Aug. 10, 2010 — We are headed into the dog days of summer, but my mind is thinking it’s the fall season all because Lassen High School starts on Monday, Aug. 16. My thinking hasn’t changed on such an early start day — it’s just simply crazy. Of course, the old mantra is that the early date has to do with fall sports and the school denies it. I won’t argue that point except to say the first Grizzly home football is Friday, Aug. 28.
My daughter, who will be a junior at LHS, had a nice small break from thinking about classes and she is probably a little anxious to get back to the routine of school. She likes many of the teachers and doesn’t see a lot of her classmates unless she is on campus.
It has been a different scenario at the paper. The news staff has written several stories this summer about area schools and the changes parents, students and faculty will face in the 2010-2011 school year and beyond. Some of the issues such as Susanville School District Superintendent Gary McIntire leaving to go work for the Hollister, Calif. school district may have righted themselves when the board temporarily hired Shaffer School District Superintendent/ Principal Jason Waddell. Even the problems with the Westwood Charter School are getting better even though former superintendent, Henry Bietz, is still facing a felony conflict of interest and perjury trial.
The entire concept of school has changed since I was in school, which is to be expected, but it has radically changed in the last half dozen years to the point I would be at a complete and total loss in choosing the right school for my children if I was just now beginning the process. At this point, we will stick to the traditional high school experience for our last child at home as frustrating as it can be at times.
The choices laid out before parents for young children are vast — home school, private school, parochial school, charter school, independent study or traditional school. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Traditional school still offers a lot of public control and follows the Education Code closely so parents have in writing what the school can and cannot do. But the limitations can also stifle creativity and at times parental rights. If you trust the administration and faculty to care for your student in a correct manner and teach your child what they need to learn then traditional school is a good choice. It is no longer completely free and sometimes the students learn what you may find objectionable.
Home school leaves the control in the parents’ hands though it is registered at the county office of education. It takes a lot of discipline from the entire family, but it can work if one parent doesn’t work. Contrary to popular belief many home-schooled students do socialize.
Charter school is a good cross between traditional and home school and seems to be the trend. It also seems to be the threat for some students. I hear it often, “If you don’t fix it and do it my way, I’m going to charter school.”
I believe in school choice. My parents made the choice to place my sisters and me in parochial school and I know I got a good education. When I switched to public school, my eighth-grade reader was the same one I used in sixth-grade. The nuns were tough. They demanded respect, discipline and excellence. My high school years were some of my best growing up years, and I loved college once I left the large university setting and went to a small, private college.
Lassen County offers many choices. The paper is running school ads trying to sell you on why you should go to a particular school. It’s not an easy decision. Someone asked me if I would do it differently if I were starting again. I’m not sure. I don’t like how charter schools don’t operate under the Education Code, but at the same time I don’t like how so many traditional high school students have no idea what respect is anymore.
I do think if I had the time and the wherewithal I could be a better teacher to my own children, but home schooling has never been an option for me. A strong-willed mom and three super strong-willed daughters is like trying to mix oil and water, it doesn’t stay mixed for long.
I’m just glad my children are getting a good education from some of the best teachers around. In the end, they are smart, balanced girls with common sense and will make it on their own. They love God, family, friends and country. What more can I ask for from a Lassen County education?
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