One thing I will swear on a stack of Bibles to anyone who asks me is that Principle Beth Conaway (whose son was convicted of and is serving time for rape) once told me, when I told her that my daughter’s bully could not be in the same classroom as her, and I quote, “Bullies have rights too.”
So, to Dr. Conaway, no, they don’t.
And so, in June of 2019, Dave and I came to the financially very difficult decision that our local public school would no longer work for us.
And we enrolled, for our last year of elementary school, in The Jefferson School.
I knew we couldn’t afford it for even one year.
I knew we couldn’t afford it indefinitely at all.
But, since Dr. Conaway feels that it is fine for bully’s rights to supersede the rights of their victims, I knew we had no choice but to try. (and Cape School District, shame on you. How many school districts do you know where the elementary principle is the mother of a convicted rapist? By the way, where is that circular filing cabinet where you put all of our bullying reports?)
In any case, after a month at The Jefferson School (TJS) we discovered that our child had been so under-served that we had no choice but to move her back a year. So, instead of one last year of elementary school and then try the public middle school, TWO more years of elementary school.
Okay. We think we can skip the mortgage every other month and not get foreclosed for… awhile.
I mean, I’m a parent, what other choice can I make?
And so, we were repeating 4th grade.
And in a repeat of 4th grade at TJS our daughter blossomed.
Grades got better.
She told me just yesterday that her birthday at TJS was the best birthday she ever had at school, ever. I mean, what is home-ownership compared to that? You just can’t put a price on it.
But, it was soon after she transitioned to 4th grade that we learned that the school was closing. We hadn’t been told when we enrolled. What we were told, when we were finally told, was that we were all being transferred to the local charter school.
Of course that didn’t happen.
The children who got into the charter school where, first and foremost, the children of the head of the TJS board, the very board who negotiated the sale of the private school to the charter school district. The guy, a former Dogfish Head beer bigwig named, appropriately, Benz, got his kids in, but beyond his kids about 4 more TJS kids got in in total.
The lottery, after the siblings of kids already in the charter school were all admitted, was supposedly random.
Was it “fair and random?” Is that how Benz’ kids got in? Fairly and randomly? Maybe. Well, and maybe they are luckier than us. Rich kids usually are.
How would we peons ever know? Some things in life are unknowable, and un-win-able.
And so, here we found ourselves faced with a terrible, for us, decision. Send our kid back to a school where bullies have more rights than victims, or homeschool.
So, we’re going to homeschool.
And this is where I, finally, come back to the first thing we got from TJS.
From TJS we learned that, yes, we can homeschool. The teachers at TJS were lovely, and invested, and accommodating. We never missed a day from the shutdown, and they taught our daughter that she could self-teach, and they taught us that we could successfully be stuck at home with our daughter all day, and it could be productive time all shut-in together.
So, though I initially quite literally lost it when I realized we couldn’t go to the charter school, and that we had been lied to, over and over, by TJS management, we were gifted the framework and experience to homeschool, and I think, though it is not ideal for our active and social daughter, we can do it. We certainly cannot go back to her public school.
And then, coronavirus…
Even if she had gotten in to the charter school, I do NOT want her going into a pandemic zone. And, had we gotten in, I think I would have felt so afraid of losing the spot, that I would have sent her, putting her life or my mom’s life at risk, and quarantining from my own mother. So the hard decision about whether or not to send our kid our to school, it is not even on my plate, and for that, I am grateful, because I truly feel, based on the science about the virus, the return to the classroom is foolhardy.
So, TJS was a great school. Sophie was a goat-keeper there (yes, she tended the goats), and she will miss it, I think.
But, we will be safer, if not in a perfect bubble, in our little world this year, because we will not be in a school full of kids, and so many possible avenues to the virus.
As you know, if you read my little blog, my brother just died quite unexpectedly, and that leaves my mother, my sister, and I in my family, and we cannot take any more loss this year.
But we do not have to give up school, or choose health over school, because the TJS teachers gifted us with such a nice model of how to run ourselves at home, and taught our daughter that she can learn, and she is intelligent, and she doesn’t have to give her bully more rights than she gives herself.
And who do we have to thank for this? The school itself?
The school management?
May the teachers who taught our daughter be safe during this pandemic, and may all school districts know some sense and not give into parental bullying, and keep their teachers safe, and at home, until this pandemic is managed or vaccinated.