Has there been that big of a change in the classroom?

As homeschoolers, I’m a little lost on the details of what today’s classrooms are like.  Doodlebug was in public school for a year of “Early Learning” and then six weeks of Kindergarten before we pulled her out.  My list of reasons are long. They were long before she entered the public school system and unfortunately in that county and that school my list just got longer.  (I said it that way for a reason. I recognize that all schools are not the same.  All teachers are not the same.  I didn’t like what was happening there and had been told I couldn’t change it.  There are some teachers I LOVE! I’m not anti-public school.)

When I was in school, and we won’t discuss how long ago that was, I remember the teacher standing in front of the class, chalk in hand, explaining the concepts, showing us how to write our letters, writing outlines.  I remember overhead projectors (and how totally awesome it was to get called up to write the answer on the transparency!)  I remember gigantic hall passes, and water breaks.  Little desks all in rows. The Pledge of Allegiance. Playing Red Rover on the day before a big holiday break.

A friend emailed me today, after her morning volunteering session at her daughter’s school, and she sounded sad over what she noticed in the classroom.  It made me wonder if that is what it is becoming everywhere.  As I look back to when Doodlebug was in school I realize the same things were going on in her class as well. 

She said there was no room on the blackboard for writing, or for teaching.  It was just a place to hang signs and such. At no point did she hear or see the teacher or the aide teach anything. Just alot  of barking out orders and independent work.  Instead of working as a class, the kids were separated into groups of four and it was those four who worked together to do the work.

My question is: is this what a typical first grade classroom is like now? Does the public school system rely on the children being self motivated, and independent in the first grade? She wants to discuss it with the teacher at their parent/teacher conference because the way it’s going now, her daughter is very uncomfortable and scared to raise her hand for anything. Even the homework is confusing and often times only pieces of the work is sent home (ie, the worksheet but not the book that it refers to etc)

If your a teacher, or have been a teacher, do you have any advice on how my friend should handle her concerns?  Any help is appreciated… Thanks Ya’ll!