Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #63
Epic Charter School is back in the news. This time is in regards to the connection between those who work for the company that operates Epic Charter School and political candidate contributions.
I would love to know what you guys think about this? I can offer my opinion, but I'm afraid this time I have mixed emotions. I believe that Epic Charter School provides an alternative to brick and mortar schools, one that I believe is desperately needed. I don't fully understand the relationship between the company that operates Epic and the actual school. I know that there is an extremely hefty price charged as operating costs and I believe that money could be spent in better ways but aren't these two separate issues?
I don't love that anything negative about the school is being piled on, blurring the lines. Below is the article, share your thoughts in the comments and I'll be sure to respond!
Click here for the news article
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #59
Check out the report card that was recently released! Since Chandler would be at Catoosa's Wells Middle School if he weren't at Epic, I've included screen shots linked to the actual report cards for both Epic and Catoosa. Let's hear your thoughts, leave me a comment and I'll respond!
Catoosa Wells Middle School
Epic Charter School - Middle School
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #58
This is probably one of my favorite articles to date about charter schools in Oklahoma. I feel like it is as least the most objective stance I've seen in the news!
Click here for the article!
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #57
I don't know what the solution is, I fully agree that traditional brick and mortar schools have some work to do if they want to stop hemorrhaging enrollments to charter schools but I have a hard time believing that advertising is all they are lacking. Nothing is ever that simple and after our personal experiences, I just don't believe it. What do you guys think?
Check out the article here!
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #34
Many of my recent posts appear in support of charter schools but to be honest, I'm on the fence about it. It is a lot of work on the parent and the child, and they are learning in a vacuum, not to mention the lack of social interaction. It is hard to navigate all the different requirements, assignments, due dates, systems that you need to be proficient with to be successful.
We haven't committed one way or the other but my hope is that Chandler goes back to public school next year. He misses his friends, he misses the activities he was a part of and I miss my sanity.
I don't regret our charter school experience, in fact I would do it all over again because I think Chandler was forced to learn a new set of skills. Now he has a much better understanding of the importance of doing his homework, and he has figured out how to be resourceful and self-sufficient. I think with the new skills being a charter school has taught him will serve him well going back to brick and mortar public school.
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #33
I came across this video that hit home for me. I needed to hear what Cy Wakeman was saying. My favorite quote from this is “Everyone knows what great looks like, unfortunately, we use it to judge other people by, instead of calling ourselves up to greatness."
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #32
I serve on a non-profit board, and I recently expressed my interest in taking on a more significant role which sparked the need for the board president to have a conversation around professional development with me.
My opinion, feedback is a necessary component of life, especially at work. I don't want to walk around like a dummy blissfully ignorant that everyone around me knows this thing that I need to work on, but no one has told me.
Still, I have this whole process that I have to follow to receive the feedback. I care about my development, and I always want to be working to become a better version of myself, and that means I need to be able to take criticism and feedback constructively.
I haven't always been good at receiving feedback, but I have improved over the years thanks in large part to being prepared to have hard conversations.
I know that it's going to be uncomfortable and awkward and I'm not going to love the feeling in the pit of my stomach and as bad as I want to defend myself, try to explain or make excuses, that is not going to get me to the results I want. That is playing the short game and success is in the long game. So instead of taking it personally, I think of it as a skill that is not currently in my toolbox but that I am capable of learning if I'm willing.
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #31
Great article that came out about Accountability not being an issue with Oklahoma Virtual Schools (schools like Epic)
Point of Views: Accountability not an issue with Oklahoma public virtual schools
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #30
The last few weeks it seems like you can't pick up the paper without reading a headline about charter schools. The most recent Tulsa World article is probably my favorite one so far:
A study in contrasts: Most Tulsa County districts lose students while virtual school student numbers soar
I love the message from Websters principal, and I honestly believe that if more schools followed the same strategy, enrollment numbers wouldn't be such a concern.
What I don't understand is how TPS doesn't already understand how and why families are deciding to leave. It is all over Facebook and probably every other social media platform. All it would take is a few simple conversations with the parents of the kids who are leaving.
I digress, I will only speak for myself. We were desperate for a change, something different. A positive school experience. One where Chan didn't come home every day with tears in his eyes. Or scared to death of the trouble he would be in at home for something that happened at school, terrified to get on the bus because of the way some of the other kids treated him or completely and utterly defeated by the system as a whole.
I would love not to have a child in a public charter school. I would like for him to go back to Catoosa and hope to make that a reality as soon as possible. Deciding to transfer a child to public charter school, more specifically in our case, Epic is hard. It is far more work than public school. It requires a significant commitment from the student and the parents.
There is no blending in with curriculum specifically tailored to each student and their individual learning needs. Chandler has learned more this year than in previous years. He has become so resourceful and self-driven.
The downside is the lack of social interaction with his peers. Sure, we try to supplement as much as possible by signing him up for activities, taking him to extracurriculars, keeping him active in Taekwondo, etc. but it will never match what public schools have to offer.
I hope that our public school systems don't wait to implement strategies to bring some of the individual development opportunities that charter schools already offer. Most parents want what is best for their children. I know that I do and every day I work to make the best choices and decisions possible for my son. Somedays it feels more like choosing the lesser of two evils. Other days I just know that I've forfeited my entry into the mom of the year contest, but hey, we all do the best we can and hope that it is enough, that we have prepared our children with enough tools and a big enough toolbox for them to go out into the world and find success.
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #29
I've been posting about our experience enrolling and getting started at Epic Charter School. This post picks up from being assigned a teacher.
First, your teacher will set up a time to meet with you. Chan's teacher always comes to our house to meet with us, and the first meeting was no different. She arrived and walked us through what we could expect and coordinated a day and time for Chandler to do map testing.
MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing is a way to precisely measure student performance and growth. The way I understand it is, NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) created the MAP assessment and partnered with Edmentum (creators of Study Island) to offer a fully integrated solution that takes the results from the MAP testing and creates learning paths using the Study Island curriculum.
The way it works is, at the beginning of the year, you do MAP testing and get your results. Your teacher uploads the results into Study Island where specific learning paths are automatically generated based on your scores from particular areas of the assessment. You spend the semester completing your assigned learning paths. When that semester ends, you retake the MAP assessment. The system generates a new report from both sets of MAP test data that bridges the gap between testing cycles identifying remaining skills to master before state testing.
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #28
Recently there was another news article that came out about Epic Charter School in the Tulsa World titled:
EPIC charter school now recruiting teachers by boasting pay as high as $106,000
I personally like the idea of bonuses for a job well done, my employer does it and I don't see why teachers should be excluded but I don't know what the long term effects of a system like that hold. I would love to hear your thoughts?
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #27
I can and will talk about our experience with Charter school but I thought I would first provide some of the resources that I've used to prepare for writing more blog posts on the topic. I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight before blasting information that may or may not be accurate, aka "fake news" haha! So here we go:
Oklahoma State Department of Education - Charter Schools Program
Oklahoma Public Charter School Association
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
While I feel like I have put forth quite a bit of effort to educate myself, I still don't know everything and most of what I write about is still my opinion, so please consider that when reading anything on my site! My hope is to clarify some points that I think have misused or confusing and start a conversation about how to improve the current state of education in Oklahoma. I also have tons of questions that I'm hoping someone out there can help me answer!!
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #26
The actual process of transferring to Epic Charter School was so easy I was concerned that I didn't do it right.
It took about 5 minutes to fill out the online enrollment, if you are interested here is the link: https://epiccharterschools.org/enroll.
The first thing that comes up is this disclaimer:
After submitting the enrollment application, it took about three days to get the email that advised we were officially enrolled. It took another week before Chandler's teacher was assigned and then our first meeting with her took place a week after that.
In the next several posts I will walk through the rest of the process and our real-world experience so far with Epic Charter School. If you have questions, comments, concerns, please feel free to comment below or reach out to me via social media (use pink buttons below), and we can message back and forth or set up a time to meet or chat one on one.
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #25
When we left public brick and mortar school, we chose Epic Charter School. Recently I have seen several news articles aimed at Epic and some of the information they shared left me with questions, so I did some research on my own.
Here's my disclaimer: I base my opinion on the experiences my family has been through with public school and now with Epic charter school. I love that we have a choice when it comes to school but I'm not blind to the fact that nothing is perfect and since online charter schools are still relatively new to the education space, I'm sure many areas have room for improvement.
That being said, here are links to a few of the news articles:
Skyrocketing student enrollment nets Epic Charter Schools nearly $39 million more in midyear adjustments to state funding for public schools
Tulsa World editorial: Time to scrutinize funding to virtual charter schools
Legislation calls for stronger oversight of virtual charter schools
This next article is probably my favorite and aligns closely with how I feel and what I think:
Student needs matter more than school delivery model
I am in full agreement that there is a need for a credible review. I hope that if an investigation takes place, the report itself focuses on improving education without losing the innovative advances achieved in the virtual school space.
We decided to transfer to Epic because we were unhappy with our public school experience. I could go into more detail, but I think the critical thing to remember is that the fact that so many are transferring to charter schools tells a story. The numbers say that having an alternative to brick and mortar school is needed.
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #23
I thought I would try making a YouTube video for this post rather than write a blog post! Let me know what you think in the comments!
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #22
We entered 6th grade with high hopes thinking that this might be the year that things start to get better! I thought that maybe switching classes, getting up and moving to a different subject several times a day might help Chandler focus on the topic at hand.
The second week of school my mom was taken to the emergency room, and two weeks after that, she passed away. My mom was amazing. The most optimistic, caring, understanding, giving person I've ever known. She was my person, my voice of reason, my sounding board, my safety net, my reminder that no matter what everything was going to be ok.
I want to say that I endured and still maintained being an engaged mom of a 6th-grade boy, but if I'm honest, I could've been better. I could have done more. In some ways, I failed Chandler. It is hard admitting that but I know I'm not the first person to stumble and I won't be the last. All we can do is get back up and be better.
Chandler was a Mamaw's boy from the day he was born. After losing his Aunt Sherry just two years before that, he took it pretty hard. We tried counseling again, and I'm not sure if it helped much or not, but I felt like that was what we were supposed to do so we did.
The weekly (sometimes daily) phone calls started coming from his school again, and the issues ranged from "he didn't turn in his homework" or "he can't eat lunch because he has a past due balance of $0.20". Around the middle of the year, we received a call from the principal.
The principal (who I like and have great respect for) said that there had been an issue during lunch with Chandler and three other boys. After speaking with all 4 of the boys involved, several witnesses, and one of the teachers, I got a summed up version of what happened.
Apparently, during one of Chan's morning classes, he and another boy finished their work early and asked the teacher if they could play computer games. The teacher said yes so they played. I guess Chandler won the game and the other boy was mad about it. At lunchtime the boy got two of his friends and began picking on Chandler, pushing him, trying to trip him, trying to hit him, and Chandler fought back.
All of the boys were fine, a few minor scratches, but because of the incident and the previous trouble he had been in, he ended up spending the rest of the school year in isolation. He was left to fend for himself, learning from a computer software program (online curriculum) with no teacher, just an adult in the room to serve as a monitor.
By the end of the year, I knew that he wouldn't go back to Catoosa again for 7th grade. We had to make a change. I started researching our options and settled on giving public charter school a try.
Stay tuned, so much more to come on this adventure of ours!
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #20
I live in the same house I was born and raised in, I attended Catoosa Public Schools for all 13 years. The one thing that I was sure of when I found out that I was pregnant with Chandler was that he would also go to Catoosa. My roots run deep within our small community. My mom retired from the school system after many years of service and my sister taught 3rd grade at JW Sam Elementary so there was no question in my mind where Chandler would attend.
My sister hand-picked Chandler's teachers through 3rd grade and while we did struggle through those years, it wasn't more than what I expected it to be. My sister passed away unexpectedly Chandler's 3rd-grade year. He happened to be in the class right across the hall from where her room was. Let me tell you. It was hell on us the rest of the year to have to walk by there. I didn't have to do it nearly as much as Chandler did and I can't possibly try to put myself in his shoes nor would I want to.
We sought out counseling. I tried to stay as engaged as I could with Chan's teachers and classes. 4th grade is a bit of a blur for me, I don't remember it being terrible, but there were so many other terrible things we were going through at the time that maybe it was awful but all things relative, it didn't make the priority list.
For me, 5th grade was the pivot point. That was when everything started progressing in the wrong direction, and I no longer felt I had any control or ability to course correct. I started getting conflicting messages from school and Chan's teachers. One day, they would tell me he needed to be on an IEP because his impulse control and ADHD was limiting him and would have negative consequences on him in the future without one. The next day, I would get a note that said they would like to recommend him for advanced classes. A week or two later I would get a progress report that said he was failing a subject.
Chandler was getting in trouble more often, being sent to the office to finish his school work because he was disruptive in class. I would visit the school and walk down to his classroom and find him alone at a desk in the hallway left to fend for himself while listening to his teacher interact with the rest of the class on the other side of the closed classroom door.
I was reaching my breaking point around the end of Chandler's 5th-grade year, so my goal was to get through the end of the year. Just make it to the summer reevaluate and before the start of 6th grade have a new plan in place.
At the time, I didn't know that 6th grade would be the year that would break me, but it would, in fact, break me. More to come on that next time.
Blog Challenge "100 posts in 100 days" Post #19
My son Chandler is brilliant, vibrant, witty, loving, and since the first week of pre-k, public school has been a source of frustration, rejection, and it provided a large audience of kids (and their parents) and teachers to misunderstand him.
Two separate doctors used three different assessments to diagnose him as ADHD. I did not want him on medication, and I fought it for two more years before I decided I would take off work and spend an entire week sitting in his classroom observing him amongst his peers before finally giving in and agreeing to try a medication. That decision was the start of what would be a long, uphill battle.
I plan on dedicating several posts to this topic and talk in more detail about our experience (through my eyes), but for the sake of keeping this blog post short, I'm going to jump right to the deciding factors that encouraged us to transfer to a public charter school for 7th grade.
Chandler struggled to connect and make friends at school. He would forget his homework at school, leave his books in his locker, do the homework but forget to turn it in. One week his teacher would call to recommend him for advanced classes and the next week a different teacher would suggest remedial course work.
He was beginning to get in trouble a lot. I received so many phone calls that I started to panic and experience extreme anxiety each time my phone would ring, and I saw that it was his school calling.
By the end of 6th grade, I was exhausted and completely at my wit's end. I was worried about the impact all of this was having and afraid that the consequences were more than we could handle.
The environment Chan was in was not constructive. He wasn't learning; he was surviving and just barely doing that. His attitude slowly started shifting to a more negative tone, and I feared he was becoming depressed.
I fully believe that you are the five people you spend the most time with and since he was getting in trouble a lot, placed in isolation or grouped with other "troublemakers" I worried that it was only going to make things worse.
A change was necessary, and we are fortunate enough to be in the type of situation that allowed for us to be hands on enough to try going to a public charter school.
I've read many articles in the news recently that paint charter schools in a negative light, and for the most part, I see their point of view. But as a mom, I'm so thankful that we had the opportunity to experience school differently and thought I should share.