A Stranger Entered the Pre-K for 90 Seconds! One Parent’s Reaction to the School’s Reaction

Hi Readers: My gosh,  a stranger entered a San Francisco Bay-area pre-school for less than two minutes and the school tells parents that just “luckily” he did not leave with a screaming toddler under his arm. Because usually that’s what usually happens?
That’s why I LOVE the back and forth, below: The school reacted with overwhelming worry, then a parent named Mark Lakata took the time to write back and put things in perspective.  
Letting any institution sow constant suspicion makes the world a more rotten, paranoid place. Kudos to Mark for fighting back. – L
P.S. The BOLDFACE TYPE is the school’s.
Dear Parents;
Yesterday during pick up time at our campus, a stranger walked inside of our building by following one of our parents as she entered our campus. One of our teachers saw him do so and brought it to our attention later.
When looking at the footage, he is observed talking to one of our parents in our courtyard (asking her if she worked at the school) to which she said “no” but he followed her into the building as she entered to pick up her child.
Luckily he left the building (within 90 seconds) and never interacted with anyone but this is a warning to all of us (parents and staff), of the importance of not allowing people to enter the school behind you. 
Our teachers and I are buzzing you in because we recognize you but we can’t control who you are letting in behind you.
We have lots of parents that have been with us for a while and recognize other parents and do hold the door open to let them in as the polite thing to do….Unfortunately, it is not a safe practice for multiple reasons including parents being unaware of the “if and when” a parent status changes from being allowed to come near his/her child or not (which is confidential information only staff is aware of).
Please pay attention to the following safety precautions:

1- Do not allow ANYONE into our campus while entering or exiting our building.
2- Report to our staff if:

  • a) you see someone you have never seen before around the property; he/she may be a new parent or a parent that seldom comes to school.
  • b) you see someone lingering without a child near our fence/ parking lot. (not having a child while standing outside is a huge red flag; having a child at entering in the AM is likely safe.
  • c) you see anyone looking suspicious.

3- Do not allow your children to play outside the courtyard unattended (parents having conversations outside while the children play near our parking lot is unsafe).

4- Please refrain from socializing with other parents inside the lobby area. You may restrict the view we have from the office desk and our cameras.
5- Do not allow your child to operate that door bar (panic hardware); that’s for adult hands only!
6- Do not bring visitors inside our building during drop off and pick up hours. It is not a good time to do so. I know that at times relatives like to come visit their nieces/ nephews/ grandchildren etc. We don’t know them and we rather you keep them waiting in the car. Please notify us in advance if you plan on bringing someone with you or if someone else is to pick up your child; (i.e nannies), etc. Even if they are authorized in your child’s file we want to know. If you choose to leave a relative waiting by the playground, let the staff know as soon as you enter the building that the person outside is with you.
We don’t mean to be alarming but you must agree, we better be safe than sorry. Please assist us enforcing these safety measures!
The well being of our children is of utmost importance to all of us and we are only able to keep our campuses safe with your cooperation.
Sincerely,
Executive Director
.
TO WHICH LAKATA WROTE BACK:

I found some statistics on abductions that can be used to estimate the probability of preschool abductions.http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/nismart2_nonfamily.pdf
Start with 70 million kids in the US (page 7, table 2).
* Limit that to only 115 “stereotypical” abductions per year, the ones that most parents fear, i.e. stranger abduction with serious effects (table 2)
* Now limit those preschool age (0 to 5) , which leaves 20/year (table 2)
* Now limit that set by the statistics in table 4 (where the abduction occurs) which estimates “2% from school or daycare” and you get a whopping 0.4 cases per year per 70 million kids. That means that probability of getting your preschool child abducted by a stranger from preschool that leads to serious repercussions is about 1 in 175 million per year (or less).
-Mark Lakata
Lenore here: Also, telling parents not to hold the door open for people they KNOW is just corrosive! It’s letting fear of a freakishly unlikely event actually poison the REAL relationships that help keep kids safe — community! If you slam the door in my face with a, “I just don’t know whether you should be here!” I will not be super-interested in pursuing a friendship. In fact, I’ll be super-interested in avoiding you forever. So for the “safety” of the kids (who were already safe!!) we are crushing the connections that make us cohesive and community-minded.  Great.  – L.

Toddlers: Never safe enough!

112 Responses to A Stranger Entered the Pre-K for 90 Seconds! One Parent’s Reaction to the School’s Reaction

  1. Dave October 1, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    How do people like this get to run schools and day care centers? This level of fear is unacceptable. How do they live their own lives? There seem to be a need for counseling for the administrative staff. So thankful for the facts. If they are repeated enough maybe people will start to believe them.

  2. Kurt Kemmerer October 1, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    I dunno. I actually don’t see the response of the school as apoplectic. It might be a bit much, but this is not something I am going to spend time worrying about as I try to give my kid as much “free range” as possible.

  3. Lollipoplover October 1, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    “Please refrain from socializing with other parents inside the lobby area”

    Seriously, this is how I kept my sanity when my kids were little, talking to other parents who were going through the same age appropriate kid crap and sharing tips. Some of these people are now great friends. But I can’t talk to people in the lobby?

    Someone needs to get a grip.

  4. emandink October 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Wait, not having a child at drop-off or pick-up is now suspicious behavior? Is there some sort of drop box of spare toddlers that I’m supposed to grab from so that I’m not seen exiting sans kidlet at drop-off or entering sans kidlet at pick-up?

    If I were a more suspicious and cynical person (hint: I am), I’d almost think that the school were actively trying to inhibit parents from interacting for some nefarious reason, like not wanting them to discuss what lunacy is in emails like this.

  5. Randy October 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    Must have been a harrowing 90 seconds.

    Two years ago my daughter’s elementary school was locked down. Why? A man was involved in a road rage incident. After the road rage incident, the man entered the high school to pick up a sports schedule. After getting the sports schedule, he left the high school. He wasn’t upset, didn’t make threats and didn’t hurt anyone. So they locked down the entire district!

    I don’t know how these people can teach our children about legitimate dangers when they have no perspective on what is a legitimate danger.

  6. Reformed Republican October 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Luckily he left the building (within 90 seconds) and never interacted with anyone but this is a warning to all of us (parents and staff), of the importance of not allowing people to enter the school behind you.

    The fact that someone came into the school and absolutely nothing happened is a warning that this is a dangerous practice? Really?

  7. Josh S October 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    As a bit of a counterpoint/devil’s advocate, the school *does* make a good point here. While the ‘stranger danger’ abductions are exceedingly rare (thank goodness!), it’s much more common for abductions to be the result of estranged parents or disputing family members.

    So it is actually somewhat more reasonable (though still pretty paranoid) of the school to say, “parents being unaware of the “if and when” a parent status changes from being allowed to come near his/her child or not (which is confidential information only staff is aware of).”

    It actually sounds like the school is concerned about recently-changed-parental-status being subverted, and perhaps a petty or abusive parent coming around to take the kids for revenge or whatever.

    Still not a good reason for all the fuss, but a little bit more understandable, especially contra the statistics cited about stranger-abductions.

  8. Shotgunner October 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    Let us see, any given child can expect to be abducted from school once every 175,000,000 years? How hard do we have to work to make it half as common? lol

    I once gave a show to fourth graders at a local elementary (I was the reptile guy with live critters) and the school had a “bomb threat”. Well, that turned out to be a parent saw a stray backpack, but that is another story. The school was on “lock down” until cleared by the police department. Yet I had to go back to work and had live animals I did not want out in the hot sun, so I handed my business card to the teacher and principle and told them both, “No, I am not staying awaiting the police. If anyone has any questions here is where to contact me.” and I promptly and swiftly left. Nobody ever called me. But I was never asked back to that school again.

  9. Captain America October 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    So much of this is very telling about the kind of people running schools. Their authority, as an authority, comes from telling people what to do/proscribing others.

    Safety issues are a wonderful well of opportunities for Authority to interject itself and flex muscle. It “knows” better than you (mere peasant that you are!). It has gone to seminars, training, etc.

    And also, these kinds of safety rules or proscriptions give the impression that Authority has a far more demanding job than we peons might imagine: the whole WORLD might be considering entering the school!

    And one-upsmanship is at play: I’m more intelligent and professional than you are, since I am able to recognize this great danger.

    Knowing statistics, etc., is the antidote to this.

  10. Warren October 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Again, these rules are for the clinically insane. If my mom or dad or brother want to come with me to pick up my kid, they will. I am not going to try to give them advanced notice, or seek their permission.

    They also contradict themselves. Tell us if you see someone alone outside. Leave your guests in the car. DUH!!
    Parents with kids in this school should be very scared. Scared that the school is run by idiots. Don’t socialize with other parents, don’t hold the door open. Don’t let your kids play in the courtyard , while you talk with other parents.

    The fact that people have to be buzzed in, is bad enough.

    I am all for the public school experience, but I would really be thinking about home schooling, if this was the only school available. Minumum securtiy prisons are probably less secure. LOL

  11. Kate October 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    It sounds to me like perhaps the concern is not stranger abduction so much as it is parental abduction – especially the line about ‘if a parent’s status changes’. Sadly, although stranger abductions are rare, acrimonious divorces are not.

  12. Sarah October 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    While some of the school’s requests seem over-the-top (like asking parents not to socialize), I have to say that I don’t blame them for responding the way they did. Some random guy walking in and out of the facility with no reason, no kids, no business to do there, is extremely suspicious to me. Why was he there? The main concern of the center is the children’s safety, but they also have to worry about liability. I’m not a helicopter parent by any means. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that most people are not out to get my children. But when someone stops acting like “most people”, I think I’m justified showing some concern.

  13. Lollipoplover October 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    “not having a child while standing outside is a huge red flag”

    I’d hate to see the a prospective new parent checking out the local schools and being subject to police calls. Have there been a string of preschool abductions in the The San Francisco Bay area with creepy strangers snatching kids? Who makes up these red flags?!

    This school sounds like a jail. Next up, cavity searches. You can NEVER be too safe.

  14. Warren October 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    This is about nothing more than paranoia, and a school that lives in fear. Look at all the situations it wants to control, actvities it doesn’t want happening and all the different types of people it wants you to inform on.

    I could be waiting outside for my wife to grab the kid. And some parent that doesn’t know me is going to waste their time, the schools time, and my time by reporting me.

    And again, everyone will just nod politely at the school, and accept their authority.
    Tell you one thing, no school employee better admonish me, for holding the door open, to be polite. Because I won’t be polite with him/her.

  15. Warren October 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Sarah,
    How do you know this guy wasn’t just giving the school the once over, because his kid will be going there. Everyone is so willing to jump to worst first, instead of giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
    Just for the record, if he was an abductor, I am pretty sure he would not have spoken with a mother out front, first.

  16. Brian October 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Josh–parents should warn the school if they have a reason to fear a family estrangement abduction. The PRESUMPTION should be that people entering the school are doing so for legitimate purposes.

    Lenore I think you community building point is an excellent one.

  17. Mike in Virginia October 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    And the school doesn’t seem to take the additional responsibility of letting everyone know what the man was doing there in the first place? Did they even bother to find out, or just chase him off? The fact that he was asking people if they worked there suggests to me he was interested in engaging with the staff, not the children. If I were to make an assumption, I would say he had some official business, and thus was looking for a staff member.

    And I completely agree, Lenore, holding the door for someone is just common courtesy and I don’t think I would ever be in a position to slam the door in someone’s face, even if I was supposed to (I work in secure office buildings where that is policy, but I’ve never seen anyone do it).

    I think the biggest kidnapping concern schools have / should have is with divorced / separated parents. The non-custodial parent tries to pick up the child from school when they shouldn’t. That is a very real problem that schools have to be aware of, but it has nothing to do with strangers.

  18. Shotgunner October 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    @Warren – “Worst First”, I likey! Our new motto, worst first! lol

  19. Warren October 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Cannot take credit, for worst first. I read it or heard it, from Lenore, quite awhile ago.

    Was thinking, years ago I had to get security clearance to be on on the runway, at two international airports, for the tire business.
    LOL, was easier getting out there, than getting into that school.

  20. Michael October 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    I can understand why the letter went out- in case any other parents found out there was a stranger in the building with their child- however, some of the “suggestions” are a little out of question. Like I’m really going to close the door in my friend’s face and mouth ‘sorry’ to her/him through the glass.. :/ As a guy, and a Kindergarten teacher (and foster parent), I catch a lot of flack (sp?) and this kind of thing is often way out of proportion… :P
    [Check out my parenting stories! http://www.tiesandjeans.com

  21. Renee Anne October 1, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    Something that struck me, and perhaps I’m just thinking about this a bit too hard, but when the school said that the status of a parent could have changed (translation: parents with visitation rights changed), do they not think that other parents in the social circle would be aware of that? Parents are not completely unaware of their surroundings, even when they don’t know anyone.

  22. Al October 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I work in the security industry.

    Tailgating is a recognized security breach, and is regarded as such by government, commecial industry and schools. What you are reading is absolute standard boilerplate.
    Enforcing security protocol is considered ‘best practice’ and if you are following ‘best practice’ then you can avoid liability.
    Simply put, if the school is spending money to install and operate a security system in order to avoid liability, then they can’t have the parents thwarting it by being nice to each other.

  23. John C October 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    “We don’t mean to be alarming but you must agree, we better be safe than sorry. Please assist us enforcing these safety measures!”

    I do NOT “must agree”! Your presumption is completely flawed!

  24. RobynHeud October 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Tailgating is something they talk about at my work too, but instead of saying, “never do it”, we have badges with prox cards that even if someone is holding the door for you, you still have to scan. Maybe instead of a buzz-in system, they should move to a system more like that, especially since they can deactivate our prox cards very easily, and they only work on certain doors. Just saying, if they’re going to espouse safety as their number one priority, perhaps they shouldn’t be using a system that can be so easily thwarted by tailgating and people chatting in the lobby.
    It just seems funny to me that at my work, which deals with proprietary data and government contracts, they understand the need to extend courtesy to those around them and have made provisions for it, instead of asking us to be rude to all of our coworkers who we see every day.

  25. linvo October 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    I’d be most annoyed if the staff at our school would waste their time on writing such a long, convoluted email about such a small matter!

    They’d better use their time to warn parents about dangerous driving and parking practices around the school. Much more of a risk, I would think.

    I do get the “change of status” also, but that’s clearly unrelated to this incident.

  26. Bob Davis October 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    The “dangers” of “tailgating” (following an authorized person into a restricted area) takes me back to a job assignment at a nuclear generating station. Security was so tight that it took three times longer to complete a task (compared to a non-nuclear power plant). This is the main question with any kind of “security program”–to what extent are these procedure really protecting against traumatic events, or are they “security theater” that only serves to pacify the public and keep government inspectors happy?

  27. Beth October 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Another stat I’d like to see – in how many pairs of divorcing parents is one parent not allowed to see his/her children? I know it happens, but I also know of many, many divorcing couples in which both parents have contact with their kids during the divorce, and one of them walking into a school wouldn’t be considered a problem.

  28. Warren October 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Is it just me, or does anyone else find it overkill, to have to be buzzed into your kids school. Our doors are open, and all they have is sign, all visitors must report to the office.

    This is a school, not a nuclear generation station, military base, the pentagon, white house or missle silo. I mean come on. They even have cameras. The only thing missing is an armed guard at each door.

    I think of all the money spent on this security system, that could have been better spent on actual needs of the students. Say like paper, pencils, books, and the like.

  29. Earth.W October 1, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    All this fear is not just a matter of over protective parenting but everything in life today. Since 9/11, virtually every politician, Government Department and media outlet has told us that there is something to fear. Despite the statistics proving that we are being lied too, people opt for the big lie first every time. Goebbels taught our political masters a lot.

    We in the West are handing over our liberties. We are allowing ourselves to be spied on, Americans agreed to suspending habeas corpus, our Governments are looking at keeping record of every website we visit and every email we send and every password we use and more.

    We are constantly told to fear. There is always something to fear. Fear of he unknown. Fear every person different to you. Fear every gun owner. Fear your neighbour. Fear your teacher. Fear every stranger. Fear the internet. FEAR FEAR FEAR.

    You know what type of Government create a world of fear? Fascist Governments. We have given permission to the rise to of fascism. Our parental fears is part of this fascist world we live in.

  30. vjhreeves October 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    My children attend a PRIVATE school in downtown Orlando, and I am unfortunately all too familiar with this scenario. In the last 6 years a fence has gone up all around the campus, and we are now required to be buzzed in. We, too, got the “don’t let anyone else in behind you EVEN if you know them” lecture. It is LUDICROUS, and people CONTINUE to break this rule to this day because it IS! We are also a CHRISTIAN school, and this does NOTHING to promote community. (Ironically, last Sunday’s sermon mentioned that one of the main reasons people come to church is to make friends. Not very welcoming or friendly if I have to let the gate shut in their face!)

    But, for me, the most obnoxious part of the memo above was this line: “I know that at times relatives like to come visit their nieces/ nephews/ grandchildren etc. We don’t know them and we rather you keep them waiting in the car.” I find this TOTALLY rude. My mother is coming on Friday for a surprise visit to the kids, and I will be taking her with me to school to pick them up. She has never been on our campus before, and I would damn well NOT leave her in the car in the FL heat (there are laws about that regarding children and animals!), OR leave the car running with the a/c on while I go inside to pick up the kids. I wish more people had the guts to speak up like Mark Lakata.

  31. Earth.W October 1, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Where I am living at the moment(an hour drive west of Sydney, Aust), most schools are wrapped with security fencing. The primary school I attended erected theirs in the late 1990’s because men unknown to the young children were approaching the kids with offerings of lollies.

    When the school spoke to the Police, the Police said that they are powerless until a child is taken and something is done and as school grounds(including private schools) are considered public grounds, the Police cannot charge them for walking on the ground. The advice from the Police was to erect a security fence to enter the school. To enter that school now, you have to ring ahead first.

  32. Buffy October 1, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    Wait a minute. “not having a child while standing outside is a huge red flag”?

    So if I’m outside at the end of the day, waiting and maybe talking to another mom before picking up my child, I am REQUIRED to have another kid with me or my very existence will be considered a huge red flag?

    Excuse me, preschool, for only having had the one child so far.

  33. Sarah in WA October 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    The safety coordinator at my kids’ preschool initially told us this year that parents with restraining orders, no visitation rights, etc., were not to be known to everyone as such due to privacy issues.

    The school’s teacher turned around and gave everyone the information. Basically, she appealed to the fact that she needed the help of all the parents to make sure children didn’t go with these people (or this person, in our case this year.)

    We’re so concerned with “privacy rights” that some schools put it entirely on the teachers to screen everyone. But why? If this person is really a threat, why are we keeping it a secret? Wouldn’t it be better for people to know? Then, maybe a parent could, say, not let that person into the building! Sounds better to me than slamming the door in the face of a friend!

  34. Bill Beeman October 2, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    It doesn’t surprise me that this school has adopted policies that are based on a failure to assess actual risk.

    Remember that school administrators were, in almost all cases, teachers first. And in the US, instead of learning actual academic material, they learn ‘education techniques.’

    Many teachers I’ve dealt with, especially at the Pre-School and Elementary School level are practically innumerate and have no understanding of statistics and probability.

    Given that, and fear of actually taking responsibility, it’s no wonder we get these.

    And with teachers that can’t do math, how are we to expect students to learn any better.

  35. Janet October 2, 2012 at 1:51 am #

    Well I can understand the letter because it made no sense for the man to be there. Maybe he was investigating the security of the school? Is it franchised? I can say that if I had a child care business I would be extra paranoid about strangers lurking about.

  36. Linda L. Durkin October 2, 2012 at 1:55 am #

    Speaking as a grandmother and a woman who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, I am continually appalled by these types of situations which are cropping up with increasing frequency. The real victims of this type of over-the-top “safety” effort are the children themselves!

    Statistically, each child is extremely unlikely to ever be abducted by anyone, friend OR foe….but these children ARE in extreme danger of being coddled, protected, and sheltered from and frightened by everything including their own shadows! Where parents and schools got the idea that their job was to keep the children safe from EVERYTHING even the most unlikely of events , is totally beyond me. What ever happened to rationality?? What ever happened to common sense??

    The children of these type of parents (and schools, churches, or whomever) never get the opportunity to learn good judgement on their own. Everyone needs to learn how to recognize what is dangerous and what is not; as well as what is a threat and what is not. They must learn to live in the REAL world, NOT some artificially “safe” locked-down environment where anything outside the norm is considered unsafe and therefore automatically bad! Parents need to help their children learn, and develop into well-adjusted, self-confident, decent, honest adults who can take care of themselves and their own families when the time comes. How will these over-protected kids ever survive once mom and dad and their schools and teachers are no-longer shielding them from any kind of unpleasant reality?? The time and money this type of enviroment requires would be much better spent, teaching children when and where and how to be cautious and how to evaluate when a situation is going bad and what to do to remove themselves from it! In other words, learning to take care of themselves!

    Another dreadful aspect of all this “protecting children: is the enormous increase in home-schooling. I believe many of the families where mom (or dad, I guess) becomes not only the parent but the teacher as well, thereby ensuring that their children are only exposed to the opinions, knowledge, experiences. people, beliefs, and abilities that those parents are familiar with. That bothers me on so many levels, I get upset even thinking about it! Where is the challenge for these kids? How will they ever learn to think for themselves? Where do they get a break from the constant authority of their parents and learn to stretch their wings a bit?? To say nothing of the possibility that mom or dad is a lousy teacher!

    Of course, some home-schoolers are good at it, but I still think it is a bit of a hit-or miss situation.

    In order to teach school in most (if not all) states, in order to be hired in a public (or most private) school, a teacher must have a Degree in Education from an accredited college, or a Teaching Certificate from the State licensing authority certifying that they are, in fact, QUALIFIED to teach children.

    Many professionals, from doctors to hairdressers to drivers on public roads, must be licensed by the State. Is anyone certifying that home-schooling parents are thus qualified to teach??? I doubt it.

    So yes, all of this over-protection is going to result in poorly prepared adults who will not know how to handle life!

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I think that all of this protection is a huge disservice to the children everyone is trying so hard to protect!!

  37. AW13 October 2, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    Hmmm. When I worked at a high school, all the doors were locked except those at the front of the school, and any visitors were required to stop off at the office. We also had a lock down drill once a year, but despite the administration yakking about “safety protocol”, all of us teachers (and most of the students) assumed that it was a sneaky way to get the drug dogs in to sniff around while the students were all detained in their classrooms. At least, this drill always seemed to be held right before Homecoming and yielded a large amount of confiscated alcohol, among other things. Anyway, we did have a lockdown (not a drill) and the entire district went into lockdown. It was standard – if one school called it, the others also went into it (or some variation thereof).

  38. Warren October 2, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    @Janet,

    Just how do you know it made no sense for him, to be there? Remember, outside he was talking to a parent, asking if she worked there. Do you really think a predator is going to talk to someone, that could later identify him. WOW!!!!! Strike up another one for all men are up to no good.

    I went on my own to check out schools, when we moved. I would leave for work early, and check one a day out. I didn’t have to bother anyone, or take up anyones time. A quick look to see how the school is upkept, what they display for visitors, and I was out of there.

    How do you know that wasn’t the case here?

  39. CrazyCatLady October 2, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    What I am wondering is….why, if staff noticed the man there, why didn’t staff approach him and ask if they could help him? Why did the staff member not bring it to the attention of the director until later?

    They are all for blaming the parents, but it sounds like their staff needs some training too. I am not going to fault a parent for being polite. Heck, I am trying to teach my kids to hold doors for other people.

    But I hope that the staff is not afraid of a man wandering in. He probably was there to pick up a nephew or something and realized too late that he should have asked his sister for directions instead of assuming it was the day care he always drove past.

  40. Michelle October 2, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Linda, your opinions on homeschooling are quite uninformed and offensive to the many thousands of parents who have devoted their lives to providing their children with a top-notch education through homeschooling.

    First off, many families choose to homeschool because we are fed up with the non-stop stream of political crap being fed through the public schools, which absolutely includes all of this worst-first stranger danger nonsense. Homeschooling by NO MEANS equals helicopter parenting. Sure, some homeschool parents buy into the fear based drivel that our society pushes day and night, but so do plenty of public schooling parents. Lots of homeschoolers choose this life specifically because we want our kids to be out experiencing the world rather than stuck in the classroom cage for 7 hours a day.

    Secondly, every opinionated busybody I have ever met (and their uncles) has brought up the “homeschooled children only ever get to hear their parents’ viewpoint” myth. For one thing, even if some homeschooling parent out there didn’t manage figure out that he ought to be giving his kid opportunities to hear other viewpoints, you can be sure twenty people have pointed it out to him today. For another thing, homeschooled children spend more time in real-world situations (because formal schooling takes less time per day in a homeschool) and are less likely to be stuck in a mindset that they should only socialize with other kids their own age (because they aren’t stuck in a classroom with 20 other kids the same age all day), so they have plenty of opportunities to interact with and be exposed to viewpoints other than their parents. Probably much more than public school kids.

    Third, it is incredibly offensive to suggest that the state is qualified to license parents to teach their own children. Aside from the point that the public schools are failing massively, and aside from the myriad and undisputed empirical evidence showing that homeschoolers consistently outperform public schoolers academically, there’s also the point that the entire purpose of licensing and evaluations for public school teachers is to prove *to the parents* that the people they are entrusting with their children’s education can actually do the job. It is a parent’s inherent duty to educate his own children. Should the parent choose to delegate that task, he has the right and responsibility to make sure the stand-in is qualified. That’s understandable. But to suggest that a parent must prove his qualifications to teach his own child is anathema. Just like a parent does not need health inspection and a food vendors license to feed his own child, he does not need a teaching certificate to educate his own child.

  41. Captain America October 2, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    I haven’t seen this mentioned before, but it’s probably a more likely danger that someone might be scoping out the computer lab for a later bit of thievery. Stealing school computers has been an ongoing thing around my area.

    I don’t understand perverts or a desire to sexually abuse kids, and I can’t see why anyone would want to have to deal with someone else’s whining kid. I can’t imagine kidnapping makes much sense in our times.

    I can appreciate, though, that there’s stress and distress with divorce and that children often are pawns in parental power wars.

  42. Linda L. Durkin October 2, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    “Incredibly offensive??” It is my opinion and I am free to believe and share my opinion just the same as you. People who disagree with me do not “offend” me, they just disagree. That, too, is our right. So, what’s incredibly offensive about that?

  43. Michelle October 2, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    It’s offensive not because you have a different opinion, but because you feel the need to be judgemental towards an entire subsection of parents who you clearly know absolutely nothing about. It’s called prejudice.

  44. Michelle October 2, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    To put it another way, “homeschooling is bad” is an opinion. Claiming that homeschooling parents are damaging their children in the many ways you laid out is an accusation. And since it’s an accusation based in ignorance against a large and incredibly diverse group of people, that *is* offensive.

    Also, your right to have and express an opinion does not include the right not to have other people point out how wrong and judgemental you are being. That’s *my* right.

  45. Linda L. Durkin October 2, 2012 at 3:08 am #

    No, my dear, it is not prejudice; it is opinion….”an evaluation, impression, or estimation of the value or worth of a person or thing”. And no matter how much you may disagree, I am still allowed to express that opinion. It’s called Freedom of Speech.

  46. pentamom October 2, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    ” And no matter how much you may disagree, I am still allowed to express that opinion. It’s called Freedom of Speech.”

    Yes, absolutely, and we are still allowed to point out that an opinion formed without sufficient knowledge of a situation can properly be called “prejudice,” and that speaking prejudicially about people can be offensive. Freedom of speech means you can say anything, it doesn’t mean you’re insulated from being called on ill-advised expression of uninformed opinion.

    No one said you had no right to be offensive, they were just pointing out that you were. Permissible and offensive are not opposites.

    BTW, another aspect of the “licensed teachers vs. unlicensed parents” point is that it might be reasonable to expect someone who is responsible for dozens of children at a time to have some kind of credential to teach them. That requires (except maybe for some very exceptional people) much more training than teaching one or two of your own children at a time. Just as I’d never want to hire someone with absolutely no experience to cater a wedding, but anyone of normal intelligence can make lunch for their own kids. The scale of the thing makes it a completely different ballgame.

  47. Linda L. Durkin October 2, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    The one thing this exchange has made clear is that some home-schoolers appear to be rather thin-skinned and don’t like people to question the practice at all. The problem with that is that the more they protest, the more one realizes they are just as judgemental and offensive as they accuse others of being.

    I am finished dignifying this exchange with any further response.

  48. Mark In Texas October 2, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    Linda,

    You made accusations and yet presented nothing but opinion. Someone pointed it out and you got all huffy. Laying out evidence to disprove unsubstantiated claims is hardly being judgmental and offensive. You are the one that was judgmental and in return it was pointed out that you were offensive and evidence was presented to prove your opinion incorrect. And yes opinions can be incorrect. It doesn’t matter if your opinion is that the sky is purple it will still be blue and your opinion can be wrong. Opinions can be offensive as well. If I said that in my opinion all white women where stuck up it would be an offensive opinion.

    Feel free to question the practice but be aware that you haven’t done so yet. All you have done is make baseless accusations, provided no evidence, and took umbrage when questioned. I think it is you that is thin skinned and incapable of defending your uninformed opinion.

    As far as free speech goes you are free to speak ignorantly, as you have, but the rest of the US is free to correct you. You apparently think that you are free to express your opinion without anyone saying you are wrong or correcting it when you are wrong and that’s where you are wrong. For all the freedom you have to express your opinion, and your freedom here is restricted by Lenore’s whims, everyone else has the same freedom to correct you when you are wrong. If you don’t want to take part in debate then you shouldn’t express opinions that are obviously controversial and unfounded.

  49. Andrew Pollock October 2, 2012 at 4:29 am #

    Sorry, I feel that this is a bit of an overreaction (on the commentators’ parts) and couldn’t help myself, I had to write a response on my blog.

    http://blog.andrew.net.au/2012/10/01#free_range_overreaction

  50. Sarah October 2, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    As the parent of a child who goes to this preschool (infants to pre-K), I do not see it as an overreaction. Having someone enter the locked facility without a child, and leave without talking to a staff member is worrying to me. Yes, the odds of something bad ACTUALLY happening are incredibly low, but I like the security of the facility, and the idea of someone bypassing security so easily is a little worrying.

    Why can’t parents mingle in the lobby? It’s a small lobby! Yes, it is true they use security cameras, and it’s hard to see who is at the front door is the lobby is full. I have no doubt that they won’t complain about a couple of parents talking, but if there’s a group of people there, it will block their view.

    When dropping my daughter off this morning, I definitely had in the back of my mind the email, and checked to see who was around when entering the facility – which is a wonderful place with fantastic teachers, great learning environment and so many fun activities – my daughter absolutely loves it there!

  51. Michelle October 2, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Linda, so basically you hijacked a thread that had nothing to do with homeschooling, made several baseless sweeping generalizations accusing homeschoolers of crippling their children’s ability to think, and you are shocked — SHOCKED! — that we would respond and point out that everything you said was wrong? And, apparently, you are completely incapable of defending your statements, and have to resort to whining that you have a right to your opinion and accusing us of being thin-skinned.

    It’s kind of ironic that someone who is so concerned about children learning to think for themselves is unable to construct an argument consisting of more than uninformed talking points, and cannot defend her own position in the face of opposition.

    Personally I have taken great pains to teach my children to critically analyze all viewpoints. If you have any actual arguments, I’m sure they would be happy to debate you using logic, reason, and where available, scientific studies. Just don’t cry when they prove you wrong.

  52. Linda L. Durkin October 2, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Firstly, my comment about homeschooling was only one portion of my original comment. I did not personally attack you or any homeschooler, as you are repeatedly doing to me in your comments. I am not required to respond, defend, prove, or disprove anything. I did not accuse. I asked questions. I was speaking generally and did not even respond in any but a general way. If you re-read my original comment, nowhere did I personally attack anyone, I just stated my own opinion. This is not a court of law. There is no burden of proof. Freedom of Speech does not apply only to the things all people would agree to. You and your fellow home-schoolers have gone on the offensive to attempt to insult and discredit me and my opinion. Why? Are you so insecure in your world that you cannot stand someone who doesn’t think that homeschooling is the way to go? Are your opinions and believes the only things you allow in your world?? How pathetic you seem. You have taken a couple of paragraphs from one commenter and have turned it into a ridiculous and personal attack. Why ever in the world do you care what one person might say. My opinion is no threat to you By attacking and insulting in return only proves that you have over-reacted in the most basic way. People are allowed to disagree! Don’t forget to teach your children that! Oh, I forgot, according to what you and your friends have said, differing opinions is only acceptable when they are YOUR opinions.

  53. Well October 2, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Well, home schoolers often comes into discussions with what we could qualify as home schooling advertisement. The “all schools are crappy and if you do not homeschool you are failing your kids”, “school is just a baby sitting service for lazy parents” or “schools are only about brain washing and making them docile” off-topic kind of comments are not unheard of.

    I have not seen them taken as personal attacks on parents with kids in schools. Definitely not on this forum. People with kids in schools accept that thing as your opinion and move.

    The parents that oppose home schooling should have the same right to express themselves as homeschoolers do. If you can randomly attack all schools, they can openly disagree with homeschooling. If they are not allowed to disagree, you are not allowed to attack parents with kids in schools. Pick up one.

  54. linvo October 2, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    I do not comment on people’s political persuasion or religion for a good reason and I reckon schooling/homeschooling should be added to the list of discussion topics to avoid. Unless it’s in a formal forum on that specific topic maybe. Ive added attachment parenting to this too. I will only discuss these topics with like-minded people because discussing it with the “other side” is not going to lead to anything good. As is very apparent from this off topic bickering.

  55. hineata October 2, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Wow, security cameras at a preschool?! That sounds both expensive and an overkill.The kindergartens (actually pre-schools) around here just have those kiddy lock gates in the fence, and the door is open when you go in to pick up your kid. Everyone is expected to grab any little escapees that attempt to get out the gate while you’re entering, and ‘everyone’ includes, ye gods (!) men!

    Surprisingly, (yes, that is sarcasm!) except for one four year old a couple of years ago who didn’t bother to wait for her parents, and walked home alone, the system works really well, and no child has been abducted by anyone. Ever.

    We even, at my kids’ kindergarten, had random strangers walking by the fence on their way downtown actually stop to chat to the kids, especially on sunny days. And, horrors, most of those people had NO KIDS. :-)

  56. Jamie October 2, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Homeschool probably saved my life. My quality of life increased drastically once I escaped the public school system. I lost excess weight, slept better, watched my depression magically vanish, and generally became healthier, happier, and less stressed.

    I shudder to think what my life would have been like if I was unlucky enough to be born to parents who subscribed to the “misery is normal and healthy – just throw ‘em in the deep end, it toughens ‘em up” school of thought. Forcing me to go to public school was like cramming a square peg into a round hole.

    However, I am also familiar with the bad side of homeschooling. For a few years of my childhood, we lived next door to a family of religious extremists who used a very sketchy homeschool program to “educate” their children, including a “science” class that preached creationism and claimed that evolution was false.

    Home school, just like public school, varies in terms of quality. Sometimes it benefits the child, and sometimes it stifles their intellectual and social growth. Parents should use common sense to determine the best course of action for their child’s individual needs. There is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to education.

  57. Buffy October 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    @Sarah, so you’re OK with not holding the door for someone you know full well is a parent picking up their child? Shutting the door in their face is what your community is all about?

  58. Warren October 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    @Sarah,
    Just a suggestion, that you may want to make to the school.
    The person who has the duty of watching the security camera? Maybe they could try getting up off their asses, and be out there with the parents and kids. I know I can see alot more of a room, if I am in it, than by watching a camera. Just saying.

    With this security system they have…..I have to ask. Whose kids go to this school? Are we talking about Princes and Princess’, the kids of foreign diplomats, sons and daughters of the rich and powerful, kids of senators and such?

  59. AW13 October 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    @Jamie: you are absolutely correct! Homeschools, just like all other schools, public and private, vary in their quality. I personally plan to send my child to public school – we moved to this district because it is a very good district. However, not every school is a good fit for every kid. If my kid struggles in school, we’ll reevaluate as necessary.

    @linvo: I wouldn’t have thought it, but yes, homeschooling vs. public schooling is quickly becoming one of those topics that people are unlikely to feel discussing. I hadn’t realized it was so volatile.

  60. Alsonoticed October 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    It’s downright scary Linda, isn’t it? The fanaticism of the homeschoolers. I get the impression they spend the whole day (and night) trolling the web, searching for anti-homeschool comments to ‘whack”. Like Whack a Mole. Only more vicious.

    And btw, it’s also my OPINION (got that folks?) that homeschooling is the ultimate in overprotection.

    Well according to le Carre via Smiley “the fanatic is always concealing a secret doubt.” Maybe there’s something to it.
    Anyway, cheers and don’t let the bastards get you down!

  61. CrazyCatLady October 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Linda, you say you are a grandmother. Did a son or daughter just decide to start homeschooling your grandchildren? You sound pretty angry when it comes to homeschooling.

  62. Krista October 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    I thought the whole point to Free-Range Kids was knowing our individual children well enough to know when to support them in gaining skills, independence, and confidence. I thought it was supposed to give parents the information they need to make informed decisions for their children’s lives.

    What Free-Range is NOT is a one-size-fits-every-kid approach. Not every child is up to using the bathroom by themselves at three. Not every kid can be trusted with their siblings by age eleven. Not every kid has to have the same experience as every other kid to become a capable adult. And the parents in that child’s life is the ultimate expert.

    So, yes, let’s educate parents, but we also need to trust them.

    Also, confidential to Alsonoticed, the reason why so many homeschool parents have commented on Linda’s opinion is not because they troll the internet. It’s because so many Free-Range parents also homeschool. Logic, my dear friend.

  63. Lollipoplover October 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    My daughter’s preschool was in a church, with a revolving door of people (parents, kids, worshipers) that included the many church volunteers. There were outdoor gates around the play areas, but it wasn’t a security fortress like this school. The older ladies loved baking cookies for snack time and enjoyed the little shows and songs the kids put on. I would be horrified not to hold a door open for one of these wonderful women.

    I don’t care how you school your children, but a preschool should be a warm, inviting learning environment. Being friendly (making small talk, holding doors) is basic civility and something adults need to model to teach children. But this school is actively discouraging it with their overwhelming paranoia. Cameras and security doors that kids can’t even touch….sounds like a juvenile detention center.

  64. Sarah October 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    The security cameras are so staff can roam around without being in the front office all day. I can sit in the office and switch to the camera in my kids room and make sure she’s fine – parents with babies, and those with kids who are fairly new like to watch what their child is doing.

    The cameras are so staff can be elsewhere, and keep an eye on what’s happening at the front door still. I have no problem with that whatsoever. The staff are involved with the kids and parents and don’t just “sit on their ass” all day. I have a lot of friends whose kids go to this preschool, or one of the other sites (it’s a chain of I think 4 preschools), and every single parent raves about it, and says how much they love the school and how much their kid loves the school. My daughter (2 years old) is SO much happier there than at the previous home daycare she was in, by her SECOND week at this preschool she was happily running to her teachers in the morning, whereas at the home daycare she would scream and cling to me in the morning – even after months of being there.

    For me, that is the single most important thing, and why we chose the preschool – for its reputation and the happy environment it fosters. Maybe the email they sent was slight overkill, maybe not – it obviously upset them that someone was able to easily enter their secure school, and I can see why it would upset them!

  65. Sabine October 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Wait, so…someone was timing how long he was there, but never said hello? And that makes HIS behavior suspicious?!

  66. Donna October 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Let’s see – A person stood at the school for however long and was not buzzed into the building or acknowledged in any way. Apparently seeking to speak to staff, he asked a parent if she worked at the location. She said “no.” Finally getting an opportunity to maybe talk to someone, he entered after the parent. He walked around the building and, was apparently seen, but again not acknowledged in any way. He left, likely frustrated.

    The schools chooses to view this as a scary event and a likely stranger up to nefarious things. It sounds to me like really, really horrible customer service. This guy clearly wanted to talk to staff. Good grief, speak to the man! Realize that men do, indeed, have children and may be the ones hunting a daycare for them. If I walked around a business for 2 minutes and nobody took the time to even say “someone will be with you in a minute,” I would leave too. Instead of reviewing their safety procedures and trying to get their school less friendly, they should be working on their customer service.

    My daughter’s daycare had a buzzer door too. The administration sat at a desk on the lobby. Someone was always there doing work. The owner or the director or a pre-k teacher who was no longer in class. EVERYONE was buzzed into the building and greeted with a smile. Parents went about the business of getting their kid. Strangers were politely addressed to discover their reason for being there. People were encouraged to hold the door open for others because staff would intercept any stranger immediately (with a pleasant smile and not accusations). And frequently chatting in the small lobby was done WITH the administrators sitting there.

  67. Jenne October 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    My kid goes to a high-security daycare, because the only other alternative in town that had care after 3 pm was a religious preschool his dad didn’t care for. And he gets speech and ot therapy from the school district only if he attends a two-hour program in the morning– and they don’t bus outside the tiny district.

    No, I’m not happy with the level of security there (especially as they often forget to check him in when he arrives on the bus) but the consequences of one of us quitting outside work to stay home with him would be difficult to manage. So we end up paying extra for this.

    You see, the trouble is that *parents* want to see this level of protection. It’s a selling point for this for-profit daycare. (Parents also want the ability to log in on the internet and view their children’s classroom at random, apparently; me, I think it’s creepy. If you’re visiting the classroom, you oughta be visible.)

    Yes, there is a risk-management issue here as well, but parents really do have these issues and these expectations of the school. Sad, but true. I expect the school didn’t even know about the ‘intruder’ until the parent complained and then they looked at it on the tape.

  68. Tim October 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    I’m with Warren on this one. My children attend a before- and after-school program at our public elementary school. To get into the building, we must ring a doorbell and the door is opened either by one of the two or three staff members OR by one of the students. The problem with the former option is that it interrupts whatever the staff is doing, and frankly, I’d rather they focus on interacting with the kids. The problem with using the students is that, even with staff watching from a distance, it defeats the purpose of keeping the kids “safe.” I see no reason for the doors of a public school to be locked during operational hours. It drive me nuts.

  69. Emily October 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    I agree with Donna, Tim, and Warren. All these absurd “safety” measures seem to do is breed hostility, and furthermore, I bet that there would have been much less of a reaction if the “intruder” (who could well have been a prospective new preschool parent) had been female.

  70. Sarah October 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Linda, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I have an opinion that all grandmothers are gray haired, walk with a cain, and probably need 24 hour assistance. :) I would imagine if that were REALLY my opinion quite a few folks would get on her and tell me the FACTS. :) As for homeschool, you can have all the opinions you want, but the FACTS are:
    1. homeschooled children do better academically on standardized tests, SATS, ACTS, college GPAs, etc. than ANY other group of students (such as public, private, or chartered schooled kids.) Does that mean a public schooled child will not succeed and do great? Absolutely not! These are just averages as a whole group.
    2. Recent long term studies have been published that show that as a group overall homeschoolers end up better socialized than their peers. They were measured (as adults) by community involvement, political involvement, and success in their careers. ALL of which they did significantly better than the traditionally schooled adults. Obviously this goes to show that the MAJORITY of homeschoolers have their kids out in the community, being involved with people of all ages and in a wide variety of activities and not “sheltered” and locked up in their homes, scared of the world, only hearing mom and dad’s voice. So you can have your opinions, but I reserve the right to share the facts. :)

  71. Donna October 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    I don’t have a problem with the safety measures. My kid’s daycare/preschool had a buzzer door and cameras in every classroom for the parents to log in and watch (fun for the first week). We did not have cameras on the entrances or panic bars on the doors (what is that?). The safety measures neither sold me on nor dissuaded me from the school, but I never felt as though I was dropping my kid off at the juvenile detention center either because the people were very warm and friendly to everyone.

    It is the desire to set up a completely sterile, unfriendly environment that bothers me. Encouraging people to slam doors in each other’s faces. No conversation in the lobby or the court yard. Don’t bring grandma. Leave your older kids in the car. This is not the attitude that I want taught to my child.

    Of course I want a daycare that treats my child warmly, but, let’s face it, I pay the bills. I expect them to treat the entire family as members of the school community, not as annoyances that should not have to be dealt with any more than necessary.

  72. Warren October 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    I’m sorry, but all this talk of “High security daycare” and “secure school”, makes me laugh.
    Do you not see that you are refering to schools and daycares the way we used to refer to prisons, military installations and the like. Pretty much called High security or secure facilities.

    The parents are going to jump down my throat about this, but what the …

    I will bet anyone, that the security features of these secure facilities are not there for security. They have been put into place as a marketing measure. They can sell security, to parents easier, than quality of care. I am not saying they are not good centers, just that fear marketing is cheap, and easy. And it works.

    Both my kids went to pre and post centers when they were young. I saw one of the secure facilities, and spoke with a parent who pulled her kid from it. She on a regular basis waited outside for half an hour for someone to let her in to pick up her son. They also had the nerve to charge her for that half hour.
    Put your kids where you wish, but I prefer to think that before my child goes to prison, that they will at least been convicted first. LOL

  73. Havva October 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    I nearly was that intruder once (without the added problem of being male.) I was in a big rush to find immediate daycare for my daughter. I called/emailed every location I could find between home and work. One of these didn’t answer after nearly a week, and I wondered if my info had been lost. Unable to get through by phone, I just dropped in on them one day. I couldn’t get anyone to answer the buzzer, so eventually I “tailgated” my way in. Didn’t even say hello to the person I followed (not very polite of me, I know). I found the front desk un-staffed. And after about 90 seconds I felt like I should just get out of there, one part I felt creepy, and besides why trust a place that seems so understaffed? But, I was desperate, and they claimed to offer “drop in care.” After several uncomfortable minutes of feeling like I shouldn’t be there at all, a staff member appeared. After figuring out who I was, the woman showed me a sticky note on her computer monitor with my name and phone number saying: “Oh, yeah, I’ve been meaning to get back to you.” My daughter and I spent all of 5 minutes there.

    Needless to say, my mind jumped to horrible customer service on this one.

    My daughter’s current day care, is locked, has a buzzer etc. And I know the front desk staff sometimes goes into a classroom when a teacher needs help. But it is a good place, and very friendly. So I don’t want visitors getting the impression I got from the other place. If I encounter someone hanging around the lobby alone, I just ask if they are being helped. If not I offer to have my daughter’s caregivers call someone to assist the visitor. So far I’ve talked to a couple with an appointment to meet the director, and a few workmen who were waiting for a staff member to return with the right keys or whatever. So engage visitor and inform staff would be my recommendation to parents for handling such a situation.

  74. Donna October 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    The problem isn’t the security features, but a staff that fails to realize that they need to cater to the bill payers too. You can have security features to make the worry-warts happy and still be a warm, friendly environment. It simply takes a desire to be a warm, friendly environment, rather than just a safe environment, and the realization that the parents’ happiness and convenience counts too since they are paying the bills.

  75. pentamom October 2, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    @Well, where is “not allowed to” coming in here?

    Nobody is disallowing anything. Nobody said Linda should not be allowed to post uninformed opinions and then defend them not with information, but simply by saying that no one is allowed to react negatively to an “opinion.” Though things have been said like she “shouldn’t” say uninformed things based on prejudice, that’s not the same as not “allowing” her to. It’s expressing a contrary “opinion.” If she can have an opinion about homeschooling which she apparently knows extremely little of, we can have an opinion of her words which are here for all to see.

  76. Warren October 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    I think the issue is that homeschooling is a very personal choice, and undertaking. People have a habit of taking anything said to heart, and personal. Almost to the same level as choice of religion.

    I think it is just difficult for those discussing the issue, to take a step back and seperate debate from personal attack.
    Deep breath, count to ten, shake hands, remember no hugging, and come out debating.

  77. Donna October 2, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    The fact is that what Linda said is true … about some homeschoolers. And what homeschoolers say about public school is true … of some public schools. We’ve now established that neither group likes to be swept up with generalizations referring to the worst of their ilk as if it represents the whole.

  78. Diane S. October 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    @Jenne – not sure if it’s just TX, or every state – if you live in a school district, and your child requires speech therapy, they are obligated to give it, whether you homeschool your kids, or they are in a private school. My youngest got speech therapy when she was in private school, the therapist came to the school to work with her. Maybe check into the laws in your state? TX is very friendly for homeschool/private school

  79. Diane S. October 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    @Warren – the fears of “liability” is driving much of the security theater at schools/daycares etc. When I asked why our church didn’t have a sign like the other churches when you enter town, I was told “liability”.. IF someone suddenly careened off the road, through a ditch, fence, and into a field, and actually HIT the sign for the church, the church could be held liable for the car’s damage. Now if that isn’t stupid!

  80. Warren October 2, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    Diane,
    So irrational fears of being sued for an issue that has about the same chance of happening as winning the lottery, as compared to fear marketing. Common note….FEAR.

    Is it just me, or does society suck, these days.

  81. pentamom October 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Personally, I’m more bothered by Linda’s odd position that an opinion is something you can’t be challenged on than by her comments about homeschooling. I’ve pretty much learned to overlook uninformed commentary on homeschooling. But claiming that an opinion as such is above criticism annoys me, as does the idea that freedom of speech means people can’t take exception to your speech.

  82. Jessi October 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    Because of all these scare tactics that parents and schools and ect use.. I find myself being doubtful. This story http://www.kptv.com/story/19709497/albertsons-workers-stop-attack-on-11-year-old-boy made me wonder if maybe the guy is telling the truth. What if the kids blew an accidental bump into ‘he’s trying to rape me’ because we all know strangers with penises are pedophiles! Makes me sad. I shouldn’t doubt a victim, but at the same time…kids are being made scared.

  83. Krista October 3, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    Really, Jessi? This is the story you’re dubious of? I would trust my 11 year old to know the difference between a bump and an attempted rape.

  84. Donna October 3, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    @Krista – You’d think but our court just had a teacher sentenced for assault for hugging a student. The parents and child claim that she has been sexually assaulted and severely traumatized. The hug was a congratulations for doing something well. Everyone – prosecution and defense – accepts that the actions were no more than a hug and that the hug was meant to be congratulatory and not sexual. This child is well over 11.

  85. Yan Seiner October 3, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    Honestly, what makes me sad is that in the US we used to have this thing called the Bill of Rights wherein a presumption of innocence was widely held to follow from the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments. There was something in there about a right of assembly too but I’m afraid to look that up since the big brother camera might catch me in the act.

    We are all too ready to shred this document “for the children”.

  86. Havva October 3, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    @Jessie. I used to be a paranoid kid thanks to “stranger danger.” It took years to undo, and years for me to quit being rude to friendly people. It didn’t make me so dumb as to think it was a death threat for someone to offer me a hand up. And even if that scared me I would not have said I had to “struggle to get free.”

    I know the story sounds like a stereotype, but stereotypes form from real (if rare and horifying) casses. So occasionaly a real case will look like a stereotype. The man’s alternate version of events, as told, simply don’t match the facts. The boy’s story does. How may I ask does a kid get welts on his neck from being bumped into or helped up? How did the man’s pants fall off while “bumping into” a kid? He presumably wasn’t walking about while relieving himself, right?

  87. Donna October 3, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    pentamom – Freedom of speech is something thrown out by many when they don’t like people’s reaction to what they said. Look at the whole Chick Fil A uproar this summer. Chick Fil A and its supporters are still insisting that its freedom of speech is being attacked because people have decided not to eat there due to Cathy’s comments about gay marriage. Regardless of what you think about homeschooling (or gay marriage), freedom of speech does not mean that you can say whatever the heck you want and suffer no negative repercussions. It simply means that you can’t be arrested for what you say and you can’t be prevented from speaking by the government.

  88. Donna October 3, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    @Havva – That sentence in the news report was very poorly written with many hes and hims. I think the man is saying that the boy bumped into the man, not vice versa. That would explain the pants down.

    I’ve seen several kids take something innocuous as horribly scary so I don’t discount the man’s version as possible. But he also has a huge motive to lie here. We don’t know that this kid is particularly fearful so I see no reason to assume that he is not telling the truth based a few, poorly written, paragraphs.

  89. Mark In Texas October 3, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    @Linda

    “Firstly, my comment about homeschooling was only one portion of my original comment. I did not personally attack you or any homeschooler, as you are repeatedly doing to me in your comments.”

    You are not being attacked. Your opinion, which you are free to post is being attacked. No-one has personally insulted you nor have they attacked you. People have explained that your opinion of homeschooling is wrong and shown how it is, indeed, wrong. Sure some homeschoolers are sheltering their children and homeschool them for reason other than providing them a better education and I doubt anyone defending homeschooling would say anything different. But you painted homeschooling with a broad brush and then took umbrage at being corrected.

    “I am not required to respond, defend, prove, or disprove anything. I did not accuse. I asked questions. I was speaking generally and did not even respond in any but a general way.”

    Of course there is no requirement of you to prove your opinion however if you state an opinion that is provably wrong or even debatable then refusing to defend said opinion says all that needs to be said. You are unwilling to engage and obviously hold your opinion blindly, which is your right, but you cannot expect your opinion not to be challenged. Someone challenging your opinion is no way an attempt to violate your freedom of speeach.

    “If you re-read my original comment, nowhere did I personally attack anyone, I just stated my own opinion. This is not a court of law. There is no burden of proof.”

    When you post an opinion that doesn’t jive with reality then you really ought to be ready to defend it. If not then you shouldn’t also take offense when your opinion is challenged. Every comment so far has been attacking your opinion and not you. Your accusations of personal attacks are baseless and unfounded. All that has been done is that your opinion has been soundly refuted and apparently you have taken offense at that.

    “Freedom of Speech does not apply only to the things all people would agree to. You and your fellow home-schoolers have gone on the offensive to attempt to insult and discredit me and my opinion. Why? ”

    You have every right to post your ill-formed opinion. Not a single poster has ever implied otherwise. No-one has insulted you however your opinion is worthy of being discredited. You posted something that is provably untrue and that is why all of the posters that responded attacked said opinion.

    “Are you so insecure in your world that you cannot stand someone who doesn’t think that homeschooling is the way to go?”

    Not at all. Homeschooling isn’t the way to go for everyone. There are plenty of reasons to homeschool and plenty not to do so. It is a discussion that every family should have for themselves and I doubt you’ll find many homeschoolers who would say otherwise.

    “Are your opinions and believes the only things you allow in your world??”

    Not at all. In fact your repeated accusations of trying to stop you from expressing your opinion are logical fallacies. No-one, I repeat no-one, has said you shouldn’t post your opinion. All that has been said is that you cannot post your opinion and expect it to exist in a vacuum. If you post your opinion in a public forum then you should expect it to be addressed. This is where the disconnect comes in. You seem to believe that any questioning of your opinion, at all, is an attempt to silence you. It is no such thing, it is an attempt to educate you and failing to that then educate anyone who may be reading but not posting.

    “How pathetic you seem.”

    May I refer you to your earlier statement when you said you don’t insult people?

    “You have taken a couple of paragraphs from one commenter and have turned it into a ridiculous and personal attack.”

    Your opinion is under fire and your reaction to criticism. No-one here knows you nor have you been personally attacked. Your opinion, posted in a public forum, has been questioned and refuted. Your reaction to that has also drawn a response but nothing about you personally has been insulted. Unlike your very words at the beginning of this paragraph which I have quoted above.

    “Why ever in the world do you care what one person might say. My opinion is no threat to you By attacking and insulting in return only proves that you have over-reacted in the most basic way.”

    I don’t care what you have to say. I do care that someone else might read it without any evidence to the contrary. I don’t actually think, at this point. that you will change your mind. You have reacted with aplomb and anger at any questioning of your opinion. I am only responding now to point out the inconsistencies in your own statements.

    “People are allowed to disagree! Don’t forget to teach your children that! Oh, I forgot, according to what you and your friends have said, differing opinions is only acceptable when they are YOUR opinions.”

    From your reaction people are not allowed to disagree with you! That is all that is happened here. You posted an opinion, multiple people disagreed with you and you turned to ad hominem attacks and red herrings instead of even discussing your opinions. You accuse those who have politely refuted your arguments and those who refuted them with straight forward comments of personally attacking you all the while insulting all of those who disagree with you. I think I will use this series of posts to show my children why you should always be able to back up your opinions if you wish to express them in public, how insulting people who disagree with you doesn’t work, how the logical fallacies red herring and ad hominem can be expressed in casual conversation, and how responding calmly and without using those tactics can infuriate someone.

  90. Library Diva October 3, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    I agree with Warren and the rest of the people down on all the cameras, buzzers, etc. at schools. I used to go into the schools farily regularly when I was a reporter for a community newspaper. I’ll never forget how out-of-control this one elementary school was. It was located in a residential neighborhood, and the parking lot was full of massive signs threatening to have the police tow your car if you weren’t there for the proper reasons.

    I’d set up the interview ahead of time, working with two teachers, the school principal, and the district PR person. They buzzed me in. I didn’t get farther than the front door than the office person was all over me “CAN I HELP YOU MA’AM!” I had to sign in and get a badge. Then, my photographer, the PR guy and I were ESCORTED down the hall all the way to our destination. After 45 minutes talking to the kids about their iPad project, I was escorted back out. Fortunately, they did not tow my car.

    It was a nice school in a good neighborhood. There was absolutely no reason for all of that. The buzzer system, the cameras, it all could have paid for an extra teacher’s aide for a year, or new textbooks, or something. It strikes me as an utter waste of money and time.

    The high school where guests also got escorted to their destinations by a teenage volunteer is another story!

  91. Warren October 3, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    If you are that scared of lawsuits, and/or that afraid of child abductions, then get out of education.
    We do not need our children spending their formative years in that kind of setting. All that security, what do you think that teaches the kids.
    It teaches them to be scared, and that the only place that is safe, has Max. Security Prison security measures.
    The only thing missing is the dogs patrolling the perimeter.

  92. linvo October 3, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    Didn’t read all of the last comments, but seriously, cameras in every classroom that parents can watch over the internet?! That is a classic example of parents not being able to let go. It signals to the staff that they don’t trust them to look after their child. “I can sit in the office and switch to the camera in my kids room and make sure she’s fine”. Isn’t that what the teacher is for? Are they really that unreliable that you need to spy on them? If you clearly think they don’t have your child’s best interests at heart, why risk sending your child there in the first place? Does your child know that you spy on them? Does it make them feel uncomfortable to know that you can see them when they cannot see you?

    I am really quite shocked that some people find this normal.

  93. Diane S. October 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    @Warren, it is indeed a culture of fear.

  94. Michelle October 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    Donna, the Chik-Fil-A story is the perfect example of people thinking their free speech is attacked any time someone disagrees with them. I had Facebook friends on both sides of the issue, and it was incredibly amusing to me to see BOTH sides claiming that everything the other side did was anti-free speech. Boycotting Chik-Fil-A was somehow infringing on the owner’s freedom of speech. Opposing the boycott was infringing the free speech of the protesters. Saying that people were overreacting was infringing on EVERYBODY’S free speech. It was almost worth watching that whole fiasco unfold just for the laughs.

  95. Michelle October 3, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    @Well, if I came into a thread saying “all schools are crappy and if you do not homeschool you are failing your kids,” “school is just a baby sitting service for lazy parents,” or “schools are only about brain washing and making them docile,” I would absolutely expect someone to point out how uninformed, offensive, and prejudicial I was being.

  96. Donna October 4, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    “People have explained that your opinion of homeschooling is wrong and shown how it is, indeed, wrong.”

    I do take umbrage with this comment. Her opinion is not wrong. There is nothing wrong with someone believing that homeschooling is bad, even if you wholeheartedly disagree. The FACTS she used to support her opinion may be wrong, but the opinion – homeschooling is bad – shouldn’t be judged wrong by anyone other than her.

    Personally, I’d be annoyed and feel attacked if you kept telling me my opinion is wrong. There is a difference between saying ‘the facts that you gave to support your opinion that homeschooling is bad are wrong” and saying “your opinion is wrong” which is essentially saying that nobody is allowed to view homeschooling negatively.

  97. Donna October 4, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    @linvo – I enjoyed the camera in my child’s classroom. It was entertaining to occasionally log in at work and watch the kids play. And my grandmother and aunt, who lived on the other side of the country and rarely got to see Maya, LOVED logging in to watch her for a little while every day. It made them feel like they were part of her life.

    I trusted the teachers totally. I certainly didn’t choose the school because of the cameras. I wasn’t particularly interested in what was going on in the classroom nor worried about anything. But watching 12 toddlers play – and teachers do the human equivalent of herding cats – is entertaining.

    And I don’t know of a single parent in my child’s daycare who viewed the cameras because they wanted to keep abreast of everything going on with their child or they didn’t trust the school. If they ever logged in at all, it was just to get a laugh generally.

  98. Abby October 4, 2012 at 3:56 am #

    I work in preschool and can tell you that even though it is absurd to ask parents not to hold door for people they know, the school has that policy for a reason. Just last week a child’s father, whom I’d seen pick up the child in the past, came by the school to see his child. I thought nothing of it until I found out that the schools office intervened by contacting mother and authorities because, apparently, something had happened and there had been a court order issued against him. You never know about family drama and though abductions are rare, when they do happen, it is usually by a family member or friend, and often involves a dispute over custody or something else. But, it is unreasonable to ask parents to take that attitude toward each other on a daily basis. What would be reasonable is to require whomever is picking up the child to go through the front office to obtain clearance before entering and retrieving a child. It sounds really uptight, but it is very important for kids safety and for the sake of avoiding issues with the law.

  99. Well October 4, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    “People have explained that your opinion of homeschooling is wrong and shown how it is”

    There was nothing convincing in these comments, only the anger and attacks.

    Some contained stats (good thing) without links to sources (rendering them useless). I guess it was because when I googled those stats, I found that they have not been done by an independent researcher. Well so much about them.

  100. Beth October 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    @Abby, it’s not my job as a parent to know every other family’s drama and custody issues, and to tell you the truth, I’m sorry that it’s the school’s job. But I am not going to slam the door in the face of a parent who I see every single day picking up their child, on the off chance that, overnight, he or she lost the right to be there.

  101. Donna October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    @Abby – You’ve given a great reason that a daycare should be set up and staffed so that some administrative personnel is on-hand and manning the door, especially at drop off and pick up times. I wouldn’t expect nor want every parent in the school, or even every teacher in the school, to know my family drama. I would expect the administrators to handle it discreetly so that the impact on my child is minimal. I certainly wouldn’t expect the school to encourage rudeness among the community such as slamming doors in people’s faces on the outside chance that a parent has had his visitation rights revoked.

    I’m not even sure why some are limiting this to people they know. Allowing a door to shut in ANYONE’S face is rude. The school needs to be set up to ensure that strangers are not wandering around the school unknown, even if someone tailgates in. It should not require the parents to be rude and unwelcoming to others to keep the kids safe. In other words, I expect the school to plan for and manage it’s own safety without my input. I’m more than willing to help in an unusual situation but the day-to-day management needs to be within the responsibility of the school and within normal human interactions.

  102. Jessi October 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    The story was edited.. They didn’t mention the welts on the neck, and if the kid bumped into the man in the bathroom, where this took place, then it’s possibly his pants could be part way down.
    I’m not saying I throw this kids story out, but it gives me pause, because here we’ve had people accused of attempted rape and assault that with review of security tape or whatever, was totally innocent. And kids will make things up to lend credibility to their tales.

  103. Sarah October 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    Nobody can view the security cameras over the internet… you can sit in the office at the school and watch their cameras and see how your kid is doing.

    And the man was not seen by a staff member – he was seen by a parent. It sounds like the man came at drop off time, when staff are busy preparing for the day, not spending every second in the office. There is a sign telling visitors to buzz in to talk to someone which he obviously didn’t do.

    If you want to visit a prospective preschool and talk to someone, don’t do bit unannounced, and not during drop off time…

  104. Donna October 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    According to the letter from the school – “One of our teachers saw him do so [tailgate in behind a parent] and brought it to our attention later.” Teacher, not parents.

    Also, “Yesterday during pick up time at our campus.” So this was at pick up time, not drop off time. Staff should have been winding up their day and not preparing for the day.

    Personally, I think a school is understaffed if it can’t keep watch on the door during drop-off and pick-up times. Its customers are trying to get to work and home after a busy day. They don’t want to wait until someone has time to let them in. If the school is going to require them to be buzzed in the door – certainly not mandatory and 100% the school’s choice – the school needs to ensure that it is done quickly and efficiently. That is just basic customer service.

    And if the school doesn’t want to risk strangers walking into the school, it is its responsibility to see that unknown people are greeted as soon as they enter the building. It is not the parent’s responsibility to monitor the door for the school. The school should take responsibility for their door, not expect the parents to slam doors in people’s faces.

    “There is a sign telling visitors to buzz in to talk to someone which he obviously didn’t do.”

    Well, he MIGHT not have done that, but he also might have done that and nobody answered. I can’t say that one scenario is more obvious than the other. Considering this man was seen by only ONE staff member, who completely ignored him, I’m certainly not convinced that the school pays so much attention to it’s buzzer or door that the obvious conclusion is that he didn’t ring the bell.

    ” If you want to visit a prospective preschool and talk to someone, don’t do bit unannounced, and not during drop off time…”

    When I called my preschool before enrolling, they told me to just stop by any time it was convenient for me. No appointment was made. They weren’t expecting me when I came. I was essentially an unannounced visitor when I did exactly what they told me to do – showed up when it was convenient for me about a week later. I probably would have done exactly what this man did had I not been able to just walk in the door, only nefarious intent would not have been assumed because I am a woman.

  105. Ken Frost October 5, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    This is also happening in the UK too eg http://nannyknowsbest.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/nanny-bans-parents-again.html

  106. Scandinavian kids clothes October 6, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Thanks for the article, interesting story.

  107. Maegan October 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Is it so absurd to assume that the person was researching child care for his own child? He did ask someone if she worked there. Maybe he could tell by his 90-second visit that this place was obviously ridiculous. Or maybe he’d been sent to pick up his niece and quickly realized that he was at the wrong location. People wander into buildings by mistake all the time, even the childless. It’s horrible to think that if you don’t have a child with you, you’re a criminal.

  108. Maegan October 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    @CrazyCatLady,

    Haha! Glad to see I’m not the only one who thought the lost uncle scenario was a possibility.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Articles for Another Wednesday » Scott Lazarowitz's Blog - October 3, 2012

    […] Lenore Skenazy: A Stranger Entered the Pre-K for 90 Seconds! One Parent’s Reaction to the School’s React… […]

  2. Inspiring Reads for Your Weekend « the Modern Monkey Mind - October 5, 2012

    […] A stranger entered the Pre-K for 90 seconds! The school’s reaction and one parent’s awes…. Remember way back when I wrote this post? Yeah, the school’s reaction is exactly the sort of insanity I was talking about. […]

  3. Free Range Kids » Boys Over 11 Not Allowed in Church Bathroom at Same Time as Boys Under 11 (And Other “Security” Measures) - October 5, 2012

    […] lately (including parents required to have background checks to watch their kids on field day, and parents not allowed to hold the door open at day care for other parents), but I do believe this reader’s Sunday school takes the cake (and several […]

  4. Locked Down? « afterschoolanswers.com - October 14, 2012

    […] 2012 by rickrood TweetA little slow on the postings this past week, but I wanted to comment on a post from Free Range Kids guru Lenore Skenazy.  Another “stranger danger” incident happened recently at a preschool in the SF Bay […]