Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fuming about the school

I am sitting here feeling angry about needing to write a note to protect Brian's freedom of speech rights. Not only am I not calming myself down, I am just getting more indignant about more things.

First, there is the legal issue. He has the right to refuse to say the pledge if that's what he wants. Period.

Second, this teacher makes me nuts.

Brian does engage in attention-seeking behavior. In this case I do believe he is quite sincere, but he has had fake illnesses: mysterious limps that come and go; total laryngitis that requires him to write everything. What I don't understand is why the teacher has to respond to all of these things. Surely there are more important battles to be fought.

Third, this is the year of the biography project.
Both Andrew and Brian in 6th Grade had to write a biography. It includes a family tree, a time line of important events in their lives, an essay on who they are, what family means to them, photographs...on and on. I don't know if this will happen this year, but Andrew's class had all of theirs on display for parents' night. We were encouraged to flip through them and look at all the pretty families.

I see why it is an attractive project, but I don't understand why the teachers don't understand why it is a bad idea. Children should not have to share this much information about themselves. I wonder, did David have to do it? Sixth grade was one of the last years he lived with his mother. On his list of significant events did he include the first time social services got involved. Did he write about the days that he was hungry and afraid? How about the nights they spent in the homeless shelter? Perhaps he added a touching story about the drug dealer who beat up his mother.

How can people who work with children be so insensitive to their needs?

And don't even get me started on Christmas-themed everything in elementary school throughout the whole month of December!

Some days I really hate living in the reddest of the red states.


  1. I hear ya! (Especially about everything being Christmas-themed in December, which is pathetic since we are in California)

  2. I don't say the pledge. So, you can imagine my response when it was made into a law that we say the pledge of allegiance, the TEXAS pledge (which is a dumb pledge, by the way), and have a oment of prayer, I mean silence, every morning.

    Invariably, one of my kids would notice my attempts at resectful silence and ask. So, I would explain. I don't know how I never got in trouble, but I taught here for 5 years and included comprehensive civil rights and a survey of religions in December (I taught 5th and 6th grade). I was a little worried about my job when several of my kids decided to be Buddhist, but fortunately, their parents rolled with it.

  3. The ACLU should weigh in if they haven't done so already in any school district or state which does that.

    I lost my train of thought. I'll be back.

  4. Oh, right. Our teachers here are sensitive to the plight of children raised in non-traditional settings.

    Even as early as kindergarten, the teacher checked each child's family circumstances and their "Mother's Day" cards were crafted accordingly. When I thanked her, she told me that there was one child (didn't say which one) from one of her prior years who was the child of same sex parents and that was a wake up call for her.

    Mine was addressed to grandma.

    They did have the kids do a bio but there was no pressure. I know because I talked to the teacher. I'd still rather not see it at all and by now, they may have stopped.

    The younger girls are accepting of their situation and are happy to blurt to the world that daddy's in jail one more time. I'm not sure I'm ready to have that posted on the wall at open house though.

  5. It seems like it would be so easy to tell them to write a biography of themselves or of someone they admire, alive or dead. It would allow people to do the family thing if they wanted, while also letting them preserve their privacy.

    I swore I would say something to the teacher if this happened in Brian's class (like it did in Andrew's). It just had to happen with the teacher with whom I have the worst parent/teacher relationship of all time. Neither of us have ever been impolite, but things have been tense.

    Maybe I can just write a letter to all the 6th grade teachers.


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