NOTE: This story is reprinted just as it came to me. I post this while trying to type through tears and wondering how many other precious children are being tormented with a school system that has lost its true focus. How many personal accounts like this must be written before we say enough is enough. How many must cry out before out legislators understand they must get the federal government and the profiteers out of our classrooms, and replace them with the nurturing, guiding system that real educators dream of.
angie summers, WV Against Common Core
Monday, April 13, 2015
To Whom It May Concern:
I’m writing this letter as a concerned parent of a teenage girl. I’d like to take this opportunity to tell her story. I have not included our names because of fear of retaliation and embarrassment for our daughter.
I’ll begin with the year that her mom and I got married. The year was 2008 and we had moved from Genoa WV to Wayne WV. Our daughter was excited to start a new school and make new friends. That September she started fourth grade at Wayne Elementary. Within a few short weeks we started to notice a change in our daughter. At night she would cry until she made herself sick. Needless to say there were many sleepless nights back then. Our daughter’s grades began to slip and she was having trouble making new friends. Her teacher would call daily because our daughter would be disruptive and cry in class. One day we were on our way to work when we got a phone call from the school, apparently she had an accident while at school. When we got the school, she was in the office waiting on us. She had soiled herself and wanted to go home. Instead, we decided to talk with the Principle. The principal immediately recognized that our daughter was suffering from separation anxiety. The principle and us made the decision to have our daughter clean herself up, change clothes and return to class. Our decision that day didn’t change a thing with our daughter’s behavior or grades, we tried punishing her with grounding of TV and going anywhere other than school, if anything it got worse. After six months of pure hell, we decided the best thing was to move back to Genoa WV.
Once our daughter was back at Genoa Elementary School, her overall well-being started to improve. However, her grades didn’t. As the end of the year neared, we had a meeting with her teacher. We expressed our concerns with our child being promoted to fifth grade even though she was failing math. I voiced my concern that this child couldn’t do basic addition and subtraction without a calculator or counting on her fingers. The response I got was we allow children to use calculators now. The teacher than went on to say the reasoning our daughter was so behind was because of how poorly she did at Wayne the first half of the year, she had improved some once we moved and that the teacher felt that our daughter was prepared for the next grade. We disagreed but the teacher pushed her through to the fifth grade anyway, we had no say so.
Summer came and went and before we know it a new school year started. Our daughter did wonderful in all subjects accept one, Math. She was still struggling with basic math. She couldn’t grasp the multiplication or division. Every night was filled with helping with math. We tried flash card, computer programs, and things we were taught. Again we were told that she was doing well by her teacher although her report card said different, and we again punished her with grounding from TV, cell phone and not going anywhere other than school. So the end of the year comes and I request again that she be held back because I believed she didn’t have the skills to go on the next grade. I was denied again.
So new year, new school and the same problems. Our daughter got to Wayne Middle school and struggled with class sizes and subject matter. Not only did she start off failing Math but English soon followed. The teachers had great things to say about her. Things like she is a social butterfly and she is friendly and outgoing. As the year goes by, we start noticing little things in our daughter’s behavior. When we helped her with homework she would either start yelling that she was stupid and retarded, or start crying. We also noticed that she was having problems concentrating on the task at hand, so we talked to a professional councilor friend of ours about it. That friend recommended that we have our daughter tested for ADHD. So we did and it turned out she had it. Not once had anyone within the public school system picked up on this. Our daughter began the medicine and it worked for a while. Her grades started improving and she actually started passing. The only problem with her after being medicated was weight loss and zombie like behavior.
Sixth grade turned into seventh grade and then into eighth grade. About half way through eighth grade, we started to notice that she zombied out. She was no longer that talkative little girl that was full of energy. Our daughter’s grades started to slip again and when we asked her about it, she confessed that she wasn’t taking her medicine because she didn’t like how it made her feel. So we took her off of it and guess what happened? She began to fail again. By the end of eighth grade, there I was again, in the principal’s office talking to the assistant principal about my daughter not being ready for High School. He told me that most of the students had just given up by last six weeks and were burned out. Again, she was promoted even though I expressed that she needed held back.
On to ninth grade, our daughter began the year full of energy and excitement. She was finally in High School. She was placed in two English classes, one remedial English and English 9. She was also placed in a remedial Math class and Math 9. Almost instantly she had trouble with the remedial English. Again the comments from her of being stupid, retarded and “I can’t do anything right” started again. She would also blame the teachers. Saying they were mean or won’t help her when she asked for it. We went to the teacher conference and the teacher told us she had low test scores. She said our daughter would do the work but not study for test. Our daughter also did poorly in both math classes. Her remedial math teacher told us that she noticed our daughter struggling and started to give her a little more one on one time. The teacher said that this seemed to help out our daughter. Her grades in that class started to improve and that class became her favorite class of the year. We still paid close attention to our daughter’s grades and by the end of the semester we were in the principle office discussing how to help our daughter. We met with Mrs. Stapleton, her science teacher Mr. Wright, and her remedial math teacher Mrs. Buches. When Mrs. Buches told about what she had done with our daughter, than Mr. Wright started give her extra credit work and our daughter passed science. At the close of this meeting, we had gotten ideas on how to get our daughter organized with folders, post it notes, flash cards, and an assignment journal. Her mother or I would check these things everyday. We also found about after school tutoring from 3 pm until 4 pm, but with two working parents that don’t get off work until 5 pm, this option was not possible. These things seemed to help because she managed to pass by the skin of her teeth.
That summer, our daughter was accepted into the Upward Bound program and spent the summer at Marshall University. She even won an award for creative writing in English while at this program. We figured if she did this program during the summer it would help her the next school year. She tends to forget what she learned over the summer months like most students.
It’s now time for Tenth grade and the problems all come to the breaking point. As the school year begins, we attend another parent teacher conference. We are told our daughter is quite and non disruptive. However, her grades don’t show that. She again is failing math, English, social studies. As we talk to the teachers we hear the same thing, low test scores and missing assignments. And again we did the usual punishments thinking it was her fault as the teachers and principle proposes that it’s her unwillingness to participate.
During the first six weeks, our daughter got bullied by a neighborhood kid at school. I would not let her fight the bully because it wouldn’t solve any problems, just cause more problems between the parents. I went as far as calling the high school to make them aware of the bullying and the school did nothing. Not even a return phone call to me.
At this point our daughter’s self esteem started to be affected. She stated that she just wanted to die. This took an emotional toll on my daughter. It also started affecting her physically, she started having stomach issues. She under went x-rays, gallbladder testing, and being scoped for an ulcer. The doctor found nothing and said all the physical problems were from the stress of getting bullied. She ended up missing a lot of school through the second six weeks. My wife was at it again with emails to teachers and by the time we heard anything from them it was so far into the six weeks she couldn’t make up the work. Some would reply with simple yes or no answers. Again, no help from teachers. This affected her grades because she couldn’t keep up with the rest of the class and failed again.
After Christmas break the emotional strain of the first semester took its toll on our daughter. We took her to the doctor and she admitted to the doctor that she was thinking about suicide because she just couldn’t handle everything. The doctor put her on an antidepressant and an anxiety medicine.
The fourth six weeks was full of bad weather. They school crammed six weeks of teaching into less than four weeks. Kids couldn’t keep up including my child. During this time my wife was emailing teachers and checking engrades daily to make sure our daughter was getting all work done. Some teachers responded but most didn’t and by the time grades were posted by the teachers it was the end of the six weeks and too late for my daughter to get caught up with the others in her class. Again Failing grades were brought home and as before she was punished for this by taking her cell phone and not being permitted to go anywhere other than school. These punishments have never had an effect. We always got the same response. She would try her best but would fail anyway.
The fifth six weeks of her sophomore year had started with another phone call to the principle and teachers with the same response; to get her tutoring or do summer school.
As said before tutoring wasn’t an option for working parents. Near the end of March, I called Ms Stapleton again and we discussed what could be done as far as our daughter failing another six weeks and again it was tutoring and summer school. I also inquired about the SBAC testing and how to opt my child out. Ms. Stapleton said there was no opting out, so I left it at that.
Right before spring break our daughter started acting out again, we found her locked in the bathroom cutting herself and crying. When we confronted her on why she was doing this to herself, she said it took some of the bad feelings away. She said she felt dumb, stupid, and not good enough for anything or anyone. We took her to the doctor as soon as we could get her in. The doctor doubled her dosage of antidepressants and anxiety meds. And she has an appointment to start going to see a Marshall University psychologist in August.
This is the last six weeks of the year and I came to the high school to talk to Ms. Welker, the school guidance counselor. We discussed all the problems our daughter has had since the fourth grade except the cutting. She pulled up Engrades and looked at all her grades and missing assignments and called the math teacher Ms. Ross and I was told that my daughter never asked any questions and doesn’t do her assignments.
She then called for my daughter to come to the office and we asked her questions to why she doesn’t do the assignments. She said she tried but the teacher wouldn’t take them as it was too late. My daughter said “why should I try when I’m just going to fail anyway”. Then Ms. Welker suggested she be tested for learning disability, which never crossed our minds. Not one teacher or principal has ever suggested she be tested. So this was something that my wife and I both realized needs to be done, and made us realize that maybe it’s not all on her but that she has been left behind all along. The testing is scheduled to begin her junior year.
Since spring break my wife and I have educated ourselves on opting out of the SBAC testing. During my meeting with Ms Welker, I expressed my right as a parent to decide what my child’s education needs are. This standardize test takes away valuable learning time that my daughter desperately needs. I turned in an opt- out form to the assistant principal that day. We feel that standardized tests are a waste of valuable teaching time and a waste of tax payer’s money. There is to much stressed imposed on the students by teachers and administrator so they can receive more federal funding.
We are very proud of our daughter. She has overcome many obstacles in her short life including ADHD. She has excelled in choir and is a member of the Wayne Singers. She also spent a year in track and field, even though she wasn’t that good at it. She still decided to finish what she started, rather then quitting. That’s the kind of well balanced young adult we are raising.
In conclusion, We believe that Wayne County School System has failed our daughter, caused emotional & physical damage that cannot be repaired due to their lack of cooperation. The entire school system, including the Board of Education, needs to be held accountable to the taxpayers of this county and state. Because of the no child left behind act our child has had struggles and slipped through the cracks and is in fact being left behind. If one child is going through this, how many more are going through this and have not yet come fourth?
Our opinion as parents and taxpayers is one child to go through all this is one too many.
A concerned parent and taxpayer