom from my mother and her good friends who were also elementary and middle school educators. As a child, they seemed strict and scary, but as a young adult I recognized how effective and excellent each of them were. They didn’t put up with bullying in their classrooms, they demanded respect from the administration, and fought extremely hard for anything that would benefit their students. When a new teacher came into the district, they offered their advice and assistance and watched over them to make sure they could be successful.
I’m not sure what the hell is happening in public schools, today, but it sure isn’t pretty. My son Kalan was 10 years old when he received his first death threat at school. I wasn’t informed about these death threats until they had gone on for about 4 weeks. My older son, Gabe, had come to me and told me about how upset Kalan was because he was getting “picked on”. Kalan had asked Gabe not to tell me, but Gabe decided after many weeks and seeing Kalan’s distress to break his promise and let me know.
“What are they doing to you?!?” I asked, trying not to show how upset I was.
“They put a bad note on my back,” Kalan replied, not being able to look me in the eye.
“What did the note say, Kalan?” I inquired, trying to remain calm.
“It said, “Kill me, please!”” He answered and then started to cry.
“WHAT?!?” I screamed, jumping from my seat. Kalan must have thought that he was in trouble because he started crying harder. “You are not in trouble, Kalan. I am just super upset at what those kids are doing to you! What else have they been doing?”
“Every time the teacher turns her back, they punch me in the back or kick me when they walk by. They tell all the other kids to kill me as soon as possible,” he murmured.
“WHAT THE HELL?!? WHAT IS THE TEACHER DOING WHEN YOU TELL HER?” I bellowed. I would have never allowed this behavior in my classroom.
“She tells them to stop it or she doesn’t see it happen. They wait till I am in the bathroom and then they come after me,” he replied.
The stories were endless. I can’t even repeat them because they are still so upsetting. I wasn’t even going to bother with writing the teachers. I was going straight to the top, the principal. The letter was quite long that I wrote and I threatened legal action if this wasn’t taken care of. I was quite happy with the quickness of the principal to take care of the issue. Her resolution was to have a “body guard” of sorts to always accompany Kalan wherever he went including to the school bus each afternoon. Given that there weren’t many weeks left before the end of school, I agreed to the changes hoping things would get better. They did until the next school year.
The first month of the next school year seemed to go alright, but October was a mess. I started getting emails from teachers explaining their concerns about Kalan because he was refusing to take part in any activity at the school. It doesn’t take a genius educator to realize there is something wrong with a “shut down student”, but I guess they didn’t teach that in their education courses at college. It was obvious to me that the bullying had started up again and after a diabetic check-up where Kalan had gained 17 pounds in one month, I realized the problem was definitely back again.
I pulled Kalan from school in early November and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. My son was so shut down by the time I signed him out of school that he could barely complete the questions that I asked of him during home-school. In addition, his knowledge of certain subject areas was very behind for his grade level. After working with Kalan for a couple of months, I realized how intelligent he was and how he was completely being left behind in the public school system. Not only was the public school system shoving 30+ students into a classroom at a time, but new teachers did not have the skills to manage a classroom and effectively teach their curriculum.
My mother’s generation would have never allowed this to happen without putting up an enormous fight. These new teachers had no idea how they could fight for their rights as educators. All teachers in Iowa are put on probation for 3 years so if they attempted to fight for their rights, they could be let go without a leg to stand on. Can you guess how many years (on average) that new teachers stay in education? 3 years! It isn’t hard to believe when you walk into a classroom, today, and see the mass chaos that exists. The students are definitely ruling the school in places where there is a lack of experience given teachers, especially with little administrative help.
When parents find out that I home-school, they are always very interested in learning about how to do it. I can’t believe the amount of parents that have “had it” with the public school system and how it is failing their children. Colleges are now seeking out home-school children as they tend to be very well-mannered, have excellent academic skills, and do well on standardized testing. I predict that Iowa and maybe the rest of the United States will see an enormous increase in home-schooled children as parents realize the abuse their children are enduring.
I am happy to report that Kalan is now happy, is advocating for his learning, is excited about learning, and has not asked once to return to public school. He is already 1/4th of the way through his 7th grade curriculum and will probably finish it by December. He is set to finish his 8th grade curriculum by the end of this next school year. It many ways, public school held him back from his full potential. I do not believe that homeschooling is for every student, but I do believe it has its place with students like Kalan. I will keep you up-to-date and let you know how he progresses through the years.
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