Want to Help Out at a Class Party? All You Need to do is Get Fingerprinted!

Hi Folks! Here’s a school memo one of you sent in from the Brave New World that thinks somehow every time any adult encounters a child — even in a classroom filled with other adults and a gaggle of kids — the kids are in grave danger:

Wiggle those digits

If you attended volunteer training last spring in order to be able to help out at school (in the classroom, on field trips, at parties, etc.), there’s one more step you need to take.

The school board recently added a fingerprinting requirement for all volunteers to accompany the existing background check. New volunteer training this year will include fingerprinting opportunities.

If you completed the training last school year, you need to get in touch with volunteer coordinator. The district is paying for the fingerprinting.

How kind. Is the district using money that is not coming from anything else, like books or field trips? – L

78 Responses

  1. How much does it cost to fingerprint and process it per person? Are they having a problem with adults inappropriately “encountering” a child? Do the teachers and administrators have to be fingerprinted, too?

    I think a simple and free background check from the state’s DHS is enough, but I suppose we need to “think of the children.” I wonder when the TSA pat down will come.

  2. I think you missed it. This is the unions way to keep non union folks iut if the classroom. Expect even tougher requirements if this doesn’t reduce volunteerism to zero.

    Love your blog. Keep it up!

  3. “fingerprinting opportunities”?
    Why not just get DNA tests and handcuff all parents who are willing to jump through all these hoops to “help”.
    This district would be better served if they just invested in tin foil hats.

  4. Just fingerprint all of us when we get our government IDs. It would make it all so much easier…. and creepier…

  5. @Outdoors dad, somehow I don’t think the school board is unionized….

    Anyway, I’m always curious what these requirements are supposed to do. Ever been asked “marital status” on a service work order for your car?

    Here we have to go through a sheriff’s background check, which at least makes some sort of sense; as some of the schools here have highly valuable and portable electronics and such, and petty theft is very common.

    I am always amazed at how in our “land of the free” we are so eager to throw away our freedom for the sake of some illusory (and often undefined) goal.

  6. Our district requires an annual background check ($16.50) or a one time fingerprinting ($39.50) which lasts forever. Problem is a four month lag time on the fingerprinting. Oh and the fees are paid for by the volunteer. Yes, you have to pay to volunteer.

    Seems like if you’re going to mandate this garbage, you need to hire someone to process it.

    I was so red hot fired up on this last year (it was new) and now I’m just another lap dog. There’s no way around it, other than to stay away.

    Wilson: I questioned this with “how much of this unwanted creepy stuff is going on in the classroom with a teacher present?” I was told it’s about the fear of creating relationships in the classroom with students who you then prey on outside of the school.

    Just another thing to add to the worst first list.

  7. Maybe the parents who jump through all the hoops are the ones we should really worry about–obviously they’ll stop at nothing to gain access to our children!

  8. My wife just paid about $50 to get fingerprinted so she can volunteer in our son’s class. She also had to get a chest x-ray to rule out TB. The skin test won’t work for her because of an inoculation that’s common in Europe, she’ll always show ‘positive’ even though she doesn’t have TB.

    There are cheaper places to get finger printed, but the school will only accept ‘local’ ones, and they’re all $50+.

    Not sure what the chest x-ray is going to cost.

  9. Georgia just passed a rule that requires parent volunteers to be “mandated reporters of suspected child abuse.” The letter we just got from school basically said that we’d have to go through training and that if suspected abuse wasn’t reported we’re now liable. There’s an oped in the AJC about it: http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/08/26/georgia-makes-parent-volunteers-mandatory-child-abuse-reporters-is-that-a-mistake/

    This on the heels of moving from rural SC, where parent volunteers had to pay $25 (because the district can’t afford it) to get a state mandated background check that only covered the state database – for an extra amount they could expand it to federal, but it costs too much now. Needless to say, a system with over 80% free lunch no longer has enough people to volunteer for field trips or anything else that they need extra hands for. Glad we’re safe, though.

  10. Not only do I need to Dept. of Justice certified fingerprint and background check, I need a TB test and a class on classroom conduct before I can volunteer in class. If I want to go on a fieldtrip (and there are no more school buses here, so they need parent drivers) then I need all of the above plus a copy of my 10 year driving record, copies of my license and registration, and proof of $100k liability insurance. What is all of this going to prevent? Is it just for the sake of peace of mind?

  11. TB test? WTH?

  12. @Rich Wilson,
    may I suggest the Tb blood test (estimated cost $60).
    Here is some info:
    TB blood tests (also called interferon-gamma release assays or IGRAs) measure how the immune system reacts to the bacteria that cause TB. An IGRA measures how strong a person’s immune system reacts to TB bacteria by testing the person’s blood in a laboratory.

    Two IGRAs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are available in the United States:
    1.QuantiFERON®–TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT)
    2.T-SPOT®.TB test (T-Spot)
    IGRAs are the preferred method of TB infection testing for the following:
    •People who have received bacille Calmette–Guérin (BCG). BCG is a vaccine for TB disease.
    • People who have a difficult time returning for a second appointment to look for a reaction to the TST.

    I work in healthcare and most hospitals require a criminal and financial background check along with fingerprinting.

  13. So what are they going to do with this information, dust all the children for fingerprints after the party to ensure no helpers touched them?

    The TB test makes even less sense, if a parent has TB then the child has already been exposed and therefore all the classmates, busmates etc. have probably already been exposed!

    I don’t understand why people continue to send their children to schools where they must jump though all these hoops to be involved in their own child’s education.

  14. Wilson, in my state, there’s no such thing as a free check. Every level of background check has a fee, including the state child abuse registry.

    Amanda, the purpose of the fingerprint is to run a match to see if the person has any criminal background under aliases.

    Yes, it’s still stupid for the purpose, but that’s what it’s for, not for the purposes of future investigation.

    CJ, handing out napkins and cupcakes in a classroom is not comparable to working healthcare, where you have unsupervised or minimally supervised access to vulnerable people every day.

    “I don’t understand why people continue to send their children to schools where they must jump though all these hoops to be involved in their own child’s education.”

    Not everyone has viable alternatives to a free local education.

  15. I’m waiting for top level security clearance. 🙂 Just think, it’s so easy to sell! Two for the price of one, you can volunteer with your child’s school and you can work for the NSA or Department of Defense! Sweet! We had an FBI agent visit us once to ask about the neighbor -who was applying for a job. I’m waiting for them to start making the rounds asking about my habits, routines and social groups because I volunteer in the middle school : P

  16. We don’t have background checks to volunteer in my kids’ school, though I am prevented from serving as a field trip chauffeur because you can’t be a chauffeur if you’ve ever lost your license or had it suspended. And mine was suspended for 14 days when I was 16 and still insanely stupid, THIRTY years ago. Completely clean record ever since, never even a parking or speeding ticket.

  17. I HAVE a high level government security clearance, and I still needed a police records check to volunteer in our kids’ school (where I’m not even allowed to be alone with the children, without a teacher present).

  18. All the hoops was one of the reason I refused to volunteer at my kids’ old school. There was a mandatory THREE hour class that was only at night when my husband worked so I had no one to watch the kids. Then there was the mandatory background checks and I wouldn’t be surprised if they added fingerprinting since we left. All so I could read a book to a class of 1st graders while the teacher was sitting 5 feet away. That went for volunteering for anything in the school or church. Even if I wanted to stuff envelopes in the office I had to have the background check.

    They started BINGO in the church basement which was at night (after school hours) and you needed the full background check to volunteer to set up, take down or call numbers. Even though there weren’t any kids around. Oy.

    At their school here there’s just a sheet you fill out to consent to the background check which the school pays for. You have to do it 2 weeks before you want to volunteer and the check is good for 2 years. It’s still a background check but at least it’s simple and relatively quick.

  19. “Amanda, the purpose of the fingerprint is to run a match to see if the person has any criminal background under aliases.”

    No duh, that part was a joke. No one that has bothered to change their name, have kids and raise them to school age successfully is going to throw everything away to molest a kid in the middle of a party, steal pencils or whatever the fear is. If you’re going to fear, fear the molesters that HAVEN’T been caught.

    “Not everyone has viable alternatives to a free local education.”

    Not true in the US. Many people have been convinced the other options aren’t viable for them, and many people don’t want to change their lifestyles to make it viable, but everyone in the US has alternatives to a free local education.

  20. Why is there volunteer training? Do you need special training to attend a field trip? Or even to help the teacher out during art class, whatever. I volunteer at my kids’ school all the time and have never undergone training. The rest of it is equally ridiculous.

  21. We also don’t have background checks at our school (or fingerprinting,TB, cooties) and there are so many parents who volunteer.
    School field trip volunteers are picked in a lottery because there are so many parents willing to help. My son’s last field trip was to the Constitution center in Philly and he was told to bring money to go out to lunch. The dad that was his chaperone treated him and friends to lunch at a nice restaurant. The kids made several remarks about the homeless people they saw and the dad suggested they send the money they were given for lunch that day to one of the soup kitchens that feed the homeless.

  22. Amanda said: Not true in the US. Many people have been convinced the other options aren’t viable for them, and many people don’t want to change their lifestyles to make it viable, but everyone in the US has alternatives to a free local education.

    Really? Everyone can an alternative to free local education viable for themselves if they want it? I suggest you go a school like the one I work in where 50% of the families are on free/reduced lunch and another 20% are “working poor” – not qualifying for any aid, but not able to afford anything beyond the bare necessities.

  23. Wow, so over the top! We too don’t have background checks just for volunteering at school, where it’s assumed that the teachers being around will be enough protection for the kids, I guess – that and the fact that if we started in for all this nonsense, we’d never get volunteers.

    And the TB thing seems very OTT, Rich. Do you live in an area with a high immigrant population? Our kids had TB jabs when they were babies because of their Maori and Asian heritage, both lots being considered high risk for TB, but I wouldn’t have thought most Americans would be vulnerable to TB these days. And are other diseases not an issue?

  24. Well, with no volunteers, kids will miss all those dangerous events like field trips (where they could get kidnapped or lost), trips to the park (where they could trip and fall), and class parties (where some kid’s mom could molest the other kids in the middle of the party).


  25. Wow. One of my fondest memories is of volunteering to chaparone on my younger brother’s field trip to the zoo when I was barely 18 and he was in second grade. No background check, no stink eye; all the teachers and moms seemed perfectly fine giving a teenager sole responsibility of five seven year-olds for a day. And wouldn’t you know it? No one got lost or hurt, and everyone had a great time. If I had had to jump through those kinds of hoops, I never would have gone. I wish people could understand just how much of life they’re keeping their kids from living by playing safety police to such an absurd level.

  26. And schools and other organizations wonder why there are so few volunteers, coaches and such. To go on my daughters field trip, I needed a background check, done by my local OPP. I couldn’t be by the OPP detachment two blocks from work, no it had to be by the one closest to my home. So an afternoon of lost wages to go submit for one, and an afternoon of lost wages, to go pick it up two weeks later. Then they wanted a driver’s abstract, another afternoon of lost wages. Then the field trip itself, a day of lost wages. All in all, with the costs of the required documents, yes I had to pay, and the lost wages, and the fuel, and the field trip fee, i was out near $800.00.

    Won’t do it again. As these checks are good for only one year. This year, I will just meet them at the museum or wherever, and there isn’t a damn thing they can do about it.

    And before anyone says yes they can…….no they cannot. I have the right to visit any public place, and interact with my own child. This coming from a police officer friend that I play hockey with.

  27. “the fear of creating relationships in the classroom with students who you then prey on outside of the school.”

    Okay. Let’s trot out all the big-name boogeymen who have “groomed” kids and then abused, raped, molested, and / or murdered them and find out how many of them encountered the kids while volunteering on a school field trip or helping out with reading aloud in the classroom.

    Wait. None? Really? None. Boy. That’s amazing. Lots of trouble for a “what if” someone dreamed up out of nowhere.

    Now let’s figure out how many CONVICTED child molesters would have been “caught” in a fingerprinting or background check, i.e., these people were KNOWN offenders who PREY on KIDS specifically and were REGISTERED with the police and had a CRIMINAL RECORD.

    Wow. Again. None? None. All righty then. So there’s really no utility whatsoever to ferreting out people who are supposedly known to the authorities… so who can know which one of the parents, relatives, siblings, aunties, uncles or community members is a “kid-toucher”? You’d be better off holding a divining rod over their head and seeing which way it tilts.

    Ah, but that leads me to the REAL way to ferret out the boogeymen… those tests where they measure sexual arousal levels in people who are viewing images of children in various situations and states of undress. C’mon, let’s just cut to the chase, here. Forget about background checks, fingerprinting, or “does this person give me the creeps” kinds of failsafes, let’s just go right to the facts: is this person aroused sexually by kids? There’s only one way to know… either they offend, or they fail the “sexual stimulus test.”

    Can you imagine all the mommies getting a test like that? Have you finished laughing, or crying, or crapping yourself?

    Glad that in my community, at least, the schools don’t require anything but proof of insurance for those of us who drive someone else’s kids somewhere during school hours. I was asked to get a background check to volunteer as a helper in the youth area of my church, though, and was required to get a background check in order to teach a communication course to adults at the local rec centre as well.

  28. From the point of view of Can we band together and do something about htis, not really. I emailed over a dozen schools asking for information about their background check policies. Of the few schools that replied they all have a different process. I learned that there are schools that are still reasonable enough that they only background check coaches/people who will be alone with the kids. I think that would be the best policy. We might be able to get some news media involved in pointing out what a waste of funds from school budgets these checks are but in the end I think it would only push the cost onto parents by the school who aren’t currently charging parents. I think it’s insane that schools are asking for this from volunteers.

  29. Lenore has a link to a story, about how some cities and states are now requiring background checks on men who drive ice cream trucks. So let’s take this to where we all know it is going. Fingerprint, dna samples and psyche evaluations on all men. Also gps chips implanted, that way if any man lingers near a playground, toy store or school can be arrested immediately, for being the male of our species.

  30. This really is a shame. In short this note means that any parent who did volunteer training (obviously they’re not smart enough to look after kids or sell cupcakes without training) and does not want to be fingerprinted because of their attitude towards their privacy, have just been given a bait and switch.

    If they’re going to introduce new rules, only have them apply to new applicants. But stop the madness. From the money it costs to take and process fingerprints for all your volunteers you could improve the school cafeteria food for at least 6 months. That’s a gross underestimation by the way…

  31. Isn’t this wonderful. All this money going for background checks and fingerprinting, yet how many schools lack funds for paper, pencils, textbooks and the like.

  32. Oh so glad that we homeschool our younger kids and our daughter goes to a small, private (and sane) high school. So sick of this stuff. Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.

  33. This is an invasion of privacy and tells people you are guilty until proven innocent. That is one of the many reasons why we want to home school. The system is severely messed up.

  34. “I was told it’s about the fear of creating relationships in the classroom with students who you then prey on outside of the school.”

    BUT. No one cares if this parent-volunteer-predator spends evenings, weekends, and summers with a child with whom they have the closest relationship, their own! Goodness sakes, they might even spend time with nieces and nephews. What are we doing, allowing them to have relationships? Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?

  35. My 7 year old daughter took part in a community theater production this summer. She was the youngest member of a large diverse cast…college kids, married couples, grandparents, a doctor, a banker, a minister, a grocery store bag boy, teachers, a couple of men who I think were gay. The women and girls shared one large dressing room, the green room was co-ed. My daughter was everyone’s darling. They gave her a pet name, ran lines with her, and shared snacks with her. One of the college girls taught her to put on lipstick. Another lady helped her change costumes. In one scene a gentleman was supposed to pick her up and carry her on his shoulder. In another scene she sat on a grandmother’s lap. She developed a huge crush on the leading man and one night her kissed her on the cheek. She spent three hours a night with these people for six weeks, and NONE OF THEM HAD A BACKGROUND CHECK! I was thrilled that she got to know so many interesting people. She has very few male role models in her life, so I think this was an enriching experience for her.

  36. “Not true in the US. Many people have been convinced the other options aren’t viable for them, and many people don’t want to change their lifestyles to make it viable, but everyone in the US has alternatives to a free local education.”

    Ah to think that the entire country is privileged and middle class. My daughter’s school is at least 50% free/reduced lunch and 25% non-English speakers. Then there are those are not sufficiently educated to teach others. Or those who don’t have the right temperment. Or single parents who must work. Or two-parent families that must both work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Or those who are sick or disabled and can’t provide consistent education to their children. The list is really endless of people for whom public education is the only option.

    Private school is rarely better as far as these regulations. And many of us have absolutely, positively no desire whatsoever to have homeschooled children. Even if I could arrange my life to homeschool, homeschooling is the complete and total antithesis of the childhood that I want for my child. I don’t knock it for people who want that lifestyle, but it is not gonna happen in my family.

    However, if fingerprints become required for volunteering at my child’s school, my volunteering days are over. I would also object to the policy being put in place and any school funds being used for it.

  37. Sounds like they’re not really that interested in genuine volunteers. A police check is one thing, but fingerprinting is over the top.

  38. Oh, what next? ! ? I couldn’t invest time in reading all of these but Paula’s was very funny. Obviously it is cheaper, easier, less stressful, and time saving to Home School. Only 12% of the children’s time each year is spent in the classroom anyway (50% of the days of the year, 50% of that time sleeping, 50% of time-left spent traveling to and fro and watching parents lose their time and sanity in these expensive investments into nothing). So. For ‘sports’ and ‘art’ and ‘music’ we get to use the VERY expensive buildings for half of the year? Let’s just go away. Pentamom, they’re not learning anything from our schools. We are teaching them. They come away with our accents and our food habits anyway. Of course, if we subject them to the public school mentality, at home, then that is what they will grow up with. Pfffft.

  39. Interesting. New York State requires anyone who works in a school system to be fingerprinted and have a background check. It is not paid for my school funds, but by the individual being fingerprinted. I’m not sure if this applies to volunteers. Since Lenore lives in NYS, I’m surprised she hasn’t mentioned this.

  40. from my local new station today http://www.cfnews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2012/9/5/school_district_bus_.html?cmpid=facebook

    School district: Bus safer than walking to school

    Volusia School administrators say that of the 44,000 students eligible to ride the bus, 18,000 chose not to ride the big yellow bus to school.

    By Saul Saenz, Reporter
    Last Updated: Wednesday, September 05, 2012

    DELAND —
    The Volusia County school district is trying to get more kids to ride the bus.

    Two of the 27 students struck by cars last year were eligible to ride the school bus and did not ride the bus to school.

    In fact, Volusia School administrators say that of the 44,000 students eligible to ride the bus, 18,000 chose not to ride the big yellow bus to school.

    Administrators say that’s a safety issue.

    School transportation director, Greg Akin says school buses are eight times safer to ride on than any other vehicle on the road.

    Akin says statistics show the bus is 20 times safer than a parent driving their child to school, and 50 times safer than the student driving or taking a fellow student to school.

    District administrators are now pushing to try to get students to ride the bus.

    The district acknowledges parents who don’t permit their children to ride the bus have their reasons.

    “Most of the parents feel that riding the school bus their children could be subjected to bullying or some of those other issues that are on the bus or teasing on the bus.” said Akins.

    The transportation director says Volusia School bus drivers are trained to deal with those situations.

  41. A friend reports that her kids school requires fingerprint scan at both pickup and drop-off. Crazy.

  42. I never pretended to have great manners or social skills, so I’ll just go ahead and not pretend. (Sometimes I think I ought to try a little, but then when I do it generally doesn’t work anyway.) Amanda: That was one of the most ill-thought-out comments I’ve ever read here. And considering that just a few weeks ago we were all treated to Ms. “OMG MOLESTERS TOTES TARGET KIDS ON PLANES!!!!” that is definitely saying something.

    Homeschooling takes resources, time, education of your own, and at least one steady income. In a society where it’s hard to get by without two incomes, that’s asking a lot, even of people who want to homeschool which – newsflash! – not everybody does.

    Private school is no better than public once you adjust for parental income, and is less stringently regulated. And, of course, they don’t accept everybody nor hand out scholarships to everybody they accept.

  43. It is interesting that this district is willing (and apparently able) to pay for this fingerprinting. Covering their asses seems to be worth a lot to them, perhaps worth more than providing basic supplies for students.

    If something were to happen with a volunteer, it would be all over the news and there would be parents screaming, “WHY didn’t they know about this person’s history before they let them be around kids??!!” Everybody seemingly wants the school to take the blame for not knowing everything. So, the schools take preemptive measures, to the point of ridiculousness.

    When I was a student teacher, I did think it was a little strange that I had to pay for my finger-printing as well as for my internship (that is, I had to pay the school for essentially volunteering there). Now they’re doing this to parents! It makes me wonder if teachers are eventually going to have to pay to work in schools rather than actually earn money doing it!

  44. After reading through the comments on this page you have to wonder how long it will be before governments and legislators take the next logical step in their let’s-protect-children-at-all-cost policies: require all would-be parents to undergo fingerprinting, DNA profiling, background criminality checks, etc before they are allowed to (pro)create any potential abuse victims?

    Those who fail to comply would be presumed to be guilty of predator inclinations and be required to have CC cameras and microphones placed in their home and car(s) to prevent any “incidents”.

    Not that worse consequences cannot be imagined–such as a non-compliant mother being required to have an abortion (to save the child from future abuse). Or if a child does get born, have that child removed from the parents’ custody and either placed in a foster home or put up for adoption (by a couple judged to be more suitable).

  45. In Pasadena, CA they also make you get a TB test. Provided free of charge by the district of course.

  46. Uly, in my mind, Amanda Matthews’ comments were not ill thought out, but obviously your thoughts do not agree with her thoughts. In my experience (I’ve practiced home, public, and private), Homeschooling takes fewer resources, less time, and less stress than Schooling… children’s minds, bodies, and souls are safer (and I am not religiously affiliated), and local resources are available to help the so-called uneducated parent. School resources are still available if you are Homeschooling, but suddenly the family is in charge, not the overpaid Administrators. That’s all. It’s true. And, Uly, your social skills WILL improve if you pretend. Pretending is akin to trying. Good practice yields good results.

    Vicki, I liked your comments, too. They come from the less-insulated part of the world of experiences (learning).

  47. Re: Amanda’s comment: Home schooling does still use the resources of the public school district, though. The district I taught in was required to provide all resources for anyone who wished to home school. Thus, to say that home schooling is an alternative that is completely separate from the free public school system is incorrect.

    Also, I’d never heard of the TB blood test. My husband, who works in health care, always has a false positive on TB tests, and whenever his job requires a new test, he has to get an X-ray, which is kind of a pain. It’s good to know he has options.

    My thought on reading this – I don’t know what our school district requires for their volunteers. My husband and I both work in fields that require background checks, fingerprinting, mandatory reporter training, and continuing education to maintain our licenses. Heck, I AM a teacher. I wonder if we’ll have to go through the same scrutiny when our little guy reaches school age.

  48. And the kicker on all this? If some volunteer did end up molesting a child in a school, all the fingerprinting, background checks, etc. would count for exactly nothing in court. These “safety” efforts would not mitigate damages against a school at all.

  49. My son goes to parochial school, and this kind of stuff is the norm. PLUS three sessions or talks, for all school parent volunteers.

    This is fine with me as a parent, although I’m far less likely to volunteer. But the Catholic priest scandal made this an important issue for such schools.

  50. When I was in high school, we had to complete a certain amount of hours of community service for some classes. I opted to volunteer at the religious ed program at my church after school. Do only adults have to get these checks, or do minor volunteers have to get checked as well. Because I doubt my parents or myself would have wanted to pay for that.

  51. Here in Oregon, if you work with kids you are a mandatory reporter, even as a volunteer. I consider this a good thing, and it requires some training. However, being a mandatory reporter does not imply having to pass any sort of background check or submit fingerprints.

    The funny thing is that I am a dual citizen of the US and a former communist nation; if anyone tried to get me to submit my fingerprints in my other country I’d tell them to stuff it, as would every other citizen there.

    It’s a sad thing that in the land of the free we are rushing headlong to shred our constitution while in former dictatorships the citizens there know their freedoms and refuse to surrender them. Maybe familiarity breeds contempt, I don’t know.

  52. This is interesting. Fingerprinting does seem to be a step that may prevent parents from volunteering, and maybe that is something the school district is willing to risk, which is unfortunate. However there are two sides to this scenario.

    I work with youth, and our volunteers go through background checks (sometimes two depending on the facility), as do staff plus more. Unfortunately in this day and age, friendly, helpful adults have not always proven to have the safety of children in mind but take advantage of them instead.

    I see the flip side of wanting to make sure all adults working with children, even volunteers, have a safe history. A safe history isn’t a guarantee. We had an incident that involved a teen volunteer in a preschool class that led us to having these conversations and an awareness training. A background check nor fingerprinting would have helped due to the age in this scenario. Instead it came down to supervision of the volunteer, staff awareness, and immediate action. It was an extremely difficult scenario,and led our program supervisors to have a more specific training for volunteers prior to spending time in youth programs. We now have an annual mandatory reporting training and a training on awareness & how to prevent adults who prey on children and molestation.

    There is research that indicates by the time an adult is caught, there are so many # victims prior. These people are good at grooming relationships w/ children and sometimes the adults around them. I don’t believe every step we take with background checks and fingerprinting will be the safety net, but what it may do is ward off those adults that want to be around children and take advantage. A pain for everyone else, yes. Something must have occurred in that school district that warranted conversation with the school board and to go this direction. The one bad apple spoils the bunch.

  53. OK, how many of the child molesters had criminal records? Sandusky, the priests? What, none? So, how does fingerprinting actually help? What would help? Not leaving a child alone with an adult may-so, group adults up, have more volunteers. I agree with Laura.

    What’s happening is, yes, reactionary, but INEFFECTIVE reaction. This is costing more and not doing a blessed thing to keep kids safer.

  54. Homeschooling is not a great option for everyone. I was planning on homeschool since before the conception of my firstborn. He was born and I soon realized we had completely incompatible personalities. I love my son to pieces but I can’t stand to be around him all the time.

    We’ve opted to put him into a small, local, private school. Luckily we qualified for tuition assistance, otherwise he’s tuition for kindergarten would have been 20% of my husband’s gross income. As it is it’s only 12% of his gross. It’s a major sacrifice for us. It’s certainly not a course of action for every family out there. Also, it works because I stay at home to e the shuttle service.

    Public school would be easier for us. We have strong enough feelings against it and the budget means to avoid it. I understand that not everyone has that option. So why can’t be improve the public schools for everyone’s sake?

  55. Krista, we still live in a country where we can choose to live in genteel poverty, a class of people that includes academics and artists and produces productive joyful life styles. Initially, hospitals, residential facilities, jails, and schools were institutions that were created to heal, protect, rehabilitate and educate. A school is an institution with all the vagaries that changing times have offered. We as a people had such good intentions, but we’ve lost control of our institutions. The fact is, we don’t need to pander to these behemoths any longer by calling them non-profits with more-than-human rights.

  56. @Laura – How exactly does fingerprinting “ward off” individuals who want to be around kids to take advantage? I can see how it wards off parents, grandparents and others who just want to help out schools. I can see how it would ward off those convicted of something as they wouldn’t pass muster. But why would someone who has ulterior motives and a clean history not just get the fingerprints done? It is not as though an insurmountable expense and effort is required.

    I object to being fingerprinted as a PARENT. I see no reason that I should be fingerprinted to hang out with the same people I hang out with at home without fingerprints. Nor should any ulterior motives be suspected. Parents should be expected to help out in their children’s school, not suspected for doing so. And I’m put off by having to take this extra step when I am offering my services for free to help out the school with no ulterior motives other than to get my child a better education.

    But I’m also not trying to “date” my child’s classmates. Most people who date spend money on, and put effort into, the actual dating process without blinking an eye. From buying clothes and getting dressed up to possibly joining websites like match.com and eharmony. It is all just viewed as part of dating. Why would getting fingerprints be any different than joining match.com if you are inclined to “date” 10 year olds? It probably takes less money and effort.

  57. Deborah, I think we agree on the situation. Except, those that can choose to live in “genteel poverty” are those that possibly could live a higher lifestyle but choose not to. Not everyone in this great country has that choice. Why can’t we change the institution to be better?

  58. Because it’s so big, Krista. It’s bigger than we are. Look at the Occupy movement. That sure is trying, but the folks who are living under that rainbow are in the storm.

  59. Reblogged this on LovinYouAlwaysAndForever and commented:
    oh my goodness…. smh

  60. “but everyone in the US has alternatives to a free local education.”

    Everyone can either afford tuition, or manage to homeschool, regardless of whether they’re a single parent or one of two very low-income parents?

    I know there are LEGAL alternatives, for goodness’ sake — I’m a homeschooler myself. And I’ve seen a LOT of creativity among people who make it work under a lot of conditions. But it simply isn’t possible for every, single, person.

  61. “Homeschooling takes fewer resources, less time, and less stress than Schooling… ”

    I guess that depends who whose stress, time and resources you are talking about. My child may actually spend less time in “school” if we homeschool but my stress, time and resources are maxed out.

    My total financial contribution to sending my child to public school is school supplies – which outside of the back pack and lunch box are largely things I would purchase to homeschool – and gas to drive a mile out of my way on my way to work for drop-off and pick-up. That’s it.

    If I were to homeschool, I would not only have to buy those school supplies, but as a single parent, I would also have to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to pay a babysitter to watch my child while I am at work because it is completely irresponsible to leave a 6 year old home alone for 8 hours a day. So we have a cost of $25 for backpack and lunch box compared to 20-25k for a cheap nanny.

    My total effort into schooling my child is driving her to and fro school, saying “Do you homework before you play or watch tv,” occasionally explaining something in her homework that she doesn’t understand, and going to the occasional parent/teacher conference and school play. Probably amounts to an average of 20 minutes a day and is pretty stress-free.

    To homeschool, I would need to work a full day then come home and start my second job as teacher. I would also have to find time to cook food, clean the house, do the laundry, pay the bills and all the various other things that one has to do to keep a household running. I’m not seeing any savings in time and stress for me. In fact, I see very little time for sleep. Nor do I see a decrease in stress for my child who really likes going to school and who gets stressed out when I get stressed out.

  62. “Thus, to say that home schooling is an alternative that is completely separate from the free public school system is incorrect.”

    It is true that in most, or all — I’m not sure — states the school districts are required to provide resources.

    I think I’ve met one family in the 17 years I’ve been homeschooling, and the dozens of families I’ve known, who did that. They did it for one year, after which they figured out that scraping together the money for a more homeschool-oriented curriculum was worth it. While it is possible for homeschoolers to use district resources in this way, most don’t. Thus, to say that homeschooling, as a rule, is completely separate from the free public school is correct.

  63. Oh, Deborah, I meant that I frequently use manners on people who turn out to be jerks anyway. And then I feel like if I end up resorting to honesty anyway, I might as well start there with possible lost causes.

    Oddly, I learned very nearly all my social skill online. Strange, but very true.

    As far as homeschooling being easier goes, I believe that. For one thing, there is no homework! But that does not make it an option for everybody just because we wish it. If you and your spouse must work two jobs, you might be able to struggle and find a schedule that keeps the kids supervised and educated, but at the cost of family time. If you yourself are badly educated, you might manage with a motivated learner to just keep a bit ahead of them, but for how long? If you and your kid have a personality clash, you might be able to overcome it… But honestly, I wouldnt bet on it.

  64. You won’t find a bigger advocate for homeschooling than me, but I don’t understand why some aren’t grasping the idea that some people need to have every adult in the household working full-time (or more) in order to simply feed, clothe, and house themselves and their children, up to a livable, not affluent, standard. Yes, there are some who do it successfully while working, fitting in the schooling after work hours — that works if your kids are old enough to be home alone. If not, there is no possible way that a person in such a situation could homeschool. And that’s assuming that the person is qualified to homeschool. Again, I’m quite familiar with, and agree with, the arguments that say you don’t need to be specially or highly educated to homeschool your own children up to a certain point, but for an illiterate high school dropout to attempt homeschooling (and such people do exist) is illegal in most states and undesirable in all of them.

    I guess if regular meals and a roof over your head are “lifestyle” choices that could be changed, well, maybe then you’re right.

  65. Uly — and if your kid has any kind of learning disabilities or differences, you can just about forget it. If there’s anything I’ve learned from watching my homeschooling friends whose kids have learning differences is that it takes a whole lot more TIME than the idealized homeschooling routine (which, for the record, is pretty close to what I’ve managed. But I’ve had five bright, reasonably motivated kids with no special issues.)

  66. And all of this is even outside of the fact that some people seem to also have trouble grasping – MANY PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO HOMESCHOOL. There would be no greater torture for me invented than to insist that I have to homeschool my child. Nor is it the life I want for my child. If you are into it; great. It is not everyone’s cup o’tea.

  67. The definition of option is that is a thing that may be chosen. If yo
    u have chosen, then there are no more options. You have chosen. We are not here to convince each other that we must homeschool, or not. We are simply here, explaining the fact that we had options, and why we chose what we chose.
    My goodness.

  68. When I was young my parents would occasionally volunteer for various school related activities. They chaperoned field trips and worked fair booths. They didn’t do a lot because they both worked out of the home. They each made a sacrifice on one or two working days a year, not because they thought I needed them there, or because they wanted to be there, but because they thought it was only fair for them to put in their time like other parents. These were days out of their sick leave or vacation time. These were hours they’d have to make up to their bosses over the remainder of the week. In my mother’s case, her students went a day without their teacher so that I and my fellow students could benefit from her presence. I can assure you that, had they needed to get fingerprinted in addition to this, they would have said, “Forget it!” So would I. I don’t know how schools that require finger-printing for volunteer participation manage to find anyone willing to go through the additional bother.

  69. An option is a choice between reasonable, viable choices. When someone’s “options” are public school or going on welfare to homeschool, that is not what most people would consider “having options.” Sure, we could all choose to go on welfare in order to homeschool our children, but society would then collapse faster than it already is. The fact that you don’t understand that there are people in the US – millions of them, in fact – who have very few options in life, and homeschooling is not one of them, says a lot about why this country is such a mess right now.

  70. @Pentamom: Interesting. I’ve had a different experience – all of the people I’ve met who have home schooled have used the public curriculum in some fashion (perhaps not the entire curriculum, with some modification, a different emphasis, etc.). I didn’t realize that there were many options outside of using that curriculum. I stand (or sit, as I’m typing at the moment) corrected 🙂

  71. There was some talk above about how by the time a molester is caught, he has already molested X number of kids. But….are we still talking about classroom volunteers? Who are, by and large, parents of one of the kids in the classroom? Maybe my school district is different, but we are not overrun with non-parents dying to go on field trips, pass out food at parties, or help handle a classroom during a craft activity.

  72. And before anyone jumps on me, yes I know parents can be molesters. But if they are, they have a victim in their own family, or among their child’s friends, and probably don’t need to start grooming everyone in the classroom, with other kids and a teacher in plain eye- and earshot.

  73. @Yan Seiner no, of course not. But they are union cronies put in place to further the agenda of the union. Please.

  74. That was an oblique reference, Outdoors Dad, to which paragraph from Yan S. – the first, second, or third (paragraph). I would like to understand your interjection.

  75. The interjection is that Outdoors Dad is watching too much Fox News, on which all union members have become “thugs” and given no credit for the work that they perform.

  76. Oh.
    Well, I don’t even see any Union members in Yan’s note.

  77. Hehe. Not only that, but here at least the school board is elected, so to “put in place” “union cronies” requires a conspiracy that involves the election board, the electorate, a number of politicians, and untold volunteers and teachers, all risking civil and criminal penalties to eliminate a few volunteers in the schools. Much simpler to just tell the principal that you don’t want volunteers in the classroom but that doesn’t fit the union crony conspiracy.

    Then again I have some tinfoil hats to sell. 🙂

  78. Outdoors Dad: Back when I was in junior high, all of us learned the difference between labor and management as part of history class. I’m pretty sure Lenore (we went to the same high school, but different junior highs) will back me up on that one.

    Are you willing to argue that the UAW hand-picks GM’s executives and board of directors?

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