School of Choice

There has been a lot of uproar since Trump named his Secretary of Education. It is scary. Change is always scary, but educators dedicated to their job, flow with the changes, or they get out. I believe her changes could lead to an even greater number of people not wanting to become educators. People are worried about school of choice. They aren’t worried they will lose their job, but they are concerned by some of the problems they know will incur. Here’s one small example. A person I know called me yesterday to tell me about her week. 2 families had left their school. It’s not a public school. It’s a school where some families value the Christian education their children will receive, but it’s also a school of choice. A school where some families go because they have had issues with the public school. The 2 junior high boys had been in trouble before this year for behavioral issues. Nothing too serious, but enough to go see the principal. The P.E. teacher became rightfully frustrated with them the other day. He made some comments that he should not have made including something to the effect, “I wish it were back in the days when the nuns could smack their hands with rulers…” Oh how some educators miss the days of the paddle. When I was in first grade, I was swatted by the water fountain for messing around. She had one of those paddles that had had a red ball attached by elastic, and she grabbed my arm and swatted me mid-step, shooing me scornfully back to class. It didn’t hurt; I’d been spanked before. I was embarrassed. I doubt I told my parents because I didn’t want it again at home. One time in the second grade, I screamed and yelled during P.E. that the teacher was a cheater. I wasn’t the only one yelling, but my voice resonated. When I got home, I was greeted with a note card and a pen. “You will write a letter of apology!” This time, in this school of choice, it was different. The principal was informed that the teacher had threatened their child, and their child was afraid to return to school. OK, first of all, bullshit. Secondly, the child liked nothing more than to antagonize the P.E. teacher. What are you going to do about this? I demand an apology from the teacher. You must insure my child is going to be safe… Before an investigation could even begin, the phone calls and emails from other concerned parents started rolling in. Before anything could be resolved, the parents allowed the kid to stay home (for his own safety). Then they announced they were going to re-visit the public school. (The school they had fled before. This was their second return to this particular school of choice.) They kept demanding the apology. What about an apology for their kid’s behavior?  My child would never do that! My baby feels threatened and now embarrassed!”  Again, the kid didn’t come to school. By the end of the day, 2 families (a total of 6 kids) had been withdrawn from their school of choice.  The younger siblings didn’t even know what hit them. Pulled away from the comfort of their class, friends, routines. Nothing has been gained. The child has learned nothing, and mommy and daddy will pull you out of any uncomfortable situation. There will continue to be situations, and it will never be their fault. They will never learn the tools or skills to deal with an uncomfortable situation. My former principal once said that the average student nowadays will switch careers an average of 7 times. Not jobs, but careers. Is this a reflection of, when things get tough, we just run away? So with school of choice, might education be disrupted constantly by families jumping from school to school? We’re too soft. Trust me, I want nothing more than to fix my kids’ problems, but they’ve had to figure some things out on their own and deal with it. Yesterday Ellie, our gentle Golden, got a hold of a paper towel. She was tearing it apart. The puppy tried to take it from her, and she snapped at her. I’d never heard Ellie get mad like that. It surprised me. I almost intervened, but I just watched. The puppy backed off. She quietly and submissively just watched Ellie tear apart her paper towel. Was the puppy’s feelings hurt? Probably. Was the puppy embarrassed? Maybe? Did the puppy feel threatened? Sure. Did she worry that her life was in danger? Not at all. She learned a lesson of life though. Later they were wrestling and playing tug-of-war with a sock. They were friends again and everything was right despite me not getting involved…

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