A Response to an article entitled “American Preparatory Academy”

A Response to an article entitled “American Preparatory Academy“:

I love charter schools. I love what they represent… choice. I honestly do not see the negative side of charter schools.

Because I’m curious I’ve googled “charter school opposition” (or something like that). Then I googled (American Preparatory Academy scandals because 1) It was a criticism that charter schools are known for scandals and 2) I was curious about my son’s school. Just as a side note, this is the only article, and I was proud of my school in the end.)   I do not feel as though the opposition has a good argument. But, for now, I digress and move onto this particular blog post.

For whatever reason when I went to comment on the post the comments weren’t working, so I’m blogging about it. 🙂

The blog post is simply a straight forward copy and paste of an article from the Salt Lake Tribune with no commentary. Well… kind of. You see, the author links to the news article, but then copy and pastes only excerpts of the article that suits the needs of his/her agenda. At first, reading the article, I didn’t realize that the entire article was not included. She quotes a large portion and then adds in “…”. Then quotes another large portion and ends with another “…”. Now, to my understanding, when one uses the “…” to indicate that material has been removed, the removed material should not have any bearing on the meaning of the overall story. The second “…” was used correctly, however, if one digs a little farther the first “…” changes the entire outcome of the American Preparatory Academy “scandal.”

So, basically, here’s what happened:

In the portion that the author quoted it is revealed that,

“The academy pays a charter school management company $986 a year per student to run its two schools, according to the management agreement. The company is owned by sisters of the chairman of the academy’s board.”

“With about 1,140 students enrolled in American Preparatory Academy’s two schools, the for-profit management company, led by Carolyn Sharette, receives more than $1 million a year, she said. Sharette’s brother, Howard Headlee, chairs the American Preparatory board, which hired Sharette’s company.”

“Sharette, Headlee and their sister Laura Campbell opened the first school together in 2003. Sharette and Campbell worked at the school and later created the charter management company, called American Preparatory Schools Inc…”

Whoa. That sounds a little dicey. And that’s exactly where the author of the blog leaves the story and how he/she wants you to feel… a little icky.

However, if you dig a little further (ie click the link to the original story and read the whole thing, you then find out):

“Sharette said setting up a management company became necessary to allow her to assist other charter schools that were approaching her for help without using American Preparatory Academy’s resources.”

“Headlee did not attend the meeting in which the board voted to hire Sharette’s company, did not participate in discussions about it and previously declared his conflict of interest, according to minutes of the 2008 meeting in which the board voted to hire Sharette’s company.

Headlee said he has no financial interest in his sister’s company. He said the board followed competitive bidding practices required by state law but Sharette’s bid was the only one that met the needs of the school’s instruction model.

Sharette’s company employs the academy’s administrators and handles the school’s finances and academics.”

So, after reading the entire article concerning APA we find out, in fact, that while there may be questions, those questions were answered in such a way that everything is above ground. We find out that the charter management company owner started the company, not to embezzle money, but rather to protect the charter school and help others, that the brother did not participate in the hiring process of his sister’s management company, and that while the company gets $986 per student per year at least part of that money goes right back to the school in the form of salary for the administrators and is compensation for being  the school’s accountant, if you will.

What irks me is that the author of the blog left readers to believe that there were some shady dealings being done, when in actuality, those involved were really trying to do what was best for the school and avoid accusations of nepotism. The author wishes to promote the idea that charter schools are wrong because there are scandals attached to them. However, here’s the thing… public schools have scandals too.

In a comment she asks “but what’s wrong with them finding my blog where they will only end up reading a Salt Lake Tribune article about the school?”

The answer is that it’s wrong because of the excerpt posted can lead people to believe there was a scandal, when in fact those involved answered openly, honestly, and had done everything according to the law. It’s wrong because by the very fact of posting it on a blog entitled “Charter School Scandals” leads people to believe there was a scandal.

I don’t mind that the blog exists. It’s well within the American’s freedom to collect scandalous articles and have them all in one location, and could perhaps be helpful at times. However, what I do mind is people purposefully trying to distort information to benefit themselves or their agenda. It just isn’t helpful to the conversation. If this person thinks that charter schools are wrong or add to corruption within education then they should support their case with honesty and integrity.

As an end note in regards to the second school mentioned in the article, Monticello Academy, another local charter school, I think the State Charter Board was correct in “ousting” the director of the school. They did so because of parent complaints “of low teacher morale and efforts to block parental involvement in the school’s management,” lead to an investigation. To me, that’s what charter schools are all about. The parents wanted their teachers to be happier and so be able to perform their jobs better. They also wanted more involvement in the school. When they didn’t get what they wanted they went about changing things. They held power in their school. I think that’s awesome (this coming from a former teacher), and I don’t think that’s true in the public schools.


Education of John

As I was writing this I thought, “Does any one else really care about my thought process in choosing a school for John?” Possibly not. But this blog is mostly for me and family. Second, as I was making my decision I did like knowing other people’s thought process when they were deciding how to educate their child(ren). I should note that Aaron and I talked through everything, but we were pretty much on the same page, so there were no long discussions trying to convince each other of our viewpoints. 

Public School
Aaron and I live in a lower class area. Well, it’s actually some what odd. It’s lower class and right next door is middle class and out of the middle of no where in the neighborhood will be an enormous house. But, the school that he is zoned for has 92% of students receiving free or reduced lunch. It has a population in which 50% of the students move two or more times a year (and since the zones are somewhat small, I’m assuming the majority of the 50% are transient students). Also almost two-thirds of the population is Hispanic. Do I care that John would be a minority? No. But it does impact learning as most students are having to learn English.Midvale Elementary is also a Title One school. That’s not necessarily bad, because Title One is mostly concerned about family incomes and not necessarily test scores (except for showing improvement) but the test scores are pretty low. Finally, Aaron and I got to know a 6th grader who attended the school when we first moved in. He told us on several different occasions about some of the discipline problems and even gang-related problems. And while I’m sure the gangs aren’t that serious, it’s still a point of concern.

On the up-side, the school does offer a dual-immersion program. Basically from K-6th grades John would be taught in both English and Spanish. And by the time he reached Junior high he’d not only be bilingual but bi-literate. That, I have to admit, is an awesome program. However, spaces are limited so we would not be guaranteed a spot in the program. I’m not against public schools in general. Both my husband and I attended public schools and we fared pretty well. However, as we talked about the public school we came to recognize that it’s not a win-win situation for our family. (i.e. John being there isn’t going to benefit the school nor will the school benefit him.) In fact it seems as though it’s a lose-lose situation. So, we will not be sending John to school there. 

Private School
My son currently attends Children’s Christian School. It is a small, very affordable Christian school. We’ve enjoyed our time there and I will more than likely have Lydia attend preschool there as well. There is also another Christian school in the area (however that one is a lot more pricey) as well as Challenger, which is an amazing school academically, from what I hear. Bottom line, we just can’t afford having two, maybe more, kids in private schools. Even if we could, is that the best use of our money? I feel like the money I’m spending on education should go toward their college funds or something. I don’t know. I think we could make it work, but with other options out there, I’d just rather not pay for the kids’ education.

I honestly love the idea of homeschooling. I really do have a teacher’s heart and I get all excited over the fun things (curriculum, not even field trips) I could do with the kids. Not to mention the freedom it allows in visiting our families that live 2000 miles away. But that’s the thing. I love the idea of homeschooling. My son is very strong willed and I tend to lose my patience quickly. (However, the Lord is continuing to sanctify me in this area.)

There are other issues too, like me being an introverted person and the thought of never having down time freaks me out. And I’m lazy. At this point in time, I don’t have a good enough structure to actually implement homeschooling into our home. I do realize these are excuses and could be worked out. But they’re also the thoughts running through my mind.

Last thought: I’m a high school math teacher, the thought of teaching John how to read gave me the heebie-jeebies… until it became something we just started doing. Like today…

“Let me get the jar of peanut butter.” Me
“Jar.” The sound j makes several times. “Jar starts with j.” John
“That’s right! What about the ahhh sound?” Me
(Etc. until we spell jar.)

I mean, that’s teaching kids reading, people. Teaching letter recognition, and then letter sounds, and then combing those sounds to words and spelling. Why was I so scared of it? Because I’ve never done it before.

So, in the end, I am confident of my ability to home school my kids. I think I could do it, especially since so many families in our church home school and there would be lots of support.

Charter Schools
Finally, charter schools. We have LOTS of charter schools in our Salt Lake Valley and I can think of 14 off the top of my head within a 20 minute drive from my house. So I have some options here. The major problem, however, is that you have to rely on the lottery to get admitted to the school. I researched all the schools and picked about six or seven (although one school had 3 campuses, so 3 lotteries) to apply to. So far we’ve been rejected from three schools. Each of the schools I applied to would be a better school (for us) than our local elementary school. However, I do have a top choice within the charter schools I’ve applied to and we were not chosen in the lottery for it. There is still a chance that John will be able to attend, however. See here.

At this point in time, if we are not chosen in the lottery for any of the other schools we will begin home schooling. However, because of John’s age, we can try for all of the lotteries again next year, or my first choice (between the charter schools) is planning on opening a 4th campus around the corner from my house and we could put him in the lottery for first grade there as well.

(Note: There’s about a 50% chance of getting picked in a lottery for Kindergarten. There’s a seemingly 1% chance for other grades, do to sibling and employee priority enrollment. These are VERY loose numbers, however, it’s about what I’ve encountered.)

Final Note
If you know me, you know that I am a Christian. And you may have noted that Christ-centered teaching didn’t enter into my decision making process (at least much). The reason for this is because I feel like the Bible gives me, the parent, the responsibility to raise my child in such a way that he will glorify God and enjoy him forever. It does not give specifics on HOW to educate your child, but that you should. Afterall, the reason a lot of schools were started was so that all children could learn to read… the Bible. Regardless, I feel like a good education is very important. And no matter where John attends school his religious education is MY responsibility. I definitely think I would slack off in that area if he attended a Christian school. However, if he’s home schooled or out in the public sphere, I want to be the one training him and teaching him the ins and outs of what our family’s religious beliefs are. I want to be one to help shape his interactions and decisions as he begins to manuever the world.

Diatribe on Math Ed

**This was supposed to be about my decision making process of choosing a school for my son. However, it turned into a diatribe on math education.

During my time as a teacher I came to realize that the majority of my parents were not interested in a partnership. They felt like the teaching was 100% up to the teacher and if the child was doing poorly or misbehaving, it had everything to do with me and nothing to do with their lack of discipline, or the student’s unwillingness to do their homework.

During my time as a tutor, I was shocked by some of the stories the students told me about their teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I took it all with a grain of salt knowing they probably were exaggerating. But there did seem to be a common thread throughout the stories that the teachers cared more about what was easiest for them, or coming across as a “hard” teacher (therefore patting themselves on the back as a “good” teacher). Teachers should care most about the education and learning of their students then they should about getting home.

Putting these two experiences together, I came to the realization that students today were not getting their fundamentals down. My focus is math, and I noticed that while multiplication is introduced in the 3rd grade, multiplication facts were still not known in the 7th, 8th, and9th grades. While fractions are introduced in the 2nd grade they still are the bane of a child’s existence through adulthood. The foundations of math were not being grasped before these kids were taught something more complicated.

I kind of came up with a theory. From college on whenever anyone asked what my major was, math, the response 99% of the time was, “Oh, you’re smart.” or “I hate math.” or “Math is hard.” etc. I think what has happened is that our elementary teachers (as a whole) at best are not confident in their math skills and at worst hate math and somehow communicate that to their students. So, when a teacher goes to teach their kids math, they don’t spend as much time on it. Or they just get through the lesson as quickly as possible, so they can move on. They know reading is important, you have to do it the rest of your life. Writing, at the very least must be mastered in order to make it through high school, college and beyond successfully. But, really who needs math? Who uses it regularly? The only people that really need it are those that use it in their profession, and they’re the ones “good” at math anyway.

Well, unfortunately our country has fallen way behind the others when it comes to mathematics. Consistently, at least for the last 10 years, the top 10 jobs to have in America, which include pay, stress levels, and availability, are either math related or require high levels of math in college.

We need to completely and totally revamp our elementary and middle school level math. We need to arm our kids with the fundamentals and the confidence that math isn’t hard. At the very least, it’s no harder that reading and just as necessary to life skills. (When was the last time you bought something that was 20% off? When was the last time you halved a recipe that called for 1/2 cup of something? When was the last time you balanced your budget or counted calories? Or figured out if the 48 oz of Goldfish was really cheaper than the 16oz bag?) Yes, these are lower levels of math, but really most of what we read post college is at an elementary or middle school reading level as well. So, should we stop there? Should we not increase our vocabulary? Of course we should. And we should do the same with math as well.

I’d love to see math specialists enter the classroom in Kindergarten or the first grade. Someone who simply goes to each classroom for an hour or whatever and focuses solely on math. I do think that while discovery can be a good way of learning I think that drill and kill really solidifies those things that need to be memorized. It’s not sexy. But think about how you studied vocabulary for the SATs. Did you read books, look at the context and dig out the meaning of the word? Did you try to write your vocab words in a sentence? Or did you put them on flashcards and repeatedly drill yourself? I think most of us did the later. And yet, we poopoo drill and kill because it’s boring. Well, of course it can be, but repetition works.

Think about how one would best learn to put in an IV, or cut hair, or paint nails, or play piano, you are shown how to do something and then you try, and you try again, and again, and again until you’ve mastered it. After all practice makes perfect. Why is that appropriate when learning to throw a football but not appropriate when learning how to solve simple equations such as x+5 = 8, or even 3*5 = 15?

Yes, education needs to be revamped. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to come from the top down. I think it’s going to have to be a grass root movement of educators breaking from the NEA and trying to change the system, either through the inner workings of their local school systems or through something like charter schools.




Response to the Glorification of Childlessness

So, I found this blog, childfreedom, because of another blog and it’s (in one sense) response to the Top 10 Reasons Not to Have Kids. I was somewhat shocked and disgusted at the 100 reasons. At the same time, if you’d rather have breakable objects in your home than children, or are concerned about being able to eat what you want when you want, or that your tv viewing experience won’t be kid-oriented or kid-interrupted, etc. etc. etc. If all of these reasons resonate with you, then please don’t have children. Every single one of these reasons was a self-centered one, accept for possibly the one about the negative effect a new person adds on the environment. But, even then if you’re more concerned about landfills, than human life… well…

Anyhow, I read a few of the articles on the blog and I was simply shocked at the attitudes of the author and the commentators about children and the drain they were on society and the environment and how thoughtless and selfish those of us with children are.

The author seems to think that if you have children, than you didn’t give it any thought and you just did what society is telling you to do, ie have children, or you’re a selfish person wanting to have someone to love you or someone that you can vicariously live through. It doesn’t even enter into her thought paradigm that there are those of us who chose to have children because we felt like mothering was the highest, most honorable, important job that a woman can have and desiring to raise up a generation of children that can spread the gospel and glorify God. Well, of course that doesn’t enter her thoughts, since she is more than likely a postmodern agnostic/atheist realm.

The second article or rather the comments it received really offended me more than the first. She wrote a post Play Dates: Reason Enough Not to Have Kids. She began to describe this play group, apparently, and the politics of it. Nothing in the article was even remotely familiar in my life and our play dates. But even so, the childless commentators began to criticize those of us with children for over scheduling our children and wanting to do something fun for them, such as take them to a park to play with friends. I was kind of surprised how opinionated these childless people were about child rearing. I’m sorry, but you don’t get an opinion! Because trust me, having a child will change it. And what ever type of situation you’re speaking of with regards to play dates, that is not the reality for any parents I know.

The fact that the decision of having a child is boiled down to how much waste they will acquire through their lifetime, or not wanting to give up my “me” time, or wanting to be able to give your pets the love they desire, is sickening to me. Also, let me just say, pets are not children, they are not sons and daughters, they are not human beings and your pet is not as important as my child. Human beings trump animals and animals are not “people too.” Human beings are made in the image of God which, makes us more an important than the not-made-in-the-image-of-God animals.

My last thought to a childless person who wanders on here and notices the bird houses post from just days before. Let me assure you, that while I’m not ecstatic about getting paint on my carpet, and I’m not sure how long that paint will remain, I do know that those bird houses will be cherished for years to come, and I would MUCH rather have paint on my carpet and two beautiful, delightful, mischievous children, than a pristine house.

Childless by Choice vs. Childless by Choice After Two

Wow! I was reading a blog article that someone linked to on Facebook. (Article 1)

This article referred to another one on a different blog. She did not post the link but a quick search is all it takes to find it, and I was intrigued. (Article 2)

I am simply amazed. There are two sides to this coin and I’m just shocked at some of the things the childfree group says. I’m not so amazed at what the conservative Christians are saying because I’ve heard it and that’s the culture I belong to. Obviously I lean more to the second group.

So, first observations about the original article 1. The article refers to a list of the top 100 reasons NOT to have children. Which is filled with selfishness. It is completely a me-centered attitude. At the end the author basically puts forth the question, What’s the difference between childless by choice and childless by choice after two? (She was not being dogmatic about it, but simply putting it out there. The following “discussion” through comments I found very thought-provoking.

Here’s the thing, there are often times the conservative Christian side of the coin that says, you must be willing to have as many children as God wants you to have by not using any kind of birth control. You shouldn’t try to control the number of children or child spacing. Then there are other conservative Christians, who do use birth control and other methods to “control” the number of children and spacing in their home. (Control is in quotes because ultimately God is in control, no matter what, but we all know what I mean.) Anyhow, I guess what gets to me is those that don’t think limiting the number of children in your home is a valid option. It’s simply seen as selfish. I know myself, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, but while I love being a mother, it’s a hard job! I want to be wise with the limitations that God has given me physically, emotionally, and just personality-wise. Is that showing a lack of trust in God? I guess technically the answer is yes, that God knows my limitations even better than I do, but I don’t trust God perfectly with anything. And for people to critize with, “You trust God in everything else, why not children.” Is a little bit of a mute point. I struggle with trusting God with our finances, with healing, with time, and a multitude of other things. Is that an excuse? Probably not. At least not a good one, but there it is all the same.

So, originally all these comments had me thinking about all my selfish reasons for not adopting another child. (While I want to my husband is hesitant, which has made me hesitant. But even so, I’m at a place where I don’t really want more than 3 children right now and I have 2) Anyhow, then I started thinking, if God controls the number of children in a family simply through the opening and closing of a woman’s womb combined with the idea of “We’re not trying but we’re not preventing” lead me to wonder… God closed my womb, so was I being sinful by pursuing adoption. God knows me better than me, did he know that two would be too many children for me and one was enough? (I don’t really think this because I really do believe God brought Lydia to our family) But now I just have the question rolling around, if one can expand their family outside the womb, then why is one not allowed to constict the size of the family with the womb?

I’m usually a middle ground type of person. If you want to leave your womb open for God to give you as many children as He desires, that’s fine, that’s your decision between your family and God. Although, with a family like the Duggars (on 18?) with doctor’s saying it’s unhealthy and dangerous for her to have more children, it might be getting to the irresponsible part. On the other side, if you want to limit your family size to 2, 3, 4, or more children who am I to say that is not the right decision for their family, I don’t know all of the surrounding circumstances. (And is a family that stops at 6 more godly than one that stops at 2? Is a family that has only been blessed with 2 even with a lack of birth control more godly that a family that decided to stop and use birth control after 6 kids?) I do know one thing, of the families that I know that have chosen to limit their family size, I don’t know a single one that would not be overjoyed and in love with their child once the accident shock of it wore off. God creating in them a capacity that they thought they didn’t think they had, but at the same time were trying to be responible and wise considering their family and the circumstances God has given them.

I could continue to think and ramble, but I think I’m just going to let this lie.

People Must Hate Their Children, or be Very Ignorant

This article spurred this blog post, and here’s my opinion. 


So, the economy has gotten so bad that now women are aborting for financial reasons. Married couples are aborting their 3rd and 4th child because they simply feel like they can not afford one more, or even simply the medical costs of a birth. Let me say this, I sympathize with people losing their jobs, and understand that, financially, they may be in a very tight spot, but its not an excuse to kill your child. 

For women, who are pregnant, and cannot even afford an abortion, instead of calling on some sickening organization that will help you pay for it, why not chose to give your child up for adoption. When you decide to place your child up for adoption then you can receive funds for rent, gas, utilities and food, anything that will help you stay in good health for the sake of the child, especially if for some reason the child is preventing you from working. You may not be receiving much else, but isn’t giving life to your child worth it? 

To Ms. Holycross, I want to say, you did do the right thing by keeping your child. And I applaud you. 

To the Feldsteins, going from two incomes to one is difficult no matter what the economy is like, if that’s your dream than you can do it with hard work and determination. 

To the married patient on your third child, who decided to abort because you couldn’t afford the $30,000 medical bills related to birth. Have you ever thought, that maybe you could do birth less expensive? Two years ago, my husband and I had no health insurance, out of our control, for a no-complications birth we would have spent $4000, $2000 for my midwife, which included pre-natal and birthing, and $2000 for my birthing center which included my nurse. Are you willing to give birth without an epidural to lower your costs so that you CAN give birth to your child rather than abort? On top of that thousands of people pay $30,000 and more to adopt children that they can’t conceive. 

Bottom line, the life of the child should not be determined by $$$. It should always be determined by the inherit worth of the child. Which, is always enough to never abort. Shame on you who abort for selfish reasons, not even willing to give your child to another family to raise. There are still families out there waiting to adopt a child, and you just ended the life of yours. Wouldn’t you much rather give life to your child and let someone else raise the child, then to kill it?