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The Dallas-Plano Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › What do you atheist parents do about schools?

What do you atheist parents do about schools?

A former member
Post #: 48
What are some options you've found for school? I prefer a private school, but I can't seem to find one that's secular enough. I don't have children yet, but I like to be prepared. We should get together and make an atheist school!
A former member
Post #: 2
If you had the money, you could try a private tutor, or if someone was staying at home, homeschooling. You could probably find a secular private school if you were willing to send your child out of state or out of country.

We don't really have money for a private school; we send our daughter to a public school and try to supplement her education at home.

I guess The Humanist Fellowship of North Texas could open a private school of its own if it had the funds. :)
Susan
quilthugger
Plano, TX
Post #: 2
You could move to Tampa....

http://atheism.about....­

Personally, we use the public schools and know other parents who homeschool. It really isn't hard. It is not like you have to protect your kids from association w/ "god believers". Just innoculate them with critical thinking skills!

Susan
Jeffrey G.
jeffrey
Plano, TX
Post #: 4
What are some options you've found for school? I prefer a private school, but I can't seem to find one that's secular enough.

In Plano there is the Spring Creek Academy. But it just runs a half day program. It is basically set up for kids who are doing 30 hours a week of gymnastics or ballet or some other intensive activity. I've been extremely happy with the private school I have in Riverside, California, the Hawarden Hills Academy, and will be sad to have to give that up.

In Plano, the public schools look good, and so I will be enrolling my soon-to-be second grader there (in Shepard Elementary School). I do have a number of concerns. One is the fundamental problem of public schools. The schools are rewarded for the portion of children who pass the various tests. So if you have a child who will easily pass the test, it is not really in the school's interest to put much effort into that child.

The second issue has to do with religious leafleting. See links from the PISD announcement of the leafletting policy changes. In particular, this PDF press conference statement.

I have written a letter to PISD about this policy. If I get nagged enough, I might put it up on the web some place.

-j
Susan
quilthugger
Plano, TX
Post #: 3

In Plano, the public schools look good, and so I will be enrolling my soon-to-be second grader there (in Shepard Elementary School). I do have a number of concerns. One is the fundamental problem of public schools. The schools are rewarded for the portion of children who pass the various tests. So if you have a child who will easily pass the test, it is not really in the school's interest to put much effort into that child.

-j

We've found Plano schools (Hickey Elementary) to be quite responsive to special needs- including being relatively advanced or gifted. My daughter and enough other 2nd graders scored above 85% on the end-of-the year test in December, so they started an accelerated math group for those kids. She was actually exposed to a bit of algebra and solid geometry, and got a lot more practice with multiplication than the other groups. Math instruction seems very good- a few word problems instead of pages of worksheets. Lots of manipulatives and hands-on, and alternate ways of solving problems are actually encouraged (as long as they can document their logic.)

Of course, the flexibility depends on the principal- there's another woman on here whose son had a really bad experience at Boggess before getting him into a special Asperger's classroom at Harrington, where he is doing spectacularly well. Next year we'll be at McCall, which is one of the new schools. I've heard good things about the principal- hope half are true!

My only complaint is so much homework. My daughter doesn't mind nearly as much as I do, though...

Susan
Jeffrey G.
jeffrey
Plano, TX
Post #: 5
We've found Plano schools (Hickey Elementary) to be quite responsive to special needs- including being relatively advanced or gifted. My daughter and enough other 2nd graders scored above 85% on the end-of-the year test in December, so they started an accelerated math group for those kids.
Thank you, Susan. That is very encouraging to hear.

Of course, the flexibility depends on the principal- there's another woman on here whose son had a really bad experience at Boggess before getting him into a special Asperger's classroom at Harrington, where he is doing spectacularly well.
Yes. Unfortunately it is not something I can just ask the principal about. Whatever that actual practice is, the response is known in advance: "We do what is best for each and all of the children in our care." So there is no point in asking her. And I haven't met enough Shepard parents to get a sense yet.

My only complaint is so much homework. My daughter doesn't mind nearly as much as I do, though...
Is your she in the after school program? Is there dedicated time in that program for doing homework with help if needed? The after school program that my daughter is in now does exactly that. So the basic homework gets done before we pick her up, and it is only the projects, spelling words, and reading that we are left with (plus checking over her homework).

By the way, as an atheist PISD parent, are your concerned about the policy regarding the "distribution of non-school approved material"? My guess is that in practice it will amount to nothing really objectionable, but I can't be sure until we see what happens in practice.

Cheers,

-j

Susan
Susan
quilthugger
Plano, TX
Post #: 4
Whatever that actual practice is, the response is known in advance: "We do what is best for each and all of the children in our care." So there is no point in asking her. And I haven't met enough Shepard parents to get a sense yet.

So very true! In the case of the math enrichment, it depended on there being enough other advanced kids to form a small group. I was suprised when I got the note, as it was worded as though they were legally required to offer the special services. At first I thought they were saying she needed remedial help and was getting mad, and then as I kept reading I found it humorous. They seem to take the responsibility of special education very seriously- including (perhaps especially) that for gifted students. The gifted program ("Pace") starts in the Spring of Kindy! My daughter is borderline, with some teachers believing she's very gifted, while others are skeptical. With the adHd, she tests inconsistently, which doesn't help at all! The schools she's been at have less than the expected percentage of students identified as "academically gifted" (probably due to the large number of ESL students), so they have an additional program known as "Discover" for "out of the box thinkers". She enjoys it VERY much. I think she'd do well in a Pace classroom, but we'll have to wait to see whether they put her in one next year. After all, half the kids in the Pace classroom have to be "normal" so the gifted kids are "mainstreamed" just like other special ed kids!biggrin

Is your she in the after school program? Is there dedicated time in that program for doing homework with help if needed? The after school program that my daughter is in now does exactly that. So the basic homework gets done before we pick her up, and it is only the projects, spelling words, and reading that we are left with (plus checking over her homework).

Exactly. She is in Pasar, which is now offered at every elementary in Plano. In K, 1 & 2 there was not a lot of homework she could do there, except the practice spelling tests that they did most days. Occasionally she'd have a math sheet, which she would generally finish at Pasar. The reading is what would take so much time- but I suppose part of that is that my daughter tends to drag it out. the length of the required reading varies a lot, though- sometimes it would take 15 minutes, other times an hour, with no pattern I could detect. (Wednesdays seemed to have less homework, though.)

By the way, as an atheist PISD parent, are your concerned about the policy regarding the "distribution of non-school approved material"? My guess is that in practice it will amount to nothing really objectionable, but I can't be sure until we see what happens in practice.

The Plano school board seems to be reasonable. They take great pains not to alienate parents of different cultures. The "Christmas card" contest, for instance, dsiqualifies all entries with any religious symbols. I think they call it "winter holidays", even. There are unreasonable parents, but so far they've had minimal impact as far as I can tell. Plano is rightly proud of its school district, and has an interest in keeping high academic standards. What they finally decided was that party time would not be considered academic time, and that they would not be held responsible for what individual parents/children might decide to distribute. So you might get some fundy wacko giving out candy canes with scriptures on them (the original lawsuit). But the biggest impact is now you can give out invitations to birthday parties again- as long as it is not during academic time!

Susan
A former member
Post #: 41
"We should get together and make an atheist school!"

Hey there... I realize this is an old thread, but I think a worthwhile one.
I have 4 kids in the Plano school district and so far I am very pleased with them. I haven't had any situations come up where I feel my family has been discriminated against due to our lack of "faith".

I was raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. My mom and other parents in our local congregation would often lament that they had to send their kids to school with "worldy" children.

ANYHOO...thank Flying Spaghetti Monster there wasn't a Witness only school! I would have never met people from different backgrounds, and would have never learned that it really is okay if some kids family wasn't just like mine.

I am perfectly fine with my kids interacting with bible thumper kids at school, because I am comfortable talking to them about it. How to respect other kids, even if they believe in the invisible friend they call god.

Just my two cents.
A former member
Post #: 1
If you have a bunch of $$$ and a very bright girl, consider The Hockaday School, which happens to be the largest secular girls school in the US. It's pricey and admission is very competitive, but it's a great school.
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