Maine Families Describe Their School Experience…
Peggy St. Pierre, Porter – Tabitha, 10th grade
Recently, my daughter was enrolled at our local public high school. Soon after she began school, I was informed that she was being severely bullied. I met with some of the staff, hoping that they could be addressed; however, after over a month of continued issues, there were still no results. We pulled her out of that school and would be interested in other options. It would be so nice to have the option of an online education opportunity. I think it is important that parents and students have choices in their education, because not every child learns the same.
Mary Doliber, Lebanon – Joey, 7th Grade
In the fall, my son will be entering into the 8th grade at a school where the 8th grade students are actually integrated into the high school. I have heard from other parents that this has caused overcrowding and it increases bullying. As a result, I would like to have the option of virtual schooling for my son.
My daughter attended virtual high school when we were living in New Hampshire. This enabled her to take the advance courses that she was denied in the public school system. She also graduated a year early and is now in her sophomore year in college and thriving! I was extremely happy with the experience of the virtual school and praise all the teachers involved to allow these students the opportunity to be truly interested in learning as they are able to take courses geared toward their own learning ability/speed of learning.
Judith Kauat, Bangor – Leslie, 6th grade
The past seven years have been hard for Leslie and our family. Leslie requires a more hands-on approach to learning and, in our experience, the traditional public schools she has attended have not been able to provide that level of attention. Her teacher and her schools do not understand her learning needs and as a result, sent her to middle school where she was given no education support in a large classroom setting. She was later suspended due to the fact that the teachers and school did not understand her developmental needs. Traditional schools did not work for Leslie and I am sure I am not the only parent who has experienced this situation. I support school choice because every child is different, and they and their families deserve to be able to choose the best option available.
Lisa Ouellette, Veazie – Chris, 4th grade
Our current school experience is very complicated ever since our son Chris was diagnosed with ADHD. Over the course of the past five years, I’ve found the schools he’s attended to be unprofessional when it comes to special education, and the learning needs of my child. Educators at his school have said they are close to giving up on my child, and some teachers do not want to have anything to do with him. I ended up taking him out of school for two and a half months because of his anxiety, and we had no choice but to homeschool him during that time. His anxiety remained in check as long as we taught him at a pace which let him both deal with his anxiety, and learn at the same time. As a tax-paying citizen and single mother, I believe my son deserves to attend the school that best meets his unique needs.
Lori Holleran, North Waterboro – Lori, 11th grade
We have a daughter in 11th grade, and two other children who are in the 2nd and 4th grade. Our oldest daughter is currently an honor roll student, who was recently was awarded a scholarship to take a college class during her senior year. She is a beautiful, bright, and caring young woman. She is also 5 months pregnant. She will be able to complete her senior year in the public school system, and will still be home to take care of her child. This will give her the opportunity to graduate and move on to college while living at home with our support, while still drawing on the guidance and knowledge of her teachers.
While I love the elementary school for our youngest two children, our local middle school and high school are full of bullying, drama, and peer pressure. Our daughter also has several learning disabilities, and is on a different maturity level then most children age. But, she is full of life and happiness. I just feel at times that the social aspect of school overwhelms her. All things considered, I would love to be able to send my children to an online school, where they would not be exposed to these problems.
Melissa Hall, Mount Vernon – Alexandra, 3rd grade, Deanna, Kindergarten
We have had several negative experiences with our school system since we opted to move to Maine. The first of which would outrage any sensible parent or dutiful teacher. My daughter transferred schools upon the move. My oldest daughter, Alexandra, was headed for third grade. Her other school was refusing to send her transcripts due to a balance unpaid of only $600. Thankfully the school disregarded the nonsensical behavior of the previous school, and allowed her to start right in at the third grade level. She was just seven years old at the time, and with a powerful and stringent curriculum backing her education from the previous school, she was rearing to go. The teachers and staff of the third grade met with my daughters and me before the school year started, encouraging especially Alexandra, who was afraid she would be held back for some minor negative marks in math, promising my seven year old that they would not put her back into the second grade. Instead, they said that they would cooperatively work with her until the end of the school year in any areas in which they felt she was struggling. This ended up not being the case. Upon completion of her second semester, they again met with me to inform me that they had decided, without my consent, to put Alexandra back into the second grade. Their reason? A lack of social ability, along with a minor struggle with math, that could have been conquered. There were students as old as ten years in that very same class. She should have been being commended for striving to accomplish what they were at such a young age. Instead, they betrayed both her trust and mine by putting her back into second grade. I argued in my daughter’s defense that it was still a time of transition for her, and reminded them of the promises that had been made to her. To my chagrin, they remained steadfast in their decision.
It was no surprise that in the weeks following this, she neglected to bring her homework home on a regular basis. She stopped the handwriting she had so eloquently shown she was capable of since grade one, saying that they told her she wasn’t allowed to use cursive in the second grade. All interest in school was waning. As parents we struggled to encourage her efforts.
Weather is another factor. The intense weather has bombarded us this year. My daughters are nervous on the bus at times. And at other times, if I am unable to get up as early as need be to get them on the bus due to my own failing health, I myself may have to drive them. My car does not do so well in the snow, sometimes making the travel near impossible.
I believe every family has different needs and reasons this option should be available. These are just a couple of mine. Families should have the right and privilege to choose what method(s) of schooling best suited to their individual student’s needs. I urge lawmakers to consider this as much a right worth having, as any other we have ever fought for in this great country. It will, in the end, be a wonderful blessing for those who opt to take advantage of this option.
Christina Biegeleisen, South Paris – Makayla, 4th grade
Currently, I homeschool my 10 year old daughter. We sent our daughter to traditional public school for two years and it was horrible. They barely met the IEP and refused to accept her diagnosis of dyslexia and dysgraphia. As soon as we took her out of traditional schools, we began her education at a public charter school and at the point she was qualified to take French on a third grade level. A situation that I believe would have never happened had we kept her at a traditional public school.
Karen Donovan – Heidi, 10th grade
My child Heidi has always struggled in school. She is a great student and keeps up with her grade. She has plenty of friends and never had a problem with making them. Her issue with traditional schools is the schedule. My daughter is very much an independent learner and she prefers to learn at her own pace at home. It gives her anxiety to be in such a big school with so many others. She just wants a virtual school.
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