In May 2016, Laura Fischer thought she was walking away from teaching for good. A middle school math teacher, she was frustrated by a system that continued to move students forward regardless of whether they mastered the grade-level content or not.
“That last school was the best I had ever worked for. It was a charter school within Los Angeles Unified School District’s boundaries and 90% of the students qualified for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches,” said Laura. “The students were grouped according to their ability, which is helpful, but that was insufficient for the lowest performing group. Because they were in eighth grade, the state required they be taught eighth-grade content. They would have been far better served with sixth-grade content, but it simply wasn’t an option.”
After working in property management for a year, Laura learned about becoming a vendor for charter schools in California that enroll homeschooled students. Because the teaching “bug” refused to be exterminated, she started Math with Mrs. Fish, offering courses for middle school homeschooled students taught online using her own unique curriculum.
“It has been one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve been able to take my thirty plus years of experience and pour it into creating a truly unique math curriculum that students find engaging, funny, and, most importantly, conquerable. Because the students are homeschooled, they don’t have to take a grade level course based on the year they were born. They enroll according to their needs, whether that is above grade level or below.”
Unfortunately, because the students are receiving government funds, they are required to take the standardized exams that every public-school student must take, and it must be the test for their assigned grade level. Laura said, “It’s devastating. Some of my students are experiencing success in math for the first time in their lives but are then faced with a standardized test that covers none of what they’ve learned because they’re working ‘behind grade level.’ All their hard work, all their strides, are completely unrecognized because of an unyielding bureaucracy.”
Because of Laura’s passion for her students and her intense desire to see individualized education become the norm rather than the exception, she is launching the Idaho chapter of the Independent Women’s Network. She said, “We’re reaching a tipping point with school choice. I want to do everything in my power to see government money following every American child into the schooling that is best for them. Most importantly, I want to fight for annual assessments that are individualized and completely disconnected from that child’s age. I think we will observe unprecedented gains in achievement in all subjects for American students.”