Sometimes I have to reach the peak of my anxiety to admit certain things out loud.
Our family is done with public K-12 education, and that’s done with a capital D! I can no longer feed my child to the wolves. Yes, this is a position of incredible privilege. I understand that truth. I am grateful for this place of privilege that I can remove my son from the jaws of public education and chose to walk another path.
There are truths that I’ve known for a while. The first is my child has developed anxiety in an environment in which he is not understood, nor truly being educated within. I’ve elaborated on several points before so I won’t berate them, but I will list them.
1. Deeply engrained and indoctrinated balanced literacy district.
2. Annual state assessment (STAAR) fanaticism – TEACH TO THE TEST.
3. State standards are ignored – again TEACH TO THE TEST.
4. Racing through a defined curriculum, no attempt at mastery.
5. Children expected to master on their own time (and parent’s dime via tutors).
6. A gifted IQ that is being ignored.
7. Dyslexia not being understood at all.
8. Dysgraphia being even less understood than dyslexia.
9. Dyslexia being treated as through it is a true disability that cannot be taught.
10. My son’s rising anxiety.
11. My son’s awareness of being treated “other” versus his normative peers.
The latest round of diagnostics proves dysteachia across a variety of subjects. What this shows is a manufacturing line mentality where children like mine would be, and are, considered defects that are discarded. Only those who can thrive (or so people think) this type of assembly line mentality can have the keys to the good life (again, or so people think).
The downside of being on the other side of the curtain, to play off of a Wizard of Oz reference, is that we see just how broken the system is. We see the flaws and its imperfect design and crippling discipleship of flawed and damaging dogma. We also see that very few children truly survive education with a genuine education because we cannot call the K-12 public system an educational system because the word education is a label only, a key word without meaning.
Am I angry? You bet.
I have never denied my anger. The emotions we feel as parents on this journey are raw and real and ours.
I am a huge fan of Rick Lavoie. After hearing him speak and taking copious notes I wrote this piece: The 12 Stages (thedyslexiainitiative.org). The gist is there are 12 stages, and we move throughout the stages. Unlike grief it’s not a gradual progression that is fixed, but instead we move wildly across the 12 stages, shifting back and forth; in other words, grief or anger can be experienced numerous times.
But I’m having a hard time getting to my point.
We are culturally indoctrinated that a box brick and mortar school is the only way to educate our children. The “modern” idea of public education is 143 years old (saying modern is funny because nothing over 100 years old is modern yet this Victorian design is the very idea that we cling to), after the first concept of public school was established in 1635. As a society this is a concept which we are so engrained into that it is difficult to fathom another path. That other path is homeschooling our children, which tons of families do, and the road we are about to embark on as a family; yet for me, I find myself gripped in genuine fear that by removing my son from a box school that I will somehow hinder his social and emotional development, but the logical side of me knows that isn’t true. In other words, I find my brain and my emotions warring with each other, and I must continually rationalize my plan to myself.
Add in that we are taking a huge leap in the style of our remediation and are sending our son to the Landmark School in Pride’s Crossing, MA for their summer program. Again, this is another privilege we can provide. They (Landmark) have an amazing way in which they teach written expression and I’ve opted for this specifically because of my son’s dysgraphia. Since Balanced Literacy aka Lucy Calkins’ Teachers College curricula never actually teaches ANYONE how to write because her Writers Workshop is so profoundly flawed in its design, my dysgraphic child, even with the dyslexia remediation he has had, has never once had proper writing instruction. That is being immediately first via Landmark then second via homeschool.
Add in a few other items that are causing me rather significant stress and I’ve got an anxiety storm brewing over here like a category three hurricane. This is a recipe for an inability to sleep and migraines to boot.
In other words, with school ending this week, we stand at the threshold of our journey in public education ending and a new journey that is homeschool beginning. The bridge across these two realities is Landmark.
I worry that my child will be lonely, but I also know I need to deescalate his ever-growing anxiety. I worry about him losing friends, and he has some AMAZING friends, but I know the journey with friendship is a two-way road that must be equally fostered and cared for on both sides or it is not sustainable.
But I also know that with this move I pull him from the shark infested waters in which he is swimming and change all the rules of the game. With this move I face the broken indoctrination and say to its face that this isn’t the only way. I boldly ask why these are the rules by which we must all play, when the rules are designed to devour instead of foster. I willingly defy this logic and declare that WE will show them that their flawed design and outmoded ideas and ignorant assumptions are ineffective and destructive. I know my child, like so many others, is brilliant, and I choose to set his intellect free.
What’s funny is in the course of my advocacy for him I’ve known and stated that I needed to raise a non-conformist, which would be difficult since both his father and I had conformed, yet it is our conformity that sits at the heart of my struggle. My own words are coming back to me screaming in my face that I knew I would have to buck the system in order for him to thrive, and yet this emotional struggle is raging within me. The irony is not lost on me.
I tell myself that this is one day at a time. In uncharted territory, and I mean for us as a family, we must give ourselves grace and be willing to adapt. We must breathe into a new reality. We must do as we always do which is cling to each other’s love and keep communicating in the open and honest way we do.
This is our brave new world.
One comment on “Brave New World”
Homeschooling saves lives that schools so readily cast aside. Our kids will thrive because we are taking control of their education out of the hands of the system hellbent on dismissing their needs.