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Old 11-26-2013, 10:27 AM   #91
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Originally Posted by tankin View Post
I've asked the same question ... My oldest actually had more homework in Kindergarten than in 1st or 2nd grade... Even better, it was her homework instead of my homework (Every night I have the read 15 minutes plus review their sight words plus due any worksheets with them) Then again ... In kindergarten I was working on ABCs ... My kids are writing sentences.
Thank goodness these grades are getting harder! Our education system in the US was turning into a joke. My Kindergartner and 1st grader have to read 20 minutes a night. They can already read so well! The math being given to them is harder than I remember. My reaction? Great!!!!!!!!

To the kid being pushed by his teacher: great! As long as he isn't being unfairly singled out, seems fine to me
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:37 AM   #92
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Start with your local school board and proceed to the state level.

Contrary to popular belief, the Federal government (department of education) has almost no say on these issues - they are handled almost entirely at the state and local level.

Talk to members of your local school board. Talk to your state legislators.
This is both true and not.

Yes, local school boards and state DOEs make policy decisions such as these.

However, the reason many districts are choosing to have no-vacation policies are due to the stresses being put on them to make sure that all students pass standardized tests in order to comply with federal mandates.

When the federal government stops defining "education" as the passing of multiple choice tests and eliminates penalties for districts viewing education as anything else, you may see changes in district policies to see the value of family time and educational travel (along with many other things that are being lost like creativity, innovation, critical thinking, enteprenaurial spirit, perseverance, appreciation for things that are beautiful, and pretty much any of the other characteristics that allowed Walt to be successful.)
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:38 AM   #93
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This is both true and not.

Yes, local school boards and state DOEs make policy decisions such as these.

However, the reason many districts are choosing to have no-vacation policies are due to the stresses being put on them to make sure that all students pass standardized tests in order to comply with federal mandates.

When the federal government stops defining "education" as the passing of multiple choice tests and eliminates penalties for districts viewing education as anything else, you may see changes in district policies to see the value of family time and educational travel (along with many other things that are being lost like creativity, innovation, critical thinking, enteprenaurial spirit, perseverance, appreciation for things that are beautiful, and pretty much any of the other characteristics that allowed Walt to be successful.)
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:47 AM   #94
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I am an elected Board of Ed member. Our student handbook that the administration creates off of school board policy condones travel during non vacation times. Our policy is not vacation friendly however administration have taken some grand liberties when creating the student handbooks and it is annoying.

I'm a bad girl and board member. I rip my kids out of school every fall for 2 weeks to Disney. This makes the administrators and teachers more angry with me than they are with most parents sighting I lead by poor example, in their not so humble opinion. My kids always do all the homework and I've found some of the teachers have actually piled on more as revenge. My DH cannot travel during standard break times as they do not align with his employers vacation close downs.

I've done this year in and year out, my kids remained honor students and none of the gloom and doom projected by their teachers about not being able to recover has never materialized.

Hint: If it is going to be a shorter trip, call them in sick if you can trust your kids to keep their mouths closed or call them out of school for a family emergency or even better for personal reasons. Personal days are afforded to staff and never do districts volunteer this option to students. Remember they cannot ask WHAT the personal days are for, same as staff. It is Personal.
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:04 AM   #95
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Grumpy's wife here, I'm glad my husband posted! To be honest, and I'll probably get reamed for this, there are so many complaints I just want to say STOP and listen to yourselves. Think about what's being said and the validity of it all. When a family goes on a cruise, thousands of other people will be there too. If that's not something you like or can deal with, go somewhere else. If you don't want to be around smoke, don't go to a DESIGNATED smoking area. The point of a vacation is to be with people you care about while you relax and enjoy some time away. How can that be done if no one is courteous enough to compromise? As for policies and rules... It is impossible to please 100% of the population so the best alternative is to create policies that will cover the most important issues pertaining to a huge mass. We as people, and customers, need to UNDERSTAND that not everything will be in our favor. I hear complaints about the cost of the cruise, smoking on the balconies, wearing shorts in the dining room, etc. Shorts in the dining room, really? Who cares? What does someone's outfit have to do with enjoying a meal? As long as the clothing, or lack of, is suitable for all audiences... I don't care what you're wearing. My question is simply put, WHY is it so important that complaints are worth the time and energy they require? If the cost is too high- save longer or choose a different option. If shorts shouldn't be worn in the dining room- don't wear them and don't pay attention to those who do. Really these issues aren't worth being called issues, they seem more like an excuse to complain. I can understand both points about smoking on the balconies. I do not smoke nor do I like to be around it but at the same time, I do not try to make it impossible for others or try to make their smoke breaks miserable. If you want to smoke on the balcony that you PAID for, go for it. I might ask, politely of course, is that if I'm out there with a child when you come out, that you could hold off for a little while, at least a few minutes to get inside. Or I simply go inside on my own and come out later. Compromise. Vacationing during the school year... yes, it's much cheaper and not as crowded (from what I've been told), but then the kid(s) is out of school and has to learn and make up everything on their own (without the teacher). While I think there are some places that could be made into educational experiences, I don't think Disney Cruises fall into that category. Bottom line, we all need to do what is best for our families, but also think about what kind of example we are setting for our kids. Are we really taking them out of school for a Disney Cruise because it's "educational" or because of the great deal that was running? If this same trip was taken during the summer, the only differences being the dates and price, would it still be considered educational? If so, great, I'm happy that you can turn it into an educational opportunity. My husband and I on the other hand, use the "applicable life lessons" as the educational portion for our child. To take vacations, one must work hard, save, and plan. Patiences is a key and learning how to shop around will be extremely useful, that kind of theme. Really all of this is silly, I think. Go on a vacation that you and yours can afford and enjoy. Don't care about what others are doing or wearing, unless it is actually important (could lead to an injury, theft, indecent exposure.... those kinds of issues). Enjoy the special time, make new memories and new friends, think of all the wonderful possibilities. That's what is important about vacations. If your family can only go during the school year, then figure out if it works for you, and enjoy. The negative is pointless and drains everyone. Figure out the compromises you're willing to make and have fun making those precious memories that will live on. Ok, I'm done with my book. If anyone is offended by my post, I apologize. These are my opinions and feelings and I understand not everyone will agree. May you all make the most of your vacations and create many happy memories!
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:05 AM   #96
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Originally Posted by Metsoskil View Post
This is both true and not.

Yes, local school boards and state DOEs make policy decisions such as these.

However, the reason many districts are choosing to have no-vacation policies are due to the stresses being put on them to make sure that all students pass standardized tests in order to comply with federal mandates.

When the federal government stops defining "education" as the passing of multiple choice tests and eliminates penalties for districts viewing education as anything else, you may see changes in district policies to see the value of family time and educational travel (along with many other things that are being lost like creativity, innovation, critical thinking, enteprenaurial spirit, perseverance, appreciation for things that are beautiful, and pretty much any of the other characteristics that allowed Walt to be successful.)
I, as a local BOE member have heard that rhetoric and that is all it is teachers and administrators finding excuses for poor performance. There is not any data that supports that theory or claim families that do not vacation during the school year score higher on standardize tests than students that vacation and trust me, we have challenged that rhetoric, there is zip data to support the vacation theory. They've stopped offering up that excuse. Actually with one of my kids year after year has hit several perfect scores with being pulled from school for 2 weeks annually.

Try and remember to be objective about the administrative gibberish they spew. If the facts they are spewing seem to be a major determinant, likely it is false. This is why there is a need for Federal and State mandates because for decades the excuses for failing standards just become more creative excuses.

If education was handled by the private sector they'd be gone with excuses like they spew.
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:09 AM   #97
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Blame race to the top and standardized testing.

Now EVERYONE has to deal with the Common Core Learning Standards, which based on how dumbed-down everything has been seem ridiculously high, but compared to when I was in school, are normal.
I'm not sure when you went to school, but the students are required to learn so much more at an earlier age now. I teach middle school math, and our students are required to learn concepts I didn't learn until mid-high school (solving systems of linear equations, factoring a square root, etc.) It's to the point that I honestly believe many of them are not cognitively ready for the concepts.

I wholeheartedly believe that education found outside the classroom walls is meaningful and important. However, they do miss a lot of instruction while out. Honestly, many of my parents don't even know how to do the math in middle school themselves. If they can't do the math, how can we expect them to instruct them while on vacation? It's just something to think about.

A child in my class was recently out for a week. The child missed so much instruction that he didn't understand how to do the packets sent home, and his parents didn't know how to help him. I tutored him afterschool for a week in order to catch him up and was happy to do so because he was ill and couldn't help it.

Just really think about it before pulling them out. It's harder than you think for most of them to catch up in middle school math. I don't know about the lower grades. Perhaps it's different.
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:52 AM   #98
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Originally Posted by Gabe1 View Post
I, as a local BOE member have heard that rhetoric and that is all it is teachers and administrators finding excuses for poor performance. There is not any data that supports that theory or claim families that do not vacation during the school year score higher on standardize tests than students that vacation and trust me, we have challenged that rhetoric, there is zip data to support the vacation theory. They've stopped offering up that excuse. Actually with one of my kids year after year has hit several perfect scores with being pulled from school for 2 weeks annually.

Try and remember to be objective about the administrative gibberish they spew. If the facts they are spewing seem to be a major determinant, likely it is false. This is why there is a need for Federal and State mandates because for decades the excuses for failing standards just become more creative excuses.

If education was handled by the private sector they'd be gone with excuses like they spew.
Let's talk data. Does your "zip" data take into account how teachers went above and beyond to help the student when they missed a week? Does your lack of data account the the amount of time and resources allocated to the students who have to be retaught skills, not only that they missed while gone, but the skills they don't understand because they don't have the prerequisites to understand.

The fact is that good teachers will work to get the student up to par. You can't measure that given those variables, so I'm not surprised there is no data.

Look, this is not rocket science. A kid misses a week of school. Yes, he is most likely going to miss important concepts. Some can overcome that with parents who might have the ability to catch them up. Some have good teachers that spend time after hours to help them. No, it's not the end of the world. However, it's not an ideal situation either. It's something you have to really consider carefully for your child.

In my experience, a child who misses a week of school is worse off than one who didn't. Lack of data is no excuse for not considering the decision carefully.

On a side note to anyone in a school board member position: Despite what Neil Boortz says, most of the teachers I know really do care about the students. Instead of calling us out as excuse makers, try listening to our experience and working as a team. It sounds as if you have already closed your mind to the teachers and administrators because you don't respect them as professionals. That's probably the worst attitude possible for working as a team. I come from a family of private business owners, and that attitude doesn't work well in the public or private sector.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:06 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by TCrawford095 View Post
On a side note to anyone in a school board member position: Despite what Neil Boortz says, most of the teachers I know really do care about the students. Instead of calling us out as excuse makers, try listening to our experience and working as a team. It sounds as if you have already closed your mind to the teachers and administrators because you don't respect them as professionals. That's probably the worst attitude possible for working as a team. I come from a family of private business owners, and that attitude doesn't work well in the public or private sector.
Thank you!!

Believe me, I would NOT have put up with all the stuff we get thrown at us - new evaluation systems every year, complete removal of ANY daily living skills from special ed curriculum (which ultimately helped to contribute to the autistic teen who ran away from his school a MONTH AND A HALF ago and has yet to be found - we're so busy focusing on collecting data and making sure every i is dotted and every t crossed on form after redundant form, it's easy to get lost in paperwork), more and more data forms being required so that we wonder when we're supposed to teach, etc., etc. - I would NOT have put up with all of this if I didn't care about the kids. Honestly they are about the only things keeping me from walking out the door and never looking back every single day.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:29 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by TCrawford095 View Post
I'm not sure when you went to school, but the students are required to learn so much more at an earlier age now. I teach middle school math, and our students are required to learn concepts I didn't learn until mid-high school (solving systems of linear equations, factoring a square root, etc.) It's to the point that I honestly believe many of them are not cognitively ready for the concepts.

I wholeheartedly believe that education found outside the classroom walls is meaningful and important. However, they do miss a lot of instruction while out. Honestly, many of my parents don't even know how to do the math in middle school themselves. If they can't do the math, how can we expect them to instruct them while on vacation? It's just something to think about.

A child in my class was recently out for a week. The child missed so much instruction that he didn't understand how to do the packets sent home, and his parents didn't know how to help him. I tutored him afterschool for a week in order to catch him up and was happy to do so because he was ill and couldn't help it.

Just really think about it before pulling them out. It's harder than you think for most of them to catch up in middle school math. I don't know about the lower grades. Perhaps it's different.
In most school systems curriculum is taught to the middle median, that is another reason why those who can afford send their students to private prep schools do so. Most school systems have abolished the tracking system that once elevated the brighter students. The curriculum of early elementary school, educators attempt to catch up the slower learners to the middle of the pack. Focus daily is on the middle and lower learners, little daily focus is placed on specific attention to the upper 1/3. That is what lead me to become a BOE member.

The practice overseas of fueling the upper 1/3 with the same vigor has been very successful. Homework in the US is the attempt to have students become self educated for what doesn't happen in standard school day. Studies show that homework should only be 15 minutes in each subject to only reinforce the concepts that were specifically taught that day. An hour or two of math at night does not reinforce a concept comprehended in the classroom. Either it is redundant busy work or a quick indicator that the concept was not taught well during the school day, the districts fault, not students. Parents should not have to teach anything.

Math is taught at a slow pace in the 3 most popular math curriculum text books. It is explained in simple language to the median intellect of a student in that grade. Parents that can read at an elementary reading level can grasp if they have the mindset to do so if their child is out of school for a family emergency, illness or on vacation.

The true elevated education can be seen by the amount of brilliant foreign students that run rings around our home grown brilliant students at University of Illinois and the University of Southern California. If you see the high percentage of foreign students at these state universities that were meant as state institutions for resident higher learners, the foreign students qualify for admission where many of our own home grown students fall short to qualify. What a good chunk of developed countries overseas have done is have expectations for instruction, instead of blaming parents and students. Parents on a whole are lethargic and act like robots without confronting their elected officials. This can be seen by how few parents ever attend a school board meeting and demand higher education during the school day over self teaching at night. Immediately the blame is on the student for not doing well in math, how many parents question the BOE as to why their students are leaving school at the end of the day not having a solid understanding of concepts that were taught during the day. It bugs me how many parents forget they are their students advocate.

The best thing we could have done with No Child Left Behind would have required every public school teacher to pass the Basic Skills Test instead of just new teachers. Too many were hired for their ability to coach a sport, club or activity over what institution they received their degree from and if they graduated with honors or skated by themselves.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:49 PM   #101
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Let's talk data. Does your "zip" data take into account how teachers went above and beyond to help the student when they missed a week? Does your lack of data account the the amount of time and resources allocated to the students who have to be retaught skills, not only that they missed while gone, but the skills they don't understand because they don't have the prerequisites to understand.

The fact is that good teachers will work to get the student up to par. You can't measure that given those variables, so I'm not surprised there is no data.

Look, this is not rocket science. A kid misses a week of school. Yes, he is most likely going to miss important concepts. Some can overcome that with parents who might have the ability to catch them up. Some have good teachers that spend time after hours to help them. No, it's not the end of the world. However, it's not an ideal situation either. It's something you have to really consider carefully for your child.

In my experience, a child who misses a week of school is worse off than one who didn't. Lack of data is no excuse for not considering the decision carefully.

On a side note to anyone in a school board member position: Despite what Neil Boortz says, most of the teachers I know really do care about the students. Instead of calling us out as excuse makers, try listening to our experience and working as a team. It sounds as if you have already closed your mind to the teachers and administrators because you don't respect them as professionals. That's probably the worst attitude possible for working as a team. I come from a family of private business owners, and that attitude doesn't work well in the public or private sector.
We worked that data from when kids were absent a week or more. There was not data to support the claim that children suffered from being out of school to mess with standardized testing. Yes, they have to make up the work but just so the student does the work they missed they do not fail to do well on standardized tests. IF a parent is too brain dead to be able to comprehend text books written at grade level for elementary school reading, writing, spelling or math, then yes, maybe they should not take their kids out of school. My experience with K-8 text books is that most parents can, if they so choose comprehend the text. If what is taught outside the text that is designed for NCLB concepts it will not be tested for in standardized testing. That is why in High School with so many national students educated by state by state curriculum, high school students can take a uniformed ACT and SAT college placement test.

It is concepts learned over a year whether it is taught by parents or teachers. There is too much over thinking of how much is lost by a week or two during the school year over concepts grasped over an entire year. My parents took my sister and I along with our text books out of school from March 1st to April 15th every year during my childhood to go down to our vacation home in South Florida. We came back to school to finish the school year ahead of our peers. Elementary concepts are not difficult to teach to the general population of students. It isn't that complicated.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:17 PM   #102
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I am fairly certain that an excused absence is one for which the school is given prior notice, or for which contact has been made by a parent or guardian (calling in sick).
As long as your child is not falling behind, these are not an issue.

Unexcused absences are cases in which a student does not show up, with no reason or parental contact. These are an issue, counted per year.

Truancy is an instance where a child is found skipping school, generally by a Truancy Officer.

Taking your child on vacation is not a crime. It is ridiculous to suggest as much.

But most importantly, the school does not supercede the parent. Parents make personally decisions for their families - decisions that MAY be explained to the school as a courtesy.
YOU are in charge of how you raise your child, not your local school.

It's no wonder that homeschooling is on such an upswing, with the way schools behave as if they know what is better for your child than you do.
Grumpy here..

1. Would love to see where one school lists vacation as an excused absence. I have looked around and this is the closest that I can find in the US "For an excused absence for educational reasons, the intent of the experience should have been educational from the outset and comparable to that which the student would have experienced in school. Family trips and vacations that were not designed, initially, to be educational will not be excused. Signing this form documents that this absence is for valid educational purposes.

2. Full Definition of TRUANT : one who shirks duty; especially : one who stays out of school without permission (see above).

Every school system that I have found (US, Canada, UK) has punishments for failure to attend school and I have not found one that lists vacation or "family holiday" as an excused absence. Granted, 8% of absences in the UK school system were claimed "family holiday". In fact, The Guardian has an article from 19 February 2012 "The education secretary, Michael Gove, is to crack down on parents who take children out of school to go on holiday." http://www.theguardian.com/education...-term-holidays

Mandatory attendance in school IMHO is questionable at best. My child is a straight A student. There are attendance laws on the books for every school system that I have found in the countries mentioned above.

Granted you will do what you see best as will I and no matter how much discussion or arguing continues on this board, or the many others, will change that.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:38 PM   #103
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Just a random thought and not meant to cause discourse but why is a vacation unexcused, and going to state competition for anything (music, sports, ect) excused. My cousin got into a very prestigious honors band that the travel to, the performances them selves , and the trip back, took up a week of school. Music is VERY important and I think far too ignored but for the purpose of this discussion, how did that really help her academically? I mean sure it could help her get a college scholarship in the future but that's not what we're talking about. The school sent her, and an instructor out of state for a week. It wasn't a tutor to help her with her make up work, it was a band teacher.

The work still had to be made up, she still missed out on ALL of her classes, packets still had to be sent along. The only difference here was the school sent her, her parents didn't ask to take her out. At least that's the only difference I can see, that and I'm sure the school enjoyed being represented at such an event. Perhaps I'm wrong and I'm thinking about these two things in the wrong way....
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:42 PM   #104
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As another poster stated, in most districts in Texas, they're really strict about absences and tardies.

"This District may file a complaint against the parent(s)/guardian(s) and /or student in a justice or municipal court if a student in required to attend school and fails to do so without an excuse on 3 or more days or parts of days within a four-week period. AISD must file a complaint against the parent(s)/guardian(s) and /or student in a justice or municipal court if a student is required to attend school and fails to do so without an excuse on 10 or more days or parts of days within a six–month period."

They can also require you to attend "why my kid needs to get to school on time" class. My ex had to do that.

I wonder if they'd be quite so strict if their state funding weren't based on the student being in the chair by 9am. Not in the seat: no money for the day for that kid. I think they get about $45/day.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:47 PM   #105
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Just a random thought and not meant to cause discourse but why is a vacation unexcused, and going to state competition for anything (music, sports, ect) excused.
Ooohhhhh, pulling back that sticky curtain of Hypocrisy.
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