Signing Kids Out of School: Does It Have to Be This Hard?

Hi Readers! I have a feeling many people can relate to this comment (which came in response to “The Drop-Off in Drop-Offs” post). I know I can — something very similar happened to me.  L. 

Dear Free-Range Kids: My daughter is a sophomore in high school.  I also have a 3 year old and am expecting a new little one this winter.  My only real complaint with her school is that I cannot send a note telling them when I will pick her up for an appointment and have her wait outside for me.  No.  I have to drag my 3 year old (and soon, my newborn as well) out of the car, damn the weather, haul us all inside, go to the attendance office, sign her out, keep my toddler entertained and contained and quiet WITHOUT running or climbing on the benches (his shoes might get germs on the benches, and then someone would have to wipe them down with antibacterial wipes — I was actually told this), and WAIT while they send a special runner up to my daughter’s classroom to give her a hall pass, then keep waiting until she arrives at my side, whereupon we can finally walk out together.

It absolutely infuriates me!  She’s going to be driving soon!  She knows her way around.  And she even knows the way from her classroom to the curb, where I would gladly pull up and wait for her to arrive.

Not only do I have to physically sign her out, but if I don’t also send a note upon her return, the absence is unexcused.  This is too much!  The kids are not in prison, for goodness’ sake.

It hasn’t been that long since I was in school myself, and when I was in school, not only could I wait outside for my mom to pick me up for an appointment, if the appointment was close enough, I could – gasp – WALK myself there and back to school.  It’s dispiriting to watch the changes. — Duckmama

It’s also dispiriting to inevitably be told this is all for the children’s “safety,” when clearly it isn’t. It doesn’t affect their safety one whit! They are allowed to walk home, so why is it MORE dangerous to stand outside for a few minutes, or even walk home, but at a different time? “Safety” is the all-purpose, brook-no-dissension shibboleth that stands in for, “New rule we are imposing whether it makes sense or not, just because it seems sort of responsible even if it’s actually a pointless pain.” – L

283 Responses

  1. I highly suggest that Duckmom write this very letter to her school administrators and executive staff and insist that her *young adult* be treated as such.

  2. *Duckmama.

  3. So frustrating and idiotic! I hear about this stuff and I kind of block it out because I don’t want to think about having to go through this when my kids are old enough to take care of themselves.

    When I was in 3rd grade, if I felt sick at school, I went to the school nurse and she would pull my brother (4 years older) to walk me home and leave me there (alone!) and walk back to school. By the time I was in 4th or 5th grade, I was allowed to walk myself home (my mom was at work). When I needed to go to the optometrist, my mom gave me bus fare to take myself after school. There was no “signing in and out” stuff in those days, and amazingly, each of us always seemed to know where we were.

    When I arrive at daycare to pick up my 4/5yos, I do a few things before we leave, and sometimes my kids go out the door well before I’m ready. The staff can’t stand that and often act appalled. I’m sorry, but I don’t keep a death grip on my kids when we’re out & about. They know how to act safely. If they didn’t, give me the benefit of the doubt that I would KNOW that and act accordingly.

  4. Ok, this one is worth the outrage. On two levels — antibacterial wipes on the benches? Meant for sitting on, one presumes? Good grief.

    Sophomore means grade 11, right? So kids are what, 16? Here that’s old enough to drive and old enough to drop out of school. I can buy that the school might want to keep track of who’s actually in the building, but why on earth wouldn’t a student at that age be able to sign herself out? Too many suspicious sign-outs, then you send a note home.

    Hate to say it, but were it me, I’d just tell my daughter to cut class and save the hassle.

  5. […] Original post: Signing Kids Out of School: Does It Have &#1… […]

  6. This is not about saftey it’s about liability.

  7. I teach at a High School in New Zealand. We do have a policy of students signing in and out, mostly so that if we have an emergency we know if someone is legitimately absent or stuck-in-a-burning-building absent, but parents are not required to physically sign them out. It isn’t practical

    Our school is just around the corner from shops with a doctors, dentists and physio and over half our students are rural and bus in, some for over an hour. Many of them are only in town for school and so have appointments during school time.

    The students can sign themselves in and out under appropriate circumstances. They bring a note from home, or an appointment card and take it to the Deans at the start of the day and the Dean’s secretary will issue a pass with a time on it. When the time comes the student shows the teacher and they take themselves off. Our youngest students are 12 at the start of their first year.

  8. Let’s call a spade a spade here. “Safety” is the buzzword for nothing except “lawsuit avoidance.” If you want to fix the problem, it has to be fixed there. New laws need to be written that somehow guarantee that if a student wanders away from school *during school hours* and gets hit by a bus, the school *cannot be held liable.* Until that happens, things are only going to get worse. They are indeed in prison. (I should know; I’m one of the guards!)

  9. Sounds like they must have a huge problem with students bringing in fake appointment notes and physical proof of parent was their solution. Not sure why they need a second note as well. Proof you weren’t mind controlled through the first part of the process?

  10. My daughter’s high school makes it clear that even if your child is 18 years old and a legal adult, they are not permitted to sign themselves out of school without a parent or guardian present. Old enough to drive, old enough to vote, old enough to join the Marines and die in Afghanistan, but not old enough to sign themselves out for a dentist appointment.

  11. I can *almost* see why the school wouldn’t accept a note allowing her to leave campus. I had mastered both my mother’s and my grandmother’s signatures by the time I was a freshman. Mostly because my grandmother had arthritis and I paid her bills for her (pre-online billpay being common) and because my mother would always forget to sign forms for school. I was in a magnet program and my bus would pick me up at 5:30 am and take me 2 hours from where my mother worked. That said a friend of mine’s parents died and she was emancipated at 16 and living on her own. There was no one to sign her forms yet they still required a signature from a parent. (My mastery of my grandmother’s came in handy there too).

  12. Of course they’re in a prison. Schools, especially by the high school level, were prisons when I went, why should they be any different today?

  13. I agree. It is RIDICULOUS. My son has gone to the same elementary school his whole life and he’s now in sixth grade. My 9th grade daughter went to the same school and I have been active in school functions the entire time. The office staff has never changed. Everyone knows me.

    Yet recently I was in a tremendous hurry so instead of going to the office, getting a name tag, signing in… i just (gasp) walked in the door and towards my son’s classroom. Someone literally CHASED me down, made me “follow procedures,” because, you know, WE HAVE TO KEEP THE KIDS SAFE.

  14. As the wife of a high school adminstrator, I can tell you that this isn’t one of those over-bearing safety issues, but it is practical (even if a pain). I don’t think our high school’s policy is quite this strict, but it is strict–not for safety issues but because students frequently forge notes, etc.

    Having a note to come back to school is something the school has to have for their federal stuff. It has to do with numbers for absentees and No Child Left Behind stuff. But even before NCLB, this was pretty much policy at any school I have been at. I had to have notes to come back to school with an “excused” absence, and we were only allowed 5 parent notes. It had everything to do with numbers–not safety. And I am 35, so this was before the “safety” era.

  15. Not only do I have to go through all the author mentioned to check out ANY of my kids from school — but I must produce a driver’s license that they must check against the one recorded when I registered my cherubs for school. It totally stinks!!

  16. The school apparently has someone on the payroll who is assigned to wipe down the benches with antibacterial wipes. I think it is imperative that you allow your child toddler to climb all over that bench barefoot to assure you are getting your money’s worth from the school budget your taxes provide. Otherwise the bench sanitizer is probably sitting idle. You also now know which bench to use for a changing table when your newborn needs a new diaper. It has already been sanitized for your convenience, and the designated school employee with clean up after you. Nice.

  17. Why can’t someone develop an App for this?

    I thank my lucky stars everyday that my kids (even the 5 yo) can sign themselves out of school.

  18. None of the sign out stuff surprises me, eye rolling as it is. They might call it a safety issue but it sounds more like a truancy issue. What I don’t get is the benches. Are a toddler’s shoes less sanity than his butt? Do they wipe down the benches every time someone rests their hands on the surface, hands which have presumably been coughed and sneezed on? Are they concerned that their high school students will perhaps lick the benches?

  19. Peter,l I couldn’t agree more. I would encourage my kid to dance on the bench. If you are going to make my life hell I will return the favor.

  20. I wasn’t going to mention the benches, but given many teenage boys fear of showering I’d be more afraid of them sitting on the bench than a toddler walking on it. I swear my step brother and his friends only showered once a year for most of their high-school lives (at least until they discovered girls aren’t attracted to stink).

  21. I agree that this is all about truancy and avoiding parent conflict and not about safety at all. Any kid can forge a parent note and ditch school. I did it when I was a kid. And if the parents find out half of them will come up to the school and bitch out the administration for allowing the child to leave on a forged note. I wouldn’t bother with this whole mess if I was a school administrator. I’d make the parent come in and sign the kid out too. If parents want the ability to meet their kids outside, they need to stop jumping down the school’s throat every time their little precious does something wrong.

  22. Maybe it’s just my pet peeve, I’m no Miss Manners, but somewhere we lost the common decency of keeping our shoes off of chairs (and benches). I’m not a germaphobe, but common sense tells me that I’d rather not have street dirt on the chairs we sit on. Shoes are meant to stay on the ground.

  23. It isn’t a safety issue, it is a control issue (along with being forced to wear student IDs as badges on clothing, arbitrary dress code decisions, and the list goes on). How many kids are there is tied directly to how much money the school gets (this was true even before no child left behind but it has gotten worse since then).

  24. I agree that it’s probably much more about trying to prevent cutting than about safety. My kids’ high school has similar procedures, though it doesn’t stop the kids who sneak out the unattended side doors and make a break for it.

  25. Every time I read something like this, I feel so much better about spending nearly every spare dime I have to send my kids to one of our local Montessori schools (and eternally grateful that I even have that option, because many don’t). In the 3-6 class, we just jot a note on the board outside the classroom if we need to pick up one or both of the boys early for an appointment. If we’re going out of town for the weekend, we just email the teacher a day or two ahead of time if the boys will miss a day or so of school as a result. Once they are in 6-9 and up, they will be expected to let the teacher know the time of their appointment and go outside to be picked up by a parent. On the other hand, they will grow up completely unsuited to corporate life because they will be expected to be treated as capable and responsible and will likely find the arbitrary rules of corporate life incomprehensible…

  26. Our schools are the same here. Luckily they make an exception once they can drive – I can call to check out my 17 year old and they’ll let him drive away. HUGE help. He can meet me at appointments or go alone. When he was 15, I had to drag his youngest brother in (at one year old) to deal with the exact nonsense described here. I had to allow an extra 10 or 15 minutes wait time… craziness. Funny how they’ll let a 16 year old who drives leave on his own, but not a 16 year old who doesn’t drive. I’ve seen them drive, I think the walker is probably safer!!

  27. Maybe it also is meant to discourage parents from taking their kids out of school for every little thing. It is really disruptive to the entire class, teacher and the kid when they are taken out of class or miss classes for any reason.

    Its only 180 days a year. Try to be there for those days.

  28. Truancy issue: now this is where I get radical. If a 16yo wants to leave school so badly that he’ll forge his parents’ names, LET THEM LEAVE and spend school resources teaching kids who give a damn. Send an automated message to his parents that their kid left at such-and-such time and be done with it.

    For legit excuses, they could allow parents to do a remote check-out, kinda like we can get our airline boarding passes on our home printer the night before the flight.

    Over the age of 18, it should be nobody’s business, unless the parents have provided proof that they are still legal guardians due to a special need. If a teen does not want to be studying, chaining his body to his desk isn’t going to make his brain work harder. Why, maybe if you made it a choice, teens would be more motivated. Imagine that!

  29. My dad was a notorious truant. His dad would go so far as to walk him in the front door, and within minutes my dad was out the side door. The judge let him quit school at 15 because, why bother?

    A big part of me wonders why we just don’t redirect the public school money that these kids aren’t using into a youth jobs program or something.

  30. Brian, I have to wonder (having taught high school at one time myself,) which is more disruptive? The kid leaving part way through class (they did have an intercom at the school I was at, so no runner) or the kid who really doesn’t want to be there and decides to make life hell for everyone else. There were a few kids I had who just didn’t want to be there, and I really enjoyed teaching on the days when they were out “sick”.

  31. SKL, I agree with you. Learning is like that proverbial horse and the water. At some point we need to give kids options of doing things that are more meaningful for them until they decide that they want something different.

    On the radio this morning they are talking about the new judge appointed to the WA Supreme Court. One summer he had a job cleaning bathrooms at a park. He decided then that he wanted something better.

    Lots of kids are like that – they need a chance to see what they can do with what they have, then opportunity to go back and get what they need to go on where they want to go. Attendance would go way up, behavior issues way down, and education dollars would be spent more wisely.

  32. Brian, I agree with being considerate that way. Thing is, I don’t believe you can legislate kindness and consideration. As soon as people “have” to do something, they start losing sight of why they should “want” to do it, and looking for ways around it. I’d rather each teacher send a note home at the beginning of the year mentioning how important it is to maintain an environment where everyone can focus on learning, and giving examples of how parents can help with this. Better yet, I wish we could reacquaint ourselves with that human ability to think from the perspective of what others might want/need before plowing ahead with our personal agendas.

    I rarely take my kids out of school, but when I do, there’s a good reason. After all, taking off work isn’t a small matter for most of us. And most of us do want our kids to learn how to read and write. However, this Friday I’m taking my girls out for a few hours so we can do a volunteer activity. I have decided this is important to their development. Teacher can suck it up if she doesn’t like it. Just because my kid is now in the school system doesn’t mean I don’t make the parenting choices any more. (Now don’t get me started on placement decisions . . . .)

  33. I agree with the suggestion to contact the school system/board. It will take a lot of advocating time, and has a high likelihood of failure though. It is worth the effort though. If only more of us complained about these things. Maybe we need an “occupy the school board” movement.

    I recently ran into this situation for my kids at religion class. My wife usually handles the transportation for this activity, but I picked it up for her last week. My 13 year old son came out, and told me that I needed to go in to sign out my 9 year old daughter. I to him that I was not going to do that, explained the idiocy of it…he reads this blog as well, and had him tell the teacher that she would be waiting all night if she expected me to come in for this. The prospect of her having to stay late apparently worked, as my son and daughter both arrived at the car to go home.

    This same approach worked at my daughter’s voice classes recently too.

  34. You go, Robert! That sounds like something my mom would do. (I never knew she was Superwoman until I had one-third the number of kids she raised.)

  35. Agree 100%. I have shown on this board before I am way more free range when it comes to teenagers than smaller kids. I think teens need to be left alone as long as they are good kids. Parents and other adults should respect them and treat them as young ADULTS because before too long they will be ADULTS. I hated when I was not trusted and treated like a child when I was a teenager. Made me want to rebel. I don’t see why teenagers cannot just take a note from their parent or have the parent call and check themselves out. Why do the parents have to come in?

    They worry a kid will forge a note or forge a phone call but the way I see it, that only works ONCE. After they get caught then that individual teen loses the right to have notes or phone calls for dismissals but no reason to burden the good families and teens who don’t break the rules.

  36. @SKL- my Dad was also truant, and I have to say I mastered his signature in high school as well. Mostly for being late (I am still not a morning person) but also to escape a few times with friends. Those skip days were some of my fondest memories! Last year before he died, I had to sign a few bills for him when he was too weak to write. We laughed about how well my copy signature was and I confessed to a few adventures using it. “Good for you” he said. But that was in the ’80’s, when parenting wasn’t so security intensive.

  37. In 1988, my mom got tickets for our pro baseball team’s opening day game. My brother, sister and I walked into our high school attendance office that day with notes identical but for the names, excusing us for “family business.” We knew well enough we couldn’t be stopped for leaving regardless of the reason because of those notes but the officer put us through the paces anyway. Where are you going? Do you already have tickets? Where are your seats?
    I remember snarkily thinking, “Are you done now? Because if you make my mom come in, not only will she be ticked but we won’t have time to stop for lunch before the game.”
    Ugh. Too bad some have to actually *live* with that. Lots of of petty tyrants out to control their little fiefdoms.

  38. If there’s a ‘skip’ problem, then rules could apply *to those students*. Why make me and mine suffer because another kid lied? Personal responsibility seems to make sense here.

  39. I also got good at forging my mother’s name and often times she gave me the go ahead to forge it. For the stupid weekly reading logs she definitely did. In freshman year the parent had to sign a form every week saying we read our outside reading. My mother for one thing is not my babysitter to make sure I read. She had other things to do. Secondly she knew I was a good reader and loved to read. She knew that by all the money I kept asking for to buy new books. So she wanted to presign all of the forms and the teacher would not let her. So she told me just to forge her signature, and I did. Again, punishing the good kids for the loser kids.

  40. “Truancy issue: now this is where I get radical. If a 16yo wants to leave school so badly that he’ll forge his parents’ names, LET THEM LEAVE”

    I don’t disagree. The problem is more with parents who do care. The kids sign the note. The parents get the robocall (or find out some other way) and then ream the school for allowing their child to leave by him or herself on a forged note. You know that this scenario is going to happen several times a year with different children. Why should the schools have to deal with that? As annoying as this rule is, I’m not going to get outraged about it until parents change and stop blaming everyone else when their children misbehave.

  41. Beginning of the school year, all that paperwork that comes home, explaining the rules, the expectations, how to reach teachers, confirming addresses and phone numbers are correct, and names of people your student is allowed to leave with.

    include their own name! and schools can simply say, “By the age of 12 we expect that your child can conduct themselves and make their own decisions to learn from. If you sign this form stating that your child is capable and responsible, you will not have to ‘sign’ your child out for appointments, etc. If they show us they have an appointment and a note from you confirming it, we’ll allow them to leave at the proper time.”

    Puts the responsibility back on the parent and student. If the student lies, that’s the parent’s responsibility.

    When I was in high school, that was all that was necessary for me! I took myself to the dentist. I had a note from my mother, said I had a dental appt at *this dentist* scheduled for *this time* and to please allow me to leave. I took it to the office, they wrote out an official pass that I could present to the proper teacher when the time came. It was my responsibility to remember when to go and to get there, and to this day I’m obsessive about not being ‘late’ somewhere – appts, dinner dates, etc. I was expected to do it myself, and I did. My parents worked; they couldn’t babysit me like that!

  42. It’s not just signing out. I remember one time in high school when signing IN without a parent was a problem. We had open campus, which means that students were allowed to leave the grounds during lunch or if they had a free period. We were driving back from lunch in my friend’s car and an accident happened right in front of us. We stayed as witnesses and gave our report to the police and returned to school afterward. We were late returning to campus and so went to the office to get a pass to class. The admin there gave us a really hard time, wouldn’t believe our “excuse” without proof, and threatened us with detention. To which my friend, who was a bit mouthier than I had the courage to be, replied, “You seriously wanted me to a POTTY PASS from a COP?!”

    The admin relented, but geez. If we were really the kind of students to make this up, why would we have bothered to come to the office at all?

  43. I just went through this very thing a week ago.

    My 15 year-old has been suffering from some pretty dramatic migraines lately, so we’ve been taking him to progressive rehabilitation therapy to sort him out.

    His most recent appointment unfortunately had to happen during school hours, so I wrote the required note so they could have him in the office when I went to get him. Then I went back to sleep. When my son arrived at school, they called me, and because I didn’t answer the phone (asleep, it was early, I’m self-employed, I can sleep til I’m ready to get up), they left a snotty message informing me that in order to sign him out for his appointment, I needed to return the call to confirm his appointment. If I did not call, he would not be permitted to leave with me.

    The hell?

    I returned the call, and was informed that not only would they require a note from the doctor, they would also require an additional note from me upon his return to school, confirming that he had been to the doctor. The doctor’s note alone was insufficient!

    I am SO profoundly grateful that I only have to deal with this nonsense for 2 1/2 more years. As it is, we are seriously looking into one of the accredited online high schools for his Junior and Senior years, because the sheer amount of petty bullshit in the name of “safety” and “order” is really interfering with him getting a decent education.

  44. “If there’s a ‘skip’ problem, then rules could apply *to those students*. Why make me and mine suffer because another kid lied? Personal responsibility seems to make sense here.”

    This is where I am. Kid skips? Crack down.

    Yes, I know, it’s harder. But it’s miles less stupid and intrusive.

    It’s not even so much the notes — if they’re going to require notes, people can do notes. But showing up in person? It’s just another manifestation of schools acting like they own not only your kids, but your whole family, except insofar as they give you permission to work and sleep.

    And the most ridiculous thing is that all these things apply to my 18 year old. The kid could legally drop out and join the army without my consent, but he can’t go to the doctor without a note both ways? What the heck?

  45. My daughter signs her self out of school on need. Or just leaves… at 15-18 yo I refuse to follow any of these proceedures.

    Once a semester (before final exams) I log onto the school’s parental website. Print the list of absenses and attach a cover letter that reads something like “I am aware of all the absenses highlighted on the attached page, they were for medical or other appointments, or other activities that were deemed necessary by me, her mother”.

    Usually I highlight all of them because a) it doesn’t affect her grade, and b) generally I know about and approve of her absences either before or after the fact, and what they were for is no one’s business but ours.

  46. Speaking of signatures:

    My 5yo got a homework sheet last week that said simply, “study your sight words :-)” followed by a signature line.

    I instructed my kid to sign on the line. After all, it was her homework, not mine. I think I’ll follow this plan going forward (as long as it doesn’t cost us too much trouble).

    Thing is, when it comes to education, I’m very involved. I have one kid who really struggles visually, while the other is years ahead of her class, so I couldn’t in good conscience just sit by and let them “deal” at this age. But that’s between me and my kids. Teacher has her thing between her and the kids – it comprises classroom rules/behavior/consequences, homework, and ongoing face-to-face communication. Since my kid’s ears work just fine, I don’t meddle in that. I don’t expect Teacher to meddle in my evenings. If I told her all that I do with the girls, chances are she would be more than satisfied. But that’s not the point. It’s not the school’s role to put me on the defensive about my kids’ out-of-school activities.

    Personally I never had the guts to forge my parents’ signature in order to sneak. My way of shaking off the chains was to show up to school so late that I had essentialy skipped one or two classes. These were classes I actually liked, but sometimes it seemed better to skip all together than to be very late (another night person here). I’d invent a “long cut” to school that included a stop at the quarter pop machine. I’m such a rebel! I also graduated 2 years young and went to college at 16, most likely heading off other incidents of juvenile delinquency.

    My mom also hated signing stupid forms. I don’t clearly recall, but she might have asked me to sign her name myself at times. But I never learned how to make it look like her real signature. That just seemed too devious to me.

  47. I haven’t read the other comments, but I’d be more inclined to think this policy was to ensure kids don’t forge early dismissal notes to skip school, rather than a safety concern.

  48. SKL — kudos. I only sent one child to elementary school for a couple of years, so I don’t have that homework signing thing anymore, and I signed it like a sheep back then, but that’s a great approach. Like you, I think being involved is important — but doing homework is the child’s responsibility. If any kid can’t do HOMEWORK without being checked up on, how can he be expected to put any effort into anything?

    If a child shows a problem with not doing homework, then it’s appropriate to have some kind of sign-off thing. But to make it the normal practice for every kid teaches them that they can’t be expected to hold up their end in the little things, it doesn’t teach them that they ought to be able to.

  49. Even though my son practiced FAITHFULLY every day on his French Horn, I was surprised when he failed his first semester of music. The reason? I had not signed his “My son practiced” form. This form is separate from his weekly folder form that comes home on Wednesdays (which he gets detention for if I do not sign). He is in sixth grade and this is his first semester in band.

    His teacher told me, “I know he’s been practicing because he’s improved so much.”

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. My son is smart and responsible. How about that being his “signature.” So sick of this. It is why I am moving my family to Denmark.

  50. When I attended our local high school, you had to check in at the office on your first day back after being absent. You, the student, that is. It helped them keep straight who was in and who wasn’t; apparently relying on teachers to do it delayed things because the attendance records had to be gathered, processed, etc. Parents were not involved. Since about half of the kids at my school drove themselves, that made sense. At the same time, about half of the kids drove or walked downtown for lunch every day. No checking out or in required.

    I don’t know what the policy is for high school absences these days, but the campus is still open at lunchtime. Kids drive or walk to fast food joints and coffee shops, or just sit outside to eat their bag lunches on nice days, and get themselves back inside before the next bell rings. No checking out or in required–you just have to be in your seat at your first class after lunch. And yet, the school endures.

  51. My old high school had some covered walking areas porch areas in the front. It was off of the cafeteria. They would allow us to go outside in that area during our lunch if we wanted to get some fresh air or just wanted to stand and walk around a bit. I remember spending many lunches out there since I never ate lunch at school.

    Well when I started subbing there about 5 years later much to my surprise I never saw any kids doing that anymore. I am pretty sure they stopped allowing kids to do that. Yes, God forbid kids get fresh air and go outside.

    We really need to stop treating our teenagers as criminals. Only treat the actual criminal ones as criminals and treat the others as adults and good kids.

  52. The way our school parking lot and entrance was set up there was only one way in and one way out. Well that was to their advantage of treating everyone even adults like a criminal. During the school day teachers and admins took turns sitting out there stopping every car going in and out to question them and make sure we were not a teenager skipping class.

    My mom was pissed about it and would drive by them without stopping and make them mad. Then she would claim she didn’t know she had to stop and play dumb every time just to piss them off more. When I subbed there I did the same thing. I actually had a couple teachers and admins try to accuse me of being a student skipping because I look young. Yeah that is not going to go over well either. I usually was like “EXCUSE ME!?” Then they had to fumble all over themselves apologizing.

    So yeah, a lot of schools have been ridiculous about this kind of stuff for years. I was dealing with it over 10 years ago.

  53. “Prisoner…I mean student 903456, report immediately to the administration office.” lol

    What kills me is the over use of the word “safety”. Ok, I’ll give them 5% for safety reasons. The rest…it’s all about avoiding lawsuits. We all know this. Instead of using “safety issues” or “keep our kids safe”, why don’t they just be honest. “We don’t want to get sued or taken to court if something should happen to your child while on school grounds or doing any school activities.” And if parents are up in arms because this, which is mostly because of opportunistic parents, then the school should have them sign a waiver outlining that the school is free from any legal actions should their child be in injured or killed in school or any school activities. Unless of course, there is clear evidence of negligence on the school’s part. That’s what used to happen when I was in school. My parent’s literally signed my life away. So they made sure that I knew what I should be doing going on overnight (3 nights actually) school trips. And that is to follow the instructions from the teachers and counselors. “Don’t be a hard head.” If I got hurt because I didn’t listen, I would be the one to get in trouble from my parents. Guess what, except for a few bruises and scrapes playing, no one was sued or even reprimanded by our parents. Lawsuits back then were far from everyone’s minds. Guess more people these days are just much more greedy, or holier than thou.

  54. Wow. I’ll be really interested to see what happens when my boy is old enough for school. I went to high school around 1980 — don’t remember signing in, or out, or ever taking a sick note past grade 9, and if I wanted to cut class, well, I just left. Somehow I managed to graduate and go on to earn 2 degrees, during which I was expected to manage my own attendance…good thing I knew how.

    I DO remember getting in hot water for playing hooky, but my parents were pissed at me, not the school. But that goes back to another thread (was it here? I think so) where we discussed the fact that teachers are teachers, not babysitters.

  55. “Lawsuits back then were far from everyone’s minds.”

    I am not sure how much average parents have changed, but I do agree with this. My parents had 6 kids and managed to pretty much stay away from the school except when invited. However, when my sister was in 3rd grade, my dad heard there was a boy regularly bullying her at the playground, to the point of actually kicking her in he face in his cowboy boots. OK, that was a bit much, so my dad came to the school to make sure someone was going to do something about it. He was most upset with the administration who tried to say “I’ll talk to the parents, but there’s nothing else I can do about it unless I see it with my own eyes” (and of course, you’re not going to see anything you don’t want to deal with, right?). I don’t remember what else my dad did before being satisfied that the boots were likely to stop making contact with my sister’s face.

    Thing was, my dad’s only intention was to stop the kicking. Not to sue, or cause a ruckus, or be a bully himself. Who has time for all that? Once the kicking stopped, my dad was never heard from again.

  56. I wonder how much of the litigiousness of parents is the likely result of the trend against independence.

    I mean, look at our kids. They aren’t allowed to take themselves anywhere, find their own way out of a situation, fight their own battles, size up strangers, or even do their own homework. Naturally they are helpless and in need of round-the-clock surveillance! It’s like in the other thread, if you never let your kids go barefoot, the day they finally do, the first thing they are gonna do is hurt their feet! So now the schools, whose policies created this helplessness, need the infrastructure to deal with it – or a darn good insurance policy.

    What if someone decided that the schools were responsible for developing independence? What if you could sue the schools for not preparing you for an independent life (like some folks have done over illiteracy)? Why, pretty soon they’d be legislating “no kid left behind (without a compass).” Ha, ha. Never happen in this life, though.

    Maybe if we could ban the saying “better safe than sorry,” that would be a start? Come on, let’s start a movement!

  57. Oh yeah, there already is a movement . . ..

  58. As a teacher I’m in two minds about truanting.

    A lot of times the kids who are truanting are the disruptive kids. It can really make a difference to the others in the class when they are absent.

    But… as an educator I know how important getting an education is. Many of the kids who truant are kids raised in poverty and education is the only viable option for them to get out. They need to be in school or they’ll get left behind. It’s a vicious cycle they truant and get behind, so the work is hard, so they opt out and truant.

    We have a problem with truancy at my school, with about 82% attendance. We have an automated system so when kids are marked as absent without reason it gets a flag in the system and after a couple (to ensure it’s a real issue, and not the teacher not getting to the computer quickly) a text is sent to the parental phone. Sadly, there are a number of parents in our community that just don’t care that much, or they don’t see the value in education.

  59. Yes, this is not about safety, but all about the school’s liability. Essentially, they are in prison for all intents and purposes. If there is an earthquake/fire/bomb threat and the school is evacuated and when they take attendance afterwards and a child is not found to be there, OMGOMGOMGOMG. Seriously.

    That’s why trying to get your kid out is like trying to break into Fort Knox.

  60. I agree that lawsuits were far from our mind in the 80’s but this fear of lawsuits is not any different than the fear of predators. Lawsuits filed for stupid stuff are NOT common. Society is simply convinced that they are going to get sued for every thing when the reality is very different.

    Sorry but it just annoys me when people say “parents have become so litigious” when schools are not sued that often by parents for anything.

  61. “If there is an earthquake/fire/bomb threat and the school is evacuated and when they take attendance afterwards and a child is not found to be there, OMGOMGOMGOMG. Seriously.”

    Sad thing is, this would not be much of a concern if kids were used to finding their way home on their own. Sooner or later they’d show up when they were hungry.

  62. ” . . . schools are not sued that often by parents for anything.”

    I think you are right, but the problem is when they are sued, the lawsuits (at least the ones that people hear about) are so huge and sometimes so ridiculous. Tort reform could address that.

  63. I had this discussion with my daughter’s high school the first time she needed to go home sick. I told them, “we live three doors away. I work an hour away. She’s capable of the walk even ill, and I give you my permission to release her.” I got a clear impression that they technically weren’t supposed to, but that they agreed it made most sense in this case. From what I understand, out school

  64. Hooray for smart phones and their tiny screens!

    as I was saying, my school apparently will allow a child to leave for a doctors appointment too, provided you let them know it’s happening, and kid is getting herself there. But then, we’re blessed with a school district that occasionally uses common sense.

  65. katc said:”It isn’t a safety issue, it is a control issue (along with being forced to wear student IDs as badges on clothing, arbitrary dress code decisions, and the list goes on).”

    I’m in some ways relieved to read the replies in this thread. I thought I was the only one (along with my kids) who get bent out of shape about arbitrary things like this. Three or four years ago my kids’ middle school (grades 6-8) was bent on not allowing hooded sweatshirts in the school. When I emailed the principal I was told it was because “outerwear” wasn’t allowed in school, regardless of the fact that hooded sweatshirts usually serve the same purpose as a sweater, which of course would be allowed. This year on the first day of school my 8th grade (youngest) daughter was told there would be a dress code for gym class (which there never was for the other many years we’ve had kids at the school) and now only navy or gray shorts are allowed, but not royal blue…that results in a loss of points for the day. Really? I sent a note that I would not be buying new shorts for the school year. No one responded and I’m sure my daughter is wearing the prescribed colors, but geeze. She said many girls came with a specific brand of shorts they had purchased specifically for gym class but those were no longer allowed either (deemed too short; even though they are commonly used for athletic activities.) At the high school they’re not allowed to carry backpacks (also to reduce violence I think; could carry a gun in there.) So my son who was a senior last year always said, “Oh I’m on my way to Ivy Tech” (half day community college program) no matter what time of day someone saw him with a backpack. Stuff like that just makes me crazy when I think about it too much.

    Anyway, I was surprised to learn that many of you can still use a parent’s note for excused absences. Only doctor’s notes or something ok’d ahead of time with the principals work in our school system. I have a daughter who used to get migraines frequently so this was problematic. (Interestingly this was in middle school; not so much in high school where she is much happier.) Fortunately we have a “free range” doctor too so she faxed the school a note to get all her old unexcused absences excused. But I hate playing that game. I am capable of deciding if my kid is sick enough to stay home from school without a doctor’s permission or approval. And we also noticed that our daughter’s grades were inversely related to how much time she was at school–the less she was there, the better she did!

    Last year my youngest daughter also ended up with a detention over the issue of forgetting her note from me which gave her permission to ride a friend’s bus home. My daughter, who is quite capable and used to being encouraged to do things for herself, insisted that she could not ride her bus home because she knew that we would not be home until late that night since we had other plans that took us out of town. The principal insisted that without a note she had to ride her own bus home. My daughter insisted that she could not and would be locked out of the house. The detention was for her attitude, but she was forced into it because of the stupid system which didn’t give her enough credit for knowing where to go after school at age 13. I can’t tell you how upset we were with this whole system, which incidentally almost excluded her from National Junior Honor Society and the end of year trip to King’s Island as well.

  66. There was a recent and horrifying situation where a sexual abuser – someone who was not on the official list of people who could sign a kid out – was signing out and raping kids during the school day.

    So much for “lawsuit avoidance” and “protecting the kids”. It is just a bureaucratic bs hurdle that anyone can play.

  67. Something I learned when the vice principal was bullying my son over absences … ALWAYS demand a copy of the district policy in WRITING.

    Turns out that this particular jerk was intent on “making an example” of my son, who was kept home with the flu in a year that saw two distinct flu epidemics the like of which had not been seen in 20 years. The VP was insistent that “people were taking their kids out of school for vacations”, not bothering to learn, you know, reality?

    He did not, however, follow the official attendance policy, which had a set number of days out (that our son was still under), did not demand doctor’s notes, and specifically noted that ALL contact was to be with parents!

    It somehow all got fixed when we sent an e-mail to the superintendent pointing out the policy, what had been said to our son, what we had submitted in the way of doctor’s notes, etc. and how many times our attempts to communicate with the staff had been snubbed … and our intention to retain a lawyer if the harassment did not stop NOW.

    Moral of the story: if it ain’t in writing, it doesn’t exist.

  68. I mentioned earlier my friend who was emancipated at 16 after her parents died. She did have one instance where the school called to verify the signature on her field trip permission slip. According to her the conversation went something like this:

    School: Can we speak to the mother of Sally Jones?
    Sally: Got a Ouija board?
    School: Huh?
    Sally: Sally’s parents died last year
    School: Can I speak to Sally’s father?
    Sally: Still need the Ouija board.
    School: (now annoyed) Can I speak to Sally’s legal guardian?
    Sally: This is she
    School: We received a questionable permission slip. Did you in fact authorize Sally to go on the field trip to (I honestly don’t remember)?
    Sally: Of course I did. The slip is signed isn’t it?

    We laughed about it for days. Our homeroom teacher, who wasn’t into bureaucratic foolishness, started marking her signed forms with a notation stating he “verified with legal guardian”. That teacher was one of the most incredible educators and motivators I have ever come across.

  69. Requiring a doctor’s note for every single day’s absence is garbage. So, which is it: kids are supposed to go to school when they have a minor illness that doesn’t warrant a doctor’s attention, spread germs,, throw up all over the school, and fail to gain any education because they’re too miserable to pay attention, and probably extend their illness over a few days instead of one, causing them to fall farther behind? Or, people are supposed to go to the doctor for every tiny little minor thing? Guess what the doctor’s going to say if you show up with the common cold or an 8 hour stomach virus? “There’s nothing we can do, go home and drink fluids. That’ll be a $20 copay” (if you have insurance, which keeps going up — wonder why?)

  70. @forsythia, link to the story about the abuser signing kids out of school?

  71. “Requiring a doctor’s note for every single day’s absence is garbage.”

    I was about to say the same thing. I don’t believe in going to the doctor unless I’m pretty sure we’re gonna die* without meds. And again, it’s not the school’s role to intimidate me to do so. When I was a kid, they used to require a doctor’s note for being out X days in a row.

    My kids’ daycare requires a doctors’ note to RETURN to school after certain illnesses. We haven’t had any of those illnesses yet, but that would be interesting if you didn’t go to the doctor, wouldn’t it?

    [*die or be seriously messed up. Though I did take my kid to the doctor after a spider bit her next to her eye. It looked like she had been punched in the eye. When it didn’t look better after a day, I was concerned that someone would think me neglectful and/or abusive. Also, it was the eye – I have a different risk threshhold for eyes, I guess.]

  72. Tomorrow I have to sign my nine year old out to take him to the orthodontist. My problem is that the appointment ends at 2:30pm and I have to be somewhere else at 2:30pm, so I really only have time to drop him at the door of the school, and not go in to sign him back in. I will ask him to sign himself back in. The school has reprimanded me for this before, but if the issue is that the school needs to know if he is there or not, what difference does it make if I sign him in or he does it himself? Obviously, if he is signing himself in, he is there.

  73. my son is lucky enough to go to a private school. They have a ‘retreat’ each year which we pay for in our yearly tuition. This year, we didn’t want him to go because he had college commitments as well. (he’s a senior on minimum day). Apparently, there is no opt out for the retreat, everyone has to go and no excuses are accepted!!! My money, my choice. We are rule bound in almost all ways, but if I won’t allow their rules to compromise our needs and plans. After all, I already paid so what the heck! We kept him home, let them know but offered no option to discuss. Never heard anything more….

  74. Forsythia, that is amusing. Amusing because some home school kids in CA a few years were required to go back to school because their parents continued to let them have contact with a known child abuser. The judge’s reasoning was that the kids would be away from the abuser (whom I am unsure if actually abused them or someone else) and would be around other adults. But, not, apparently if the person allowed to take the kids out is an abuser themselves.

    What is next, background checks for anyone who the parents allow to sign the kids out to?

    But seriously, see if you can come with a link there before someone finds it on Snopes.

  75. You cannot accompany our kids on field trips or serve on the PTA without a background check here in Tea Party No Government Central (catch the irony, do ya?) Tejas.

  76. “I am capable of deciding if my kid is sick enough to stay home from school without a doctor’s permission or approval.”

    I’m also capable of deciding that my kid needs a mental health day, we need a mother/daughter day or we’re being offered an opportunity too good to pass up for school. I was almost never sick as a kid, but my mother liberally let me miss school to do other things, like play with baby tigers (pet, feed a bottle, etc) for an afternoon. She always sent notes saying that I was sick so that I could get an excused absence. Those are some of my best memories. Doctor’s note requirement would mess that up.

  77. My kids and I take a few mental health days each year as well. I enjoy them as much as the kids do. My daughter has autism, so it is esp good for my son as we rarely get one-on-one time.

    I once let the kids stay home when our guinea pig was about to have babies. I told the school why I kept them out. They would not excuse the absence. Yeah, because yet another worksheet would be so much more valuable than seeing a baby be born (they’d never wtinessed it before)

  78. On the absences thing, our school district has a policy of no more than 20 absences in a school year. Note or no note, it’s just too much time missed. 3 latenesses equal one absence. I’m all for the “you made your bed, now lie in it” thinking. Therefore, my 18 year old is in his senior year for the second time. He absenced out of so many classes over his first 4 years that he didn’t have enough credits to graduate. He doesn’t do mornings well. Believe me, his father and I tried to get him there on time, but there’s only so much you can do with a 5’10, 180lb. lump of sleep.

  79. It is about liability. We live in a world where a parent would sue the school if they let them stand outside and wait and the teen took off or taken by someone.

    I am pretty free range with my own kids but I have a set of rules I have to follow with my GS troop.

  80. “The school has reprimanded me for this before, but if the issue is that the school needs to know if he is there or not, what difference does it make if I sign him in or he does it himself? Obviously, if he is signing himself in, he is there.”

    That is awful. I always drop off at school after dr. appointments. I never had to walk them back in the school.

  81. 1. At our High School (in Scottsdale, Arizona) a parent must sign at the beginning of the school year to allow an 18-year-old to sign him/herself out. Ridiculous. There is no way this can be legal.
    2. I have always sent back homework assignments and other things that my children are responsible for with the following note…”____is responsible for this. I am leaving it to him/her to make the decision. ” Then I have my child sign the paper.
    3. While I understand the need to know for sure who is in a building or on a campus at any given time (for a fire or other emergency) how does MY signature show any differently from my CHILD’s signature that s/he is at school or away?

  82. @gina, about #1: Yeah, I’d have to agree, that’s probably not legal. If you’re 18, you’re an adult; your parents are at that point legal nonentities as far as you’re concerned. I suspect that it’s just that most 18-year-olds don’t have the money to sue to force the school to recognize that they are in fact adults who are responsible for themselves.

  83. Lisa, my sister almost didn’t graduate because of the absence nonsense too. Only, she was actually sick (she had Lyme’s Disease for part of it – only it was misdiagnosed for a long time.) Her “bed” had nothing to do with choice, and she made up all of her assignments, and received top grades. Yet, her counselor didn’t want her to graduate, and pushed the issue until about the day before graduation when my mother got mad. My mom had to go in and argue with the counselor, then went over her head to the principal. (Some family were coming from far away and had medical and other issues that made travel hard.)

    Good thing that the principal allowed her to graduate, because my sister had already been accepted to college and had she been “required” to do summer school or another year she really would have given them a lot of mouth about everything. The funny thing, was that she was also talking several college classes at the community college, and they did not care about her being sick. She got perfect grades there too.

    And for the record, studies show that high school classes should start later in the morning. Teens are wired so that they can’t function in the morning, and biologically, have to stay up late. It annoyed me to no end when I was teaching high school that 1st period started at 7:30 and the kids that were there were half asleep, yet a couple hours later they could function really well.

  84. HeatherG-if she was emancipated then the school was wrong on all counts. As an emancipated minor, you should be treated like an adult legally, if not necessarily socially.

  85. Thank God at my high school parents do NOT have to come in and sign a kid out. They simply call and leave a message on the school answering machine, or speak directly to the secretary and request an “out slip”. This is delivered to the student well before they are to leave. It is their responsibility to show this to the teacher, who will dismiss them to either head to the parking lot and the parents’ car, drive themselves away if able, or wait in the front lobby to be picked up at the front of school. 18 year olds can sign themselves out, but are also aware of the attendance policy regarding excessive absences. So, if you’re going to “skip”, it could come back to bite you in the butt.

  86. Our school gets cranky at 10 absences, and wants a meeting with parents. Considering you’re supposed to keep kids home 24 hours after any fever, that’s easy with the younger ones. I’m just glad they don’t require a doctor’s note for those first 10 absences… I gather that after 10 they do start requiring them.

    I’ve been lucky and haven’t had to sign any kids out of school yet. Pretty sure it’s the standard routine requiring parents to go in to get their kid, especially since it’s an elementary school.

    Our school is sensible enough to have minimum day on Fridays, however, specifically because the principal knows families like to take off early on Fridays for vacations, and he saw no point in tempting people to pretend that their kid had an appointment when they really just want a head start on vacation.

  87. Browyn: Or they are like me or my parents and sometimes they think it is okay to take your kid out of school. I was never truant except for maybe 8th grade where I was bullied at school badly so I stayed out a lot. Otherwise I went enough to get honor roll and graduate with honors and get a scholarship to a college and get in college. So I was there enough. But I also missed a week every year for a vacation up till about middle school. I missed about 3 days for a dance competition in Disney World every year in high school. That was a great opportunity to dance on the Tomorrowland stage at Disney World and lead the Main Street parade!

    Or sometimes they took me to foreign countries like Mexico or Jamaica or Canada. Sometimes we visited family that lived far away. Sometimes we explored and vacationed in the US. Sometimes we just hung out at home together as a family and took a mental health day. ‘

    The point is that not all parents who let their kids miss school for anything besides being sick or a funeral or doctor’s appointment are not bad parents or letting their kid be truant. They are giving their kids once in a lifetime experiences that can be educational too.

  88. At the end of the year awards at my kids’ elementary, there are ALWAYS a couple of kids who get an award for *never* having missed a day of school, K-12.

    Far from lauding them, I find it appalling. No one is that healthy. How many days did those poor kids suffer when they didn’t feel well and were forced to go to school?

    And I guess a mental health day was clearly out of the question…

  89. With the 18 year old signing themselves out thing, at my high school it was not allowed period, with or without the parents saying it was okay. I turned 18 in Nov of my Senior year. So I was 18 for half of my Senior year. Others in my class turned even earlier than that. My friend was 18 in August and so 18 the entire Senior year. The county policy was that still a parent had to sign you in and out in person. If the parent wanted to come in person at the beginning of the day and sign you out for later in the day, that was allowed but they had to come sometime during that day to sign you out or you were not allowed to leave.

    Even legal adults…. I asked them what authority do they have in that instance telling a legal adult they can’t sign themselves out and they said that if you violate it, they will just kick you out of school. So it was not allowed if you wanted to attend school,

    I always wondered what they would do about 18 year olds who might move out of their parent’s house and still go to high school.

  90. In our district the absence thing is awful. If you miss I think over 15 days without excuses or more than 5 days in a row (and they only accept doctor’s notes, funeral notices or school sponsered events), then you fail. Even if you have straight A+. Doesn’t matter. For each class if high school and for younger kids you just fail the whole grade.

    Talk about idiotic. So you are so smart you get straight A’s but they will still fail you! Obviously you didn’t need to be there! I prefer college where in most classes at least if you don’t want to be there, you don’t have to be, and you can still make a good grade if you earn it. I had a few courses mostly my major with one crazy strict teacher that required attendance, but most did not. They could care less if you showed up. As long as you showed up for tests and turned in work on time.

    I don’t see why primary school should be any different?

    You learn the material and pass or you don’t. I think the whole system needs an overhaul. They get money from the government for every student attending each day and that is why they throw a fit about it.

    I do plan on being like my parents and letting my kids miss school if they can keep their grades up for family visits, vacations, mental health days, once in a lifetime experiences occasionally and if the school gives me ANY crap about it, I will just pull them out and home school. I really don’t want to homeschool, but no one is going to tell me I can’t take my kid to Disney World in the Fall when the weather is nicer and the parks are less crowded and the rates are cheaper. I don’t think so. We can only afford to travel during off season and that is what we have been doing for years before we even had kids. That is not changing anytime soon. We always vacation in Sept, Oct or Nov for a week and that won’t change.

    Otherwise I will try to have them there as much as possible barring illness or the occasional day to visit family here and there.

  91. Dolly and Bronwyn – agree with you both in different ways. Dolly it’s great to keep kids home to do once-in-a-lifetime things, or even just to have mental health days, and going on overseas trips is far more educational than being in school. But Bronwyn is also right, in an NZ context anyway….,Until the last generation or so an education beyond high school was really not that important, and some parents still don’t see the point of it. I am 45 and many of my classmates left school at 15, before doing any of our major exams, and the majority of these have good jobs, which they worked their way up into. Sadly things don’t work like that anymore – you need those darn bits of paper for even blowing your nose, it seems sometimes! But it can take parents time to catch up, especially those who hated their own schooling….

    Luckily my son can also sign himself out as long as I’ve sent a note, and usually meets us wherever the appointment happens to be.

    I’m with the poster who talked about needing to know who should be around in case of earthquake, fire etc – you need to know who you’re likely to be trying to dig out, and where they might be. Seriously. At least if you live on the edges of tectonic plates. That’s not anti-free range, just common sense.

  92. jwheeler1967: One of my kids has had school years with no absences, and it’s not because I send him to school sick. Pretty good for a kid with asthma. Our school also gives out these awards. It doesn’t really seem fair. Most people do not want to be sick, and my son has had other years where he only missed a couple days due to illness. Either way, he’s a good student, and maybe the school should just stick to rewarding kids based on their academic achievements.

  93. There’s taking your kid out of school for a reason and there’s just letting kids stay home ’cause they don’t feel like going to school’.
    I have few problems with the former, but “flights are cheaper in term-time” is not a good reason. “My family is having ancestral land returned to them in Fiji, so we are going over for a week in term time” is (True story, and the kid in question regretted going because he missed out on so much course content that week).

    I missed a few days of school myself. For good reason. I went to family graduations. I was translator for my parents when we were taking German friends sightseeing. Absences for reasons other than illness should be occasional and valuable.

    Missing school a day out of every fortnight? Not reasonable. Just to stay home or as is often the case; Sleep in, then come down to school at lunchtime to see your mates, but tell the teachers on gate duty that you aren’t in school because you are ill. Sorry kid, if you are well enough to be gallivanting around the neighbourhood you are well enough that your butt should be on a seat in my classroom.

  94. The earthquake argument is funny. So there’s a devastating earthquake and some of the kids find themselves able to get the hell out of the building before it collapses on them. What are they gonna do, sign out first?? Their ass is going to run away from there and scatter to find their loved ones. That’s what I would have done, anyway.

  95. My mom flunked a class once for having 21 absences. She claims the teacher hated her. (My mom was normally an extremely good student and would never have “earned” a poor grade.) Shortly afterwards on her 16th birthday, my mom quit school. She figured, what was the point of continuing when she’d been basically set back a year in school. She, like me, could not stand the way they treated young adults like criminals or babies. She would have been a top graduate had she stayed in school.

  96. @SKL The earthquake argument is not funny. Not for those of us in places where it matters.

    Hineata and I live in New Zealand, where you may have heard, we have had some pretty horrific earthquakes in the last 15 months. A friend of mine was stuck in a building for over 12 hours crushed under debris.

    Our schools all have earthquake drills, and after evacuating the building gather on the fields. Primary kids stay with their class and teachers for comfort until a family member comes for them. Secondary kids are shocked and stick with their mates for comfort. They don’t hare off. They huddle and work the phones to find their loved ones. Knowing who is in the school and who is not is pretty darn important in that situation..

  97. I always used some of my allowed sick days, but I don’t think I ever had a doctor’s note – it wasn’t usually required anyway. I did have scarlet fever at 13 and pneumonia at 16, and the stomach flu most years, but I also had a few cases of fake vomit and BS belly-aches. My mom would allow it sometimes, because she knew that I wasn’t going to really miss much in one day (unlike most students, I always read the textbooks and could teach myself most things). Frankly, there is something refreshing about being away from everyone (siblings and classmates and chore-masters) for a nice long stretch of time. I always went back to school in a much better mood the next day.

    I agree that an award for perfect attendance – especially spanning multiple years – is counterproductive. If there was no such award, some kids would have a happier life in my opinion.

  98. Oh yeah, kids have phones nowadays. Back in the neolithic period when I was a kid, I would have been running between home and the other schools until all my siblings were gathered and we could wait together for our parents. I can see how having regular drills would program kids to gather at Point A instead.

  99. Yep, earthquakes are really funny. Falling masonry is always good for a laugh, as is being pinned under your desk waiting for someone to come and find you. (this year, about 9 months back – I was very lucky, not to me personally). Or running home, because your teachers didn’t drill you well enough and you didn’t know what else to do, only to find the house has fallen in on your mother and younger sister, and they are both dead (okay, that was 1931, before anyone bothered with things like drills…).

    Yep, a laugh a minute.

  100. The point, SKL, is that if, PRIOR to earthquakes or fires, tsunamis or landslides, children are properly signed in and out of schools,- and I agree with the original post, they should be allowed to sign themselves out over say, age 10 – then you know who should still be around. If you personally take time to sign yourself out of a building that is falling down around you, good luck to you. Me, I will be grabbing the roll, on which are the names of all the kids who I know should be there, because they are not currently signed out, and I will be getting the hell out.

    Which I have had to do in a fire, incidentally.

  101. ….or sitting under my desk, or whatever. Hopefully with all the kids under their desks/ leaving in front of me …..

  102. I did not say earthquakes are funny. It should be obvious that I meant the suggestion that the sign-out sheet is going to be accurate after an earthquake was funny, as in ridiculous. I should probably take that back, since I do not live in a place that gets a lot of serious earthquakes and was unaware of the procedure for earthquake drills. I’m sorry you had a hard experience, but don’t go blaming it on my poor word choice.

  103. “There was a recent and horrifying situation where a sexual abuser – someone who was not on the official list of people who could sign a kid out – was signing out and raping kids during the school day.”

    Didn’t find anything in a Google search using plenty of key words, but nothing on Snopes either. But, if this is even true, what kind of dummies worked at the school, that they wouldn’t have wondered why the same guy signed out different kids over a period of time?

  104. And people wonder why teenagers can be surly? Didn’t Ben Franklin start a newspaper at 15? But our 15 year olds have to ask to pee and need a ‘runner’?

  105. The abuser signing kids out sounds like an urban legend that goes around my district that the media reported as true.

    Media – Local district allows sex abuser to volunteer.

    Actual story – a young man showed up at a secondary school wanting to volunteer and specifying he wanted to work with a specific student that was a family friend. The hinky meter of the staff member went off the charts. So she gave him the paperwork to be a volunteer took his ID to “make a copy”. In another room she called the student’s parents and told them what was going on.

    The man was an abuser, the student had been a victim. They had pressed charges and he had gone to jail.They were surprised he was out. The staff called the cops. The guy got suspicious and left. An e-mail about what had happened went out.

    15 min later he shows up at the school of another former victim. The staff calls the cops and tries to delay him. He takes off and goes to a 3rd school. We all get an e-mail with his mug shot and orders to call 911 immediately if we see him. The cops in 3 jurisdictions are now involved because out district covers multiple towns and unincorporated areas. They look at his pattern, run a list of his victims and were they go to school and stake out schools. They catch him and he goes back to prison for violating parole.

    The news media played up the part about schools giving him paperwork to delay him so we “allowed a known sex offender to volunteer.” the fact the state screwed up and didn’t notify the victims this guy was out was never mentioned. The fact that following procedure stopped this guy and alerted the cops no mention. (We have a policy if a person (not CPS/Cops) that is not on the approved to pick up list shows us and starts asking questions about a child we call the parent ASAP).

  106. So basically, the system worked 100%, but it’s being reported as a massive fail all around?

  107. One year, two, perhaps… but SEVEN. Come now.

  108. kherbert- what a massive media FAIL on that story.

  109. Kherbert: well glad you guys shut that down. That is a VERY good policy about if anyone shows up and starts asking about a kid but they are not on the pickup list to call the cops and get suspicious. I have some family members that are estranged that would never be on a pickup list but might try to show up at school and see my kids. So I would hope the school would shut that down. If they didn’t I would sue the crap outta the school so they better shut it down. I actually told the school when I enrolled them in preschool that we had estranged family members and so they better make sure only the people on that list are allowed near my kids.

  110. Brownyn: the fact that flights and hotels are cheaper during term time IS a good enough reason for a lower income family to miss school. It is good enough for us. Otherwise we would NEVER be able to afford a vacation and we deserve a nice family vacation. You also have to factor in that my husband is more likely to be allowed leave time for vacation during a non popular traveling time than a busy traveling time at work. I have the right to travel when the rates are cheaper, the places are less crowded and the weather is cooler. If my kids miss school, so be it. I will inform the school ahead of time and ask the teacher what is going to be covered while we are gone and I will try to work on it with the kids ahead of time or during downtime on the vacation. Usually I returned back to school ahead of the class on the curriculum because I worked faster alone than the class did.

    Teachers miss school to vacation with their families too. I have seen it a bunch of times. I was a sub remember? Teachers have the entire summer off and spring break and christmas break and they still miss a lot of days. As a sub I was called in for work every day over and over because so many teachers miss for various reasons. So if teachers can miss all the time, so can students if their parents think they can handle missing for a vacation. That is something schools don’t realize. Education is not everything. It is important and if my kids were struggling, I would not take them out of school. But missing one week especially in elementary school is not a big deal.

    Family bonding and family experiences are priceless. They are important too and if a family can only afford to do that during the off season when rates are cheaper, than so be it. I can tell you I learned so much during my family vacations that I missed school for. I went to Castle Loma in Canada and then the school was studying about it in a book and I was like “Oh I was actually THERE!” Beats being in school reading about it in a book huh?

  111. See that is one thing I feel VERY strongly about. Kids NEED experiences. We don’t have a ton of money. But I take my kids on more outings and experiences than people I know who are way richer than we are. I guess it is about priorities. I don’t mind not having a cell phone or a big fancy car or a big fancy house or designer clothing-if it means I will have enough money to buy zoo memberships, museum memberships, nature center memberships and actually use them! We go on one special outing at least every week and sometimes more than that. We plan special trips to other towns just to go to their zoo or museum. I find they are very educational and very special. My kids are great travelers and I feel these experiences really enrich their lives and minds.

    I am sad that next year when they start kindergarden that this will not happen as much. With three day a week preschool this has already stopped happening as much. I will cherish our summers when we can do stuff more. You cannot learn all about life from sitting in a classroom and studying it in a book. You have to go LIVE it.

    Real life example. I was a Spanish major. I made the highest grades in the courses. Because I sat at home and studied and did all the work. But I was the worst conversational Spanish speaker in the courses too, or at least one of the worst. Know why? Because you can’t practice Spanish conversation skills out of a book. You have to DO it. You have to LIVE it. The students that went to foreign countries or mingled with Spanish speakers at bars or where ever got very good at conversational Spanish. So they beat me at that. But then I would mop the floor with them on a test or a paper or project. So that is just an example how some skills have to be lived, not taught out of a book.

  112. “If you never let anything happen to him….then nothing will ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo…”

    –Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, “Finding Nemo”

  113. “keep my toddler entertained and contained and quiet WITHOUT running or climbing on the benches”

    Nope, let him run around and raise hell. The longer you have to wait, the longer they have to put up with him. If they give you the stinkeye, tell them you’d be happy to wait out in the car for your nearly adult-age daughter to walk out and meet you. If you have to come inside, this is what they get.

  114. Telling people they get a certain number of absences after which they fail is actually treating them like an adult. If someone misses more than 20 days from our office they would be fired. Same for being late. You cannot miss 10% of the classes, work days, practices, etc. (20 out of 180) Why is that such a terrible rule?

    Again, if you believe in experience based education you should home school. I have no problem with people choosing that route but it is really unfair that students and teachers have to repeat lessons to accommodate your vacation budget. If you believe that experiences should come before your obligations then you should also probably be self employed so you can come and go as you please.

    However, there is something to be said for learning to be on time and responsible to your commitments. The easiest way to be successful in college is to show up for every class every day. You have a huge advantage over all the other people in that class.

    More importantly, if you want to work a job where someone else pays you, it is pretty important to learn that you have to manage your sick/vacation days and that you need to consider the impact your days off have on other people when you do take them.

  115. A truancy issue!? I had major school skippers. I’d drop them off (no buses for high school where we lived), watch them walk in the door, and pick them up after school.
    And yes, if I had ever needed to go get them out of class, I would’ve had to go sign them out.
    But they almost NEVER actually went to class! They scooted right out the door on the other side, often before I was out of the parking lot. Not one time was I ever called to verify that my kid was absent. Not even after 27 absences one semester. Neither of them ever forged a note, and I had no clue until grades came out. I certainly didn’t jump down the admin’s throat… wouldn’t do any good.I already had established that the admin had no idea how district policies worked. I took ’em out, we homeschooled for the rest of highschool. I’ve got two incredibly literate, articulate, analytical young adults, one of whom decided it was just high school that sucked, started community college at 16, and transfered into a big 10 school at 19 with 80 units completed and a 3.9 – they love learning. They can’t abide dumb rules.

  116. LOL I am with David. I have a policy about waiting and appointments and such. I will keep my kids well behaved and quiet for about 15 minutes or so and then if you keep me waiting longer than that, I start to stop trying and if they start trashing stuff or being loud, oh wells, you should not have kept me waiting so long. Granted I am talking about necessary stuff like doctor’s appointments and stuff like that, not restaurants or things that are optional. So yeah, keep your kids good a few minutes but if you think they are taking too long, let them trash stuff. I have found that always gets them in a hurry once that starts happening. Go figure.

  117. Brian, LOL I am self employed. I am a stay at home mother. Part of the reason I chose that job is because I like being my own boss. Thanks though for the advice. You know, I took off school days in primary school all the time for vacation and other things but when I got to college, I NEVER missed class. I also NEVER called in sick to work. So at least with me that little example does not hold up. When I knew it was important and crunch time, I was there. When it wasn’t, I wasn’t. People can learn the difference. I also NEVER missed dance class. I am also one of the most punctual people I have ever known. So you know, you can learn attendance and punctuality and still miss school sometimes. Just saying.

  118. Brian: Also notice that I was not behind when I got back to school after a vacation. I said that I was often ahead of the class because the classroom moved slower than the teacher anticipated. So I was actually bored the first day or so after coming back from a vacation. So you know……

  119. Brian: Again to point out so you think even if a student has an A they should fail a class because of absences? yeah I don’t see how anyone can find that fair. When they obviously know the material. So we should punish them for being smart?

    And actually in MANY jobs it is about performance, not attendance. Like if you make that deal the boss is not going to care if you missed some days as long as you keep your clients and make that deal. Or if you get your assignment in on time, they don’t care how you spent that time. So school can be the same way. As long as you nail the tests and papers and projects, who cares if you are there every day or not?

    Secondly, my kids see that their father shows up EVERY day for work without fail. He NEVER calls in. So that shows them that for work you better be there when your livelihood depends on it. But my husband also deserves a vacation since he is working the rest of the time to be with his family. That includes his kids. Since he is at work without fail every day seeing them at the beach everyday on our vacation is important.

  120. I have no problem with a limited number of absences per year. As Brian said, that is real life. I can’t miss work willy nilly whenever I want. I have to limit my number of days off and plan around court schedules. At some point, my days off become unpaid (if they qualify under FMLA) and then later result in my being fired. There are things that I would like to do that I can’t do because I simply can’t miss work at that time. C’est la vie.

    That said, families should be able to decide how to use those allotted days off, just like I can decide how to use my allotted sick and vacation time. If you want to take your kid to Disney World and he has enough absences left for the year, that should be fine. The only “unexcused” absence should be suspensions and those that exceed that allotted number. No notes of any kind should be required until you hit the allotted number (and then only if you are asking for a waiver to be able to pass anyway).

    However, the world doesn’t revolve around you and your vacations. You decide to go to Disney World and miss a test? Oh well, you get a zero on the test. The teacher is not required to give you a make-up test. Don’t take homework or don’t do/understand what you brought and fall behind? Oh well, you better get a tutor because the rest of the class doesn’t need to redo everything for you to catch up.

    Free range is all about teaching kids responsibility. Responsibility means you learn how to plan your time off efficiently. It means learning to take time off when you can handle it and missing out on things when you cannot. It means planning for the future. So if you know that you always miss school in the spring because of bad allergies, you don’t take all your absences before then. So if you know that you want to go on a family vacation in April, you save some of your absences until then. If you’ve used all your absences, you struggle through a day feeling like crap and miss the memorial weekend trip to the lake. I see absolutely no life advantage whatsoever to allowing a child to just skip school whenever he or she wants, regardless of how good the grades are, because that is just not how life works.

  121. the fact that flights and hotels are cheaper during term time IS a good enough reason for a lower income family to miss school. It is good enough for us. Otherwise we would NEVER be able to afford a vacation and we deserve a nice family vacation.

    Dolly, isn’t traveling for vacation a non-essential?

  122. “Again to point out so you think even if a student has an A they should fail a class because of absences?”

    Absolutely (unless there is a clear medical reason for ALL the absences)! Just like I lose my job if I miss more than my allotted vacation time. All things considered, many weeks, I can probably do everything I need to do in 3 days of work if I work hard. I don’t, however, get to take 104 days off a year. I only get to take off 30 or so. If I tried to take off 104, I would be fired, even if all my work was ultimately getting done. Does it make sense? Probably not. Does it matter if I think it makes sense? No.

  123. Re a kid should flunk for lots of absences (regardless of reason) because that’s like missing too much work:

    1) You get to choose your boss. Not your teacher.

    2) You decide whether to go to work. Your parents mostly decide whether you’re going to school.

    3) Many if not most well-educated people have flexible work schedules. Schoolkids don’t. But maybe they should, since this may prepare them for adult realities.

    The point of school is to learn stuff. If you know the stuff, you should pass. As a quick learner who was usually bored in class, and able to teach myself anything I missed, I feel that “attendance” for the sake of it is overrated. Be that as it may, it would be doubly stupid to force me to sit through two years of a boring class because I occasionally found better things to do the first time around.

    I also have a personal theory that forcing a bored child to sit in class creates attention, learning and social problems. It forces them to develop bad habits, such as excessive daydreaming or disruptive behaviors, to compensate for the lack of anything productive to do. Then these bad habits become the person’s MO for all similar situations. I developed the habit of daydreaming as a kid, because it was not possible to mentally attend to endless repetitions of stuff I’d known for years. Even today, I can only listen to people for a short while before my mind wanders off, and I miss important stuff because I’ve stopped listening. A habit that was necessary to survive 12 years of school proves very hard to break.

  124. “1) You get to choose your boss. Not your teacher.”

    However, most people who work, NEED a job to do things like eat. Yes, they can ultimately quit a job if it makes them miserable but they generally have to stay until they get another job. No other job, no control over the boss. So, yes, adults have more control but more outside responsibilities that take much of that control away.

    “You decide whether to go to work. Your parents mostly decide whether you’re going to school.”

    Yes, my child is in kindergarten, so I do get to decide because she is not mature enough to make a meaningful decision. I made 100% of that decision when I was in high school. My mother’s only requirement was to graduate. That is what I am working toward with my child.

    “Many if not most well-educated people have flexible work schedules. Schoolkids don’t. But maybe they should, since this may prepare them for adult realities.”

    Maybe where you work but not anywhere I’ve ever worked. Sure I could work flexible hours to a certain extent when I was a corporate attorney. Of course, I had to work 60 of them a week so flexibility was relative. Now, I have some flexibility but still need to predominantly be around during normal business hours so that I can be reached by clients, judges, DAs, probation officers, etc.. I would lose my job if I decided to work nights because there is no way to get my work done. And I know MANY, MANY highly educated people who have no flexibility whatsoever. Their work hours are set and any variation requires taking sick/vacation time.

    Regardless at no job does this flexibility consist of 185 regular days off a year plus taking off whenever else you want. If you do have such a job, please tell me where it is so I can sign up.

  125. “I also have a personal theory that forcing a bored child to sit in class creates attention, learning and social problems.”

    And the ability to ditch out of school whenever you want and still pass doesn’t create problems? For some responsible people, possibly not. But for many others, yeah it does.

    Further I agree that occasional absences for fun are good things. I also think limiting them is a good practice. 180 days of school a year is not a particularly grueling life. Another 20 days off is more than sufficient. If you can’t fit all your “experiences” into the 205 days a year that you are not in school, I’m not real optimistic about your future abilities to function in the working world.

  126. “Many if not most well-educated people have flexible work schedules. Schoolkids don’t. But maybe they should, since this may prepare them for adult realities.”

    Well, except for doctors, nurses, lawyers, restauranteurs, people who run service businesses, anybody whose job depends on being there to deal promptly with issues as they come up or to be there when customers/clients need them (e.g. manufacturing engineers, store managers, lots of others.)

    And besides, why is what “well educated” people do the only reality we should prepare kids for in life? Maybe it’s actually better to give them an incentive to have the opportunities of the well-educated, than to assume that life for everyone should be like life for those who have particular career opportunities and make particular career choices.

  127. And flexibility usually comes with experience. I have some of the flexibility I have now because I’m the senior attorney in the office. Years have taught my boss that I make good choices about when I work that always lead to all the work being done well. When I was a junior associate, I had NO flexibility whatsoever. I worked when the partner/senior associate needed me to work.

    Why would we only prepare our kids for where they may be 5-10 years into their career? This is a problem with several “well educated” people I know. They believe that they should start at the top of the work food chain and not have to pay their dues. They rarely do well in careers.

  128. Donna, you can’t count it against the kids that the schools are closed for so many days a year. They don’t get to choose any of those days. They may not be on “vacation” during that time, either. The youger kids have summer “camps” while their parents work, and the older ones often have jobs and/or enrichment programs. The family may take vacations during the school year instead of the summer. For example, if you plan to visit a hot country north of the equator (India comes to mind), you should do it in the cooler months.

    Yes, I know most adults need some kind of job, but they get to make many choices about the job they take. If they hate deskwork, they don’t apply for office jobs. If they are night people, they apply for second or third shift or look for a job which allows working from home. Sure, once they get into their chosen job they may learn that it isn’t what they expected, but it was still their choice to accept the job, and they can do something about it (albeit not a quick fix) by pursuing other employment. You have educated friends with zero flexibility (you say) – but they knew going in that there would be no flexibility, so apparently that was less important to them than other priorities. (A lot of people prefer an 8am-5pm +/- schedule.) That is completely different from being told that because you are 15 and your address is in X school district, your butt has to be in Ms. Meaney’s classroom at 8am every morning for nine months, no matter how Ms. Meaney treats you or how appropriate the material is for you, and even if your being there provides absolutely zero benefit to you or to society. (I’m thinking of the year I had gym class daily at 8am, ugh!!!!! – but this would apply to any class in which I already know the material).

    As for who decides whether a kid goes to school: that’s going to vary by family. My mom had a divorced, working mom and three younger brothers. Her mom had her stay home at times to help with famiy stuff (e.g., if the brothers were home sick). I’m thinking that her mom was unaware of the strict attendance policy (which was applied at each teacher’s discretion). In my case, I’ll be pulling my kids out for educational / service-oriented travel at times. My kids will not be deciding the dates. I would also pull rank if I felt my kid was too sick for school and she didn’t agree. Obviously I’m not going to intentionally force her to flunk because of my decisions, but if I did, it would be unfair for her to bear that burden all her life.

  129. As long as kids are getting a reasonable opportunity to be educated, the schools do not trump parents or family.

    Good reasons to stay out of school include any of the following, and the state shouldn’t say otherwise unless there is documented abuse/neglect:
    -planting or harvest for farm kids
    -mental health day
    -parents think they are too sick to attend

    It shouldn’t be my responsibility to justify my family’s activities to the state, unless there is something suspect about said activities.

    These policies make my blood boil.

  130. “Yes, I know most adults need some kind of job, but they get to make many choices about the job they take. If they hate deskwork, they don’t apply for office jobs. If they are night people, they apply for second or third shift or look for a job which allows working from home.”

    This is true when unemployment is low and you have useful skills; it’s less true in tough times or when your skills are more limited. I know a guy who’s working third shift driving a truck that empties porta-potties. This is NOT because he likes staying up all night, dealing with crap (literally) and being out in the freezing cold in the middle of the night. It’s because it’s the job he could get. And he’s a highly educated guy, but has suffered reverses in his chosen career. Because he spent his young adult years getting “highly educated” instead of learning a trade, he’s not prepared to go off and get a decent semi-skilled non-professional job — it’s either the chosen career, which didn’t work out for him, or grunt work.

    Of course I agree that *lots* of people have flexibility and that it’s no more normal for an educated person to be doing a job like that, than for everyone to be able to choose their own schedule with complete freedom. But it seems to me that it’s better to prepare kids for situations where “you gotta do what you gotta do,” and then let them enjoy the benefit of better situations than that if they should achieve them, than to prepare them for a mindset where showing up is mostly optional, by modeling it to them for all their formative years.

  131. See, I don’t agree that the school needs to prepare all kids for the worst case career scenario. I don’t know where that logic comes from. The reality is, nothing in school could have prepared me for either my noon-to-midnight factory job nor catching a 6am flight to make an 8am professional presentation. The point of my education was to ensure I could read, write, calculate, understand, and think.

    The fact is that when you choose something, your motivation level is on an entirely different scale compared to when something is chosen for you.

    Besides that, the added maturity as a result of being older and having nobody else to support you is more than enough for most people to do what they need to do until more pleasant options are available to them.

    I’m not saying there should not be a target limit to unexcused days off. However, I believe that flunking a kid who has actually mastered the class material is wrong. I could see giving a reduced grade, but not withholding credit, and certainly not requiring him to repeat.

  132. “It shouldn’t be my responsibility to justify my family’s activities to the state, unless there is something suspect about said activities. ”

    I absolutely agree with this.

    BUT, if you are making the deal with the state that you want the kid to have a diploma and a decent education at the end of the process, isn’t there some commitment necessary that has to be followed through on? It’s bad enough to expect a diploma just for showing up, but we’re not trying to claim they should get one even for NOT showing up, right?

    So it all has to be “within reason.” As long as the child is able to keep up with the work and is not creating an undue burden on teachers to have to accommodate an erratic schedule, I do think parents should get to decide when a kid “needs” a day off or is doing some other useful or worthwhile activity. But in a world where my kid is not the only one in the school, and I actually expect school to achieve something, it can’t be a free-for-all, either. And I don’t know how you’d achieve this without some degree of accountability for absences. Not everyone is, or ever will be, responsible. The parent should be able to decide what justifies an absence without it being “approved,” but there have to be limits on absences, unless there really *is* a documentable reason (such as severe or chronic illness or serious family issues) that frequent absence occurs. So it has to be balanced, somehow.

  133. I had my oldest child at 17 years old, while still in high school and turned 18 at the end of my Junior year, making me 19 when I graduated. I didn’t live at home, had my own apartment, my own car, a child, a fiance, etc. During my Senior year my parents were informed that I would need to be signed in and out and get excuse notes from them if I missed a day and that apointments for my child would not be excused. My dad asked the school if there was anything that could be done and was told I would have to be “legally emanciapted” in order to take care of this myself. His response??? The second I had a child and especially when I turned 18 I WAS legally emancipated. The result? He signed a bunch of blank pieces of paper for me to write excuses and since he was disabled also got a note from his doctors making it clear that he would have to sign me in and out my phone. When the school protested he threatened them with the ADA. I was a very good student, graduated with honors and he felt depite my young age into motherhood I could handle myself and had for years. As far as appointments for my child???? I would simply write in that I had an appointment. I am having the same issues with my now teenage son. He is 16 but has to be signed in and out from school, the gym, football practice if he leaves early etc etc.

  134. Not surprisingly, I have a totally different view of the objective of school. Getting a grade has little to do with it. The most important things I learned in school were not on tests but they sure did require me to be present. And the point of being in school is that the other kids are present too. Because the whole thing requires dialogue and a cooperative learning environment.

    Lawyers are a good example. You can become a lawyer by simply passing the bar exam. If you read the right prep you could probably spend 6 months of memorizing and do fine. But if I am accused of a crime, I don’t want a test taker, I want someone who spent 3 years thinking about, living, breathing and living law to defend me.

    Well said re makeups Donna. and if you have too many absences just go get a GED. Then its just about passing a test.

  135. “In my case, I’ll be pulling my kids out for educational / service-oriented travel at times. My kids will not be deciding the dates. I would also pull rank if I felt my kid was too sick for school and she didn’t agree. Obviously I’m not going to intentionally force her to flunk because of my decisions, but if I did, it would be unfair for her to bear that burden all her life.”

    Life is full of choices and many other people bear the brunt of the choices we make. That doesn’t stop even when we are adults. I made the choice to take a job in Samoa. That choice effects everyone I know in various ways. My child who has to leave her friends and dog and move to another hemisphere. The grandparents who have to live without their granddaughter for 2 years because they can’t afford to fly to Samoa regularly. My employer who has to replace me. My judge who does not want me to leave. My coworker who was next in line for the job and does not get to go because I accepted the position. My other coworker who is exceedingly happy because she gets to take my judge.

    Unfortunately, if you choose to take your child out of school for more than the allotted days, your child will have to pay the price for that. Just like every other decision that you make that pertains to your child. Hopefully, you will be a responsible adult and not put your child in that position. If you do, I feel sorry for your child for having selfish parents, but not for actually failing the grade.

    Nobody is talking about the worst case career scenario. Based on my experience and that of EVERY other person I know, you want the best case career scenario. The best case career scenario would be I guess that you get paid highly and only work when you want. I don’t know anyone who achieves that ideal. Everyone I know is required to work consistently and is not allowed to take off whenever and for however long they want and still keep their job. I don’t see why students should be able to take off school whenever and for however long they want and still keep their diploma.

  136. “Well, except for doctors, nurses, lawyers, restauranteurs, people who run service businesses, anybody whose job depends on being there to deal promptly with issues as they come up or to be there when customers/clients need them (e.g. manufacturing engineers, store managers, lots of others.)”

    Actually, there are “flexible” jobs for in most of the careers on your list. Flexible doesn’t mean you are not committed to any time frame; only that you have some ability to decide/negotiate the time frame. Let’s take nursing for example. My brother is a hospice nurse, and he’s negotiated various different schedules, each of which has its own pros and cons. Another nurse I know just switched jobs so that she now has fewer days off, but doesn’t have to work weekends and holidays any more. Also, in almost every customer-facing or manufacturing business I can think of, the hours of operation are longer than any one person’s shift. So there are different shift options to negotiate. I myself am a lawyer and I’ve spent very little of my life working on an 8-5 schedule.

    Also, I never said that EVERY job is flexible, nor that every worker even wants a flexible job. Many (perhaps most) do not.

    The point I was making that started this whole sub-conversation is that it really isn’t logical to justify school requirements based on “parallels” in the work world, because those really aren’t comparable.

  137. “ ‘I also have a personal theory that forcing a bored child to sit in class creates attention, learning and social problems.’

    And the ability to ditch out of school whenever you want and still pass doesn’t create problems? For some responsible people, possibly not. But for many others, yeah it does.”

    Well, maybe if students didn’t have to sit bored all day, schools would make a better effort to engage the minds of those who need engaging.

    What a tragic waste of national resources it is to force our brightest students to sit doing basically nothing for most of the school day. Personally I think that is a much bigger problem than the fact that some kids are not as punctual as we would like.

  138. I’m 23, and even when I was in elementary school things were different! I remember being in the 5th grade and feeling really ill. My siblings were all still 3 and younger, so for my mom to come pick me up was a big hassle. I was allowed to WALK home, about a mile and a half, across a busy road even. My mom gave permission over the phone and no one thought twice about it.

    By the time I was in high school, we weren’t even allowed to leave for lunch. Um, in elementary school a group of friends and I would walk several blocks to buy food from a local bakery.

  139. I begin to wonder whether the whole “suck it up because this is what work life is like, only worse” attitude is one of the things that is demotivating school kids.

    Am I really the only person whose life actually got happier AND more productive once I was making my own choices?

    The way I talk to young people is: if you want X, you need to do Y. You decide your priorities, figure out how to pursue them, and get to work on it. I don’t think anyone over age 5 would take that to mean you do only what you “feel like” doing on any given day.

    I hear the arguments about the present unemployment rate, but I hope that’s not the message we’re giving our kids, i.e., “it’s nice to want ___ in your career but you probably won’t be able to achieve it.” I would prefer to address the economic realities by stressing that we should strive to live below our means / the best things in life are free.

  140. Donna, on November 18, 2011 at 00:44 said:
    “ Everyone I know is required to work consistently and is not allowed to take off whenever and for however long they want and still keep their job. I don’t see why students should be able to take off school whenever and for however long they want and still keep their diploma.


    I like that you added your own qualifier. Everyone YOU know. I work *more or less* from 9AM to 4PM. Most days I get here between 8:30 and 9:30 and leave between 3PM and 5PM. Some days I leave at 1PM, some days at 7PM. It depends on how much work there is to do.

    My staff do the same thing, without me having to ask them. They do call in if they are going to be later than 10AM (just so I don’t worry), but I never ask them to stay late, they just do it.

    If a child/young adult can do all of the work required to meet the requirements to graduate is less time than the average student I have no problem with that… just as I have no problem with the student who needs extra time staying after class, getting a tutor or having extra homework.

    Shouldn’t we be focused on what they learn? Not how or where they learn it?

  141. There are lots of programs that allow high school students to take classes at Community Colleges, AP classes, to try online learning or to otherwise find interesting/engaging things to study.

    Those opportunities are available to kids who work hard and show up. Befriending a teacher and having them advocate for you is the best way to become involved in these programs. The way to do that? Participate in class, engage the material and be part of clubs or sports.

    School is only boring if you let it be boring. If you are interested in engaging the material and learning it can be a great experience. As in most of life, it is what you make of it.

  142. I just read back over the comments, and I’m seeing a lot of talk about attendance. I need to add my opinion on this, it’s really close to home for me.

    My high school implemented an attendance policy my sophomore year. If you missed more than 9 days, excused or not, you no longer received credit in whatever classes you had the absences it. Two tardies would also equal one absence. I finished high school with a 4.2 GPA once weighted classes were figured in. However, I didn’t get to graduate, and my transcripts show that I failed every class. I never scored lower than 94% on a test, never lower than 100% on an essay. I’m not trying to be arrogant, just trying to show how INSANE it was for the school to claim that my absences affected my ability to learn. I was almost always first in my classes. My dad had abandoned us, and we were very poor. My mom couldn’t miss work so yes, I stayed home to take care of my siblings when it was needed. I had a friend who broke her back and even doing all the homework, ended up having to repeat a year. By the time I was 18, we’d lost our house. I’d seen all my friends graduate without me. I need a job, and there was no way I was going to repeat a whole year for missing 2 extra days.

    None of my “attendance issues” have translated to ANY job I’ve held, that’s a load. I wake up just fine, and I’m almost always on time.

  143. I agree that after a certain point, education is what you make of it. However, in early elementary school when the boredom starts, kids don’t have any idea how to take their education into their own hands, or even that this is something they are allowed to think about. And such attempts are rarely rewarded.

    “Engage the material” – I just don’t know how to do this when the teacher is going over basic stuff I knew years ago. What do I have to say about it? Should I answer every question and make myself look like a showoff and my classmates feel dumb? Should I try to take the whole class down a tangent that isn’t on the teacher’s lesson plan? The realistic solution is to group kids based on their ability and give them all something challenging to do at the same time.

  144. I agree that if you’re bored in school or frequently absent that you might as well just stop going to school and get your GED. If you’re able to keep up, then there’s no reason to stay somewhere you don’t want to stay. My cousin was never a particularly good student behavior-wise and attendance-wise, but he had enough knowledge to pass the GED and did so at 17. Then he got a job. He was just done with school.

    I spent five years working for a major bookseller. I had ONE position in that company with fixed hours and I got to keep that position for about four months, because they constantly rotated people in and out of the various positions so that everyone could learn everything. When I was in that position, I worked Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 4:30. It was fantastic. When i wasn’t in that position, I worked random-ass times. One week I might have Monday and Friday off, the next I might get Saturday and Tuesday. One day I might work 9-5 and then 3-11 the next day. There were even (horror of horrors) the dreaded ‘clopen’ shift, where I’d work 3-11 (more like 11:30 because we had to clean up the store) and then have to turn around and be back in there at 7 a.m. the next day. I was not able to lobby for specific hours or days. Now I have a job where I work Monday through Thursday from 9-5 and Fridays from 10-6. Also no flexibility, because although there is a body in the room from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., other people with more seniority than me have the earlier/later shifts.

  145. “See, I don’t agree that the school needs to prepare all kids for the worst case career scenario. I don’t know where that logic comes from. The reality is, nothing in school could have prepared me for either my noon-to-midnight factory job nor catching a 6am flight to make an 8am professional presentation. The point of my education was to ensure I could read, write, calculate, understand, and think.”

    I’m not saying that the school should prepare them only for the worst case. I’m saying they shouldn’t only prepare them for the ideal, by setting them up to believe that the best case is the “normal” experience everyone has, so that when they get slammed with a situation where the world doesn’t flex to meet them, they have absolutely no experience, no way to cope with it, and consider themselves victims when they found out that other people, not themselves, set their schedules. And that’s far from a worst case — the “flexible jobs” as you define them are, and always will be, the minority. And having an ordinary job where you don’t have flexibility isn’t a “worst case scenario” — it’s ordinary life for most people who live perfectly happy lives. It’s not accurate to characterize “normal adult life” as having a flexible schedule, though that’s not really abnormal, either. “Normal” is the possibility of either flexibility or inflexibility in a work schedule.

    “Actually, there are “flexible” jobs for in most of the careers on your list. Flexible doesn’t mean you are not committed to any time frame; only that you have some ability to decide/negotiate the time frame.”

    Okay, but that doesn’t translate to “I shouldn’t have to show up any time I don’t feel like it for any reason I choose because I have a better idea as long as I don’t totally screw up the job,” which is the parallel to “schools shouldn’t worry about attendance as long as kids don’t fail because it doesn’t do any good to force kids who don’t want to be there to show up on any given day.”

    I agree with you and others who say that there should be more flexibility in attendance and more permissible reasons for missing, and less brain-dead bureaucracy for dealing with absences. Where I disagree is this idea that it’s both possible and beneficial (including to the individual students) to run a school for hundreds of students in which there’s no structure or accountability to whether people are expected to be there, or not.

  146. “I like that you added your own qualifier. Everyone YOU know. I work *more or less* from 9AM to 4PM. Most days I get here between 8:30 and 9:30 and leave between 3PM and 5PM. Some days I leave at 1PM, some days at 7PM. It depends on how much work there is to do.”

    It is true that many adults have that kind of flexibility – not MOST well educated people as SKL stated – but certainly some. But the fact is that many do not because their profession or employer does not allow it.

    For example, I’m a courtroom attorney and my work hours are somewhat controlled by the Judge I appear in front of. I can’t say “sorry, Judge, I don’t feel like getting up at 6 today so can we move court to 10” because there are a hundred plus people and several different organizations involved and time can’t be dictated to by one person. Likewise, you can’t run a school having kids who like mornings come to class 7:30 – 2:30, while kids who hate mornings come to class 10:00 – 5:00. The resources are simply not there to run schools from 7:30 am to midnight to cover everyone’s different quirks.

    Yes, I could pick another legal job that is more flexible. But kids have options as well. Parents can choose to homeschool which allows kids to school whenever they are comfortable. There are private, charter and magnet schools that function on different time clocks.

    But that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about kids who are given 20 acceptable days off (on top of the 185 they already have) and decide to take even more time off to do their own thing (and not even to do unique things but things that can be done during any of those 205 days given them). There may be different tolerances, but at some point every employer is going to get fed up with an employee who takes excessive time off, even if all the work is getting done.

    Unless a child is seriously ill, a situation that schools make exceptions for, I’m not sympathetic to a child needing to miss more than 20 days of school. If you want that kind of freedom, homeschool. But don’t expect the school to allow your child to float in and out at will.

    “What a tragic waste of national resources it is to force our brightest students to sit doing basically nothing for most of the school day.”

    That is a completely separate problem. I agree that the school system needs to be more challenging to students with more ability. That has nothing to do with whether schools have a right to say that children who are going to attend them must do so for a certain number of days to get credit for the year.

  147. Uly: Yes it is a non essential and if we did not have the money to travel period. We wouldn’t. But we have some money to do it when it is cheap during off season so that is when we do it. It would be irreponsible to travel during expensive season when we don’t have the money to do so. We are trying to live within our means. We are not the ones always paying for our vacations anyway. My parents often travel with us and pay for things and if they decide to go then, then that is when we go.

  148. Well, without cutting and pasting and responding to every instance of it, I must say people are twisting my words left and right.

    I brought up workplace schedule flexibility as one of the reasons why mandatory school attendance is not comparable to workplace attendance. I said “many if not most well-educated people have flexible work schedules. Schoolkids don’t. But maybe they should, since this may prepare them for adult realities.”

    I did not define “flexible,” but reading it as “only work if and when you feel like it” is quite a stretch. People with flexible work schedules generally work very hard and have their fair share of responsibility and stress. I also never said anything about them making a lot of money. Some do, some don’t.

    My comment that “maybe kids should [have flexible schedules] since this may prepare them for adult realities” was actually tongue-in-cheek. I was reacting to the theory stated by others that making kids be in a certain place at a certain time against their will is important preparation for the work world. I disagree that the school is preparing kids for any particular career, and hence I don’t actually think we should have flexible schedules similar to those found in many workplaces. I see that some people took me literally on that point.

    I don’t expect schools to throw out their attendance policies, except that I don’t believe they should be able to deny credit to a student who has mastered the material of a class – at least not over a few weeks of absences. (I could see it if they were missing like 25% of the time or more.) I am OK with lesser consequences, except that the student should be able to appeal for an exception based on the circumstances. For example, my kids’ teacher might agree that traveling to historical places over several weeks is a valuable educational experience, and work with me on planning integrated academic content, and waive any consequences of the attendance violation.

    Another thing. If we really think that schools need to mirror the typical work day, why are we dismissing prior to 5pm? And why are we assigning unpaid homework?

  149. Yeah I don’t like the whole well when you are an adult you have to show up to work when your boss says so, so let’s start treating kids the same way. It is their childhood! Let them be kids! They have the rest of their life to show up. It is not going to hurt anything to take a week off to go to Disney World in second grade for goodness sake! My parents stopped pulling me out of school for a week once I got high school level because it was harder to catch up and it was more important since college was coming up. I did not stay out over 3 days at a time when I went to my dance competition in Disney World.

    But let’s stop all this kids have to be as responsible as adults. No they don’t! They are KIDS! They have to start to learn responsibility in small ways but they don’t have to be as strict as adults do! And again, my parents let me miss school for vacations, mental heath days, visits with relatives etc and I still graduated with honors and when I had a job I never called in sick and I graduated college with honors and attended just about every class without missing in college. So that shows right there you can learn responsibility and know how to show up without being 100% uber strict with a child their entire childhood!

    and ps my husband has work flexiblility. He can come in anytime between 7 am and 9 am to start work. Then he has to work his 8 hours but if he needs to take a longer lunch or short lunch or whatever he can do so as long as he is not missing a meeting. He works at an insurance company. Schools don’t have anything like that now do they? Colleges do because you can pick when you have your classes to a point. Primary school does not.

  150. Honestly unless my kids got very sick, even with vacations we would not miss more than 20 days. Or even 15. But 9, like that one poster said? Oh man that is absurd. My sons have already missed from illness 3 days of preschool this year and they only go 3 days a week! That is not realistic at all.

    I want to make it clear I don’t advocate missing whenever. I just think there needs to be some flexibility so that parents can take vacations in off seasons if they want or go visit family or take off for illness occasionally without it being a huge deal and failing over it.

    and I don’t care if my kid’s grade suffers from missing tests or whatever in middle school or elementary school because we all know those grades don’t count for anything. Colleges and employers only look at high school or higher for grades and as I found out employers don’t even care what grades you got. I had a potential employer sneer at me and make fun of me when I told them I made straight A’s in college. I don’t most employers give a flip as long as you obtained your degree and you can do that with a C average.

    I just want my kids to learn the material. That is all that matters.

  151. This whole thing reminds me a class I took in college. Most of my classes had an attendance rule of some kind. Typically it was that you could miss maybe two or three classes each quarter. I had a math class that met every day. It was a pretty basic math class so the professor told us if we just wanted to show up on Friday for the test, that was fine by him. I was the only one who showed up everyday and worked through the book because I was so terrible at math and needed the extra help. I had another professor who would usually excuse you if you talked to him in advance about why you couldn’t come to class (either by meeting with him or e-mailing the morning of if you were sick).

    But I had one design class for Journalism. It met once a week for 10 weeks. You were only allowed to miss it if you were dying or there was some extreme circumstance (immediate family member’s funeral). The professor told us on the first day that if we missed a class, he would immediately fail us. And the best part was that this was a lab that went along with a lecture portion of the class that met every day. So we’d fail the whole course even if we made it to the lecture every day and had to miss one lab.

    This class happened to meet on September 11, 2001. My other professors dismissed us as soon as we all showed up to class after talking for about five minutes. No one was in the mood to study or work. But this guy just started the class right up. When we looked at him like he was crazy, he said, “What? They’re not going to crash planes here.”

    Two weeks later he told us he had went to New Orleans for a weekend and recommended that we take advantage of the cheap airfare.

  152. Through all of the rigidity of public school education – another dimension that is somewhat pertinent to the notion of flexibility and reasons to need a break includes the studies demonstrating that schools today (due, in part, to NCLB) cater to the low end students and assume that the high-end students will get what they need.

    Many gifted kids are also special needs. I know of one highly gifted child that muddled through with Cs and Ds in regular school… stuff didn’t get finished, and the school didn’t care. He was passing, but then would “outperform” in the 99th percentile on national tests – and this made the school look great! The kid was slipping through the cracks and feeling worse and worse about himself.

    As a homeschooler, this child still doesn’t produce a lot, but is three grades ahead in math, science, and reading and still a bit behind in writing. Not all areas mature at the same rate.

    If we are willing to let the gifted (but, not necessarily high-achieving) kids flounder and “work it out for themselves”, we owe it to them to at least have enough flexibility in the school to let them mature, grow, and be intellectually stimulated out of school.

  153. Kiesha, that is almost scary!

    I took an art history class with a part-time prof who was actually an unemployed HS teacher (hadn’t landed his first real job yet). The guy laid down the law on the first day. I can’t remember all of it, but it was just like I was back in high school (ugh). One of his rules was that if you turn in your term paper one day late, you get a zero on it. Well, rebel that I am, I skipped class on the due date (evening class) and turned the paper in the following morning. He didn’t follow through on the zero, but he did give me a D (bringing my class grade down to a B). Now, writing is one of my strongest points, and I have never earned less than a B on a paper from even the most picky English prof. I thought about complaining, but then I thought, just be glad I’m done with this lousy class.

  154. It occurs to me that I am abusing my flexible schedule by spending so much time on this thread today. I guess the benefits of all that arbitrariness in school were lost on me.

  155. I disagree with her comment that ‘the kids are not in a prison.” Of course they are. Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if minimum security prisoners have more freedoms than public schooled children. At least when you are released from prison you are free. PS kids are still tied to the school even after hours. Remember the ps that was monitoring the kids at home through the webcam in the laptops? The kids that are prosecuted for having fake knives in their cars, even though they had left school property? Face it parents, the moment your kids enter public school you give up your parental rights. The original post stated that she couldn’t get her own child without going into the school, etc. Meaning that the school WOULD NOT release her daughter to her without the paperwork. The school will keep that child from her own parent, regardless of the parents wishes. In any other context that would be considered kidnapping. I cannot believe american parents allow such disregard and trampling of their parental rights. It just blows my mind. Kids are medicated without parents consent (ADD meds) and I remember a news article that middle or high school girls were given full GYN exams by the school without knowledge or consent of the parents. I would call that rape, but since it was public school, it is called an administrative error, and they were sorry, won’t happen again. Disgusting! Oh, and don’t get me started about the hypocrisy of having 18y boys not allowed to have fake knives in cars, or can’t leave school without Mommy signing them out and walking with them to the car, but they are perfectly able to get drafted, handed guns, given training in killing people and then sent off to war.

  156. I had a crazy strict teacher in my major. She also required perfect attendance or your grade suffered. You got a classroom participation grade every day. If you missed, you got a zero. There were no excuses that changed that zero. None. If you brought a doctor’s note or funeral notice she would allow you to make up the work or turn in work late but you still kept that zero in classroom participation because in her words “How can you participate if you are not here?” If you showed up but daydreamed or fell asleep or got too many questions wrong you also got a zero for classroom participation.

    So you know, I am not stupid so I knew it was important to show up for this class no matter what. And I did. Intelligent kids can figure that stuff out in spite of my parents letting me miss school when I was younger. I always said if I was really sick I would just show up dragging a trash can and sit down and commence to puke in it. I would then be like “Well I need my classroom participation grade.” That would have shown her but I never got sick enough for that.

    She also made us come to class on 9/11. All the other teachers canceled but she made us show up. She didn’t teach but we still had to be there I guess so she can see how dedicated we are.

  157. Nobody said that work and school should mirror each other or that work is preparing anyone for any particular career. However, being a certain place at a certain time every day, whether you want to be there or not, is a skill one needs in the work force. It may be that your hours are 3-11 instead of 9-5 but you still have to be there during those hours and on days you don’t feel like being there and days that you’d rather being doing something else. Learning to budget your allotted time off effectively is a life skill one needs in the work force. Learning that you can’t take every opportunity for “experience” and still keep your job is a skill necessary to be successful in the work force.

    I don’t expect my child to just spring up understanding these things at 18 after a childhood of being able to skip as much school as she wants and having no penalty for doing so (because I don’t for a minute think that my child will need to be in school 180 days a year to master what is needed) any more than any of us expect that a child never allowed to cross the street alone can fully handle life on their own. Yes, some helicoptered kids do very well in independent life, so I imagine that some kids who miss school willy nilly still do well in the work force. But on balance, a child who doesn’t learn basic work ethic, promptness, prioritizing time, responsibility and diligence as a child is probably not going to suddenly muster those skills at 18.

    And if you are a salary employee chances are that you do have unpaid “homework.” Any time over 40 hours a week is unpaid “homework.”

  158. “As long as the child is able to keep up with the work and is not creating an undue burden on teachers to have to accommodate an erratic schedule, I do think parents should get to decide when a kid “needs” a day off or is doing some other useful or worthwhile activity.” I think that in addition to the message we send to the kid (is education worth showing up for, and in what cases does something else trump a day of school), looking at the burden on teachers matters. It can take serious work to accommodate absences. Teacher’s giving a test, and all of a sudden you have to make a new version for the kid who missed. Or the kid misses a review day and needs to come in during lunch or a free period to meet with you to understand what they missed. Some of this is, of course, unavoidable and part of a teacher’s job. But it’s worth considering that excessive absences do make teaching harder.

  159. Dean: Yes you are right it does make the teacher have to do some extra work. That was why my parents always volunteered a lot in the classroom and at school to make up for when I would be out. My teachers always loved my parents. They volunteered, gave money, were in PTA, etc. So the teachers never got mad when they had to print off some extra dittos or prepare lesson plans a little early for me to do on vacations. Usually in elementary school after I returned from a vacation like Jamaica or Canada the teacher would have me do a presentation for the class about what I saw and learned and it in turn educated the other children. So in a way my being out of school was a positive thing for the other students and the teacher. I usually brought back little authentic souvenirs from the foreign country for the class and the teacher and that was a treat too. Missing school can be done right, just saying,

  160. I don’t think anyone is seriously saying that kids should feel free to come and go as they please in school. I think what we’re disagreeing on is whether they should be failed for missing a relatively small fraction of the class days, without regard to (a) whether they actually learned the material or (b) whether there was a good excuse for the absences.

    That being said, I do not think it takes 12 years of daily practice for the average child to figure out how to get up and go somewhere in the morning.

    I do agree that it is disruptive for the teacher to have to accommodate absences if the parents don’t stand in for her and teach the material, or if the absence is on a test day (which is a whole different issue). Consideration for the teacher is important. But that doesn’t trump every other priority.

    I think we have a lot of blind men looking at an elephant here. Just because I would take my kids out of school for an educational opportunity does not mean I would let them come and go as they please without any consideration for others. Actually, I’m giving teachers the benefit of the doubt that they can understand my reasoning and even get on board with it. I wouldn’t bring my kid back without having gone over the missed material. I beat respect and consideration into my kids’ heads more than most parents I observe. I’m just not a fan of arbitrariness.

  161. That last paragraph I wrote makes me look like I’m on drugs.

  162. “Well, without cutting and pasting and responding to every instance of it, I must say people are twisting my words left and right.”

    Well, I didn’t mean to twist anything. I suppose I genuinely misunderstood some of what you were saying, or drew the wrong conclusions from it. That happens easily in verbal-only communication media like this.

  163. Pentamom: I know, but when someone purported to quote me on something I did NOT say, I got a little frustrated.

    I do realize that my meaning sometimes gets lost because of the lack of real-time back-and-forth. Sometimes I use sarcasm to challenge something and the reader thinks I am actually supporting the idea. I must work on that.

  164. I do have to give my high school credit in that there were two days of the year when students could miss school and yet not get in big trouble for having no note or parent call in the absence. You still were marked as missing a day, but you didn’t have to prove you were sick because everyone knew you weren’t.

    The first was the first day of hunting season when around 50% of the male population and 15% of the female population would be out. The second was Senior Skip Day at the end of the year when a majority of the seniors skipped and went and did something fun.

  165. I have exhausted myself reading your site because of the amount of content. “KUDOS TO YOU” I love the concept but as a parent of a 1 yr old boy and a 3 yr old boy, Our family had a scare yesterday at the local college campus, ECU. While it has a happy ending and all the family is safe, we were all on lockdown for up to 3 hours. These events which yes are more common in a college town like hours are taken very seriously and made me fear for my kids. I know you are about safety as well, but could you please tell me any perspective you may have on the subject? Keep writing and I’ll keep reading (and writing myself. Check out top story. Thanks!!!!

  166. Personally, I don’t think that missing more than 20 days of 180 days of school is a relatively small fraction of the class days – which is what started this discussion. Once you start getting down into 9 and 10, maybe.

    SKL, Since, I assume you were talking about me misquoting you, how exactly did I do so?

    You said: “Many if not most well-educated people have flexible work schedules.

    I said: “not MOST well educated people as SKL stated”

    I may have taken you too literally as will happen on the internet, but I did not misquote you. You clearly stated that you believe that many, if not most, well educated people have flexible work schedules. I stated that some, but no where near most, well educated people have flexible work schedules.

  167. Exactly SKL! Could not have said it better myself!

  168. Donna, let’s have full disclosure. You said: “It is true that many adults have that kind of flexibility – not MOST well educated people as SKL stated.” I said “Many if not most.”

    There is a big difference in my mind. “Many if not most” means I don’t know the exact percentage, could be less than half, could be more. Which, by the way, is totally consistent with your own estimate, except that you feel very confident that you KNOW that the percentage is less than half.

    I did not define “flexible work schedules,” and apparently different people interpret that in different ways. Based on what I’ve read and experienced, I would consider “flexible work schedule” to mean that an employer is open to a discussion with the employee about a schedule that is mutually beneficial. Examples would be that the employee works from 7 to 3:30 instead of 8:30 to 5 so she can meet her kids’ bus after school; or she works from home on Fridays, but has to be available by phone and email from 9 to 6. The flexibility is in setting the schedule, not necessarily in following it. Although there are some folks who have flexibility on a day-to-day basis as well. It’s all in what you negotiate.

    Yes, I am aware that some jobs don’t offer that option. I honestly don’t know the true percentage, because these arrangements are usually done on a relatively informal basis, and they seem to be increasing all the time. Most of my jobs have had some level of flexibility, usually achieved after I’d been there a while and figured out what provided the most mutual benefit. But I do recall one short stint where I was told I’d be fired if I coudn’t get my butt to work by 8:30 most days. I transferred to another (better) department soon thereafter.

  169. I’m only 27. I recall getting sick in elementary school. I think there were times when my mother came in and signed me out–nothing more fancy than that. Other times I called home, my mom talked on the phone to the receptionist, and it was noted that I was leaving. Having worked in a school, I have no complaint about keeping on record who is and is not in the school. I also recall one time in jr. high I became suddenly ill. I lived two blocks from the school, so I told the receptionist I was sick (not that it wasn’t obvious). She made note I was leaving, and I walked home in a rather dazed pattern (I was a little dizzy and rather nauseaus, but I felt I could walk two blocks through a quiet neighborhood on my own–amazing I wasn’t mugged, raped, and/or kidnapped during my sojourn). Another time, later on in high school (things are getting a little crazier), I became ill. I called my mom, the receptionist made note I was leaving, and my mom picked me up (I had no car). Later on in high school, I wrote for the teen section of the local newspaper and was selected to review a popular movie that just came out. I invited my family and friends, including my little brothers who were in the 2nd grade and my sisters who were in jr high. As the movie showing was during the day (I was such a clever teen, getting out of school for fancy newspaper stuff) I went to pick up my little brothers at the elementary school. As the receptionist at this school had worked there for 500 years and therefore knew me, she did nothing more than call down to the classrooms (at the other end of a huge frightening dangerous school!) and asked my poor innocent little brothers walk through those terrifying school halls BY THEMSELVES in order to get in a car with some teenage girl who hadn’t even produced identification. I then drove across the street to the junior high where all I did for my sisters was sign a form saying who I was and who I was checking out.Turns out there was nothing wrong with me calling the school to have my sisters ready to meet me (but I did not own a cell phone at the time.)

    Then, as an adult, I began working at the school, and somehow over a few short years the processes of checking out a kid became nightmarish.

    Now, I am 27, so this was only a little over ten years ago.

  170. I am 53, graduated from a high school in 1975 in a fairly liberal area (Long Island, NY)….We went to school in flip flops in the summer and took them off and walked barefoot in school. We could smoke in the courtyard and leave any time we had no class and return when we did. What amazes me most is that the people who have become SO litigious as adults (and are ruining it for everyone else) are the kids with whom I went to school in those easier times. Don’t they remember that we all survived and thrived? What made them turn into conservative helicopter parents? In other words…where have all the hippies gone?

  171. “where have all the hippies gone?”


  172. This is why I teach at college. Much more lenient. If my students don’t show up or don’t do the work, it’s on them. And we can always make other arrangements when needed.

  173. I agree with a lot of you who say you wouldn’t let your child come back without having gone over the material, etc. But I think you should know, from a teacher’s perspective, what usually happens (I teach high school). Student A is out of class often. I get the homework request from the parent, and spend extra time putting things together, copying notes, etc. I send this down to the office to be picked up. Student A comes back, never having picked up the work I spent time putting together and whose parents REQUESTED it. Or, Student A comes back another time with nothing done, saying, I didn’t get any of it and neither did my parents. Ever heard of the internet? You can find answers and explanations to all kinds of things there. Student A expects me to reteach him/her everything they were not in school to engage in. Not happening. The problem with absences is that you can’t replicate in class instruction and interaction. I sent the notes home, you have a book, you have other resources. I’m not spending tons of extra time with you if you are out on average 1-2 times per week. And yes, I have students right now who have racked up enough absences in the first 13 weeks for school for this to be their average. And guess what else? I go look through their records to see if this is a new problem. What do I find? Chronic attendance issues. On year I added up the absences of one of my students (I taught 7th grade at the time). The time missed was the equivalent of a FULL YEAR of schooling. Any wonder he was behind? I don’t begrudge parents like Dolly for their choices-they understand the ramifications and what needs to be done for their child to continue to be successful. That is her right as a parent. But for those who willfully ignore or condone the fact that their precious snowflake is missing excessive amounts of school for no good reason, and expect us to bend over backward to accommodate said child-homeschool.
    By the way-our HS attendance policy is that if you are over 7 absences in the 13 week trimester, all you can earn for your grade is credit or no credit (if you were failing anyway). So if you had an A, it would simply turn to CR on your transcript and you’d still pass. You have to petition to get the letter grade back if GPA matters to you.

  174. SKL – I take “many if not most” to mean “it is definitely many but I think that it is more like most.”

    You and I also have a different definition of flexible. I don’t consider working 7:30 to 3:30 every day as flexible hours. It’s simply different working hours. You are still tied to being at work those hours. I define my job as flexible (outside of court days) because I come and go kinda how I please. The general theory is that we work from 8-5. The reality is that nobody is keeping track and we actually rarely work 8-5. We usually try to get somewhere in that ball park, but as long as the work gets done and the Judges aren’t blowing up the boss’ phone complaining, it’s all good. The actual hours worked vary day-to-day. We also don’t have sick/vacation time. We take off when we need and, as long as nobody is abusing the system, nobody counts days. Under your definition, I agree that many, possibly even most, well educated people have flexible jobs. Under mine, not so much.

    I guess that is why I’m not bothered by penalizing kids who miss too much school for fun things. For the last 10 years, I’ve worked at extremely flexible jobs (except court days). It is a wonderful way to work. Far better for parents than being tied to any one schedule. I have yet to miss a kid event. I can attend school functions and volunteer during the day. However, it requires everyone being responsible and appearing in the office about the same amount of time. If someone is taking substantially more time off than everyone else, it hurts office moral and eventually tanks the system since the people working start bitching about those who don’t.

    It isn’t any different at school. I don’t want the kid next to me to ditch school every other day and still pass while I’m being responsible and sitting my butt in the desk every day. I don’t care what his grades are. And I say this as a kid who could have ditched school every other day and still passed with straight A’s.

  175. And, yes, I am fairly certain that far less than half of even well educated people have flexible jobs under my definition of flexible.

  176. Jackie, the credit/no credit option seems like a reasonable compromise between those who want attendance to count and those who think that passing the final ought to be what matters.

  177. Jackie your policy sounds fair and I would have no problem with that.

  178. Re having to teach kids who missed school: when I was a kid, I would have been afraid to ask the teacher to help me catch up. It never occurred to me that the teacher could be asked to re-teach something just for one student. If I couldn’t figure it out for myself or get my brothers to help me, I would have to stay after school until I learned it. Maybe this was why I never thought it was a good idea to miss more than a day or two at a time. (My parents did not help with my homework, at all, ever.)

  179. Hi SKL. If you are following the post still, I have to apologise for being so snooty last night. Earthqukes are a bit of a sore point at the moment around here – my family were personally very lucky not to be in the big one, but everyone knows someone who was in it/affected, as NZ is basically just one big small town. (Especially as the area affected was our second largest city).

    Anyway I should have realised you were only being funny…..Have a good day/night, or whatever it is over there at the moment (I am hopeless at the time zones).

  180. Hineata, no hard feelings here. I was not proud of the way I responded myself. But thanks for letting me know that you understood that I meant no harm. Peace!

  181. UNSCHOOLING!! That’s what we do (lots of info about unschooling online and in books). Schools ARE prisons, and that is why I took my daughter out and never sent my youngest to begin with. My daughters are happy and free. I think anyone associated with making and enforcing school policies are scary and not so very intelligent. The things they do and the way they think are breathtakingly stupid!

  182. As a college professor type, I have to weigh in on the missing class/late papers things.

    I am one of those evil professors who makes students do graded, in-class activities. Some are group discussions, some are mathematical problems, some are pop quizzes, some are mini-experiments. Unless you have a doctor’s note or some other legitimate excuse, you are not allowed to make them up. I have 80 students – I don’t have time to chase down 80 make ups. Why do I do this? Because I’ve been teaching for 10 years and I have noticed a heavy correlation between class attendance and good grades. Even if you learn the material on your own, there are subtle things like someone asking a question that you hadn’t even thought to ask, or hearing details about the upcoming test or report that’s due, or hearing about changes in the syllabus. So I make 25% of the grade dependent on in-class work. Folks who show up and participate have absolutely no trouble getting an A in my class. Folks who skip class are lucky to get a B. Don’t like it? Tough toenails. It’s a required class, and I’m the only one who teaches it. Suck it up, get your lazy self out of bed, come to class. Or take your B and shut up about it. Your choice, but I don’t have time to hold your hand.

    I am willing to bend over backward for students who have health issues, family issues (like my student whose girlfriend went into labor same day as the final. He got a makeup, with my congratulations), or job related issues. But if you come to me and say “I need to take the final early so I can go to Cancun” I see no need to kill myself to accommodate you. I will allow my kids to miss school the day before Thanksgiving for their great-grandfather’s 100th birthday. But no way are they missing a week of school to go to Disney World.

  183. Education at its best is a communal endeavor. Students have a responsibility to show up because their participation helps others learn and furthers the objectives of the collective group. Companies work the same way. You should ALWAYS feel a little guilty missing time. It means you are letting other people down.

    I also would suggest that the absences question has an even greater impact if a student is part of clubs, sports or performance arts. But I guess these are students not involved in such activities. In my HS we couldn’t even go away on school breaks because we had practice obligations to our teammates and coaches. Summers we had obligations to our summer jobs, more sports practices, band practices and summer reading.

    Lets be honest, taking time off to go to Disney shows a total disregard for your teachers and fellow students. It’s a choice, so be it but it’s rude no matter how much you think your elementary school teacher enjoyed hearing about your vacation. The reality is they would rather have had you in class so they didn’t have to explain the reference they made to a story they read last week while you were out on vacation. Or prepare that make up test, etc.

  184. Wow, I would have bee furious too if I were you!

  185. I’m eager to see how my kids’ school handles a field trip at the end of the school year. The 4th grade class is going on a 4 day, 3 night field trip to Yosemite, families welcome. As the principal has committed to allowing families to go along, we’re wondering how he’s going to handle siblings who will therefore be missing school. We have a 1st grader, so this directly affects us.

    They had the first meeting for this field trip the other night, My husband attended, as he knows Yosemite very well, and spent a lot of time reassuring concerned parents that bears will not try to go into the tent cabins if the kids do not bring food into the tent cabins. Pretty simple really, but there were a lot of parents seriously worried about the bears.

    We’re planning on going along for one very simple reason. My husband refuses to miss out on a chance to go to Yosemite. The original plan for field trip had been for Sacramento, but when projected costs turned out too high, this became the alternative. Should be interesting to see how many parents insist on going along only because they can’t let their kids go alone. We’re giving our daughter the option to stay with us or stay with friends when we’re there, assuming enough friends have parents allowing them to sleep in their own cabin. Even if we’re there, I think staying in a tent with friends should be a part of the adventure.

    I really hope they decide that a school field trip is a legitimate outing even for kids not in the fourth grade. It should be a great, educational trip, and that late in the school year things are just about done anyhow.

  186. I live in Baltmore where there are widespread safety and truancy issues. My son goes to a public HS in one of the worst neighborhoods in town (near Hopkins Medical, if anyone has heard of it).

    I never have to show up in person to sign him in or out. I simply send an email or a note.

    IThe Balto city parents are mostly working parents. There are many single-parent households. Probably many do not have cars. Baltimore has school choice so kids travel far and wide across the city to get to their respective schools.

    Given all of this, it is very difficult for parents to show up in person to sign a kid in or out of school. I appreciate that the school district has taken this difficulty into consideration when creating their sign-in/out policy.

  187. You know what kills me about this story? 2 things. 1) So many middle and high schools treat teens like incompetent boobs, babies who aren’t capable of waiting safely outside for their ride YET when the kids are out of school, on their own, they are seen as criminals. People in my community have called the police on groups of middle schoolers hanging out at the park together at dusk with the following complaint: “There are teenagers hanging out in the park.” Like that’s the crime.

    And here’s number 2) Schools put so much energy into creating the trappings (no pun intended) of safety–locked gates, sign-out sheets, stupid policies that inconvenience families–but when it comes to the real dangers in school — bullying and peer victimization — their answer to kids who report is often “don’t tattle” or “handle it yourself.” These are situations where kids really need the adults in their lives to intervene sometimes, and it usually has to be pretty bad for most kids to even get past their shame and speak up, yet they so rarely get anyone to take it seriously or actually provide effective monitoring and intervention.

    So which is it — are they babies? or criminals? Incapable of navigating life’s challenges on their own? Or ready to stand up on their own to the worst kind of confrontations possible? And why do we have to see them in such extremes? Why is there no room for us to see them as somewhere in the middle, ready to navigate on their own a few of the challenges of life (and I don’t really consider waiting outside of school for a ride as a CHALLENGE), but also in need of a little guidance, support, and adult intervention from time to time?

    Why? Why? Why has our society become so bloody stupid and irrational when it comes to kids??? *puts head on table and feels kind of hopeless*

  188. ‘The kids are not in prison, for goodness’ sake.’ yes they are.

  189. BMS: your example is invalid though. You are a COLLEGE professor. I showed up every day for COLLEGE. COLLEGE is important. Primary school not so much,

  190. Heck our school district changes that policy at high school (10th grade here…Minnesota) to YOU DON”T HAVE TO COME INTO THE OFFICE TO PICKUP YOUR CHILD. That was a blessing. Take it to the school board. We still have to call it in and they have safeguards regarding this (you have to identify and if they have a question if it is really you — you leave your number which matches the records on the child and if they are suspicious they WILL call). I am sorry for your school district lack of trust.

  191. Yeah can’t they institute some kind of password or something to the parents that they can give over the phone to verfiy it is them and them allow phone dismissals? That would make sense to me.

    My poor mom. Her cell phone number which is her only phone number some how got listed as a parent’s number of some high school kid who was out of school a lot. Every time that kid was absent it called my mom’s phone and left some message about that student being absent. It was a lot. So my mom called that school and let them know about the mix up and asked them to please stop calling her. Did it work? Of course not. She continued to get the calls frequently the rest of the year. God public schools suck sometime.

  192. If primary school’s not important, homeschool your kids during it and then send them to public (or private or charter or whatever) in high school when things ‘get serious.’ Then you can take vacations whenever you want, take your kids to the museum or the farm whenever you want and you will in no way, shape or form impact the teacher who has to compile homework ahead of time or create make-up tests. Seems like the solution to me.You want your child to get a very specific kind of education, you need to be in charge of all of it.

  193. I just got back from the volunteer project I took my girls out of school for today. I am so glad we went. It was not a “fluff” event at all – just serious work for a serious purpose – hence something truly meaningful for my kids. (Certainly not less so than the nap, snack, and “fun Friday” afternoon activities that they missed.) There is nothing to parallel community service in schools, until the kids get much older. In my opinion, it really is an important part of a child’s education.

    Next year, God willing, both of my girls will be in 1st grade. Of course I will look for volunteer activities that are available on weekends or evenings. But volunteer activities that can include young kids are few and far between in the first place, so I may not find any. And if I don’t, I will probably take my kids out of school again.

    But my parenting style is such that I’m always making sure my kids are a step (or ten) ahead of what’s going on in school. I’m not going to bring back kids who are “behind” where they’d be had they been in school, unless I truly cannot prevent it.

  194. Well . . . the value of homework in the first place is very much open to debate. So in my opinion, it’s no problem if a teacher chooses not to compile it prior to my kids’ absence – so long as she doesn’t dock their grades for it. Same comment with regard to “progress check” testing. How about giving them the tests before they leave for vacation, and if they pass them, then they don’t have to do schoolwork while they are out? Then the teacher could be happy that we’re reducing the number of kids she has to deal with each day.

  195. Good for you SKL! I think teaching kids the importance of volunteer work and giving back to others is a great and vital lesson.

  196. Kiesha: I might homeschool. Everyone says I would be good at it. But my son with special needs really needs a exceptional education teacher and I am not qualified for that. My other son, I would homeschool him in a second and probably be just fine. I will say this though, when I pull them out if they give me any trouble I will homeschool. I won’t be told what I can do with my own kids barring severe abuse or neglect and sorry but a fun vacation is never abuse or neglect, its awesomeness. lol.

    Taking one week off in Sept or Oct and then maybe a day or two every three months or so is not going to hurt that much. That is all I would ever PLAN to miss. If they get sick then we miss and that is out of my control. If they were sick a bunch then I would possibly even cancel the planned absent days. But that is why we vacation shortly after school starts so the chances of them having a bunch of absent days before then are slim to none. Most kids don’t start getting sick till Oct.

  197. “I have to be in charge of it all”? I think not. Not being in the 1%, I have to WORK.

    And even if I didn’t, the system should be fixed not abandoned.

  198. Homeschooling definitely sounds better every time someone starts telling me I HAVE to go along with something counterproductive involving my kids. But, after following a homeschooling forum for a while, I am pretty sure homeschooling past the primary grades would not be of interest to me. I have no desire to re-live elementary and high school.

    But speaking of counterproductive – today my kid’s KG teacher wrote a note on her “homework.” For the second week in a row, the Thursday homework was a sheet of paper saying “practice your sight words” followed by a signature line, and my daughter signed on the line. Teacher wrote something to the effect that that signature line is for the mom. Ha! I thought so, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna sign it.

    I don’t like to get into an argument with someone who could then take it out on my kid. But if she brings it up with me, I will probably let her explain to me how she’s trying to teach “responsibility” and I will be wanting to comment, “teach responsibility to whom?” But more likely I will say something like “since she is going to be in after-school care for many years to come, it seems logical that she should develop responsibility for doing her homework on her own (at after-care) rather than leaving it to me to preside over it. I do always check to make sure the work is done – after the fact.” And as I’ve told her before, I work with my kids every night. I was the one who asked her to provide an advance list of sight words so we could get a head-start on it, since my kid has trouble with visual memory. But the fact is, Teacher has no jurisdiction over me and she seems to think she does. I just don’t like the attitude “mom has to sign.” Where do teachers get off thinking that they can dictate what independent adults do?

  199. Dolly, you should really homeschool! No one is more qualified to teach your kids because you know and love them more than anyone. You will learn what you need to them if you are dedicated and there are so many support groups out there. As for Brian and other people on here who claim you cannot learn properly unless you are participating in the classroom experience, I am afraid you are gravely mistaken. A large scale study was done recently on homeschooling, that I read about in the Washington Post, and not only do homeschoolers consistently score MUCH higher academically then public school kids, but this study showed they also ended up MORE socially capable as adults than their public schooled counterparts. They succeeded more at their jobs, were more involved in their churches and communities, and were more politically involved than their adult public schooled counterparts. So taking your kids out into the real world ABSOLUTELY does more for them in the long run, (since that is where homeschooled kids are educated), and as long as they learn the material it absolutely does NOT matter where.

  200. SKL, I think it’s great you give your kids service opportunities. If you ever tried homeschooling, I think you would love it. 😉

  201. “How about giving them the tests before they leave for vacation”

    Because that’s an additional burden on a teacher to prepare tests early, at minimum, and possibly prepare two tests since kids are not known to keep secrets well. If my friends had asked me what was on a test I took early, I’d have told them (and the teacher actually wants the kids to learn all the material and not just what’s on the test). And expecting a teacher to any extra work whatsoever to accommodate your trip to Disney World is ridiculous and selfish.

    Taking time off for extra-ordinary reasons is great and should be accommodated by teachers. You only get one life and people need to be encouraged to seize unusual opportunities when they arise. My childhood was richer because I got to spend an afternoon bottle-feeding baby tigers. The only one of the 20+ trips I’ve made to Disney World and Disneyland that holds any particular value to me is the first time I took my daughter (not saying that they weren’t great; just that no one, of the many, trips stands out in my mind).

    On the other hand, routine vacations, mental health days, volunteering, etc. should be taken during school IF, and ONLY IF, it places no additional burden on the teacher whatsoever. My daughter took 2 days off this year to go to the beach. I didn’t ask for work. We didn’t do work. The teacher simply had one less student for 2 days. I would have worked with my child if she had genuinely missed anything but I did not expect a make-up test, lesson plans or special homework.

    It sounds to me that some of you want the school to essentially tutor your child – work on your schedule and how you want. Sadly, the school teaches hundreds of children other than yours and cannot cater to you. If you want that type of control, homeschool or hire a private tutor. If you want the state to educate your children, you have to do it on the state’s time.

  202. I think I would actually prefer to homeschool when they are older as opposed to younger. I guess because I would rather someone teach them the hard stuff like learning how to read and all that basic stuff. Then from there I would have no trouble teaching them middle and high school stuff because I still remember most of that and have interest in it myself. Elementary school is fun for little kids or at least can be fun for kids. Most bullying does not happen till middle school. So what I really want to do is homeschool about middle school age. But we will see.

  203. “And even if I didn’t, the system should be fixed not abandoned.”

    Homeschooling is not “abandoning” some system sent down from on high that we are all pledged to at birth.

    It’s choosing to educate your kids this way, instead of that way.

  204. Yeah? Well some of us do not have the luxury of being able to afford that choice.

  205. Jwheeler1967, homeschooling can be free, if you want. There are two ways. One is practically free, although there may be little expenses, but no more than the little expenses of sending your children to public school. (Think book fees, supplies, money for field trips, etc.) Basically you get the the list of learning objectives for each grade from your board of education’s website and then plan your own curriculum utilizing the public library and internet. There are books that teach you how to do this. It’s VERY effective and gives your children an excellent education. The other way is to actually have the state pay you to homeschool! Virtually every state I have heard of have online charter schools. Your child learns from home and they give your child a computer to use, provide all the supplies, and PAY for your internet service. This option is cheaper than sending them to public school. So ANYONE can do it with the right dedication. I even know of single moms and two parents working who have found ways to do it and thrive! Basically if you have parents dedicated enough to consider homeschooling and there is a love of learning in the home, it would be hard for a kid NOT to thrive in the situation of being homeschooled. 🙂

  206. I mean that I have to WORK and cannot stay home all day. Furthermore, I am a single mother. I am a college professor so I can hardly be accused of not having a love of learning.

    I do not want to homeschool. If you do, fine. But I certainly think that I have the right, as an American who pays taxes, to expect that school systems be the best they can be.

  207. Donna, I am not the person who thinks kids need to do busywork and take frequent tests in order to be educated. The only reason a teacher would have to spend extra time on my kids after an intentional absence would be because the teacher/school has created artificial requirements. If my kids are ahead of their class objectively, and I’m not hounding you for extra work or tests, what is the problem?

    I mean, let’s talk about my 4-year-old. Not one thing she knows was the result of homework, tutoring, or testing. She has read parts of the book Farmer Boy and can do simple division in her head, among many other things. She is more familiar with the world map than many adults, and has a better handle on history than most elementary school kids. Yet someone is going to cut her grade if she doesn’t take a unit spelling test or two, because she’s been off studying ancient ruins in the rainforest? Either the test is important enough for the teacher to re-do it, or it’s not. I vote for “it’s not.” And I don’t believe my kids’ intellectual growth should be stunted by forcing them to miss enrichment activities in favor of sitting in a class where they’re not challenged, just to take a test that isn’t important.

    Frankly, I think all teachers should have to provide preliminary lesson plans to all parents. That way concerned parents would be much better prepared to help their kids before they started struggling. And an added benefit would be that parents could plan better for intended absences, without burdening the teacher. Holding back this information from parents is a power trip on the part of teachers. And not preparing it in advance is unacceptable. It’s part of the job. Even homeschoolers prepare advance lesson plans.

    Those who say “if you don’t like it, then homeschool” may be eating their words sooner or later. That’s not a solution if the teaching profession hopes to survive and be taken seriously.

  208. Jwheeler1967, as I pointed out in my statement, I know of many single working moms who find a way and their kids thrive homeschooling! 🙂 Certainly no one is saying you need to homeschool, but if it IS something you wish you could do, then you can ABSOLUTELY do it and your kids would fair beautifully. Especially with a mother who loves learning as much as you sound like you do. 🙂 And if you keep your kids in school, you absolutely have the right to expect they are being educated in the best way possible. Unfortunately with all the emphasis on test taking and no child left behind, some of that love of learning can get lost along the way. IF you have great teachers, however, they can keep it alive and put the students learning first and keep learning hands on and play based, which is how kids learn best, and keep kids excited about new ideas and experiences. Unfortunately these teachers also have their hands tied by the state guidelines, policy, and curriculum so they have do the best they can to individualize learning and motivate.

  209. Elizabeth, I am sort of homeschooling my 4-year-old, working mostly at the 1st/2nd grade level, but it’s a very informal matter – more gently guiding her interests and encouraging her than anything else. I would not enjoy following a “curriculum” because frankly, some stuff in every “curriculum” I’ve seen is BS in my opinion. I’m talking about stuff that is made up just for “education” purposes that has no application in real life. I lived through it once, but have no desire to do it again, especially knowing what I know now.

    As for whether homeschooling can be done by a single working mom – I am one. I am counting up the hours and I will probably reach the minimum homeschooling hours for a full-time student (even though I also have another child who needs other kinds of help). But, I count extracurriculars that she gets at daycare and on the weekends while I work. When she ages out of daycare, it will be a lot more work for me to keep her involved in stuff that counts. Eventually she will be able to study on her own, but from around 1st to 4th grade or so, I think it would be very hard to meet her needs via homeschooling as a single working mom. And even though it may be technically possible, that doesn’t mean it would be best for all involved.

    Homeschooling is a good option to have, but it isn’t the best option for everyone. Most homeschoolers would agree with this statement, though there are some who will say that non-homeschoolers don’t care as much about their kids or whatever. I guess that’s like every other mommy war, though.

  210. I completely agree with you, SKL on the curriculum. I actually do NOT use a curriculum in homeschooling my kids. We don’t do the online schools, either, because I like being able to follow their interests and weave in the basics based upon what they enjoy and are interested in. So I design our own “curriculum”. But I realize not everyone would be comfortable with this, which is why I mentioned the online school, that IS curriculum based. The other option I mentioned is utilizing free resources in designing your own learning experiences/curriculum/whatever you want to call it, which would NOT be following a preplanned curriculum. 😉 Also some people like having a preplanned curriculum they buy as a guideline to follow, but the beauty of homeschooling is that if there’s something you don’t like/agree with, you simply don’t do it and do your own thing that would work for your child! 🙂

  211. “Yeah? Well some of us do not have the luxury of being able to afford that choice.”

    That is a separate point. That’s a perfectly good reason not to, as there are many good reasons not to. And there are good reasons for some people to do it, if they are able.

    But none of it has to do with “abandoning” anything. If my supermarket gives lousy service, I shop somewhere else. If I don’t like the clothing in the stores, I make my own. It’s not about “abandoning the clothing industry” or “not caring about all the people who shop at the lousy store.” It’s about doing what I choose to do, what I think is best, among the options available to me.

  212. SKL – All I can say is homeschool or get a private tutor.

    The school simply does NOT have to redo a test to work around your vacation. That is no statement that the test is not important. It is a statement that each teacher has 25 kids in the class, not just yours. Everyone can’t take tests just whenever the hell they want and still keep the system running. A day here or there is fine but I have no sympathy for kids who get zeros on tests due to lengthy vacations because the last time I checked, Disney World and the ruins and the rain forest all exist on the 205 days that school is not in session.

    Schools have certain standards that they must meet to retain their accreditation. One of those requirements is that they educate children a certain number of days a year. And one of those requirements is that a student’s butt has to be in the chair a certain percentage of that time. You may think that is stupid and that is fine. Get a tutor or homeschool. I’d sympathize if there were no other options but there are. A couple school districts in my state have actually lost their accreditation recently. Of course, property values in the affected areas plummeted and people flocked out of the area, causing the school system to get even worse.

    “Frankly, I think all teachers should have to provide preliminary lesson plans to all parents.”

    My kid’s teacher does this every week. We get an outline of the week ahead on Monday. That doesn’t mean that the teacher has done it two weeks in advance so that you can take it with you before a vacation. That doesn’t mean that the teacher should give you the lesson plans for an entire year on the first day so that you can plan your vacations accordingly. Nor would that hold any meaning. Things change. Kids struggle with concepts that the teacher didn’t expect. Kids master things quicker than the teacher anticipated. Kids get particularly interested in things and good teachers encourage that, spending longer on that topic.

    “Those who say “if you don’t like it, then homeschool” may be eating their words sooner or later. That’s not a solution if the teaching profession hopes to survive and be taken seriously.”

    I agree if we are talking about the quality of education. The school should meet the child’s educational needs and “there are other options so we don’t have to properly educate your child” is not a valid response. However, I’m perfectly okay with saying “if you don’t like it, then homeschool” to someone who expects the school to cater to her and her vacation plans.

  213. Elizabeth, I think building my own curriculum could be fun up to a point, but it would be time-consuming and potentially expensive. At some point I would feel like I was “reinventing the wheel.” For example, if my school district has a halfway decent science program, I don’t see the need to create a science lab at my home, especially if I have kids who are not passionate about science (and I personally am not). I would not be able to participate in a science “co-op,” because I work during the day. Now if I had a kid who was crazy about that stuff AND the local schools were nowhere near meeting her needs, I would consider supplementing in some way – whether or not I was homeschooling.

    As for the public school homeschooling curriculum, I haven’t analyzed it in depth, but from what I have gathered, it seems like it’s still the government telling you what you must teach and (perhaps loosely) when. I looked into it to see if I could start my 4yo on an accelerated curriculum, with the goal of eventually getting her an appropriate placement in school despite her age. There was no option to begin KG unless the child was 5 by a September 30 (in my state). There was no flexibility whatsoever as far as where and when you can start your kid. I didn’t see flexibility in certain other areas, either. So I’m not sure what the benefit of K-12 is, other than being able to pull the child out of a hostile/inappropriate environment or accommodating day-to-day scheduling issues.

    Besides, I do hope my kids learn to like going to school. I hated a lot of it, but my younger sister loved it all the way through, for the social aspect. Yes, she had some run-ins with foolishness like every other kid, but she gained a lot from being with the other kids. Aside from being an extreme introvert, sometimes I wonder if the main reason I hated going to school was that it meant getting up before I had had enough sleep. I still hate getting up!

  214. I’m also not saying that teachers should absolutely not accommodate a student’s vacation plans. That should be left up to the teacher. If he or she wants to give a make-up test, great. But if the teacher doesn’t want to, your child has to deal with the zero or skip the trip.

  215. “As for the public school homeschooling curriculum, I haven’t analyzed it in depth, but from what I have gathered, it seems like it’s still the government telling you what you must teach and (perhaps loosely) when. ”

    Well, yeah, that’s kind of the point. If you want the advantages of the public school (no cost, not having to run the education on your own) then unsurprisingly, it’s going to be like public school.

    Unlike some homeschoolers, I don’t have a problem with that, for those who like that option. But I can’t imagine how it could be any other way than, if you want the government to pay for and oversee your schooling, they’re going to be calling the shots.

  216. “I agree if we are talking about the quality of education. The school should meet the child’s educational needs and “there are other options so we don’t have to properly educate your child” is not a valid response. However, I’m perfectly okay with saying “if you don’t like it, then homeschool” to someone who expects the school to cater to her and her vacation plans.”

    Exactly. That’s why I, as a partial, formerly exclusive, homeschooler, feel free to comment on public education — it’s my taxes, and my society. They shouldn’t do things stupidly on my dime to mess up kids or families in my society, and the fact that I choose to educate my own kids in my own way has no bearing on that.

    But, because of specific concerns and goals I have for my family (including the kind of freedom and flexibility that a school schedule does not allow for), I choose not to participate by means of having my kids taught there. That doesn’t, and shouldn’t, mean I don’t have a voice.

  217. Donna, I think that providing the lesson plan at the beginning of the week is an OK solution – especially if they also give some inkling of what they plan on doing the following week. For my 5yo, this would be helpful as I could introduce some things to her on the preceding weekend, and she’d start the week on a good note.

    The teachers should email said lesson plans to the parents who provide an email address, so if they do happen to be traveling, they won’t be at an unnecessary disadvantage. Sending a weekly mass email of something you had to prepare anyway should not be viewed as an undue burden.

    As for the testing, I still don’t know if we’re speaking the same language. You’re painting this picture of testing being so horribly hard work. I was a college prof, so I’ve writeen a few tests, and it would have been easy to tweak them for someone who missed. For young kids taking unit tests, this isn’t necessary anyway. You take the kid aside and check their knowledge on this and that, or let them stay after school to take the same test everyone else took while you grade papers. Even in the unlikely event that someone told the youngster what would be on the test, who cares? Older kids could be asked to provide a written chapter summary in lieu of a test if tweaking the test is so hard. Obviously major tests are a different consideration and I’d agree with parents trying to avoid missing them.

    It goes back to – you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. If a student decides not to learn the material, at some point it’s on him. Give him a grade that reflects that. But if a child masters the material and supplements it with outside activities, that should not result in punishment.

    I know that teachers are supposed to be “accountable” now and they take this out on the kids. But do teachers honestly believe that real-world experiences do not improve the acquisition of knowledge?

    It would be interesting to know if anyone has done a study on whether kids do better or worse on standardized tests if they have more vs. less varied real-world experiences. Personally, I think this is a no-brainer.

    Obviously simply playing hooky is a different issue, and I think that a trip to Disney World can only be considered “educational” the first time. But there should be flexibility for a parent to approach a teacher with a legitimate out-of-school enrichment activity and be considered for a waiver from the attendance requirements. I really don’t understand why this is so controversial. I would think a caring teacher would be glad for her students to have enrichment opportunities.

  218. And another thing, continuing my last thought. The kids who are mastering the material and having out-of-school enrichment activities? These are typically the kids that require the least time of the teacher throughout the school year. It seems pretty mean to shut them down on the rare occasions that they do ask for a little extra consideration.

  219. SKL – I don’t recall ever saying that producing an extra test was onerous. But if it requires a single second outside of what the teacher would normally do, he or she has a right to say no and the school has a right to say no. Catering to your family vacation, no matter how small the catering is, is not required. Giving a child the chance at opportunities is great and I would hope that teachers and schools encourage this to some extent. I simply take exception with your seeming belief that it is REQUIRED – that your children are some exception to the rule and the school should work around your family experiences, particularly when those experiences are not once-in-a-lifetime-can-only-be-done-that-exact-day experiences but could have, in fact, been done on a break.

    And, again, the reason it’s controversial is that schools need accreditation. Schools cannot get accrediation if they don’t have a certain percentage of butts in a seat. Schools don’t need to become free-for-alls in which smart kids show up whenever they want and still get diplomas (I have grades on my college transcript that represent classes I never attended except for tests so I’m certain I could have done the same in high school had there been no attendance policy). If that is the kind of schooling you want, opt out of public school and choose another method. Nor is this some new idea. I had attendance policies waaay back in the 70’s. My mother had them in the 50’s. I didn’t ask, but my father probably had them in the 40’s.

  220. Donna, have you ever traveled to southern India in the summer time?

  221. So if my kid missed exactly 20 days for whatever reason, it would be legitimate for me to demand the teachers to go over everything with them however long it takes, but if they had 6 days of educational out-of-school activities (coordinated with the teacher in advance) followed by 15 legitimate but unexpected sick days, they have no right to any accommodation and should flunk?

    OK, but I hope that also prohibits the school from including my kids’ high test scores in their “school report cards.”

  222. By the way, I never said my kids should be the exception to the rule. I think the rule sucks, that’s all.

  223. Yeah see what SKL said is where my bull meter goes off. So it is okay for FOOTBALL players to miss school to travel to an out of town game and miss class or the WRESTLERS to miss class for travel to out of town meets, etc but not okay for me to miss to go to a dance competition just because the dance studio is not sponsered by the school? Doesn’t make sense now does it?

    Same exact thing but one is okay and the students won’t be punished and on the other they will be. I accept life is not fair always and blah blah but yes, it is bull.

  224. If being out of class is so bad for everyone how come jocks get to do it all the time? Just saying. Granted for being a nerd I got to miss for field trips for AP English to go see Shakespeare plays and what not, but you know at least what I was doing was educational while playing football is not educational whatsoever.

  225. SKL makes a good point about teachers probably needing to have an advance lesson plan made up anyway. In college we were given our syllabus the first day of class and it had every test on it, every lesson for the week, etc. If teachers at primary school did this I could plan a vacation during a time that might be a good time to go. I could avoid having to miss tests. I could make sure my kids know what they are missing without having to burden the teacher by asking. So honestly teachers probably SHOULD do the same as college professors.

    Actually most of my college was me saying to myself “Wow if high school was like this I would have enjoyed it SO much more and probably studied harder (I still got good grades but I could have been more involved in it). ” I knew ahead of time what to expect so if I wanted to learn ahead I could. I actually would prepare homework months ahead of time so that I could not stress myself out by having too much to do at once during a crunch time. I could come and go as I pleased. I didn’t have to take something just because to fill in a gap during the school day like I had to do in high school.

    Our high school was set up so that if you were a good student and never failed a class by the time you were a Junior and Senior you were done with all the necessary credits to graduate. So they would make you take stupid bull classes just to fill time. What a waste of time! They could have at least let us just do homework or study or something instead of making us take a bull class like gym or shop. It is like they were punishing the good students for being smart and not failing!!!! They could have also just let us leave for the day once we got in our two classes we actually had to take for credit. It was lame.

  226. SKL: As I said earlier I know MY teachers in elementary school really did like and thought it great that I got to travel to Jamaica, Cancun and Canada. They were very impressed and wanted to hear about my trip and gave my parents zero trouble about it. So at least back then teachers were happy for kids to have neat experiences like that. Now with NCLB they may not. I have heard they are way more pissy about any kind of absent students, but I guess I will find out.

  227. I find it interesting that on the one hand, I have no business asking teachers to accommodate my kids’ personal life in any way, shape, or form, and yet on the other hand, teachers think they have a right to intrude into my personal life on a daily basis by, for example, assigning homework and dictating how much involvement I’m going to have in it, demanding that I volunteer and provide supplies and money for things the teacher decides to do, scheduling activities at out-of-ordinary times and places that I need to drag my kid to, and telling my kids controversial stuff that is not pertnent to their academic education. I’ve even heard of local legislation (or proposed legislation) requiring parents to be fined if they don’t show up for parent-teacher conferences or fail to volunteer in the classroom. Excuse me? It sounds a bit one-sided.

    How about we make a deal. Teachers can stick to their regular daily work within the confines of the school day, and make no efforts for kids who request special consideration. And on the other hand, teachers will assign no homework, test review, projects, fundraisers, evening programs, or any other thing that requires parents to spend “one second outside of what the parent would normally do.”

    Oh and by the way, I hope teachers don’t think they have a right to time off. After all, as has been repeated frequently here, school is only in session for 180 days a year, so there is plenty of time for teachers to handle all their personal and fun stuff the rest of the time. Besides, every time a teacher misses a day, it messes things up significantly for every single child in that class, not to mention the fact that the taxpayers have to pay for a substitute teacher. That’s a lot more trouble than one child asking to make up a test, if you ask me.

  228. Dolly, don’t worry, once they ban footballs that won’t be a problem any more.

  229. “Donna, have you ever traveled to southern India in the summer time?”

    Go at Christmas. Go during some of the other breaks that my kid seems to have every time I turn around. Homeschool or pay for a tutor and go whenever you want. Go in the summer and show your kids how lucky they truly are. Forgo India and let it be an experience your child has as an adult. A lifetime of experience and all continents do not need to be squeezed into the first 18 years. Or go and get back within 20 days.

    “Oh and by the way, I hope teachers don’t think they have a right to time off.”

    I’m fairly certain that a teacher who took off more than 20 days a school year to vacation would not come back to a job no matter how strong the union (and if they did, the entire district would be screaming over the waste of money). I’ve known many teachers and none take lengthy family vacations during the school year. A few days off here and there? Sure, but you kinda sign on to working when school is in session when you sign on to being a teacher. Just like you kinda sign on to attend school during the school year when you sign on to get your free education from the state.

    We are not talking about kids never missing a day of school for fun. I was almost never sick and pretty much maxed out my absences every single year of school. You are talking about it being okay for your children to miss more than 10% of the school year and still get credit as if they attended school full time because you have better things for them to do. You expect the state to educate your child (for free) and make arrangements for your family to go on lengthy vacations (for free) and give your kids all the same benefits as the kids who attend school everyday (for free). The state has a right to say “yeah, we’re not doing that; either come to school or lose the benefits because we have other kids we can put in that seat (by way of building less schools for less kids) if you don’t want it.”

  230. I recommend to all two books by John Taylor Gatto, “Teacher Of The Year:

    “Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling”


    “The Underground History Of American Education”

    Also, any books on “education” and how children learn by John Holt, also a teacher.

    You’ll surely think twice about leaving your children in school.

    BTW—to the Mom who wants to leave her child in school to learn the hard stuff, like reading: Your child will learn to read just fine, at home, with no formal help from you—and with great joy.

  231. LOL SKL that is what I tried to say earlier about teachers missing school too. I was a sub and I know teachers miss A LOT. I was called in EVERY DAY without fail. I know teachers who take mental health days, have appointments, have sick days, take vacations, etc. They miss for the SAME reasons my kids might miss school. So if teachers can do it, so can the students. When I subbed no learning went on. The teachers just expected you to babysit and hand out work sheets and keep the kids from jumping out the window. I did that and yes, the educational day was wasted. Most subs don’t know the material or don’t know how to teach it. I knew a lot when I subbed but I have never had formal education classes so I was not sure if I was qualified to try to teach something. I just handed out the dittos, took rolls and kept the class in order.

  232. “They could have also just let us leave for the day once we got in our two classes we actually had to take for credit. It was lame.”

    I agree completely (except that gym is a bull class). The only necessary class that I took my senior year was English. I think I had to take 2 electives also just to have enough credit to graduate with a college prep diploma but much of my day was spent goofing off in classes like photography and drama. My high school did have a class that translated into part-time school if you had a job. The local university also had a handful of places for kids who wanted to joint enroll (half day at high school and half at college). Otherwise, you were stuck in high school all day. Schools should definitely let seniors enroll part-time if they don’t need a full day of credit. I’m not sure that I get the rationale behind not allowing this since they are just taking up spaces in classes that could go to others who need the credit. I assume that it’s money-related.

    “As I said earlier I know MY teachers in elementary school really did like and thought it great that I got to travel to Jamaica, Cancun and Canada. They were very impressed and wanted to hear about my trip and gave my parents zero trouble about it.”

    Mine were too. Thus far, my daughter’s school has been fine with her taking time off as well. I don’t think anyone has said that there should be a zero absence policy in school. Heck, if my kid’s school pitches a fit over fun time off, I’ll take the time off and tell them she was sick. However, the state, who is providing the education, is allowed to have a point where it says that your absences are excessive and you are not entitled to the same benefits as the kids who are actually in class.

  233. “So it is okay for FOOTBALL players to miss school to travel to an out of town game and miss class or the WRESTLERS to miss class for travel to out of town meets, etc but not okay for me to miss to go to a dance competition just because the dance studio is not sponsered by the school? Doesn’t make sense now does it? ”

    I don’t know of any school that wouldn’t grant an excused absence for something like that, with prior notification. The only difference is, the excuse is handled through the school by the coach and is “automatic” if it’s a varsity sport; if it’s a legitimate outside activity, it generally requires a parental excuse. And if you’re missing more than 20 days a year for stuff like that, then yeah, there’s probably a legitimate objection to be made — just like there would be if a football player or wrestler missed more than 20 full days for games or meets — which I’m fairly sure doesn’t happen. There are generally only about a dozen football games a year, about half of which will be at home requiring no missed class; the majority of the rest of which will probably be within a short drive requiring no more than an hour or two of early dismissal.

    So, yeah, if you’ve got a district that lets out football players for a handful of days per year, but won’t let out kids for outside sponsored activities to the same degree with appropriate notification, you have a problem. I don’t know of places like that, though.

  234. Come to think of it — I have personal experience with that kind of thing. Two of my daughters participated in a local “Nutcracker” for a couple of years. As they were homeschooled at the time, there was no issue for them, but there was always a Friday morning “school show” (an abbreviated version in which local schoolchildren in a certain grade are brought in to watch) and a Friday evening formal dress rehearsal, which shot the entire Friday for school. And every single one of the school-aged kids in the show was always able to get an excuse for the day. I never heard a whiff of any kid in a whole number of different public, private, and parochial schools represented in the cast having any problem whatsoever — the ballet school issued excuses, and that was that.

  235. Oh, and FWIW, the school district, which in this state is required to verify documented attendance of 180 days for homeschoolers (NO absences allowed — sick days, not just the work, actually have to be made up for in time served by us lucky homeschoolers) always accepted their dance performances and full day rehearsals as “school time” that counted toward the 180. They would get in as much heat from the state and risk losing funding just as much as if they let PS kids get away with unexcused absences if it wasn’t kosher, but there has never been a problem with it.

    So I don’t buy this idea that schools don’t let kids out for any reason other than near-death experiences, *with proper excuses, within a reasonable number of absences.*

    I think that doing things like forcing mothers to drag newborns into the school office in the dead of winter (and who knows how close to the school they can park) to sign a kid out is silly, but no, I don’t have a problem with limiting the number of days your kid can be out short of really serious, verifiable situations, so long as the limit is not ridiculously low.

  236. Donna:

    OK, stop calling it a “free” education. I pay $100,000+ in taxes per year, and a large chunk of it goes to the schools, whether I have a kid attending there or not. That is far from “free.” Please.

    Oh and by the way, I have a job, so I can’t just take off whenever it’s most convenient for the teachers. I can’t travel through Christmas break because that is when some of my most important work has to be done (and no, I can’t just get it done early, because it involves a lot of hand-holding up to and including 12/31.) It’s also probably the craziest travel week of the year.

    Apparently you do the same thing I am talking about doing, but you are content with lying about it if you can’t get the teachers to go along with it. I am not. Maybe you should stop implying that I am a selfish rotten person just because I believe in calling it what it is.

  237. Donna, you may not be understanding what the issue is with the 20 days. That is 20 days in total, regardless of why the kid took off. Even if the kid had a series of totally unplanned illnesses, accidents, and funerals, and even if they made up all the work and aced the tests, they could flunk. You say you don’t believe it, but it is true in some places.

    The idea that I’m a rotten person for taking my kids out for an avoidable reason is a different matter. As far as I know, there is no separate legal limit for avoidable versus unavoidable time off. But the fear of the overall arbitrary limit could make parents afraid to take even a week off on purpose, because it’s impossible to predict how many sick days a kid is going to need.

  238. Donna, the more I read your stuff the more I don’t understand it. Did you just say you took almost the maximum allowed days off every year you were in school, even though you were hardly ever sick? You say that like you think it’s the right way to behave. How is that different from my kids doing the exact same thing? You went on and on about how horrible I am for wanting to let my kids take some days off. It would just put the teachers out so much. Perhaps you are saying that it is better form to just take the days off and not bother trying to approach the teacher about it? Or what?

  239. SKL I’m sorry that you have such a dim view of teachers
    1. Homework – I don’t want to assign it I’m required to by the board who you elect – so take it up with them. In the meantime I will give your child a small packet of work 1 spelling list (10 words), and 4 worksheets on Monday. You can have them finish it any way you want by Friday. And outside of the kids’ hearing I will tell you the only thing that really matters is spelling list. Toss the rest I don’t care – that board you elect says I can’t take a grade on it so I’m not going to spend 2 hours off the clock grading it.

    2. I hope that if I call you up and tell you that your child’s fluency in reading is the only thing holding her back from advancing more quickly, that you might take a couple of the suggestions I have to help her at home. The Dad I talked to earlier this week, showed up the next morning. Due to his work schedule he had the morning off and was going to be at the library when it opened to get his stepdaughter audio books and physical books. See listening to audio books then reading the book aloud often will improve fluency.

    3. We only get paid for 180 days – we work much more than that. I just spent 4 hours on a Saturday making Math flipbooks for my students and the other 2nd grade teachers. Tomorrow I’m going to be making a digital book about Thanksgiving. Sorry if that doesn’t make up for the last day I missed – when my roof was damaged during a storm. I guess I should have lived with a hole in my roof till the next holiday. Oh and I could have left the door smashed in after I was robbed till the weekend. My family really should have put off my cousin’s funeral till the next break – after all a good 1/4 of my family are in the teaching profession.

  240. Yes, most professionals put in many hours that they don’t officially get paid for. I wasn’t talking about teacher pay. I was talking about someone’s attitude that parents dare not take up one extra second of teacher time for personal reasons, yet the same does not apply to teachers. I’m talking about the double standard.

  241. Pentamom: WRONG! I did this dance competition every year. It never counted as an excused absent day. I told my teachers and most of them were cool about it, but they did not have to be. The only allowed absent days are illness, school sponsered activity, funeral, court, or doctor’s appointment. My dance competition did not count. So if the teachers or school wanted to harass me about it, they could have. They could have refused to let me make up work. So yes, there is a very very unfair double standard.

  242. Kherbert: See I have no problem with you taking those days to miss school for the reasons you gave. Those are VALID reasons to miss. But the school would not excuse a student for missing all of the reasons you gave. The funeral, yes. The robber, no. The roof, no. At least in my district those don’t count on the approved list which is only, illness that has to be documented with doctor’s note, court, funeral, appointment or school activity. All of those must be backed up as well. Sure I have missed and not got a doctor’s note and the teacher are cool about letting me make up work anyway, but by district policy, they don’t have to. They only have to let me make it up if I can have the above reasons and back it up with documentation. If you miss more than 15 days a semester or more than 5 in a row without documentation for those reasons, you fail. End of story, do not pass Go.

    So I do think teachers as well as students should be given the benefit of the doubt and have some leniency but it should be fair too. If teachers miss, students should be able to miss too. But that is not how it works.

  243. Okay, Dolly, I take your word for that. Just know that’s far from a universal policy.

    In fact, I remember in high school in the dark ages (first couple of years of the 80’s) there was a girl who was let out early *every single Friday* at least one year because she traveled to New York for dance classes — apparently, she, her parents, or someone else, though she was something special that way. (We were only about 2 hours from New York.)

    So I believe you that in some schools, it is that way. In others there is far more flexibility. It’s not an attitude of “the public schools,” but of some districts.

  244. SKL – I’ve never once said that kids should be in school every day. My mother almost always told the school when I was taking off and why. It wasn’t an issue but I never exceeded the limit. Just like I told my child’s teacher that she was going to miss school for two days before we left. It was not some secret. I’m not sure where you got that idea.
    The issue I have is with you instance that 20 days off is not sufficient and that you are ENTITLED to more because you have better things to do with your children. That the teacher – whose homework forms you won’t even sign – should prepare extra stuff for your children so you can take vacations when most convenient for you.

    And I perfectly understand that this includes sick days, funerals, etc. If your child has a serious illness, then vacations need to take a backseat that year. If you have a child who is chronically ill, maybe vacations during the school year are not something you should plan. The school should definitely consider (and every school I ever attended had an appeal process) giving you credit if a serious illness happens after the vacation is done.

    What I don’t understand is why you are even bothering with school. You obviously have an extremely low view of them. You believe that what you offer your children education-wize is far superior. You want to be able to schedule vacations whenever it is convenient for you regardless of the school schedule and expect the school to deal. You clearly believe that actually going to school is not particularly important since you think your kids should be able to miss as much school as you want. You are willing to spend hours working with your children on what you want to teach them but don’t want to have to deal with homework assigned by the teacher, teacher conferences or much anything else school-related. It kinda sounds to me that you want a free babysitter during the day and a state-issued diploma while teaching your children yourself in your free time.

  245. I also never said that you dare not ask a teacher to spend her personal time. Many teachers will spend many extra hours with children who need it. I take exception to your obvious view that they are REQUIRED to do so so you don’t have to vacation in the summer.

    I’ve never met a teacher who didn’t willingly make up packets for students leaving for short vacations. Most of their patience are going to run thin if this happens for a chunk of the year and they are not obligated to prepare things for your convenience.

  246. PEOPLE IT IS NOT THE TEACHERS! We don’t set policy the feds, the state and the school boards do. Still I am glad I don’t work in your districts because if 1/2 of what you all say is true they must be miserable places to work or attend school.

    1. If a child from my school had to stay home to wait for a roofer – CPS would be invovled because 11 is a bit young to make those decisions. If a kid from our HS had to do something like that. Not only would they get cut slack – someone from administration would be showing up to make sure they were ok

    2. I’ve had parents keep kids home after a robbery because they were scared. It was an excused absence. We worked with the family to get the kids back in their normal routine ASAP. (All of our kids were the victims of 7 break ins in a row several years ago, with their classrooms being stripped of technology. A group of kids put together a rotation of families and were seriously planning on making their parents sleep in the classrooms to stop the break ins. The cops thought it was a good idea – and camped out in the school over several school breaks. They caught some of the jerks).

    3. Student’s apartment caught fire. The apartments are next to our school. Principal and social worker went over and brought the Mom and younger children to the school. The Fire Department and social worker made sure they had a new apartment before school was out. (The landlord was in heaps of trouble due to faulty wiring).

    4. A mother from our school finally went into the doctor for feeling sick for months – she had terminal cancer. When we found out the father had sold everything they owned to pay bills, and they didn’t have much. My sister happened to be the ladies case worker in the hospital. They had 4 kids in 3 schools. Every principal showed up at the hospital. When they lost their apartment we kept them in their schools, rather than make them transfer to their new address zoned schools. The hospital made sure they got dinner, we made sure they got breakfast and lunch. We wrote Mattress Mac at Christmas and they were chosen to get an entire apartment of furniture. We donated clothes. The hospital cut through ICE red tape and go the woman’s Mom here in time to say good bye. The next school year the youngest was afraid to go home alone. The YMCA gave her a scholarship to stay in after care.

    5. Every Friday about 200 (out of 500) of our kids are called down to the office. They receive sack lunches paid for by private money that we raise. This is often the only food our kids might get all weekend. But kids don’t go hungry in America after all pizza is a vegetable congress said so.

    6. A nonverbal toddler (old enough that she should have had some words) was found wandering in a dirty diaper on our playground. She was brought in, her diaper changed (we have an early intervention unit and some of those kids wear diapers extras are kept on hand). The child was taken around to the classrooms and one of the kids was able to tell a staff member where the family lived. When the cops went over to investigate. They found the Mom, worked nights and slept days. She had put the baby down for a nap and gone to sleep herself. The child was woke up, and due to a faulty lock on the apartment door got out. The cops DID NOT arrest the mother – they forced the landlord to fix the damn door. Then our principal and social worker convinced the mom to have the child evaluated by our speech department and she got some help with her delayed speech.

    Those are the kinds of things real school communities do and we are the majority we just don’t make the news.

  247. Donna, you are making wild assumptions about my views as usual.

    I am not sure why we feel we are at such extreme ends of this issue. We both think it’s no big deal for kids to miss some school, especially for a good reason. Neither of us thinks it should be unlimited. Both of us think the official policy should not be so arbitrary that a child fails a class due to a combination of sick and vacation days which ended up unintentionally high, given that the child has done his best to make up the work.

    You and I may or may not differ regarding what is considerate. For a while there, you were saying it was inconsiderate of me to tell the teacher that I was taking my kid out for an educational activity (of any length) in the hope of arriving at a mutual agreement for bridging the education gap. You seem to have backed off of that or maybe clarified your position.

    As for me, I never said I planned on making my kids miss 4+ weeks of school per year, as you imply. My beef is with the arbitrariness and other “power play” aspects of the attendance policies.

    I neither love nor hate “the schools” as my kids won’t be in public school until next year. Our local schools are rated “excellent,” and time will tell whether I agree with the rating. My youngest is being evaluated for acceleration and gifted services, so God willing, the school will make an effort to make attendance worthwhile. I do know that I and many members of my family were bored out of our skulls throughout much of school, and this did cause problems, especially when the arbitrary nonsense was layered on. Though some teachers are dedicated, there isn’t much official incentive to actually educate kids who come to class knowing enough to pass the tests. It is a lot to ask a child to sit quietly and be bored for hours upon hours, weeks upon months, years upon years. Don’t demonize them and their parents for wanting a little relief from the vacuum.

  248. Oh, and yes, I do believe it should be “required” for teachers to provide advance or make-up work (or waive the requirements) if my kid is going to have a scheduled absence. If they want to place a limit on scheduled absences, fine; but yes, everyone ought to be allowed to take them up to a point. Leaving it 100% to the teachers’ or school’s discretion will lead to favoritism and so on. Like what Dolly was talking about with dance vs. football. I don’t know what it is about football, but even when I was in school, the football team got all the perqs while the arts, etc. got cut left and right.

    I also think that traveling to a developing country should be a graduation requirement for all children. But that’s a discussion for another day.

  249. SKL I don’t know how they can require all kids to travel to a developing country. I mean if they can pay for us all to go, great, but I don’t see that happening. My parents had a lot more money than my husband and I have. I doubt I will be able to afford to take my kids to Mexico or Jamaica or the equivalent. It was nice that I got to do that though and I wish I could do the same for my kids, but we are pretty poor.

  250. Dolly, if you can go to Disney World repeatedly, you can go to a developing country once. Not that you have to, but it is an option.

  251. As a teacher, I would consider a developing country educational for almost any student. Disneyworld only for a senior Physics class. There is a heck of a lot of Physics in those rides, but rollercoasters and similar rides can be found in lots of places not just Disneyland.

  252. Well, as far as educational aspects of Disney World, I was thinking more about Epcot Center with all the countries and science stuff, and Animal Kingdom (it’s been a while, I don’t know what they have nowadays). Isn’t the Kennedy Space Center around there too? When I went there, they had an old space shuttle you could go into and stuff. Drove down to Fort Lauderdale and took a one-day cruise to Freeport, Bahamas and back. If I had kids with me, there would probably be some other educational stops that would make sense. Seems I toured some Wetlands once during a business trip to those parts, and learned a few things about hurricanes. A lot could be accomplished using one week plus two weekends – especially if done during a slow season.

  253. We don’t pay for Disney World. We don’t pay for pretty much any vacations. The grandparents do. And we don’t go repeatedly. We go maybe every 4 years.

  254. Disneyworld actually can be very educational. Epcot especially. Epcot has all kinds of science lessons and then culture lessons in the World showcase. Animal Kingdom is educational about animals and other cultures as they make each area very authentic to what it is really like in that country. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and it was pretty darn educational to go out on our balcony every morning and see giraffes and zebras and ostriches hanging out.

  255. My dream vacation is Hawaii. My boys love Lilo and Stitch and I would love to take them to Hawaii. Or go just me and hubby. Either way. If we take them they need to be able to go off on their own or have some kind of kids camp so hubby and I get alone time. Hawaii is such a rich culture and I love the people. Plus so many flora and fauna.

  256. The only educational thing about Disney is that it teaches you to be a consumer. The entire purpose of the place is to get you to buy things, feel bad that you don’t have enough money to buy things and to commercialize the experience of childhood.

    The countries at Epcot are nothing more than physical displays of stereotypes along with the wonderful idea that people around the world all produce trinkets and other worthless crap. Not to worry, they all speak English, all believe in consumerism and all serve the same food with slight variations between bland and blander. And waiting for an hour on line to take a 5 second roller coaster ride doesn’t really teach physics either.

    BTW I am not at all against homeschooling. I said in my first reply, I think that it is a perfect solution for those who want to give their kids amazing experiences and cannot commit 180 days a year to school. There is nothing wrong with that solution at all.

    But to look at school as if you are a customer and to treat it like another consumer good is a true disservice to you and your children. Learning is not about getting a certain number of credits or passing certain tests. It’s about becoming a thoughtful person who loves to learn and who has a foundation of knowledge that allows them to participate in the world in which they live.

    I agree with you all about taking kids out for sports, etc. Band trips to spend 1/2 a day playing at Disney with a 4 day vacation built in are no more acceptable in my opinion. We had debate team for a full day once a month at another school. It probably should have been after school although the events were great.

  257. Wow, Brian, I’ve been to Disney World twice (once was a prize through my company), and the only thing I spent money on in the park was food to eat – and it was just as reasonable as if I’d bought comparable food elsewhere. Nobody can force you to part with your money (other than Uncle Sam, of course).

    And I don’t see what’s wrong with viewing families as consumers of education, same as everything else.

    And I’d like to know what there is about sitting in a classroom that you believe develops a child into “a thoughtful person who loves to learn and who has a foundation of knowledge that allows them to participate in the world in which they live.” Seems to me that this objective can be met far more effectively by actually letting them explore the world in which they live.

    Brian, I know it’s hard to interpret what we read on the internet, but I’m reading you as implying that intentionally leaving the classroom for any reason is counterproductive for the child. On that you are woefully mistaken. Or should I say, I’d love to see this wonderful classroom that you seem to have attended that is better than all other experiences a child can have during school hours.

  258. Oh, and there is no need to go all the way to Disney to commercialize kids and make them feel like they have less than they should. Why, you can accomplish this for free by taking them to any local mall. The schools even help out by providing an environment full of pictures of things “other kids have,” and having fundraisers of various types, and carnivals, and so on. Not to mention the overpriced, completely unnecessary hot lunch program and vending machines. How about the mandatory fees for stuff that many families don’t want / can ill afford? And the fact that after a certain (young) age, every day is a fashion show. Why, my kids came home talking about Mickey Mouse and Spiderman on their first day of preschool at age 2.5, and by age 4 they were bugging me for a DS (and I didn’t even know what a DS was). No, they didn’t have to go to Disney World for that. The classroom was enough.

  259. Brian: You are ignorant and I guess you have never even been to Epcot. They employ people from the actual countries for World Showcase. So even though they speak English they also speak their native language and will talk to you about their home country. They also do not serve Americanized food in the World Showcase. I am a picky eater and most of that stuff I would not touch which shows right there that it is obviously not American food.

    Also the whole point of going in off season is so you DON’T have to wait an hour for a 5 minute ride. We wait no more than 15 minutes usually for rides and some less than that.

    Maybe if you actually went to Disney World you would see how wrong you are.

    For example the Norway boat ride teaches all about the culture of Norway from their legends about trolls to the fact that they are a fishing culture and it teaches about the ancient Vikings with a replica of a real Viking ship. The Mexico boat ride features things from Mexico like ancient Mayan statues, flamenco dancers, festivals. The French restaurant in France is extremely expensive and they feature real French food (Thus why it is pricey) with real French wine. Best part of Epcot is they feature real alcoholic beverages from the countries.

    And just to let you know, I spent a week in Disney World with my kids and maybe spent $50 on merchandise. We did not stop at every gift shop and buy something. We were too busy having fun to buy stuff.

    Sounds to me like you are just bitter your parents never took you to Disney World.

    Never mind the fact that when I went to DW every year for the dance competition I got to dance on the Tomorrowland stage in front of everyone and be at the front of the Main Street USA parade. Not many people can say they have done that in their lifetime!

  260. Dolly, just a reminder….this thread is not about you. And I thought you didn’t believe in travel as evidenced by your rudeness and lack of understanding toward the posters on the train thread. How on earth did you get to Disney World so many times without actually travelling? (Well, I spose it’s possible you live in Orlando….)

    And nice dig about “we’re too busy having fun”, because all other families, those not as perfect as Dolly’s, aren’t having any fun at all.

  261. There are these things called cars and you can drive them places. We can afford the gas to travel to Orlando and have the time to do so. So we can. I don’t know where you got I was against travel since I talk about travel all the time. I am against travel you cannot afford. My dad paid for us to travel to Disney World so we did it. Otherwise we would still have not been and would be trying to save up for it or something.

    Oh yeah and Beth, count my posts on this thread….I bet SKL or Donna have just as many if not more than me so until you are chastising them for making the thread about them you look like an ass.

  262. Re. the educational value of DisneyWorld: who cares if there is any or not? Why can’t some things just be for fun?Adults don’t undertake every activity they do with the idea that it will somehow make them a better person or teach them things. Why do kids have to? Sure, it’s good to undertake thougthful activities (regardless of your age), visit zoos and museums, go on nature hikes and history walks, but it’s also OK if not everything has some sort of ulterior educational motive.

    Besides, you never know where that education stuff might seep in. On my family’s Disney vacations (and any vacation, really), my favorite thing to do was to try to make pen pals. I’d befriend another child that was close to my age (usually at the pool or beach) and we’d exchange addresses. I had made probably about 30 different pen pals from grade school through high school on various vacations, some from as far away as England (THOSE were exciting letters to receive!). And we just went down to Disney to have a good time.

  263. Heather P,
    I had the same hassle when I was a kid, except it was for a World Series game that my Father had somehow gotten tickets for. I was given a hassle when I was checking out from the Attendance Office until my Father came in to get me. (think 6′-7″ 250 lbs. Steel Worker who was slightly pissed off) The first time that I was alive for our team to be in the World Series I was too small to take to the game and since he had the tickets my Father was going to be sure that I went to this one.

    As far as if I wanted to cut class or not, we had a new computerized attendance system in 1981 (punch cards), want to take a guess who helped write the program? (I think the Stature of Limitations has run out on this one.)

  264. I personally feel that if I tell my kids ‘School is important’ but then take them out of school on a whim every other month, their bullshit meter is going to go off. So school is important, but not if there’s something more fun to do?

    School is not always fun. Work is not always fun either, yet I must go daily if I wish to eat and have a roof over my head. Kids need to learn early that there is some stuff you just have to suck up and deal with.

    And I see in my college classroom the result of kids who didn’t learn that lesson. They don’t show up to class because (pick one: I was too tired, I wanted to see my girlfriend, I didn’t think it was important, I wanted to leave early for a long weekend, etc. etc.) Then they are in my office at the end of term demanding to know why they didn’t get an A. Or even better, their mommies and daddies are emailing the dean wondering why their precious little snowflakes got a bad grade. (Yes, this happens. More often than you’d think.) I work 10+ hour days, every day, and often work from home on Saturdays and Sundays as well. And I at least get paid quasi-decently. Grade school teachers get paid a lot less, and their job requires much more skill and patience than I will ever have. I think it shows a certain disrespect to not only skip school for frivolous reasons, but also to ask them to bend over backward to help your kid skip school.

  265. Well, if my kids didn’t have to be up and ready to go somewhere between 8am and 8:30 seven days a week, 365 days a year, beginning at the age of 3, you could say I was training them to be lazy slobs. If they’d missed more than 3 class hours this school year so far (one is in KG, one in pre-K), if they didn’t stay at “school” until 6:30pm 5 nights a week, if they didn’t independently do their homework every day, if their behavior charts and academic progress weren’t among the best in the class, maybe you could say that. If they didn’t see their mom work full-time seven days per week, with our first ever family vacation coming up around my youngest’s 5th birthday, and if my kids hadn’t been earning their own spending money through yard work since age 2 . . . .

    You don’t know the whole picture. No teacher knows how much importance any parent gives to a good education and a good work ethic. Attendance statistics are just one possible indicator. It is wrong to suggest we should be slaves to them.

  266. Oh, and if I weren’t homeschooling the younger 7 days per week, including when we’re away from home . . ..

  267. Ok, you homeschool. I get it. More power to you.

    But if you’re going to go the public school or private school route, you are inherently agreeing to a certain set of rules and expectations. You don’t like those, so you homeschool. I could not homeschool my kids – I flat out do not have the patience. I don’t always agree with all the rules of school. But since I can’t afford private school and homeschooling wouldn’t work for us, we have to play by the public school rules. Which say you have to go to class.

    And I don’t actually give a fig when your kids get up or all that. My personal kids need to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around what they want, just like the world doesn’t revolve around what I want. If it did, I would stay home and people would mail me checks for no reason. I still say that you can’t value education with words but devalue it with actions. And repeatedly skipping school with your parents blessing seems to say that education is not valued, or you think the rules don’t apply to (the generic) you. My kids have highly honed bs detectors. If I say exercise is important, and they see me never going to my martial arts class, they call me on it. If I say church is important, but blow it off for no good reason, then the next week I will hear “But we didn’t have to go last week…” If I let them skip school when there isn’t a clear reason, I’m setting myself for more trouble in the future. Better to train them now, so that by the time they have to do this for real, the habit is there.

  268. BMS, you could “unschool” your children. Seriously. Look it up. You’ll have the happiest family you could ever imagine having.

  269. BMS: I doubt just missing school with caution to the wind is what turned your loser students into well losers. There were other factors at play. I know I missed school quite a bit when I was in primary school, but once I got to college I never missed and I made perfect grades in college. So again, I don’t see the direct correlation. My parents told me “You are an adult now, so you can live with us rent free and we will buy you food and give you money and pay for your school BUT we expect good grades. If you fail to bring home good grades, you are out on your ass.” I knew they meant business and I rose to the occasion. It is the parents that stupidly pay for their kids to repeat classes over and over again that end up with the kids that don’t show up to class. We had one of those in my major class. She was Daddy’s little princess how came and went as she pleased and was too concerned about her Sorority stuff instead of what college was really about. I could not stand her and yes, she failed.

  270. BMS, to clarify, I’m homeschooling my youngest for now until she gets a school placement that makes sense. I’m doing it in the evenings, while she attends full-day pre-K during business hours.

    To your comment, there’s a difference between valuing education and prioritizing school over everything else. When I take my kids to the natural history museum almost every Wednesday evening year-round, that shows them that I value education, even though it has zero to do with school. With their room stocked with hundreds if not thousands of books, including whole shelves of nonfiction, which we read together every night, a clear message is sent. When I give them mental math and spelling problems as we drive, when I choose enriching videos and shows to watch together, when I enroll them in a variety of enrichment classes, check daily what’s going on in their classrooms and in their school folders, go to the extra effort to get them accelerated in school, etc., they can’t really doubt that I think education is important. If that isn’t enough, the fact that I put myself through undergrad, law, MBA, and CPA ought to indicate something. So when I make the effort to take them places and do hands-on study with them everywhere we go, I don’t think they’ll be saying, “but mom, if you cared about our education we would be doing spelling drill in school right now.”

    But you are right, kids have BS meters. That is why they figure out pretty quickly that school busywork and attendance aren’t the be-all and end-all. So don’t worry, I won’t confuse them by telling them such lies. Like every other area of life, there is a balance to be reached, which will be different for each family and each kid.

  271. SKL: Your last post was amazing. Could not agree more.

  272. It’s great to enrich your kids lives outside of school. I know I read a lot about stuff that interested me outside of school when I felt I didn’t learn enough in class. But learning how to do busywork is important. There are times in my job where I have to do busywork. I get paid hourly, so I need to be at my job 40 hours a week. Sometimes you have to find things that aren’t “important” to do. If you didn’t, you’d get sent home and not get paid.

    And as far as visiting a developing country being required to graduate– who’s paying for THAT? I had an opportunity in high school to visit Spain and France as part of a school trip for the seniors studying the languages. While the school was paying for some of it, parents were still expected to chip in between $700 and $1000. My parents gave that a resounding HELL NO. It was partly because they couldn’t afford it and even if they could, they believed saving for my college education was more important than me going anywhere. If they had been required to pay that money, there would have been hell to pay.

  273. Kiesha,

    1) Promotion of goldbricking should not be a goal of the school system. Kids can learn that on their own time.

    2) Re the developing country – it would take some convincing at many levels, but it would be doable for most school systems. Cut cash suckers like the hot lunch program, and that would free up a lot of cash. Seek out discounted travel options. For those not too far from the Mexican border, a bus trip would do the job. Individuals could get exempted if they could show they’d been on other trips to developing countries and produce some sort of report. There should be scholarships for kids who really can’t pay their share.

    The main reason I think this should be required is that we need some more perspective in this country – at all levels of prosperity. Too many youngsters develop an attitude of lack when they actually live lives of abundance. Shoes, electricity, literacy, a roof over their heads – kids need to realize that a large percentage of the human race doesn’t have these things, let alone take them for granted and/or feel justified committing crimes to get more. The smiles on the faces of people we’d consider impoverished – and their impulse to love and help others – are lessons that can’t be described in words.

  274. SKL, I’ve never been to a developing country. I’ve only been out of our country for about six hours. But I have learned that I am pretty damn well off. And I learned that at an early age. Maybe growing up with a dad who had 12 brothers and sisters and a father who died when he was three or a mom who had 7 brothers and sisters did it. I got to hear a lot of stories about living in one-room cabins with no running water and how only certain kids got new shoes each year. I don’t think you need to go to a developing country to learn these thing.

  275. You’re entitled to your opinion. I realize it’s a pipe dream at this point to expect schools and communities to get behind the concept anyway.

    But I certainly feel that parents who do want their kids to have the experience of seeing how the rest of the world really lives should not be demonized, and their kids should not be punished for that.

  276. “But to look at school as if you are a customer and to treat it like another consumer good is a true disservice to you and your children. Learning is not about getting a certain number of credits or passing certain tests. It’s about becoming a thoughtful person who loves to learn and who has a foundation of knowledge that allows them to participate in the world in which they live. ”

    But to look it as a consumer is not necessarily to assume you’re into passing certain tests and racking up credits.

    What if I think that, as a consumer of the schools, I don’t see my kids “becoming a thoughtful person” and gaining “a foundation of knowledge, etc.”? How is it not viewing it as a consumer to judge whether it’s serving you, and acting accordingly?

    I can’t imagine any approach to schooling other than acting as a consumer — you certainly don’t want to advocate acting as a “subject” or something like that. So what’s left? As long as your goals for what you want as a consumer are in the right place, judging it from an “is it serving my needs” standpoint seems like the only rational way to go. How that’s to be distinguished from being a consumer, I can’t fathom.

    And I hasten to add, the answer to that won’t be the same for everyone, and of course depends a lot on local situations.

  277. SKL 11-22@10:47: Well said!

    How spectacularly stupid. From my high school, if I wanted to leave, I just left. My classmates would routinely go to the pizza place across the street for lunch and video games.

    If we weren’t required in class, we could do whatever.

    Actually, I think from my elementary school too. I can’t specifically remember the conversation, but I know I did leave for special events sometimes, and I just told the teacher I was leaving at a particular time.

    It wasn’t even so much a request as a polite notification.

  278. Your story is very amazing. ^^

  279. I agree kids need to learn about less fortunate people but you know there are a lot of less fortunates in this country. Sure even our poorest people here probably still get food stamps and might have electricity etc but they also have a lot less than most suburban middle class kids too. I did Big Sister program in college by choice and really saw that first hand. My kids help me pick out toys for Toys for Tots or in the case of this year a family we are actually close to that lost their house and don’t have much. They are learning about that right here.

    But as far as just experiencing other cultures in other countries, yes, that is great for kids. I really learned a lot when I did it as a child and I still enjoy something like that. Unfortunately travel to other countries unless you live right next to the border is very expensive.

  280. I’m not even talking about middle-class kids knowing some kids have less. I’m talking about our so-called “poor” (and also working-class) youths who have been encouraged to feel angry and deeply discouraged because they have “relatively” less than some other people. They think they are at the bottom of the barrel. A walk through a typical city street in a developing country would make them realize that they have ever so much more than millions if not billions of people can ever dream of having. A visit to a third-world slum school would make them see the value of their education. Maybe then young people would think twice before they decide to beat up a classmate or rob an old lady because they don’t have $100+ sneakers. Maybe they’d be more realistic about how they can actually do on minimum wage if they can pool resources with others until they earn a few raises / promotions. Maybe “I deserve it” would be replaced by “I’m blessed” now and then.

  281. I completely agree with you, SKL! If the poor in in our country could see the poor in third world countries they would realize how blessed they are, indeed.

  282. kherbert, I loved reading your postings on all the amazing things you and your school community do. I wish more of what you do made the news. For the most part people want to help other people. It is impressive the lengths to which your community goes to help people in need.

  283. Tell that to all of the sue happy parents out there who look for ways to blame schools for everything. While school is in session, schools are liable and there are many people out there just looking for opportunities to take advantage of and exploit kids. Talk to the school about it. Read some school law. And is it so bad they are trying to be safe even though it may be inconvenient for you? Do you think they come up with rules just to bring misery to the masses? Most of those kind of decisions do not come from the schools. Case law and frivelous lawsuits determine much of those decisions. Sometimes it comes from legislation. Instead of whining about it try supporting the school in its safety efforts. Come to the school with ideas and not just complaints. There may be compromises, there may not be. But I guess that might be an inconvenience too.

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