Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More on the math contest

I posted below about teaching math to my kids, but I am afraid that some readers are still confused.

Here is the story as I testified in Jan. 2008. There is a Santa Cruz County Math Contest for grades 5-8. It is open and free to all students, public, private, or homeschooled. There is an individual and team competition. When my older daughter was in 5th grade at the local public school, I asked the school to let her sign up for the contest. Neither the principal nor her teacher had any interest in it, and they refused. I also tried to get a couple of her classmates interested, but neither them nor their parents were interested.

I called the contest organizers, and they explained that they require school sponsorship of students because they want the school to supply a teacher to help proctor and grade the tests. This explained why the school would not enroll my daughter in the test -- they did not have a teacher willing to help proctor the test on a Saturday. I asked whether it would be sufficient for me to help proctor the test. They said yes, so I volunteered.

This solved the problem of getting my daughter into the individual competition, but she needed at least one teammate to qualify for the team competition. I tried to get a couple of her classmates, but failed. So I signed up my younger daughter also. She enjoys math very much, as was at about a 5th grade level. They both entered the contest and did well, but did not win any prizes. They enjoyed the experience, and had no complaints about it.

I am not sure what is so incriminating about this story. I give you the judges' own words, so that you can decide for yourself.

Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph's judgment against me said:
He does not understand how it makes them feel when he proposes that one enter a contest that she is unqualified because of her age or grade level to enter and she knows it, but Dad insists that she do it anyway.
A couple of years later, Judge Heather D. Morse wrote:
experiences being adduced into evidence, such as enrolling them in a math test which was reportedly way above their abilities
No one ever said that my kids felt bad, or were overwhelmed by the difficulty, or anything like that. Joseph and Morse just made that stuff up. If that were really the complaint, they would have brought up the time that took my 5th grade daughter to take the Cabrillo College placement exam. That was 7 grades above her grade level. I guess that there was no complaint about that because it had the written approval of her school principal, and the approval of my ex-wife.

I can tell from Dissomaster hearings that Joseph and Morse each have an understanding of math that is about at a 5th grade level. Math is very scary to them, and they are insecure about it. I think that it was very unsettling to them that I had taught my girls math that had already passed them up in skill.

It was also unsettling that I was willing to circumvent the school to get my kids into this math contest. Judges have a very authoritarian mindset, and they view teaching as something that ought to be under the supervision of a government official. The contest was run by county government officials, so I did not think that would be a problem, but apparently it was.

In all the court hearings, no one ever found any example of me violating any law, doing anything unsafe, taking drugs, or doing anything other than what a model parent would do. This math contest story was the closest thing to an example of me violating some sort of rule that I was supposed to follow. That is, I bent the rule that says that the school is supposed to sponsor the student, and that my younger daughter was not yet in 5th grade.

Judge Morse also once said that a psychotherapist should decide whether my kid goes surfing. I disagree, obviously. I wonder what she would say about Tiger moms and other parents who do things far beyond anything I have done.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Judge Morse presided over the division of property and spousal and child support aspects of my divorce around ten years ago and I (male) was satisfied with her judgment at that time.

Her current judicial assignment is
Juvenile Delinquency/Truancy/Civil Limited/City of Watsonville Traffic
which seems like about the level of responsibility for a court commissioner -- making sure kids don't ditch school and drive to the beach to surf without permission of a therapist. Perhaps other judges noted your complaints and took appropriate action.

Your children in 5th grade probably exceeded the emotional level of IrJo the Intemperate, who was fired a couple of years ago after your accounts of his jurisprudence.

Keep it up. You could use some new material, so file a simple motion.

Anonymous said...

So, when you entered your younger daughter in the contest for 5th to 8th graders, your younger daughter had not yet reached the 5th grade but you found a way to enter her into the contest anyway. Was your younger daughter aware of the fact that she was entered into a contest that was set up for other kids that were years ahead of her grade level ?

He does not understand how it makes them feel when he proposes that one enter a contest that she is unqualified because of her age or grade level to enter and she knows it, but Dad insists that she do it anyway.

I'm not saying that what you did was so bad, I'm just trying to understand it better.

Thanks.

George said...

My kids were aware of everything. I am very open with them.

There was no testimony about how my kids felt about the contest. They enjoyed it, and did not complain.

Joseph's complaint is unclear. It is possible that what bugged him was that I see nothing wrong with what I did, and my kids saw nothing wrong with it either. Maybe he objects that we have interests and ambitions that go beyond what the lazy public school bureaucrats approve.

Anonymous said...

Joseph's complaint is not unclear.

He feels that the father does not understand how it makes them feel when he proposes that one enter a contest when you entered your younger daughter in the contest for 5th to 8th graders, your younger daughter had not yet reached the 5th grade but you found a way to enter her into the contest anyway.

Was your younger daughter aware of the fact that she was entered into a contest that was set up for other kids that were years ahead of her grade level ?

Joseph is referring to your younger daughter who was not age appropriate for the competition. He refrences "one" daughter.

Do you want to understand the questions ? I'm no fan of judge Joseph, but let's be clear as to what actually happened, ok ?

George said...

So just what is it that I did not understand, according to Joseph?

Yes, my daughter was fully aware of the contest being 5th grade problems that her classmates could not do. But how would Joseph know her feelings, if there was no testimony about them? And why would this be an argument against me having custody of her?

Anonymous said...

Ok, you DON'T want to understand that the contest was for kids in the 5th to 8th grade and your daughter was not in the 5th grade yet, right or wrong ?

Your younger daughter had not yet reached the 5th grade.

Maybe Joseph's problem was that you don't like to understand.

George said...

My daughter had not reached the 5th grade at her public school, but could do math problems at the 5th grade level of the contest. I testified about all of that. If you are claiming to understand just what Joseph disapproves of, then go ahead and post it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he claims that you didn't know how what you did made her feel. I doubt he knew or cared about how it made her feel. I agree, he was out to separate you from your kids. He was just looking to point to something as an excuse.

George said...

Let's say (for the sake of argument) that you are right, and that Joseph correctly identified my lack of understanding of how my daughter feels. Let's assume also that I do not know how she feels when she takes a STAR test or an SAT test. Maybe also I don't know how she feels when the cool girls at school have designer shorts, iphones, and tattoos, and she only has a lousy flip phone. How is any of this the business of the family court? How is this the basis for overturning a child custody decision?

Anonymous said...

In my experience, a judge doesn't leap right into issues and testimony around home life or parental relationships. First, the parties get referred to mediation/evaluation by an LCSW/MFCC/Ph.D. either on the court staff or outside. Most of those on the outside are supplementing their inadequate incomes from satisfied clients with payments by others who are compelled to participate by the court and whom they in turn recommend for more therapy by their ilk. Then the judge simply orders what was recommended.

When litigious parents won't reach agreement between themselves about their own children, I can't exactly blame a judge for delegating the squabble to a therapist and taking the recommendation. What's sad is that the caliber of most therapists who spend a lot of time reporting to courts isn't that great.

George said...

It is illegal in California for a judge to delegate a decision to a therapist. The California Supreme Court has explicitly said so. Judges are the government officers who are paid to make the decisions, and take the public responsibility.

Anonymous said...

In my case a psychologist wrote that my child didn't want to visit my home because the child "heard there was a snake." (How primal! Right out of the Book of Genesis!) The psychologist didn't send this letter to me, so I found out about it on the eve of a court hearing and it seemed like a coup de grace.

Just as in your case, George, a couple of obvious questions were: Was there in fact a snake? And, who told the child about the snake? Because by the way it was written, it was apparent that the child didn't have first-hand knowledge.

Fortunately, the psychologist on the court staff didn't put much stock in the other psychologist's evaluation so the recommendation which ensued turned out to be reasonable.

Commissioner IrJo seemed really steamed that he didn't get to use the snake story to deny me visitation, so he ordered me to pay attorney's fees. That way everyone was happy!

Luckily, skunks, spiders, and scorpions were not an issue. We do our best to coexist.

Anonymous said...

"It is illegal in California for a judge to delegate a decision to a therapist. The California Supreme Court has explicitly said so."

If you give the name of the case, I'll look (and might have seen it before), but I'll bet it says the judge can't simply turn the case over and must review the facts and come to an independent conclusion. That doesn't change the reality that 99% of the time, the judge rubberstamps some therapist's recommendation.

At one stage in my case, the LCSW on the court staff came up with a seventeen-paragraph recommendation that we got to look at five minutes before court. We went out in the hallway and each saw problems with some of the conditions, so we agreed to toss the whole thing in the trash. Judge Kelly seemed frustrated that effort was expended to no result and the staff person didn't work there much longer. I filed another motion six months later and we went another round.

George said...

I don't remember the case right now, but an evaluator is just a witness, and is legally no different from one of your witnesses or your spouse's witnesses.

Yes, I know judges often rubber-stamp these reports, but it is neither legal nor understandable.

Anonymous said...

1. It sounds like Commissioner IrJo merely echoed the "expert" opinion of a social worker that AngryDad is emotionally out of touch with the kids. That doesn't mean it's true or right, it just means that the bench officer has cover because he relied on an "expert" witness. Later, Judge Morse gave Commissioner IrJo the benefit of the doubt. It's almost impossible to get one magistrate to overturn another's decision, but you can get gradual modifications.

2. When parents can't reach agreement through mediation, then they can't coparent and can't share joint custody, so one parent is going to get physical custody. That isn't fair, but life isn't fair. That doesn't mean the other parent shouldn't get visitation. So when you lose custody, get what visitation you can and when circumstances change over time, try for more or better. You never know what the future might bring -- maybe it's AngryMom in the study with the candlestick going to Salinas Valley Prison or spending a year in Club Fed on some perjury rap.

George said...

Being emotionally out of touch would not be valid grounds for taking my kids away.

There was no allegation that my ex-wife and I can't coparent or can't share joint custody. We had 4 years of joint custody, and none of the court experts said that there was any problem with it.

Anonymous said...

You say the hill's too steep to climb,
Climb it!
You say you'd like to see me try,
Climb it!
You pick the place and I'll choose the time
And I'll climb
The hill in my own way
Just wait a while, for the right day
And as I rise above the treeline and the clouds
I look down, hear the sound of the things you said today
Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd, smiling
Merciless, the magistrate turns 'round, frowning
And who's the fool who wears the crown
Go down in your own way
And everyday is the right day
And as you rise above the fearlines in the frown
You look down
Hear the sound of the faces in the crowd

Muhammad Amir said...

They both entered the help me with math contest and did well, but did not win any prizes. They enjoyed the experience, and had no complaints about it.