Public school rant

I know, it’s an old topic with me, but I can’t help it…

The holidays bring out the worst in me where the public school system is concerned. Please note: I like the people at Alex’s elementary school — especially the principal. They are caring, concerned and hard-working individuals.

With that said… our public school system sucks!

Point One:

There is no science in fifth grade. Why? Because the State of Kentucky doesn’t TEST on science in fifth grade. My daughter does, however, have TWO social studies classes this year. I’m assuming that means that the fifth grade tests for social studies skills, eh? Teaching to the test makes me nuts.

I think she would really get jazzed about science this year. I think the iron is hot now. Of course, what do I know? I’m just a mom.

Point Two:

I had a visit from the Truancy officer last week. Why? Because it bugs the crap out of me that I need to send in notes from doctors when she goes to a dentist/eye/doctor appointment. I won’t do it until it’s absolutely required.

If I hadn’t sworn off drama, I’d probably let them take me to court just to make my point about such things and get my statement in the local paper. As it is, I’m trying to avoid drama. So, I gave them the notes from the doctor/dentist/optometrist. (Note: I do my best to make appointments after school whenever possible, but many offices aren’t open after she gets home from school.)

I did hold her out for one half-day session when she wasn’t sick — when she told me that they were not going to be doing any classwork (it was a “free day”). I did this because I had to go out of town the previous evening to sit with my father and I needed to get her glasses Rx checked that next morning. By the time I would have been able to get her back, there may have been 45 minutes of “school” left — and I’d have to return to that same out-of-town location to care for my father over that weekend. It just didn’t seem worth the gas, time and effort. So sue me. (It was counted as a full day absence, BTW, not a half-day.)

Yes, I know that I can write four “parent notes” and I know that after that I need to have “legitimate” excuses for her absence. And, I guess I’ll do that too, it just bugs me that me looking at a glassy-eyed child who has just thrown up doesn’t count as legitimate. It bugs me that when I pick her up, sick, from school (after they call me to come get her) and keep her in bed the next day — it’s unexcused. I’m so sorry she didn’t make a miraculous recovery in 12 hours and needed a full day in bed. Geeze!

It bugs me that it requires an MD to be “legitimate” — and a visit to the doctor (complete with bill) so I can be told “rest, fluids and time” is what she needs. Or worse… to be given a slew of symptom-treating drugs that does nothing to change the course of nature with a cold or a virus, but does God-knows-what to her young system.

This is my third child. I think I know, by now, when she needs rest and fluids to recover from a virus. Although I must admit that the darker side of me has been tempted to send her to school throwing up in the hopes that she will infect others and negatively impact the attendance record and the money per capita (which really IS the bottom line for the attendance policy) on a larger scale. Fortunately, I’m not willing to sacrifice my daughter to such dark ends.

It also bugs me that one of the “unexcused” absences was when they called me to come pick her up because she was sick — the moment she got off the bus, before classes even started. I’d suggested that she go on to school and if she didn’t feel any better I’d come get her. It’s standard for me to tell my kids that because, often, once they get up and moving, they feel better. It’s true for all of us. So, if they call and I pick her up, it’s unexcused? If they call and I don’t go pick her up… it’s, what, neglect? (They did say they would remove that one, when I inquired.)

I don’t run my kids or myself into the doctor the moment someone coughs or sneezes. I’ve been sick since Saturday — really sick — but I’m letting this horrible case of the creeping-crud run its course. I firmly believe that medicating too early is a bane to our future abilities to fight off viruses/infection/etc on our own. After all, the creation of super-bacteria has been traced to the over-use and unnecessary use of anti-bacterial soaps, etc. I don’t even let that stuff in my house. We use plain soap and water — not that it protects us from what other people have created.

I do believe that building a healthy immune system is the best thing for long-term health. I work hard to do so… for me and my kids.

Point Three:

The holiday schedules make me crazy. Yesterday, my daughter had 30-minute classes so they could leave at noon to go to the movies to see Madagascar. Hardly an educational movie in my book — and one she’d already seen with a church group the week before. I paid the three dollars and said nothing. Everyone deserves a fun field trip from time to time, right?

Well that’s before I knew what was on the agenda for today…

Today? No classes today. Today they watched “Home Alone” and “Kung-Fu Panda” and did crafts. No classes. They did go to library (where they watched part of the movie “Spy Kids”) and gym (where they ran relay races and danced). And this is for Thanksgiving. I’m sure the Christmas holiday lead up will be even worse — it usually is.

But, you know what? I’m required by law to send her for this. If I had kept her at home, it would have been another strike against ME. Legal strike against me. If I had kept her here to read or write or work on math… I would have been “interfering” with her education. Go figure.

Now maybe I’m just all pissy because I’m sick and because she’s starting to come down with what I have. (Case in point, it’s not yet 6:00 p.m. and she’s curled up in bed asleep with a stuffy nose.) I’m anticipating a glorious holiday of mucus and coughs and sneezes and bed rest for us both.

No traveling and family this year (I can’t possibly take this in on my father in his condition, even if I do start feeling better.)

But I tend to believe that it’s more than just a uber-cold induced bad mood. I think there is something seriously wrong with a system that requires us to send our children to school for “free days” and for movies. Am I crazy?

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