My frustrations with the charter or umbrella school have only increased. I can honestly say that I gave it my best shot. In late November, I even signed the contract for the second quarter. I tried to be more vocal in my displeasure .. speaking up for myself and the kids when I felt we were unjustly made to feel incompetent. I just didn’t like the person I was becoming .. forcing my kids to do the mundane tasks that were required. I could feel the stress physically weighing me down.
The straw that broke the camels back, if you will, occurred during our biweekly curriculum meeting. Sweetie had submitted her work and was in violin class. Buddy sat with the facilitator and me at the table. As the facilitator began to go over his work, it was clear that he was becoming increasingly agitated. He doesn’t like to be put on the spot and she wasn’t backing down.
Our facilitator had stated when we began our collaboration that we would be able to continue to use the math curriculum of our choice, Singapore Math, for we had had success with it. Her only condition was that the kids must also complete at least one worksheet or lesson from the adopted materials she provided us, enVision Math. Though the kids had both demonstrated skills that surpassed their grade level, Buddy was assigned the first grade enVision Math book while Sweetie was assigned grade three. Each week, I allowed the kids to select a lesson from enVision to submit to the facilitator. I encouraged them to select a worksheet that corresponded with the material we were covering in Singapore Math but this wasn’t always possible.
This particular week, Buddy selected a worksheet that compared two terms – capacity and volume. The lesson was very simple and I believe there were only 3 visual or pictorial problems and 1 multiple choice problem. The pictorial problems showed images of two jars of different sizes side by side. The child was instructed to circle the jar that had the largest capacity. The multiple choice problem asked, “Which word is used to describe how much something can hold? a) space b) capacity c) area
Buddy completed this worksheet very quickly – with no help from me – and correctly answered each question. The facilitator looked it over and decided to focus upon the multiple choice question. She asked him, “Can you tell me, what is area?” He did not know the answer and stated as much. She tried drawing a picture of a rectangle and stated, “Let’s say this is someone’s backyard. If it measures 4′ x 8′, what is the area of the yard?” Again, he did not know. I thereby explained that while he was capable of doing multiplication (she knew this), he hadn’t yet been introduced to the concepts of perimeter or area. Utilizing Singapore Math (grade 3), this lesson would be forthcoming in just a couple of weeks actually, and I then pointed it out to her in his book. Her reply to me was, “Well, if he were using enVision Math, he would have covered it.”
At this point, Buddy was distraught and began to act out inappropriately. I wasn’t able to address her statement but it stuck with me and I mulled it over for some time. When I returned home, I dug through the enVision Math books she had checked out to us but was unable to find the lessons to which she referred me. I thereby sent this email:
Can you please tell me where I can find the lessons regarding ‘area’ in the First Grade Envision Workbook. I can not seem to find it. I’ve looked carefully at the pages for Geometry and Measurement both. I’ve also flipped through to no avail.
Her reply to me stated that she didn’t know for certain. “If we were using ‘such and such’ as I had used years ago in Los Angeles, I could immediately tell you the page number. I am less familiar with enVision math but will have my assistant get back to you.”
The following day, I received a reply from her assistant. She did not point out the pages where I could find these lessons. Instead, she attached the California Standards for Teaching which clearly indicated that area was not expected to be taught in first grade. It was now evident that area is not in fact a first grade concept yet she insisted that if I were doing things her way, it would have been taught. “He should know this,” she had said. She insisted that I was failing him by not already introducing this concept to him. I was appalled.
I thereby submitted our letter of withdrawal earlier this week. The following is an excerpt from that letter:
We have come to realize that our style of learning is different and that our schedule does not permit us the flexibility to continue with an umbrella program. Hence, Tuesday, February 14th will be the last day of enrollment in the XXX School District Homeschool program for both my children.