Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Aegrescit medendo

(~It grows worse by the remedy)

Those who know me well, know that at best I tolerate public school. I must tolerate public school because I have two sons who attend. This is our third, and hopefully last, year in public school. Next year, I will bring them home to again homeschool them. I will feel so much better about their academic and moral progression when this is a reality.

Today I picked up my boys from school and my 5th grader complained that he was so hungry because the lunch lady wouldn't give him lunch. We have four children (two stepkids) who attend public school, and the kids qualify for free lunch. Dylan had forgotten his ticket at home, uncharacteristically. When he realized his mistake, he borrowed a dollar from a friend and got in the cafeteria line. The lunch lady wouldn't take his dollar. "You're supposed to have a ticket," she said to him. He explained that he had forgotten it and so would just be buying lunch, but she wouldn't let him. She knows which children get free or reduced-price lunches. This is not the first time that this has happened, where a child is denied a meal because his ticket is missing. This is why I had to call the school in a mild parental rage: "Did it ever occur to you that for some children who qualify for free lunches that that may be the only meal they receive that day?" Honestly, to deny food to a child because of no ticket? And then refuse to take his money because he is supposed to have a ticket?

And yesterday my 1st grader was punished for running at recess. That's right, you read it correctly. The children are not allowed to run at recess. Someone might get hurt. So, Aiden was on the track doing his laps, which were supposed to be walking laps, and he was "walking too fast, almost running". Because he's a BOY, and it's RECESS. So, as a very fair punishment, he was benched from the rest of that recess, from the next recess, and then given yard clean-up duty. Boy, oh boy, it's hard for me to teach respect for authority under these conditions. I've actually seen the principal of the school, Dr. Steinbeck, standing with her hands on her hips and scowling at over-anxious KINDERGARTENERS after school saying, "Now, do we run at Apperson Elementary?" Is this the Twilight Zone?

Now, I have many other foundational reasons for being unenthused about public education. My opinion does not stem from cafeteria food and recess rules, but these infractions sure don't help butter my bun. I heard on the radio the other day that some 4 TRILLION dollars was needed to get CA students up to par on reading, writing, and math to make them college-ready. That's $250,000 per student per year. And here I am homeschooling my 7th grader, who is already taking Algebra, reads voraciously, writes eloquently, and is in her third year of Latin, all for $300 this year. Throwing money on the problem doesn't help, people!

I heard of a Showtime movie called "Reversal of Fortune" in which a social experiment was conducted by a filmmaker here in Los Angeles. He wondered what would happen if a homeless man was given $100,000, no strings attached. Well, long story short, he blew it. Because you can't throw money at a problem! Not at a spoiled child, not at homelessness, and not at public school! So, there's my rant for the day. Solutions another day.


Anonymous said...

AMEN! I agree whole-heartedly! Money won't solve the problems in public education. As for solutions, well I am afraid that will take much more from the people than they are willing to give - time.
Good luck until next year.
Love ya!

Luisa Perkins said...

You know things like this only fuel my smolder. Hang in there; this fall will be better, you lucky dog!

Saint Holiday said...

Why is it that what should appear obvious to everyone with a functioning mind is not? I suppose we can transcend it all, and teach our children to do the same, by accepting these frictions as opportunities to exercise our patience. However, kids must run, and I've always heard that they should be fed. Stay invincible. I love you.