Tuesday, February 22, 2011

School Rant

Before I begin my rant, I want to unequivocally state that I have the highest respect and admiration for my sons' teachers at their elementary school.  I absolutely adore Colin's 4th grade teacher and appreciate how absolutely wonderful she is about communicating with me.  Nate's teacher is also a gem, and has his best interests at heart.

My rant is about the administration.  I have now received 4 letters (2 for each child) chastising me about their absences.  I think Nate has 13 this year, and Colin has 10.  The letters ramble on about how important attendance is and how they want to work with me to make sure that my children are there regularly in order to achieve their potential.  They state studies about poor academic progress by children who miss too much school.  The last ones were slightly threatening by stating the truancy laws of our state.  The principal assured me repeatedly throughout the letters how she has only my sons' welfare in mind, and that she is very worried about them.  They also reminded me that I should provide doctor's notes for any absences.

Have I sent along doctor's notes for each absence?  No, I haven't.  Why not?  Because after 4 years of homeschooling I have never gotten into the habit of asking for a "note."  And because it rankles me that they don't trust me (as the parent) to properly care for my child. 

I call BULLSH*T!  If she was truly concerned about my sons' welfare, she might have contacted their teachers.  If she had, she would have learned that they are both excellent students - at the top of their classes. That they both have scored "Exceeding" on benchmark exams in preparation for the asinine standardized tests. That my 4th grader has made honor roll since beginning her school, and is on track to achieve the highest honor roll this quarter (there are 3 levels.  He made the 2nd level in 1st & 2nd quarter.)  That my 3rd grader has scored almost exclusively "A's" since beginning her school last fall. (No honor roll for K - 3)

I admit I took them out of school for 5 days for a vacation to DisneyLand.  I don't regret it for a second.  Both boys were doing well in school.  I met with both of their teachers a month before our planned trip and worked out their schoolwork.  They completed the schoolwork requested of them during their absence.

The other absences are a result of them being sick. Nate has picked up numerous vomit bugs this year, and I'm sure the parents of the other children were grateful I kept him home.  Both boys have had sinus infections, and they are only kept home if they have a fever or truly feel rotten.

Today, Colin could have used a mental health day.  It's not the Internet's business why, nor is it his stupid school administration's business.  The bottom line is that I sent him to school partly because I didn't want another letter in my mailbox -- even though the mom in me felt that I should have let him stay home to work through the issue.  His sweet teacher called me mid-morning to let me know that he was really struggling, but we decided to let him finish the day because he was already there -- and the toughest part of the day was over.  I also believe that he needed to persevere, but a mental health day wouldn't have hurt him.

A few weeks ago, I went to the office at 1:50 (about 20 minutes before the end of the day) to pick up Nate for a doctor's appointment.  He had been under the weather and I sent him to school since he didn't have a fever and wasn't vomiting.  Turned out he had a double ear infection.  BUT, the school secretary gave me the stinkeye when I told her I needed to check Nate out. She typed furiously on her computer and then insisted I had to show my ID in order to check him out.  She reminded me about the doctor's note (which I forgot) and basically made me feel like I was hurting him by pulling him out 20 minutes early.

My children's education is of the utmost importance to me.  It is one of the reasons I chose to homeschool, and is why I remain involved in their education and communicate often with their teachers. I have their best interests in mind when I make any decision.

Regardless of the flowery language used in the letters I received, I don't believe they care one whit about MY children.  They care about the tax dollars that those children represent. If they truly cared, they would have checked with their teachers to find out if the absences were causing a negative effect on their education.  They could have checked to see if I was a parent who seemed to be keeping my boys home for my entertainment or amusement.  They could have made it personal, rather than bureaucratic.  It is those types of letters that make me want to return to homeschooling sooner rather than later, just to thumb my nose at the stupid office.


  1. I sympathize Melanie. Our first year in public school last year I got consistent letters threatening fines and JAIL time because my son was so sick he missed 12 days. After his 5th absence I started getting the "letters". He had pneumonia twice and rotavirus once - and I ended up sending him to school on days when he was really too sick to go just to avoid the threats of jail. :( :( It IS ridiculous, I totally agree with you.

  2. When one signs their children up for public school, one is agreeing by default to follow compulsory attendance laws.
    As long as you followed the school's rules about reporting absences you'll be fine....

  3. It's been awhile since I've been here. I don't remember why you stopped homeschooling, but it sounds like your children would be better off homeschooled. I went to a school like the one you speak of here. One where my surgery and everything else that followed meant nothing, my excellent grades meant nothing, all that mattered was that I was missing more than the recommended number of days. And it was so incredibly stressful. You are right on the money when you say they don't truly care. If they did, their approach would be much different and parental rights would matter.

    Also, I'd almost guarantee that they did check with their teachers and did know they were doing well. Because if they weren't, you would have heard about it in those letters.

    It sounds as if you already want to pull them out. So why not? I'm not trying to be pushy, just encouraging you to follow your gut. I believe that God gives us instincts for a reason.
    I wish you & your family the best, whatever you decide!


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