Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stop playing the victim? Or just quit the game?

Susan Bruce tells a powerfully moving story about rescuing her children from a poor education in public schools. Stop Playing the Victim - Become an Effective Advocate covers her multi-year long trek to have her sons taught how to read.

Her twin boys go off to school and from kindergarten they seem to be having trouble. By third grade there really seems to be a problem. Susan worked with the teachers and her sons. She read to her boys. They did extra homework. She made flash card and even bought a computer program. But still the boys were not learning to read.

The school tested the twins and decided to place them in special education. They made little progress. The boys repeated the 4th grade. Still little progress.

Susan did research and came to the conclusion that her children might be dyslexic. Susan asked the school if her boys might be dyslexic. The school said probably not. Susan struggled with the school, she did more research, and finally after several meetings and months of effort the school got a qualified teacher to teach her boys to read. Finally the boys learned to read.

She concludes by challenging other parents to stop being a victim, become empowered and save their children.

On one level this is a triumphant story about a parent successfully fighting to get a quality education for her children. You could probably even make a movie out of it. Against long odds our heroine saves her children from a dismal future.

But as I read the story I kept thinking that for every parent who is able to play the game and get the system to teach their children, how many other parents don't realize there is a problem or don't know how to deal with the schools? My guess is there are a dozen families whose children languish in public school suffering for every one family who successfully finesse the school, jump through the hoops, and rescue their children from a dismal future.

I am so glad that there is a third option: homeschooling!

Homeschooling allows us to react quickly when there is a problem and not let our children suffer for years. Homeschooling allows us to quit the game. We are empowered. In many ways we are more empowered than parents who still have to dance the tune played by the school. Maybe the parents can add a few new steps or beg for another tune, but they have to deal with all the bureaucracy.

We don't. We can get a new dance power. There is great power in being able to quit the game.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, public school, public education, education


Angela said...

This article really stikes a cord with me. While I applaud her efforts of advocacy for her own children, it still focuses on how to work within a flawed system. Thank God for the right to homeschool, because the system decided my daughter would never read past 2nd grade level. They would never have encouraged more. She now reads at 8th grade level, and is excelling beyond even my expectations!

Anonymous said...

Hurray for her, but that is TOO MUCH WORK. So I'll just say I home educate because I am lazy! That'll get someone's goat for sure! :p

Crimson Wife said...

I get so frustrated with people such as my parents who think that I have some civic duty to spend a lot of time & effort fighting the bureaucracy of the local government-run school to *POSSIBLY* get it to make appropriate modifications for my TAG child. They try to lay a guilt trip on me for homeschooling from the get-go rather than first trying to make the government-run school work. I can't tell you the number of variations I've heard of "If parents like you give up on the public schools, then how are they ever going to get better?"

Well, I'm sorry but I'm not going to sacrifice my child's education out of some sort of noblesse oblige . I don't think it's in her best interests for me to put her into a lousy situation on the slim chance that I could actually be successful in taking on the educrats. I know too many other parents who've tried & failed and are now dealing with the negative effects.

Mrs Mecomber said...

Great post, and your point is well made. Halfway through the story I was thinking the same thing that you concluded.

Why the heck would a woman go through so many years of hoops and hurdles at her children's expense? Just teach them to read yourself, mother!

Sheri said...

As a parent who tried, for way too many years, to work with the system, I understand the desire to see it work for your child.

I also understand the futility of it.

The years I wasted fighting with teachers and administrators could have been spent at home with my daughter learning, living and loving without all the frustration.

Though I'm glad to see it worked for someone, I would never encourage anyone to spend their children's childhood fighting for something they could do much better themselves.

Anonymous said...


I am Susan Bruce. I want all of you to know that I so admire what you do with your children. I only wish it were possible for all parents. You guys do a great job with your kids. I have read the research and know that children who are home schooled are now testing higher than kids that attend a public school.

I respect your position and to any parent that can conduct "home school" my hat is off to you.

I agree with you all. The system is flawed.

I have friends that are home schooling their children and I also have friends that have taken their children out of the system and put them into expensive private schools (orton-gillingham).

Unfortunately, this is not an option for all parents. Some parents have to work two jobs in order for their children to eat.

In my case, I knew I could not do the home schooling myself. First of all, I must work. Second of all, it was and still is like beating my head against the wall, to do even homework with my three youngest ones. Third of all, I cannot begin to understand how they learn, because of their dyslexia. I did the homework, along with extra work in order to try and help my kids to no avail. I honestly tried to help them, they needed something, that not unlike their special education teacher in the public school, I could not offer. One thing the Wright’s Law article does not mention is that I have four children, my oldest, is 17, and has no issues and has a 4.0 GPA.

I also knew that because what my younger children have is often hereditary, (my husband suffers from the same learning disability) that my grandchildren would be predisposed to have this disorder. This is what compels me to push for change. I want my children and grandchildren, along with all other children, to get what they need. I will fight for it now, so that my children do not have to do it for their own children later on.

I was so happy when my state elected Kristen L. McGuire, a mom that home schools all four of her children, as the chair elect for my state's board of education. She knows they system is flawed, or she would not be home schooling her own children. I am hoping that she will be able to help bring about real change in my state.

I still believe that everyone working together can and will create better outcomes for all children.

Again, I admire what you do!!

Henry Cate said...

Susan, thank you for your kind words.

I wish you the best. I hope your children continue to a good education.