This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Brookside Elementary School2
Posted April 01, 2015
- a parent
I know my problem probably sounds trivial or even laughable to some, but I'm sick and tired of cleaning dog sh..t from my kids school shoes. It seems like every local dog owner uses Brookside sports field as a dog park, with very few of them picking up after their dogs. It not possible to take a child to the school playground after hours, because there are always several huge dogs running unleashed. Dog feces that kids had stepped into on the sports field get tracked into classrooms, library, computer room and lunch area. Small particles of dried dog feces get into the air and can cause all types of respiratory problems, especially in kids who are sensitive to allergens. Traces of dog feces can also cause parasite infestation in kids. The school administration completely ignores the problem and thinks that having a single sign on the widely open gate is an adequate solution. I really like how nearby LVUSD has all schools fenced, wish it was the same for OPUSD, so the schoolyard wouldn't be turned into mine field.
Here is the problem with the Oak Park Schools. They are only concerned with standardized testing. They even send kids home with standardized tests to work on for 2 months before the actual test day. Classes are crowded, and everything is about competition. Stars on the wall for how fast you can do math, or who got the most 100s. These schools are known for their academics, and allow many students from other districts, so the pool of students is skewed towards those with families who put a lot of emphasis on homework and testing and are willing to drive a long way for the "10". Unfortunately, the "10" does not mean that students are taught to think. They are robots who take tests. This system is definitely for some, but wasn't for us.
Horrible place. Not in terms of education, but in the way how teachers and administration treat students and parents. My child's classroom teacher regularly withholds recess time for the whole class as a punishment for what she considers incomplete classroom work or bad behavior. Unfortunately for the children the school principle is 100% supporting and encouraging such methods. On top of that the new PE coach treats our children like criminals at a juvenile detention facility. Literally minimal discipline violations such as not reacting fast enough to her commands, laughing or even asking for water in 100 degree heat result in sit-on for the rest of the class. Have you child happen to wear shoes that coach doesn't like, he/she would not be allowed into the PE class at all. Fun part is that the **same** shoe model was perfectly OK for the PE last year. The school office had never even bothered to send a note to parents letting us know that the rules had changed and special PE shoes are now mandatory.
We didn't have a good experience at Brookside. I have succumbed to the great Oak Park schools hype and got my children transferred to BES. A few weeks into the year they started complaining about clique kids and hard time fitting in. I have tried talking to the school administration, but was told that OP schools are not for everyone and if we are not happy we can always go back to the homedistrict. I did just that and put my children back into an elementary school in our homedistrict. That was my absolutely best move. Not telling that OP school are bad for everyone. Only wanted to let other parents know that out-of-district families have a chance of been considered less equal ones by the administration, and that students who don't match school ethnic profile might have difficulties blending in. In my opinion academic program at BES was dull and not challenging enough for my children. The school didn't engage kids into deeper learning, on most days they were repeatedly going over the test questions. Our current school has higher API score than BES, more diverse demographics, well rounded program and very reasonable administration.
Before listening to your agent and moving to OP, check some things yourself. OP residents pay on average pay about $1200 in extra taxes in the form of parcel tax and school bonds. Don't assume that higher taxes makes OPUSD schools any better. Classes are very crowded, i.e. 30 kids per class in elementary, 40 in middle, up to 50 in high. There are lots of teachers in the district with only a few (<5) years of experience. Curriculum is extremely basic, doesn't even come close to LAUSD magnet program. If you are looking for an individualized attention, advanced program option, musical instrument classes, hands-on learning, assignments in the form of oral presentations, STEAM, singapore math, talent shows, class plays made by students and teachers, spelling bee, history days, etc. that is absolutely not the school to meet your expectations, the school offers none from the list. If you are in search for a school with a basic curriculum where most of the homework is computer-based (think no word, sentences or story writing just drag-and-drop), where powerpoint had replaced oral presentations and where your child will be doing color-by-number as a fun activity you have got a match.
Warning: Do not move to Oak Park because you have heard that the public schools are so great. Do not believe the hype. Brookside has been a huge disappointment. This is a very cold place where high test scores are valued above anything else. There is no sense of community or connection with others. Honestly, the teachers here are pretty good. They are veteran teachers with organized and well-managed classrooms. It's just that they are under tremendous pressure to improve the test scores, and that pressure is then passed on to the students who are stressed out (even in kindergarten).
The school is severely overcrowded, the first grade classes have 28 students in (and the # goes up with grade). Now imaging the regular school day. Out of those 28: 2 are special need students, 3 speak no English, 4 can not read (yes, in this "highly academical" district there are still children who can not read after K). Who is struggling? Teachers and students who are at least at the average level. Teachers are frantically trying to work with below average kids, since those are lowering CST scores and can reduce the funds received by the district. Average kids are left with "sit quiet and read a book, honey" type of learning. You can ask for extra homework for the child and get it, but that's all. Unfortunately even the best teachers can not do miracles and create thriving environment for everyone in the group of 30. As for extras, the art program that PTA creates so much hype about is once a month class, music is 30 mins a week, PE is 30 mins twice a week. Chorus is not free, same as drama (guess BES is the only school in the nation where you need to pay for your child to sing in the school chorus).
We have been at Brookside for three years now. We chose this school in part because of the reviews that we read here. Teachers are awesome and the community of parents can not be beat. However, the principal and admin staff are horrible. The principal views parents as nothing more than an ATM machine. She has enacted policies that keeps parents off campus before the school day even begins. You are not allowed to walk your child on campus to class. The idea that parents should be treated as customers is completely lost. She wants your $ though. At a PTA meeting last year she actually had the nerve to suggest that we were so hard up for funds (we are not) that people should consider signing over their tax returns to the school. If you want a school with good solid teachers and a staff that will make it loud and clear that parents are not partners or even customers then this is the school for you.
The school makes parents pay for the textbooks, The price the school charges is at least 2X the actual books cost. Cost of enrolling a child is almost $500 ($180 school donation + $150 district donation + $100 books cost + various PTA fees) by the first day of school, plus they have dosens of fundraisers scheduled through the year, so expect the cost be close to thousand per year per child. Rather expensive for an elementary public school with no after or before school care.
This is our second year at Brookside, and the overall curriculum and environment exceeded my expectations which were high. There is truly a balance of academics and art, music, science (earth and physical), theatre, PE, computer and history in Brookside's curriculum. In addition to the teachers' art, theatre and cultural lessons, there has been an Artist in Residence program in place each year to provide projects focused on varying art mediums along with art history lessons. The kids love these programs and the PTA is very involved and supportive to bring unique learning to the students. The teachers use creative differentiated learning techniques to engage the children in Math, Language Arts, Earth Science, Physical Science, Geography, Chinese Culture, Global Cultures, Writing Workshop and Social Character. My daughter has made many friends at this school and the parents are down to earth and there for each other. The teachers are top notch and have a gift for providing a nurturing environment while recognizing the students' individual needs and appropriate level of challenge to keep the students excited about learning. Super school all around! Thank you Brookside!