Parents do have their stories--this is mine
“There has been a what at the school?"
I don't know how many mothers have asked this question of a school principal, but when it happens, all time stands still.
I remember when we were living in California, there had been an incident with a shooter in our city, who got into one of the schools and murdered innocents where they sat. He was some disgruntled what-ever...who cares, he turned the gun on himself. Too bad he didn't do that before he entered the school, but that is not how these things usually work. Someone feels they have been so wronged; that it is justifiable to take the life of others, just to grab some moments of infamy.
One morning I received a call that there had been a drive by shooting at my girls' middle school. They proceeded to tell me not to worry and that they would lock down the school and the day would go on as usual. It was a requirement that they report the danger to parents.
"Well, thank you very much, but I think I'll come and take my girls away, now!" I was not going to wait around all day and wonder if the guy would try to get into the school with guns-a-blazing.
When my daughters went to high school, they were bussed to an area that was less than welcoming. The school grounds were like a fortress, with a ten foot chain linked fence surrounding it. I cringed at the sight of it.
The halls were patrolled by undercover cops reminiscent of the old television show, "21 Jump Street." I guess that was supposed to make me feel better; somehow, it did not.
As the school year progressed, one daughter had been leaving the school grounds to go to the local variety store. She had been held for shoplifting a bottle of nail polish. I was called by the principal who told me the store keeper reported her. I asked him why my daughter was even outside school property, since she wasn't a senior with those privileges. He could not come up with a satisfactory answer. I wondered just how secure that school really was when students and the like, could come and go at will, especially in a high crime neighborhood. However, I also did not think that my daughter would be a part of adding to the neighborhood's crime statistics, either. Naturally she was punished for her act of theft, but that is not the end of the story.
I went immediately to the principal's office and told him I was taking my daughter out of the school. He had the choice of giving me permission to home school her, and keep the state and federal dollars attached to her head, or I could sign her up at a private school and he will lose those funds. I could see the wheels turning in his mind. He was jumping ahead to the upcoming year, and the fact that I had two children registered in his school. He of course agreed to sign her out, as an approved home schooled student. I was happy too, because I did not want to transfer her to a new school in April. I picked her work up every two weeks, while returning the finished work.
One day, when my daughter and I reported to the teacher in charge of alternative schooling and home schoolers, I saw a student disrupting the class. Now granted, it was the "alternative" class. That means I guess, he was not civilized enough to be in regular class with the main stream students. He stood up, threw his desk over and started swearing obscenities at the teacher.
That poor man must have had the patience of Job, because he did not tackle the little bastard and mop the floor with him. I mean that's what I pictured myself doing at the time. It is a good thing I never wanted to become a teacher--or at least an official teacher, as I do home school my son. I abhor the way kids are walking all over the teachers, while parents are not doing their job in disciplining their children.
When I was a youth, students like this did not have another class to go to when they felt like being rowdy, disruptive, rude, violent and just plain cruel. Instead, they were expelled. Yes, that's right, thrown out of school. In those days parents would teach the little shit a lesson as soon as that report got to them. They would straighten out the flaws in the child's personality; have that kid apologizing and begging his way back into the class. That was never an easy process, and in many cases, those parents had to pay a lot of money to get their child into a private school. I tend to believe that same student grew up to be a better citizen after going through that loving attitude change.
My daughter was stuck at home, with her lawyerly mother harping over her school work and making her go the extra mile in each subject. She was of course grounded for a very long time over the shop lifting incident--in fact, I don't recall removing that disciplinary curse from over her head, but I suppose that point is moot, now. She is a happily married mother of a daughter, who remarkably has many of my daughter's traits--God help her! (I always told my daughter, “I hope someday you have a daughter just like you.”)
My other daughter, who was still going to the hallowed halls of hell, had an after school activity, and had to take the late bus home. She was standing in line with other students, when a car drove close by and opened fire at one of the students. That boy was two people away from my daughter in line. This was definitely too close for comfort. At this point, I knew that my children and I were going to permanently part company with the California Public School System.
Children have so much to overcome going from ‘tweens to teens. They do not need the added burden of dodging bullets while waiting for the school bus. My heart goes out to all those good parents who are trapped into staying at poor quality schools because they cannot afford to send their children to private schools. Home schooling is an option, however, many states make it so difficult to attempt it, it is almost impossible. Luckily, my legal knowledge helped me by-pass these fear factors they threw at parents. These same wonderful, caring people who only wished a better education for their children could not afford to fight the system. If I was asked, I would help, by explaining to them what they needed to know and do for home schooling.
Maybe, just maybe, the next time some congressman suggests a bill that would allow vouchers for parents to put toward a school of their choice, people won’t be so caught up in the fear that it will take funds away from the public schools. I believe that if schools lost funds because parents transferred their children to a better school, it means they were doing a crappy job in the first place. They should be the victims of loss, just as any business run badly. I also believe that competition will actually help strengthen and improve the school system. Of course, what do I know? I am merely a mother who said no to the offending institutions and took it upon myself to educate my own child.