Posts tagged ‘Penelope Trunk’

November 14, 2013

Special education laws are generous but schools are stingy

by Grace

From a parent’s perspective, the problem with special education in our public schools could be summed up in these quotes by Penelope Trunk.

The laws protecting kids with special needs are very generous in U.S. public schools, but the schools are very good at not enforcing the laws.

And …

It’s cheaper for the school district to fight one or two parents in court than it is to give in on all the services. 


Penelope Trunk is a controversial entrepreneur and blogger with an unusual perspective on life.  It’s almost always the case that I either passionately agree or vehemently disagree with her views.  She homeschools her children and believes that is the right path for all parents.

The first quote comes from an interview by homeschooler Heather Sanders.

1. What was the deciding factor(s) that led you to homeschool your boys? Did your boys want to come home to school then? Do they now?

My oldest son has Aspergers. The laws protecting kids with special needs are very generous in U.S. public schools, but the schools are very good at not enforcing the laws. He went to four schools in New York and Wisconsin and I had to hire lawyers for each school in order to get the school to comply with the law. I got sick of fighting. I realized schools don’t want to comply with the law because it’s way too expensive for them and you have to either ignore that or take things into your own hands.

My youngest son taught himself to read at age three. I asked the school to test him at the beginning of first grade. He tested in math and reading at the end of third grade. I asked them what they would do to accommodate him and they said that legally they didn’t need to do anything.

They are, in fact, right.

The second quote is from a post that Trunk wrote last year: Special needs kids should be homeschooled.

Giving your child what is legally mandated is too expensive for your child’s school.

And here’s the bottom line: It’s cheaper for the school district to fight one or two parents in court than it is to give in on all the services. Unless there is a huge number of parents who will take the school to court, court is cheaper than giving kids what they are due. (It’s no coincidence that places with great services have very wealthy parents who can hire lawyers: NYC; Newton, MA; Bellevue, WA.)

And I can’t really blame the schools. The people who make the laws about what schools need to provide are not the people who have to balance the school budget.

And, if you’re reading this blog you are probably thinking that no kids receive an appropriate—this is the legal term—education in public school, so why should special needs kids get all the money? It’s a decent question.

One that I couldn’t answer.

I’ve had my own minor battles with special education bureaucrats.  I’ve known parents whose children have attended fabulously expensive private schools after they hired lawyers to fight for services.  I’ve also known parents who decided to give up the fight and whose children ended up receiving mediocre special education services.  Penelope Trunk is spot on with this commentary.

Related:  ‘co-teaching seldom raises student achievement’ (Cost of College)

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October 1, 2012

‘84% of working women want to stay home with kids’

by Grace

According to a new partnered survey cosponsored by ForbesWoman andTheBump.com, a growing number of women see staying home to raise children (while a partner provides financial support) to be the ideal circumstances of motherhood.  Forget the corporate climb; these young mothers have another definition of success: setting work aside to stay home with the kids….

… according to our survey, 84% of working women told ForbesWoman and TheBump that staying home to raise children is a financial luxury they aspire to.

What’s more, more than one in three resent their partner for not earning enough to make that dream a reality.
Is ‘Opting Out’ The New American Dream For Working Women? (Forbes)

But a high standard of living is more important than staying home.

As one (working) mom of two told me, she may dream of leaving work to take care of her kids, but the (financial) reality of it is not so ideal. “Sure, if my husband made so much money that I could spend time with the kids, still afford great vacations and maybe the occasional baby sitter to take a class or go out with friends, I’d be the first to sign up,” she said. “So maybe while it’s a luxury I do think about, it’s not one I would want unless it was actually luxurious. I don’t want to be a stay at home mom who clips coupons or plans her weekly menu to make ends meet… If that’s the case, I’d gladly go on working to avoid that fate.”

This leads me to wonder if many men also aspire to stay home with the kids.  I doubt it, but maybe part of the reason is because they have lower expectations of what their wives could earn.  Or maybe there are other reasons.

Only about 20% of SAHMs think they’d be happier working outside the home.

Other highlights:

Very few SAHMs are sorry they left the workplace, but I’m intrigued by the odd way Forbes chose to relay this politically incorrect data.  I may be reading too much into it, but when every other percentage in their story is given as an exact number, there seems to be an attempt to inflate this measure.

More than 10% of stay-at-home moms regret giving up their career.

Their wish to be home with their children may be affecting productivity, especially since a happy worker is a productive worker.

Approximately half of working moms agree their overall happiness would increase if they didn’t work. More than a third (34%) of working moms admit that their work performance was slacking a bit and they wished they were home with baby after returning to work. In fact, 47% agree that their overall happiness would increase if they weren’t working. On the other hand, only nearly one in five (19%) of stay-at-home moms admit their overall happiness would increase if they worked outside the home.

Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist, advises women:

Pick your spouse carefully. 
If you want to stay home with kids, don’t marry a guy who can’t earn a living. If you want to stay home with kids, make it clear that even though you earn more than the guy, the guy will be the breadwinner. If you want to stay home with kids then you put all your financial hopes in the guy’s career. Whatever his earning ability is, then that is your earning ability, because you are a team, and he is the breadwinner.

With the declining “supply” of men who are college-educated, our daughters may find it difficult to follow this advice.  My advice would be to first make sure you can support yourself before you go looking for that male breadwinner.

HT Ann Althouse

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