Invitation Only Education

As I drank my tea this morning and listened to the pitter patter of rain drops in my suburban home, I read the Washington Post on my iPad like I do everyday. My kids were upstairs preparing for their day of learning at home and my thoughts drifted with every article I read until I read this one that indicated that DC Public Schools were making summer school “by invitation only.” Yes, you should take a moment to go read it.

You see, I have been doing a lot of reading lately on learning and education. I am enjoying the thoughts of Sal Khan in The One World School House: Education Reimagined, also I have been revisiting Charlotte Mason’s techniques because I have felt The Lord stirring something inside of me on how I teach my own children. As a homeschooler, I have been feeling that we I was treating learning more like those that taught me instead of understanding how they are wired and determining what is really important – what they learn or that they are taught how to learn so that information will serve them for the rest of their lives. Then I watched 180 Days and I experienced such a range of emotions from complete and utter shock to anger. I admit, I have only given the education reform movement a cursory glance. I hear things but haven’t really delved into things….I watched Waiting for Superman and didn’t think about the kids in the movie as much as I felt it served as affirmation that my kids need to continue homeschooling. I know I am not the only one who reads things and have a NIMBY like attitude because it isn’t affecting my household (hence my idyllic scene setting at the beginning). However, that attitude isn’t in line with God’s will for our lives.

So, when I read the article that summer school was going from first come, first served and going to invitation only, I had to pick my jaw up off the table. Based on what is happening in education, DC’s focus on those kids that are on the bubble will serve to help those kids do better on standardized tests but what does it do for those that are too far behind? Someone has passed these children along knowing full well that they weren’t where they needed to be or that they needed a bit more but our schools are not designed to help the child that needs a bit more. Yet, we want to hold their current teachers accountable for teaching them even though they are now presented with a Herculean task that was not of their making. So, how will some kids spend the summer – in most cases falling further behind. Could someone please explain how this helps our society as a whole?

I could go on and on about my thoughts on these issues, but I won’t because it does little but help me let off steam. So, I am hoping to start a list of free resources that could help those like the grandma in the article help their children/grandchildren. I know I have shared Khan Academy with members of my own family who have children in the same age range and they didn’t know it existed. As a homeschooler, I know there are many others that have been able to utilize free resources in their education environs so let’s share with others for the betterment of the whole. Do you have a great free resource you can share?


4 thoughts on “Invitation Only Education”

  1. Makes me so sad for the children of public DC schools. I’m sad for all our children across the nation and what has happened to the school system. As you said, I’m tempted to fall into the ‘doesn’t affect me’ mode, but I, too, believe that God wants me to pay attention in certain areas. Thank you for mentioning the teaching resources in this post, and I would appreciate any that you share. We are helping to parent one of our grandchildren. Right now Alabama is one of 30 states in the battle to repeal Common Core standards. I’m witnessing corruption on a sickening level in the state government with this battle.

  2. After reading Willingham’s book on education and kids who are behind there is far more involved than tutoring a kid. If I lived in DC and had a grandchild who was not doing well in school I would seriously consider going to one of the Smithsonian (or other free museum or building-Nat Zoo?) once a week. Look for free outdoor concerts-even music you might not like, pack a lunch. A big key is that kids who are behind don’t have experiences to relate to the stories they read in class.

    Get a cheap notebook and sit down with the kids the next day and have them dictate or write a journal entry on what they liked, didn’t like and learned during the trip. Take pictures, buy a postcard or two or get out art supplies and draw a picture to go with the writing.

    When I lived near Chicago in the 90s we worked with young teens who had never even seen the lake and lived just a few blocks away. Kids need to see what’s out in the world and spark their imagination for what their future could be.

  3. is a great resource. Each day, various lists of educational resources are posted and they are either all free or very heavily discounted.

    Another one I enjoy is

  4. Oops, I forgot to add links for free resources you were originally asking for.

    Easy to sign up for the email or subscribe to the blog via rss at
    There are a lot of out of copyright books, online resources, old time radio programs, etc.

    And another favorite for Charlotte Mason resources. Lots of online resources there including picture study and music if those are hard to come by in your community. And don’t forget the poetry! (lots of us tend to skip that)

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