Saturday, May 12, 2012

Desert Marigold Charter School Reviews by Parents and Students

Arizona Daily Star article:
Kids skipping shots increases threat of dangerous outbreak 

"A Phoenix baby too young to be immunized died of whooping cough in late April."

"Desert Marigold, a Phoenix charter school, had a whopping cough outbreak in
December with eight confirmed cases and many more suspected by Maricopa County
health officials, who nearly shut down the school.

Desert Marigold had the second-worst vaccination rate in the state in 2010-11.
Less than 30 percent of its kindergartners were vaccinated for MMR, polio and
DTaP, which helps prevent pertussis.

Desert Marigold Administrator Charles Burkam said he didn't "necessarily see a
tie" between the rock-bottom vaccination rates and the outbreak."

And now the reviews:

Posted July 23, 2009
My children attended DMS for many years. The campus is beautiful and the waldorf curriculum is fantastic. However, it seems to be filled with empty promises and lack of follow through. They preach alot of collaboration and community, however, the adults in the community, especially the administration and faculty have alot of growing up to do. They shirk away from any type of conflict, try to ignore it and as a result many families leave after years of trying to work in their 'collaborative community' model. They are not interested in what the parents want, they simply want to push their own personal agendas. I want a school that walks their own talk!!  —Submitted by a parent

Posted May 29, 2009
I was disgruntled for five years. For five years I thought those people at Desert Marigold were not meeting my children's needs. This past year a teacher reprimanded me for taking my child home early. What nerve. Now my children are at different schools. I feel they are conforming more, and meet the state standards for education. Still, I am beginning to wonder if there is more to life than meeting these standards and I wish I had found a way to work out my differences with the administration at Desert Marigold.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted May 27, 2009
If you are looking for a true Waldorf education, you will not find it here. There is a loose use of the Waldorf methods, when they are used at all. I found my children received more of a waldorf style of education by enrolling them in a traditional public school. The head administrator is also painfully absent from all of the daily activities. My advice would be to look elsewhere.  —Submitted by a parent

Posted May 19, 2009
I had my children in DMS for 4 years and every year it became more and more disappointing. I tried to remain hopeful because I believe in the Waldorf philosophy of child development and education, but that is not what is being offered at DMS. My children made great friends while at DMS, but when we left and entered a more traditional school system I realized how ill equipped they were academically. When I think back on how situations concerning my children and myself were handled, I am angry at myself for keeping the children in such a dysfunctional environment. My advice is to proceed with caution.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 29, 2009
During the time 5 years that my children attended DMS, the quality of education decreased drastically. There was an issue with one of my children and the teacher involved & administration where not very professional.  —Submitted by a parent

Posted March 28, 2009
We placed our son into DMS 6 years ago as an alternative to public school. Though I do believe he thrived psychologically from the waldorf principles taught at DMS we felt the academics were sorely lacking. We placed our younger son in DMS 3 years ago and while his math skills seemed adequate he was not taught to read. The administrator at this school is rarely seen and obviously cares little about meeting the state standards in academics. The communication between teachers and parents is completely lacking except if the teachers need volunteers or fund raising.  —Submitted by a parent

Posted January 7, 2009
I went to Desert Marigold for middle school. After graduating from 8th grade I went to a regular public high school. I felt really behind academically from the other kids. I made some great friends at Desert Marigold but I really wish I had gone to a regular middle school. Desert Marigold has good extracurricular activities such as sewing,gardening,and art but, they lack academics especially math. I wouldn't suggest sending your child to the middle school.

Posted July 9, 2008
This school needs to chose quality teachers that really care about the education they are trying to get across to the children. We have been at this school for 6 yrs. Its great for younger children the upper grades very disappointing.  —Submitted by a parent

Posted July 2, 2008
We have attended DMS for the past 5 years and are leaving disappointmented in a program of education that we believe, when done right, offers the best education for a child. I urge anyone who is interested in this school to request the right to observe the teacher and classroom their child will be joining. Lack of discipline, educated teachers and classroom management skills is a problem in many of the grades. If you encounter problems do not expect a resolution, from administration or faculty, in a timely or satisfactory manner. I admire what this school is trying to offer but if they are to move forward and become a model for charter Waldorf schools they need to start taking decisive action towards removing administrative and faculty members that are not advancing the growth of the school. Unfortunately that means making difficult decisions that are not made entirely with the heart.  —Submitted by a parent

Posted October 23, 2007
Instruction in the arts is varied and adequate, instruction in math, reading and writing is mediocre to poor. If you choose this school be prepared to supplement your child's core academics. In the 6 years that I have been associated with Desert Marigold I only remain hopeful, not convinced, that this school can provide sound educational opportunities for children. We will not return next year.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted July 16, 2007
My child and I were greatly disappointed with this school.It seems to pay more attention to Mythical objects and Faerie Tales even up into the higher grades. My child said that she felt like she wasn't learning anything.  —Submitted by a parent

Posted May 31, 2007
I have had my child at DMS since 3rd grade. The academics scores have plummeted since entering middle school. The administrator is rarely in the classroom and does not do much to help the children who are failing. I feel since my child has entered 6th grade she has been let down and is now far behind state standards. My child will be attending DMS next year do to the lack of academics needs.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted May 19, 2007
This school lacks academics. It's arts are fairly good but the academics are very poor. Such basics such as math,reading,and writing are taught terribly or bearly taught . Especially the middle school lacks academics. I am glad to say I am taking my child out. If you seek academic success this school is not for you.  —Submitted by a parent

Posted May 7, 2007
The Waldorf Education system is wonderful, but administration at this school lacks the business know how to execute it fully. The school has great potential, the campus and teachers are very special, but the quality of education for each child is hit and miss. This is due to administrative issues - specifically, their lack of support for teachers, parents, and supplies/tools needed in classrooms. More organization within administration would help bridge this gap, plus if administrative staff had more business experience in running the school, the program would improve. Finally, the director needs to be more connected and active within this school - specifically by making making rounds and seeing firsthand how each class is doing and taking active steps to improve existing problems. Overall the school has some great qualities, but if you are seeking a consistent education for your child, research this school carefully before enrolling.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted April 23, 2007
I love the lack of concrete, the trees, the garden and wide open spaces. I love the idea of this school. However, there is a definite lack of discipline in the upper elementary grades. The good things about the school are about breaking even now with the negatives. I don't know if I'll put my child in for next year. But it has so much potential it is heartbreaking.  —Submitted by a parent

Posted August 11, 2003
This school reminds me of the dark ages, long ankle length dresses and all the students are all sang their instructions. My child did not learn anything in the 6 months he attended.
—Submitted by a parent

The next two are 4-Star reviews:

Posted April 23, 2007
The strengths of the school are a Waldorf inspired philosophy and curriculum, and the high level of parent involvement. A nice plus is the farm setting. Overall, the children are allowed to be kids, and are treated as divine souls worthy of the utmost respect. However, the school lacks leadership, a more reliable discipline structure, and a more consistent and experienced staff. It is great for the little ones; I have some concern for the older grades. If you want your middle schooler to be prepared for an Ivy League, keep looking.  —Submitted by Albertina Abouchar, a parent

Posted April 13, 2007
We've been with DMS since my child was 18 mos, for playgroup and preschool. The arts, spiritual, & physical aspects of the child are nurtured well, and there is a lot of love. But the school is run by the teachers, an eclectic group who all have strengths but some severe shortcomings which strongly sway campus life. The campus is beautiful; the community of parents, the lack of commercialism, the organic environment, and the nurturing of the child as a strong and free being are why we came. The abstract, overly right brained processes are why we are leaving. I feel our daughter has done well, but is not challenged. She comes home and wants to do traditional schoolwork. As a preschooler it helped her grow into her body comfortably, but her mind is left wandering. Lack of social structure and discipline has often upset her. We'll miss the parents.  —Submitted by a parent
by a parent
Friday, June 04, 2010

"My Children have been attending DMS "desert marigold school" for 3 years, in that time my children have been in grades: kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth

more accepting of developmentally delayed children
emotionally supportive
lovely campus (this is the best and only thing significantly positive thing about DMS)

over 90% of the student body is intellectually or emotionally disabled (the healthy students leave)
no advanced classes (the good teachers usually leave within a year)
no average classes (there is literally a basket weaving class for high school)
poor teaching
special ed school
some verbal bullies

Here are two samples of their standardized test scores:
In 2009 the third grade had a 23 percent passing rate, sixth grade had a 36 percent passing rate; 60% to 80% of all students in these grades are failing to pass the bare minimum standards set by the state. These students are failing miserably.

Now compare these numbers with a school that has good teachers, I have found that teachers are the most critical factor, a great teacher with a bad administration still teaches well.

For 2009 every grade at Basis had a 97% or higher passing rate, you can't even begin to compare the top scores of desert marigold vs Basis, its like comparing monkeys with humans.

Some other considerations:
While visiting school in 2010 I found drug paraphernalia (a joint and papers) in the bathroom
My average ability child was the top student in his class
Teachers are supposed to teach the same students from first through eighth grade but it rarely happens

Do not do what I did and waste your children’s precious formative years with a school like DMS, try schools that have much higher quality teachers and students, here is a list of the top schools:

For example:
Villa Montessori - Phoenix Campus
Great Hearts
Tempe Prepatory Academy

If you have a child that is severely disabled: autism, chemical abuse, aspergers, and functioning at 2 or more grades below level, then DMS may be a great fit, but if you have an average or above average child, you will be harming them by sending them to desert marigold school."

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You may ask, "where are all the 5=Star reviews?" Well, the problem with those reviews is that many tend not to be too honest. I have included 4-star reviews that appear honest. Often, gushing reviews are placed by teachers and administrators - as some comments here indicate. "This school educates the whole child!!!" - 5 stars - by Anonymous... I say baloney! Notice, many of the reviewers have been misled by Waldorf and are still buying the PR, even after having been disappointed. Feel free to comment but understand the intent of this blog. Comments are no longer moderated.