Saturday, November 02, 2019

Rules

School here continues to be...interesting. We are actually enjoying homeschool at lot more than I thought we would and Rachel is still enjoying middle school...but it's just not the experience I would have wished for her...so we're looking into alternatives for high school right now. The problem with that is that sometimes colleges don't look too kindly on homeschool transcripts, so I'm looking into ways to ensure that my kids can still get into the colleges they want (AP exams will help and we're looking into dual enrollment as well, then there's online high school, and, of course, they can get the HOPE scholarship if they score above the 75th percentile on the ACT or SAT) but we're still at the exploratory stages of everything so...who knows).

The high school handbook is online and reading it gives me the chills. Here are some excerpts:

"Students are expected to conduct themselves as mature young adults while on...camps."

Fine. Cool. Neat. Normal.

But then the normalcy devolves into this:

Do not congregate in groups in the hallways. Move in an orderly manner to class. Walk on the right side of the hallway.... Students must exit the building by 2:30 in the afternoons....When students arrive on campus they are to report to a supervised area. Students are not to loiter in the restrooms, stairwells, in the parking lot. No food or drinks are allowed in the hallways or classrooms. Students are not allowed to leave the cafeteria without a pass during lunch. Students are to leave the cafeteria area when the 7:02 a.m. bell rings for 1st period. Students must remain seated in the commons area in the mornings and at lunch.
And I just feel so uncomfortable about quite a bit of that. I mean, aside from the start time (7:00 AM!), the rules are full of so much overreach (only because I know there are many more unwritten rules that the students will be expected to follow).

Students are expected to conduct themselves as mature young adults but they aren't given an inch of freedom in which to choose to conduct themselves appropriately. I'm simply not sure how healthy it is to herd these children around like this.

I mean, the elementary school thing bothered me—with the tags on the children and so forth—but the middle school rules are simply baffling.

At a recent church activity I was commiserating with another mom about the school system. She said her kids struggled a lot their first year—got terrible grades, shed a lot of tears—as they tried to make the adjustment from what she called "lab-based learning" to "test-based learning." But they've adjusted and are doing fine this year.

"It's not just that," I told her. "It's how the children are treated in general!"

So I told her about the middle school rules when a student arrives early for school. They are to report to the cafeteria where they must sit quietly to read or do homework. They must sit facing the screen in the room (I don't know what (if anything) is on the screen during this time), they must be at least one seat away from anyone else. They may not speak to anyone in the room. They may not use their cell phones.

"That sounds...awful," she agreed. "I'm sorry, but that sounds like detention. And these are the rules for everybody? Not just for kids who are in trouble?"

"These are the rules for everybody!"

"It's like they're assuming the kids are going to behave poorly. Well, our school is not like that."

I must have looked skeptical so she called her daughter to ask her about it.

"So, what happens when you arrive at school early?" she asked.

"We have to go to the cafeteria," her daughter answered.

"And what? You get to chat with your friends and..."

"No. We have to sit and do homework or read."

"Okay, that's fine," my friend said, sucking in some air and bracing herself. "But you can sit wherever you'd like, right?"

"No. We have to sit facing the screen and we have to sit at least one seat away from anyone else," her daughter responded, clearly reciting drilled-in protocol.

When her daughter was out of ear shot she whispered to me, "They are treating these children like criminals! I had no idea!"

We talked longer and we both understand that these schools are ginormous and keeping a student body population that size under control is quite a demanding job. But there has to be a better—healthier—way.

And I'm just not sure I can watch my children go through this system. I mean, we talk about the lack of socialization homeschoolers might suffer from (though Miriam was out with friends until 10:00 for the last two evenings so, I think she's doing fine, the little socialite) but I'm starting to worry about the lack of socialization for children within the public school system.

Honestly, hanging out with friends before and after school and having complete freedom at lunch is something I completely expect at the upper grades. Leaving campus to eat elsewhere (I sometimes would go home with my friend Amanda at lunch—without asking permission from anybody to leave campus, let alone the cafeteria (where I don't think I ate a single time ever)). Having these kids on lockdown for their entire school day sounds stressful (and not only for the students/teachers (whichever one you were feeling like this sounded stressful for)).

I have a feeling high school rules will be similarly rigid (having perused their handbook).

Personally, I'm a rule follower, which is probably why rules also seem so soul-crushing to me. Like, I will follow the rules. I will behave. No need to threaten me with punishment or force. No need to construct an environment where I couldn't possibly break a rule. Surely the people who came up with these rules aren't concerned about teens talking with their friends; they're much more concerned with drug rings and gangs and things and I get that...but...so punish everybody?! Make it so the children make no connection with anyone? That's the solution?

You'll notice that I mentioned Miriam was out with friends all weekend.

And what of my child in the public school system?

Well, she went out on Friday night with Miriam (they happen to be friends with a pair of sisters so it works out well to have them all play together) and then sat alone this evening because she really hasn't made any sort of connection with anyone at school.

(So clearly these were church "play dates," though I think we're getting a little old to be calling such things "play dates" and I honestly don't know what the lingo is these days. Hang sesh? That sounds hip, right? I'm still cool.)

6 comments:

  1. Anything sounds better than that high school! Gotta be a way.

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  2. I'm sorry schools there are so frustrating. I'm not sure how they are here, maybe similar. Hopefully Rachel can find something better for the future, and I hope she makes some middle school connections soon.

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    1. It's possible they're similar...and it's possible they aren't. I know several people whose children attend school in the neighbouring district and they say it isn't like that (though parents within this district all seem to be having similar experiences even though I hardly know any parents who children go to the same school(s) as mine).

      I hope, for the sake of the children, that it isn't like this everywhere!

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  3. These schools sound awful. Awful Nancy. I hate how we pick homes based on what schools are doing well and then we get there and realize they are doing well because they are prisons...and it is awful. There are often online schools that the grades are totally transferable...also look for charter schools....maybe Montessori....ugh these schools :(

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    1. Or just send her straight to community college.

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  4. The older my kids get the more I don't like a lot of things. In Utah I just feel like the kids waste huge amounts of time. By having my kids home (they actual do some alternative options so have teachers for the core classes) but they are able to do all of their work, sports, music and still have free time. This is important to me. I think each parent has to decide what they can handle and what their kids handle. You are an amazing mom and I know you will find a good answer for your kiddos.

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