How Can That Possibly Be Good?

I am beginning to believe that the curse of all school is, in actuality, just one simple thing: algebra.

Dylan has been in advanced math for years. Until middle school, though, he was in “levels” – which are all now defunct with the new national curriculum.

As an explanatory side note, Shane is coming through school with an entirely different attitude toward math. He, too, is in an advanced math class (which they purposefully invented in our county, thanks to loud parents with smart kids) but, thanks to the new curriculum, is learning it in an entirely different way.

Meanwhile, Dylan is still living under the old curriculum – which means that he skated along in math until he got to algebra, and then crashed, with a thud, into a wall. This wall also negated the mathematics careers of 58 of his classmates, who also took algebra in 7th grade and need to repeat it.

So Algebra I is essential for moving on to, gosh, Algebra II – right after he finishes Geometry. But in Dylan’s private school, which we essentially put him in to save him what seemed to be imminent self-implosion, taking Algebra I is reserved for only those who are willing to give up P.E., art, drama and instrumental music.

Dylan lives for P.E. and music. Music and movement are primary reasons why he loves his new school. He also loves drama. But the only time Algebra I is taught at Dylan’s school is during the “arts period” for 8th grade.

So Dylan chose to take pre-algebra this year, and take Algebra I again in 9th grade. But he didn’t count on doing 5th grade math in his 8th grade class. He is so bored.

The only option, they told me two weeks ago, is to lose those arts classes and take physics.


That’s what the other 8th graders in Algebra I are taking, along with their regular 8th grade science class.

How could that possibly be good?

So I’ve emailed the teacher, the person in charge of his special ed plan, the scheduling coordinator, the headmaster and the admissions counselor. I told them all that this is simply unacceptable. I tried to be nice about it, but I am not sure I was as nice as I should have been. I am too frustrated to be nice.

I’ve volunteered for Dylan to drop out of Spanish, take an online course, have a tutor after school or take algebra

I am tired of fighting for Dylan not to take algebra, then to take algebra, then to have algebra again. The way it stands, if nothing is done, he will basically be taking three years of algebra, his least favorite class in the world. Then he’ll have one year of Geometry, and hop right into Algebra II, which promises to be equally awful.

So, after one month of school, and in what I thought would be a school that – for a change – didn’t require fighting, I am on my way in to the school to see the headmaster and the scheduling coordinator to see if there is anything that can be done.

I am not hopeful. I think algebra is going to be the thing that, once and for all, breaks the spirit of my child and sends his engineering dreams into a tailspin.

We shall see.

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