(Disclaimer:  Public school has merit.  Private school has merit.  Charter school has merit.  Homeschool has merit.  All have good and bad points.  Each is right for the parents who choose to educate their children in those particular systems.  I am a homeschooler.  I love homeschooling, but do not look down on public schoolers for their education choices. )

Someone in one of my groups wrote the following, when discussing homeschool verses public school.  The topic being discussed was bullying in public schools:

She wrote:

"I have never, nor do my kids, been to a school where hundreds of kids were left "defenseless" at the hands of cruelty.

I find your depiction of school exaggerated, maybe we just have better schools here."

My Reply:

I want to touch on this, since I have seen a few people discussing the bullying aspect....

Schools are very different from district to district and state to state.

Most homeschoolers came from public or private schools, themselves.  All homeschoolers have different stories to tell about how good or bad their own schools were.  Not all homeschoolers had bad experiences as children, but many have.

Let me take you back to my schools, when I was growing up.

In classes, we were not allowed to socialize at all.  We were supposed to look up front, pay attention, take our notes, and keep our socializing to between classes, lunch, and the bus.

In between classes, we would head to classes on our own, and 98% of the time, you never saw a teacher in the hallway.  They were all in their classrooms, preparing for their next class.  Fights broke out often, and would continue for many minutes because it took time for someone to find a teacher, and then it took more time for that teacher to come to the location of the fight.  Bullies ran rampant through the locker areas, hallways, stairwells, etc.  I was picked on incessantly for various reasons.  Lunchtime was the only time we were supervised, and even that was from the doorways to the lunchroom, usually by 2 teachers.  Bullying still happened frequently, because it was a big lunchroom with hundred's of kids.

If you complained about a bully to a teacher, you were told "We do not tattle here".

The bus ride home was a nightmare, because the bus drivers did not care what happened on their buses.  If you complained they told you it was not their job to babysit, but to drive a bus.

One year, I had the ENTIRE art class after me for a whole semester because one of the popular girls said I called her a B*tch.  I had not said a word against her, in reality, so I do not understand how it ever became an issue.  But, it did...and every day, DURING Class, I would sit in the chair, with my head down.  I did no work.  The classroom would walk by me and pull my hair, put bubble gun in it, tape signs to my back that said "Kick me", stole my things, hit me, pinched me, etc.  The teacher was in the room and noticed none of it, and I was too embarrassed to say anything to him. 

After the class was over, as I would leave the room, the whole class would come out and chase me down the hall, throwing things at me.  I started hooking class. 

Ultimately, I failed the class.  The bullying I experienced, from Kindergarten through 10th grade (When I started fighting back) was intense.  The bullying happened, primarily, because we were largely unsupervised. 

Is this the scenario for every school, every district, every state?  Absolutely not.  However, it does happen in many schools across America.

NOW...fast forward to my son's first experiences in Private, and then public kindergarten.

My son has attention problems, vision problems, and Dyslexia.  He had many problems with teachers through preschool and kindergarten.

His first day of kindergarten, I put a smiling, happy, eager child on the bus.  We had built him up for it, telling him how much he would love school.  He rode away that morning, waving to me and smiling.  When I went in that afternoon, to pick him up (he was on afternoon parent pickup), he came out with his head hung down and not a hint of a smile on his face.  He burst into tears as soon as I got him.

He told me that he got a note from the teacher.

The note said that he got in trouble all day for talking to other students, and not paying attention during circle time. 

For the next 32 days, he would go to school with a sad look on his face.  He would end up turning a behavior card by 9:30.  (Usually because he was talking to another student), and was kicked out of class so many times that he began to fail kindergarten.

He came home in tears everyday, and told me that his teacher hated him, that she would grab his wrists and pull him out of class to send him to time out in another "older" classroom. He said that the kids made fun of him because of the fact that the teacher did not like him, and because he always got in trouble, and because he was "Dumb"

When 15 days went by, we had the first parent teacher conference.  I sat there with her for 90 minutes.  In that time, I heard all the stories about how horrible my son was, how she didn't know what to do with him, how he was disruptive, didn't pay attention, stared at the walls or out the window.  When the conference had come to almost the end, I inquired about if there was anything he does right.  For the last five minutes she told me that he scored really high on his placement tests, and was smart, but that he did not apply himself.

She closed up the session to say she was going to get help from the VP, a behavior specialist, a school psychologist, and us.  A meeting was set up for the following week between all of us.  They made suggestions to her, which she sounded very aggravated about having to try..and said "That will never work", before even trying it.

We continued to have many problems with her, and with other kids bullying him.  Once, I went to pick him up and he was not with the other kids.  He was still with her in the classroom.  I walked in, without her realizing it, and found her berating him for not being quiet in line at the end of the day, while waiting for parents to pick up.  She was in his face and had a hold of his upper arm.  He was close to tears.  When she saw me she let him go, and in exasperation said "I can't get him to listen!!".

His last day, I picked up a crying child.  He told me that his butt hurt and that he had an accident.  Come to find out, he was not allowed to use the bathroom because when they would send my five year old, by himself, to use  the bathroom... he would end up playing in the water.  Instead of sending someone to supervise him, he was told he could not go.  He pooped his pants.  This was at 11:30.  They sent him, by himself, to clean himself up.  He did not do a good enough job of it.

He was never changed, even though he had a change of clothes in his locker.  We were never called, even though they had all of our numbers.  We did not pick him up until 3:15.

He was called poopie head all afternoon by the other students.  He told me "Mommy, I didn't know how to clean it all out of my underwear, and I wanted you, so bad, so that you could help me."

I had to go buy diaper cream for my five year old because he was chapped.

I was crushed, and did not send him for two days.  On the third day... I had decided, after much reflection, to homeschool him.  I called the school to speak with  his teacher about collecting all of his work and locker things for me to pick up.

She informed me, (Even though he had only been out for two days, and she did not know that I was going to homeschool until that conversation) that she had already packed everything that he had up, and that the box was already down at the office...I could pick it up at any time.

I could not believe it.  She had packed him all up, before ever receiving notice that he would not be returning.

I inquired at the school about why I was never called and why he was not changed into the clothes I had left in his locker.  They told me that the teacher forgot about the clothing in the locker, and figured that when they sent him to clean himself up that it would have been enough.

I never sent him back, and he has never completely regained his self esteem. 

He is thriving in homeschool, in spite of still having attention problems.

My point in all of this, is that not all schools are bad schools...but The ones in my area are.

In homeschool, we are in a cooperative and we are part of a homeschool group.

Does bullying happen?  Absolutely...but parents supervise.  We make sure that it does not get out of hand, like it can in the public schools like the ones I have experience with.

From an early age, part of our homeschooling is Bully prevention...and it happens daily, throughout the day.  By the time  they are middle and high schoolers, many homeschoolers know that bullying is not even an option.  You, of course, have your bad apples...but most are kind teens who help rather than harm.

Most of the teens I know in homeschool are some of the most intelligent, kind hearted, helpful people I have ever met.  I have homeschooled for four years, so far...and I have yet to meet a homeschool teen who bullies his or her peers, the way I have experienced in the school system here in Maryland.

The public school kids in my area are little demons, but again...this is only my experience.  Other public schools are different, and I have heard great things about them.  Homeschooling works for us though...and I would not change it at all.


Add A Comment


Nov. 13, 2010 at 3:31 PM

I want to say, first of all...what a nightmare!!!!  I applaud your decision to take him out of school and homeschool him.

I cringe when I read stories like this.....especially since I was a teacher for 21 years-in both the Catholic and public school...I went to school in the 60s and this is how school was conducted....in grade school and at times in highschool.   I feel too many teachers still have this same mentality....They maybe teach like they were taught....

I probably learned the most about teaching when I finally became a bilingual/ESL teacher.  I could relate because I was a foreign exchange student to Bolivia in 1970....(also studied Russian in the Army) and knew what it was like to learn another language....It helped a great deal to have parents who still respected the teacher, also.

I also knew a lot about how important is is to have self-esteem....I didn't  have very much when I was in grade school- I stuttered....and was bullied by my older brother and kids at school....I did still, however have a heart for the underdog and what was right....I got stronger and stronger, especially after I lived overseas....

I saw bullying in the three at-risk schools I taught in where I live now in Texas.  ...Some kids from other classes occasionally took advantage of my kids because they did not know English.....I was at more than one conference where I was translating for a child and a mom....telling them how NOT ALL Amercans are like this while being in the presence of  a snot of a kid who was not only denying what he did....but also smokescreening and bullying ME ..ABSOLUTELY NO RESPECT.....I was proud on those days, especially when I could make a stand for my kids....and assertively tell that kid...I wasn't going to take it from him, either....The culprits always got punished....Justice was served....

In my last school we had the most amazing faculty......We all had a sense of treating every child like an individual, to get the very best out of each one....in EVERYTHING.....

Once again...I believe you made an excellent decision... taking responsibility for your child's education.....There should be more people like you..... 



Message Friend Invite

Want to leave a comment and join the discussion?

Sign up for CafeMom!

Already a member? Click here to log in