Paper Airplane? Late for School? Shouting Too Loud? You’re Under Arrest!

Hi Readers — Here’s an incredible report on how the “School to prison pipeline” plays out in Texas, as published in The Guardian:

In 2010, the police gave close to 300,000 “Class C misdemeanour” tickets to children as young as six in Texas for offences in and out of school, which result in fines, community service and even prison time. What was once handled with a telling-off by the teacher or a call to parents can now result in arrest and a record that may cost a young person a place in college or a job years later.

The other appalling fact is that parents who don’t or can’t pay the fine, which can be $500, sometimes ignore it. Which means that when the kid turns 17,he or she can be arrested and go to jail — adult prison — for non-payment.

The draconian nature of this situation has not escaped notice. Reports The Guardian:

 Texas state legislature last year changed the law to stop the issuing of tickets to 10- and 11-year-olds over classroom behaviour. (In the state, the age of criminal responsibility is 10.) But a broader bill to end the practice entirely – championed by a state senator, John Whitmire, who called the system “ridiculous” – failed to pass and cannot be considered again for another two years.

Two more years of criminalizing everything from shenanigans to defiance? All in the name of “safety”? What about keeping kids safe from an unwarranted,  lifelong criminal record?

This is a Free-Range issue because, once again, we see what happens when we lose perspective on crime. Usually I write about how we keep our kids inside because we wildly over-estimate the chance of kidnapping. Now we see what happens when schools, politicians and police wildly over-estimate the chance of “another Columbine.” Either way, childhood is compromised.  Either way, out kids pay the price for our paranoia.  — Lenore

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73 Responses to Paper Airplane? Late for School? Shouting Too Loud? You’re Under Arrest!

  1. Michelle Potter January 11, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    This is freaking ridiculous! I live in Texas, and I’m surprised I haven’t heard much about it. (I’m actually very surprised that the Texas Homeschool Coalition didn’t mention the bill while there was still something we could do about it. I guess they were too busy trying to fight the ridiculous Grandparents Law, which allows any busybody grandparent with deep enough pockets to take custody away from fit parents just because they disagree with parenting decisions.)

    I’m off to see how my representatives voted!

  2. Heather G January 11, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    I remember reading about that awhile ago. I was unaware that a politician tried to eliminate the practice and failed. As concerning and wrong as the law is in the first place the fact that an attempt at removing it failed and can’t be considered for two more years is even worse. Absolutely sickening.

  3. Ellen January 11, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    My stepson got issued a ticket 2 years ago (in a zero-tolerance policy school environment in TX) for defending himself against a bully who was picking a fight with him on the bus ride home. The bully had a previous record of incidents, my stepson had nothing on his record. The school issued them both tickets, because it was a he-said, he-said situation. There was no investigation involved at all. The whole thing was given over to the juvenile courts, where my stepson was given 20 hours of community service or a fine. If he didn’t do the service or pay the fine, yes, he could be arrested when he turns 18. There was no way to contest the charges, unless you wanted to hire a lawyer (!!) which would have been way more expensive than just paying the fine or doing the service. The whole thing was the result of a stupid zero-tolerance policy which results in no investigation or weighing of the evidence or background/history/record of the children involved…

    Needless to say, we are now in a different school district without the draconian policies…

  4. Luna Libre January 11, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    Just to clarify…

    The reason this matter can’t be considered by the legislature for 2 years is because that’s the soonest the next legislature will meet. Texas has biennial legislative sessions. We Texans figure that by limiting the number of sessions, we can limit the damage the lawmakers can do. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    This matter has gotten a fair amount of play in the Dallas media. Local school districts are being challenged to disallow ticketing in school. I don’t recall the statistics, but I seem to remember that most of the tickets were issued in large urban districts inside schools serving primarily poor communities. The districts had partnered with police departments for school security purposes, meaning that officers were also more likely to be readily available to write tickets. I can only imagine the discipline challenges in some of these schools, but since these actions would never be tolerated in high-performing suburban schools, it’s patently offensive that they’re happening against people who are less able to fight such an injustice.

  5. Michelle Potter January 11, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    I’m confused. I had to search all over to find an article that actually mentioned the number for the bill in question. I finally found an article out of Austin that lists two bills authored by Whitmore. One passed (SB 1489), and the other (SB 1116) is listed as “on the calendar” on the Texas legislature website. I’m pretty sure that means they ran out of time before they could vote for it.

    If that’s the bill we are talking about (and it sure looks like it is), saying it failed is pretty misleading. It was never voted on. (And, like was said above, “two years” is because that’s when the next session is.) Of course, that would be The Guardian’s fault, not Lenore’s.

    Ellen, I was in the exact same situation as your step-son about 15 years ago in Houston ISD. I got beat up by a *group* of girls right in the middle of gym class, in front of several teachers who weren’t paying any freaking attention, and I ended up with the same punishment as my attackers. Fortunately, back then it was just a suspension.

  6. Scott Lazarowitz January 11, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    Many of the government bureaucrats who write the laws that these kids are supposedly breaking, and the police bureaucrats who are enforcing them, and the teachers and school administrators who stand by watching while the kids get ticketed or arrested, and the parents who are letting all this happen, are products of government schools, and government-controlled private schools.

    For many decades in America, the bureaucratization of education and the discouragement of reading, critical thinking and questioning the absurdities of life, all reinforced by zombie-TV hypnosis, have led us into the third world police state in which we live.

    Oh, well.

  7. jim January 11, 2012 at 3:44 am #

    Sigh… just another only-in-Texas situation that makes me miss Molly Ivins even more. She would have had fun with this… because we have a lot of stuff down here that you can either make fun of or let them drive you crazy. Governors that think they should be President, for example… fortunately, y’all seem to have had enough fun with the last one.

  8. EricS January 11, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    It’s not draconian…it’s stupidity. And a cash cow.

  9. LRH January 11, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    It’s off-topic, but Michelle Potter can you provide more details on the Texas Grandparents Law–its current status, and links? I’m researching it but can’t find anything that states as being recent.


  10. AztecQueen2000 January 11, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    That’s the damned stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of! You’re giving kids a criminal record for being kids!

  11. Marie January 11, 2012 at 4:50 am #

    Talk about a law we really don’t want spreading. Most school misbehavior doesn’t need to be considered a misdemeanor. Kids get a little wild and inappropriate at times. So long as we’re not talking assault or something that could be considered criminal elsewhere, it’s ridiculous to ticket or arrest kids for common misbehavior.

  12. Brian January 11, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    The most reprehensible politicians are those that are against abortion rights and then create draconian policies that lock up every poor child. It would be far cheaper to just legalize abortion and be able to better educate the kids in the schools.

  13. walkamungus January 11, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    There are times I miss living in Texas (excellent BBQ, bluebonnets, Gulf seafood, avocados 12 for $1). This is not one of those times.

  14. Havva January 11, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    Sounds like Texas bought into the same warped mentality of my school district. In my district people (parents, teachers, administrates etc) always talked about how middle school students were just trouble, “animals,” “uncontrollable,” “budding gang members.” Teachers even gave long homework assignments over holidays with the excuse that they needed to “keep us off the street.” This was in the ’90’s.

    I shutter to think what that bunch of paranoid neurotics would have done could they have ticketed students…. probably the same injustices as Texas.

  15. Michelle Potter January 11, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    LRH, here’s an update and an appeal from THSC from last October:

    You won’t find much more recent than that, since the legislature is currently not in session and there’s nothing to be done right now. However, on that same blog you will find information about a specific case that THSC has been assisting with where a man has been fighting for (I think) two years to get his daughter back after her grandparents were given custody under a “temporary order.”

  16. SKL January 11, 2012 at 6:51 am #

    As my kids will be in 1st grade next year, I do hope that the pendulum is swinging back toward reason . . . .

    I understand the need for order. But honestly, I’d rather the teachers be allowed to spank my kids for misbehavior than be able to kick them out or cause them to have a criminal record. You know, just deal with it in real time and be done with it. How long do they think a kid’s attention span is, anyway?

  17. Andy January 11, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    Even if you hadn’t mentioned it in the post, I just knew it had to be Texas. This is the state that, while other states are considering eliminating the death penalty, created a way to speed up executions.

    The power to fight this kind of thing lies as always with the parents. They need to get up off their asses and wage war against the willfully unenlightened.

  18. Gina January 11, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    Brian…Abortion IS legal…..
    While I’m not arguing for or against abortion here, I ask that you remember it IS legal and children are born into many horrible situations regardless.

  19. Gina January 11, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    BTW…Charging kids with crimes in these situations is beyond ridiculous!

  20. kherbert January 11, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    I’m a teacher in Texas and personally I’ve only seen elementary kids ticketed for things like standing screaming at teachers, and stealing $50 from a teacher’s purse.

    The one time I saw a student handcuffed and arrested. The student had been arrested off campus for stealing. He had tried to get a classmate to lie to the police about were he was. NO ONE had told us about it. The thief threaten the other student at school. A teacher stepped between the students to protect the victim. The thief had his arm cocked back and told the teacher he was going to knock her teeth out. The officer was coming out of 2nd grade pod (he had been doing a career day presentation). He heard the comment and basically had enough of the little snot – slapped the cuffs on him and walked him out the front door.

    Kids who should have been arrested and didn’t
    Threatened to bring a soda bottle bomb to school (he had the right formula)

    Was kicked out of an afterschool club for cussing at the sponsor – showed up with an air rifle and threatened the sponsor.

    Threatened regularly to break into classmates houses and make them watch him rape their mothers. (language was much more graphic) We teachers tried to get the parents to file reports. The boy is very disturbed and one day I’m going to read that he has raped and murdered at least one person.

    Oh there was once a police report on a then PK student – after he injured a staff member so bad she had to go to the ER for broken bones. He threw a TABLE at her and chairs. That was for insurance reasons and to document how disturbed this boy was and get him help. He has been getting help and is on a much more even keel now.

  21. Gina January 11, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    @kherbert–Yes, those are extreme cases and a different situation.

  22. btrammell January 11, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Ok, I have never commented so if I do this wrong I apologize, but I also live in Texas and have my own stories regarding the schools and their ridiculous policies.

    The first one that comes to mind is when my son was a junior in high school and he was sent to the office during a final exam (which he had already started to work on) because his pants were the wrong color. The pants were originally navy blue cords and they were his favorite pants. He literally wore them at least twice a week every week for over a year and they had faded to gray. Anyway, the school called to tell me that his teacher had decided his pants were the not a correct color to conform to dress code and had sent him to the office and that he had to change. I said ok, tell him to walk home during lunch (which was directly after the class he was taking the exam in) and change and come back. I thought that was reasonable response to what I thought of as an idiotic call. However, the response was that since the teacher had complained he had to change before he would be allowed to finish his exam. So, long story not so short he left, walked home, changed and then went back to finish his exam. He actually took it better than I did. I was so disgusted that the teacher found it more urgent that he change his pants than that he have the full 2 or 2 1/2 hours to complete his exam I thought I my head was going to explode and 12 years later it still ticks me off.

  23. Donna January 11, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Yes, juvenile court is filled with idiotic “crimes” that would have resulted in detention or suspension when we were kids but let’s correct some things:

    Nothing that happens in juvenile court amounts to a “criminal record.” Nothing that happens in juvenile court should impact college, jobs, etc. It cannot be used against you as an adult (except possibly in the court system if you commit a later crime as an adult). Your future employers cannot access your juvenile criminal history. When asked on college or job applications if you have ever been convicted of a crime, your answer is 100% “no” since juvenile court is not a conviction.

    I agree 100% that juvenile court is being used way too much for stupid childish behavior. It is a trend that needs to stop because it wastes court time and resources that could go to children who truly need the help and over-punishes children for minor bad behavior. That said, it doesn’t help the cause to give out wrong information in an effort to try to make this worse than it is (when it is bad enough without enhancement).

  24. ThOR January 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    I have family in South Texas. A few years back, a young cousin married a small town cop. He was a rookie learning how it was done. During a holiday visit, I told him about how parenting has been criminalized here in California, recounting a recent story about a friend whose rebellious child liked to run in traffic to scare Mommy. When Mommy spanked the youngster after a particularly harrowing dash through traffic, the police promptly showed up. The cops didn’t arrest my friend, but warned her that not all cops on the force are as understanding as they are and to be careful or she’d be arrested for assault and battery on a child – a very serious offense.

    The new cousin-in-law was incredulous. That’s not how it’s done in Texas, he assured us. Then he recounted how a call was made to his police station the preceding week by a boy who claimed to have been beaten by his mother. The sergeant on duty took the call and read the boy the riot act about his behavior, telling him to straighten up so his mother wouldn’t have to beat him. Before hanging up, the cop told the boy to never call again or he’d personally haul the boy’s butt in as an incorrigible.

    The story I told my cousin the cop was not an isolated incident. The last time I was called in to jury duty, the case I was called for involved a father who spanked his misbehaving son, was reported by an irate girlfriend (mother of the child) who didn’t approve of spanking, and was charged with misdemeanor child abuse. Although the Dad was acquitted, he was poor and had been sitting in jail for more than a month waiting for his trial date because he couldn’t afford to post bail.

    By the way, my cousin left the small town police force. There was virtually no crime in his town and he found himself bored to death. He moved to San Antonio, a big city with real crime, and joined the P.D.

    Texas doesn’t sound so bad to me.

  25. ebohlman January 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    btrammell: Your story reminds me of one told by Laurence Peter of Peter Principle fame. When he was younger and had gotten a degree in education, he sent some paperwork in to the provincial education ministry in order to get his formal credentials. The instructions recommended sending it by insured mail (which means he’d be reimbursed for his costs if the post office lost his letter) but he overlooked them and sent them by regular mail. Once the ministry received his paperwork (which had arrived safe and sound), they sent it back to him and told him to resend it by insured mail.

  26. finally_free January 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    I live in Texas and have chosen to send my kids to private school. This is one of the main reasons why. I live in an affluent suburb with good public schools and good teachers, but the risk that my kids would end up in some situation because of some typical kid mistake was too great.

  27. Paula January 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    This article brings up some interesting issues at the intersection of parenting, education and discipline in addition to pointing to some alarming developments in (U.S.?) society. Who is responsible for the bad behavior of students? The student? His or her parents or peers? The teachers or school? How do we define bad behavior and then find the best ways to address and correct it? These questions go right to the heart of personal responsibility, freedom to raise our children as we see fit and choose a personal behavioral code, and reconciling our choices with those made by others in a multicultural, multi-everything society.

    Because public schools are required to educate every child, from any background, there have to be basic rules that everyone agrees to and it seems that it’s no longer so easy to achieve that kind of agreement anymore or to ensure that the students adhere to those rules. And the transgressions against such rules seem to be harsher (extreme bullying, credible threats of lethal violence) now as well as normalized (high rates of skipping class, verbal abuse of teachers and other students). When I taught high school, I tried to ensure that my students understood that they alone were responsible for their behavior, but often their parents tried to intervene to soften the consequences. Those students learned to avoid responsibility and the problems were never addressed or corrected.

    I am not saying that arrest and jail time is the answer, but a more unified and thorough approach to discipline, at least in the schools and as far as it can be agreed upon, will help make our schools the safe places to learn that they must be. This requires that the interested parties spend time coming to consensus on the rules and the consequences for breaking them, and I don’t know of one school where this takes place. Students (even young children) could learn much from such discussions and begin to understand that no matter what beliefs, cultures, experiences they bring with them from home, they live in an extended community where their behavior affects others and where they have to take responsibility for what they say and do, including accepting the appropriate consequences (punishment?) if necessary.

  28. C. S. P. Schofield January 12, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    If nothing else this will teach children two valuable lessons; Mr. Policeman is Not Your Friend, and Government Hirelings (like teachers and school admin) Cannot Be Trusted.

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  30. Nanci January 12, 2012 at 3:27 am #

    Ridiculous! The solution to bad behavior in school is so simple. My mom is 58 and she remembers very clearly being in 4th grade (1961ish) with a boy that started being disruptive. The principle was called immediately, he came in and had the boy come up in front of the entire class and then spanked him in front of everyone. This was a public school. That boy never acted up again and it was a message to everyone else, sit down, shut up, and do your work! I’m sure the boy got a note sent home with what happened and was probably farther punished by his parents at home. Today, it would not happen that way. The parents would be outraged at the school not their disobedient son, and the boy would be toted around to media outlets and described as a victim. The principle would be fired. Very sad :(

  31. kiesha January 12, 2012 at 3:44 am #

    I’m only 30 and clearly remember a boy being spanked in fourth or fifth grade (would have been ’89 or ’90). He was the only person I knew of getting spanked in school and he was THE worst behaved kid I’d ever seen. He bullied EVERYONE in my class, even the kids that didn’t take his bullying seriously; lashed out physically at teachers, etc. etc.

    On a field trip in fifth grade, he fell down a ravine and broke his leg. The rest of the fifth grade class all secretly cheered. Karma’s a bitch.

  32. Lollipoplover January 12, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    DId Texas ever hear of detention, suspension, and expulsion? Ticketing? Really?!
    Up here in Yankee territory my kids have the threat of detention (miss 3 homework assignments, minor infractions) or the silent table at lunch (the shame of going there is monumental.) They also put them on the wall at recess for smaller infractions, and believe there is a recess trash patrol as well.

    My kid would have to snow shovel an awful lot of sidewalks to make payment on a $500 ticket. Sounds more like they are punishing the PARENTS for doing a shitty job of teaching their kid how to behave at school. Not sure how a ticket teaches the child consequences for their actions, but if junior has to sell their ipod or new limited edition sneakers to pay the fine, perhaps it served it’s purpose.

    If the older kids are commiting such verbal, terroristic threats like kherbert is stating, they belong in a rather extreme category of at-risk youth that should not be with the general student population.

  33. kiesha January 12, 2012 at 5:00 am #

    In my middle school, we had a group of kids who were labeled with ‘severe behavior disorders’. These were the kids that would instigate fights in the lunchroom, swear at teachers, threaten other kids, etc. There was a spectacular fight between two of them at lunch one day. A hulking behemoth of a 13-year-old grabbed a tiny 98-pound 11-year-old and started choking him. The tiny kid was turning blue. It was terrifying.

    My middle school was built in the 70s during an ‘open learning environment’ craze. What this meant is that there were hardly any classrooms with walls. Instead, rooms were created with dividers which did not reach fully to the floor or ceiling. It was incredibly distracting to have silent reading time while the classroom next to yours was playing a loud game of Win, Lose or Draw.

    Anyway, the school decided the best place to put the SBH kids was in one half a large classroom that was shared with the Talented and Gifted students (which included me). I don’t know if the school thought we’d be a good influence or what, but it was a trying experience. We met weekly and it was the rare week when we didn’t hear a couple of outbursts full of really heinous language or see the divider move several inches over onto our side as a kid threw a chair into it.

    I don’t think issuing tickets would have done much for these kids. They really needed intense psychological help, which they certainly weren’t getting from my school. I think their teacher basically just attempted to keep them from killing each other.

  34. Jenne January 12, 2012 at 5:10 am #

    I find it interesting how many people think spanking in the school should be brought back. When I went to school in PA in an affluent district, paddling was legal, and as far as I know, it wasn’t a problem– at least, I never saw a problem with it and my brothers, who got the worst of our schooling experiences, never reported one, though they were thoroughly bullied.

    However, I have a friend who was in school in Florida around the same time, and in one of his elementary-school years he was spanked by the teacher every day until 3/4 of the way through the year, when his father finally stepped in. I worry that giving a poor teacher or principal– and there are *some* poor teachers and principals who tend to build their own disciplinary problems with kids — the right to spank could easily lead to a bullying situation like that.

  35. ThatDeborahGirl January 12, 2012 at 5:40 am #


    I had a similar problem over a sweater when my daughter was in Jr. High. It’s winter, it’s Ohio. My kid suffers from asthma/bronchitis, every year, twice a year.

    Most of her sweaters were navy blue but she had a few sweaters that I thought were white or close enough but obviously not. A teacher sent her to in-school suspension because her sweater was off-white (cream) rather bright white as in copy paper.

    I went to the teacher – I explained the situation – it is ridiculously hard to find bright-white sweaters for winter – hence the term “winter white” in fashion.

    She would have none of it. I was told that I should buy white sweatshirts. And it didn’t matter that out of the 7 teachers in my daughter’s schedule, this ONE teacher was the only one who had a problem with her sweater – none of the counselors or either the assistant or senior principal had an issue with it. But because the one teacher complained, they would back her up every time.

    It sounds insane explaining this to people. Like we’re the ones nitpicking their rules, but the idea that miniscule dress-code infractions, or what amounts to a judgment call of one person, should be enforced to the point of a kid missing class time is asinine! There are so many other ways to deal with this.

    The worst part, I felt, was that as a parent, my word that I had approved it wasn’t enough. Talking to every administrator over the color of a sweater wasn’t enough. They made it very plain that at school, they were the boss and that as her parent, I was not only an outsider but in their way when trying to be an advocate for my child.

    I feel the same way about college campuses. Students are “your child” when they’ve done something wrong or the college wants your money. But they’re “adults who can take care of themselves” when the college wants you to shut up and go away.

  36. Kiesha January 12, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    When my aunt was in high school in the late 60s/early 70s, she took Home Ec. The Home Ec teacher insisted that the girls wear skirts in class whether they’d worn a skirt to school that day or not. They were supposed to change into skirts before class, like changing into gym clothes for gym.

    Well, my aunt didn’t want to wear skirts. She liked wearing shorts. The teacher kicked her out of class once and that night, my grandmother sewed her a pair of hot pants that were scandalously short.

    My aunt wore her hot pants to Home Ec the next day and her teacher walked her directly to the principal’s office. The principal wanted to know why they were there and the teacher said, “Look at her.”

    The principal looked her up and down and said, “I don’t see anything wrong.”

    The skirt rule was thrown out.

  37. Donna January 12, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    @ThatDeborahGirl – I agree that the punishment was insane and unfair but I fail to see what your approval of the sweater has to do with anything. This is apparently a school uniform. The school sets the uniform, not the parents. They can say white and not off-white is the required color for sweaters. Seems like nitpicking that should have been dealt with by a comment to the child that the sweater is not the appropriate shade of white, and possibly asking for it to be removed, for a first infraction to me but the school gets to actually define “white” as it pertains to its school uniform. I guess that it just seems that most of your outrage is focused on the appropriateness of the sweater rather than the over-punishment handed out.

    “I feel the same way about college campuses. Students are “your child” when they’ve done something wrong or the college wants your money. But they’re “adults who can take care of themselves” when the college wants you to shut up and go away.”

    College students ARE adults and parents have no business whatsoever contacting the school unless the student is incapacitated in some way or there is a legitimate fear that their adult child has disappeared or is in some sort of danger. Anything else needs to be dealt with by the student not the parent. In my opinion, the school as no business contacting the parent if the student gets in trouble or money is needed. Those are the student’s problems to deal with, not the parent’s.

    Be very careful contacting the college for your adult child. I live in a college town (or used to before I escaped to the South Pacific) so I know many college professors. Many of those college professors will hold it against the students if the parents contact them to fight their battles.

  38. ThatDeborahGirl January 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    @Donna – College students are “young adults” with lots of learning and growing yet to do. And if they’ve been coddled from K-12 by parents like those who protest the free range ethos, then they are less prepared for college than they should be.

    Just please believe me when I tell you about the double standards of college. Believe me when I tell you they play on your emotional ties to your child. Also, colleges and their professors, take advantage of students being young and not wanting to speak up for themselves or being uncertain. Many are less than helpful and some resort to what amounts to bullying in the name of being “tough”.

    I just don’t understand how colleges can expect parents to shell out over 30K per year at a minimum and not expect parents to want to have some say so in regards to their kid.

    I am the parent of a college-age child. I have not contacted the college or her professors even when I have really wanted to. But now my daughter is doing what we once thought was the unthinkable: considering transferring to another college.

  39. ThatDeborahGirl January 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    @ Donna – You’re right. Most of my outrage was directed at the fact that I was judged incapable of reading a sheet of paper and understanding what was appropriate to send my child to school in. It was a very belittling experience. The second part was that even a princpal would not overrule ONE TEACHER when no one else had an objection.

    When rules don’t cater to common sense – what’s the purpose?

    I find your responses to both of my issues really just made me angrier so if you post again, I probably won’t respond. It’s people like you who patently annoy me.

  40. pentamom January 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    “The second part was that even a princpal would not overrule ONE TEACHER when no one else had an objection.”

    I think that’s called supporting your staff.

    I agree that if it was a pretty narrow dispute over exactly what constitutes white, they should have let her off the hook that day and just said, “Don’t do it again.” But I can’t take issue with the principal backing up her staff on the question of whether the sweater itself actually met code. If teachers are generally given the authority to make dress code calls, then they shouldn’t be undermined unless they make an obviously bad one (like insisting something was out of code when it indisputably met code in every respect, or letting another kid get away with exactly the same thing on exactly the same day without even saying anything about it.)

  41. pentamom January 12, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    ThatDeborahGirl, it sounds like you’ve had a bad experience with a particular college. Please don’t generalize this to “colleges.” My oldest is in her third year and I’ve experienced nothing remotely like this.

    “I just don’t understand how colleges can expect parents to shell out over 30K per year at a minimum and not expect parents to want to have some say so in regards to their kid.”

    Colleges don’t “expect parents to” pay. They expect someone to pay. If you’re choosing to pay for your child, who is now legally an adult, to go to college, then you’re assuming the risk that you’re paying a lot of money to educate your child who is no longer really under your control except by the purse strings, and things might not go the way you want. Most of the time, that risk comes out in parents’ favor, but it’s the risk you take.

    If non-Free Range parents have created a situation where they haven’t prepared their kids for college and it comes back to bite them, that’s not really the college’s responsibility to solve for them by treating adults like children.

  42. Sky January 13, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    “I understand the need for order. But honestly, I’d rather the teachers be allowed to spank my kids for misbehavior…”

    Well, they can do that too in Texas. They can paddle the kids, at least they still could when I was teaching in Texas in the late 90’s. Not the teachers, though; they have to send them to the principal to get their paddling. Texas still has corporal punishment as far as I know. Our schools also had men in army fatigues roaming the halls and putting their heads in and asking, “Anyone need to do push ups in here?” For the particularly recalcitrant kids, they also had special “boot camp” style public schools they were sent away to for a season when they got too hard to handle. It was a very, very different school system and culture than I was accustomed to where I grew up. We didn’t have any ticketing at that time that I knew of, however. I don’t know if any of that other authoratarian style stuff was effective or not…I don’t know what it would have been like without it – better or worse. It was certainly worse than the school system I grew up in, but that was probably a cultural difference and not a discipline style difference.

  43. BMS January 13, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    College professor, chiming in here.

    College students are legal adults. They are 18+. They can vote, be drafted, get married, etc. I will treat them as such. That means that I am going to give them the syllabus on day 1 and I expect them to read and follow it. I will help them learn the material, I’m understanding if people get sick or have an emergency, and I try to make learning fun and interesting. But do NOT have mommy call me if you get a crappy grade because you wrote a crappy paper. Your entire world will not end if you get an A- in my class instead of an A.

    We have to uphold standards, or we don’t get accredited. That means that I can only be so merciful before I have to draw the line and say, no, that work isn’t good enough. I can’t send engineers out into the world who earned B+ grades they didn’t deserve just because daddy gave me a sob story about their little snowflake. I don’t want to ride in a car or walk across a bridge built by someone who got patted on the head for 4 years and got an A for effort, withtou really learning the material. I care about my students. If someone doesn’t come to class, I may shoot them an email making sure they are ok. But I will not hold their hands and I will not baby them. In addition, there are rules and laws saying that we CANNOT discuss grades and such with anyone other than the student because of privacy issues. So please, raise your kids to be independent, drop them off, and let them figure it out. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.

  44. ThatDeborahGirl January 13, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    See, this is what I’m talking about Mr. College Professor. If you think I’m talking about something as commonplace as a bad grade on a single paper, then all I can say is thank you for trivializing my comment.


  45. BMS January 13, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    I’m not trivializing your comment (and for the record, it’s Ms. College Professor) I’m just saying that a bad grade, even in a course, is not the end of the world. But students have been conditioned to think that.

    I just don’t see why parents need to be involved. Where does it end? Do parents plan to intervene when their child’s boss gives them a poor review? At some point, you need to let them own their problems.

    Do we sometimes need to talk to parents? Sure. When I had a student who suddenly stopped coming to class, I talked to the academic advisor. Turns out this student’s mom had died over the summer and he wasn’t coping at all. Advisor called dad, who thanked us and convinced son to take a term off. But grades and interacting with professors is the student’s responsibility. Not all professors are going to love you, just like all bosses and co-workers are not going to love you. They need to learn to deal.

    And I mention a single grade because there are abundant horror stories on faculty websites about that very thing – mom and dad get involved over stupid stuff. It is a slippery slope.

  46. Library Diva January 13, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    When I lived near Colgate University several years ago, the regional paper printed a story on how the college had been forced to create an official policy stating that they won’t deal with parents regarding day-to-day issues that students may face. If a parent called about a roommate dispute, an unsatisfactory grade, a complaint about the heat in the dorms, etc., they would be advised of the mechanisms in place that allow the student to solve the problem themselves, and encouraged to share them with their child.

    The article said that the straw that broke the camel’s back was a phone call from an irate father wanting to know what the school was going to do about the substandard plumbing his daughter was dealing with…in her semester in China. Serious matters, like the one outlined above, the school would work with the parents. But with the smaller stuff, they actually had to make a policy.

    I agree, though, the whole white/cream dispute was totally asinine. When I was growing up, I absolutely hated school dress codes and uniforms. I thought that my public school had no right to place even the loose restrictions that they did (basically: no midriffs, no swear words, no hats). I thought it was a violation of our constitutional rights. I was told that I’d feel differently when I was older. Perhaps they meant older as in “collecting a pension” because I still feel pretty much the same way.

  47. Gina January 13, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    LibraryDiva: I love your comment “Perhaps they meant older as in “collecting a pension” because I still feel pretty much the same way.” I grew up on Liberal Long Island in the Liberal mid-70’s. We pretty much wore what we wanted to. We all learned (in spite of the horrible distractions of midriff shirts, short shorts and bare (Yes, BARE!) feet. In fact, my district was then (and still is) one of the top performing in the USA. Fast forward to Conservative Arizona in the ridiculous 2000’s. My daughters wore what they wanted and the school finally GAVE UP calling my husband and me because we would pick them up and take them home rather than bring an “appropriate” shirt that they didn’t want to wear. When my younger daughter was in 8th grade, she decided to dye part of her hair pink. The school put her in “in-school suspension” and I kept her home. I figured if they didn’t want her in class, she could stay home. The school principal called me and asked where she was and I explained that I would not allow her to sit in a little room all day. The principal told me that she had to dye her hair back, I said that was her decision. Realizing I wasn’t going to do what they wanted, the prinicipal then said that she would be allowed back at school if she didn’t redye her hair when it grew out. (There were 2 weeks of school left in the year)…I said, again, that was HER decision. Guess what!! Principal gave up and my daughter went back to school. I have ALWAYS thought that dress codes in Public Schools are a violation of constitutional rights of the students AND the parents. The way to change stupid rules is to fight them.
    By the way, both of my daughters (and my three sons) fine students and have made good choices all their lives. Maybe because they have learned how to make their OWN decisions. Even the toddlers in the preschool class I teach can learn to make good choices and to do things on their own.

  48. SKL January 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Re adults in college – when I was a college student, my parents were attending the same regional campus as my siblings and I. Some of the teachers sought out my parents to speak to about their “children.” My parents were offended. They considered us adults, but the teachers (or some of them) apparently lacked appropriate boundaries.

    Either we’re adults or we’re not – it doesn’t depend on what’s convenient for the teacher or the parent on a particular day. “Don’t ask to speak to us, but we might want to speak to you” doesn’t seem right to me.

    That said, my parents did not pay for our education. They helped us figure out how to pay for it ourselves. It would have been no skin off their butts if we’d walked out of class and never returned. A lot has changed in the decades since I was a young “adult.”

  49. Donna January 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    I know I’m annoying in that I actually believe that people who are legally old enough to vote, live independently, enter a contract, enlist in the military and get killed in war, get married, get a tattoo, have elective surgery, work, face the death penalty for their crimes, and the myriad of other things that adults can legally do without the approval of their parents should be able to handle their school affairs by themselves. I’m even further annoying in that I think that it’s our job as parents to get them to the point that they can handle their college affairs by themselves BEFORE we actually send them off to college and then back out of the way and let them do it no matter how much we want to help. There has to be a cut-off point for parents interceding on behalf of their offspring and the start of adulthood seems like a good place. If not then, when? When do you finally think that your offspring will be able to handle their own affairs without you?

    And, gosh darn it, previous generations of college students could actually handle their college affairs without mommy and daddy. I may not have a college student, but I was one once. My friends and I would have been absolutely mortified to have our parents think so little of us that they felt that they needed to do things for us in college. I would have transferred to another school, or at least dropped the class, if my mother contacted one of my professors to discuss me. Where did the pride in finally being an adult go in the last generation?

    I’m not saying that we throw our college kids to the wolves. We can certainly counsel and advise. But as adults, it’s their responsibility to put that advise into action if they choose to do so.

    “When rules don’t cater to common sense – what’s the purpose?”

    I’m sorry but I don’t see where the white v. off-white sweater rule defies common sense. I could see an argument that uniforms themselves defy common sense (I agree but only in public schools). I can certainly see an argument that sending a student to in-school suspension for an obvious misunderstanding about the color of a sweater defies any common sense (and I agree 1000%). But you don’t seem to have a problem with either of those issues. You seem to believe that saying that white and off-white are not one and the same somehow lacks common sense and I think most of the fashion industry would disagree with you there.

  50. Donna January 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    “’Don’t ask to speak to us, but we might want to speak to you’ doesn’t seem right to me.”

    I agree. But the answer isn’t colleges and parents having open communication. The answer is to return to the days of “we won’t ask to speak to you, and you won’t ask to speak to us unless it’s a true emergency.”

  51. Andy January 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    ThatDeborahGirl complains that they used as white as possible sweater because it was impossible to buy a warm enough sweater of the right color. And the school told them to use less warm closes.

    The answer to that is ‘it is OK, shut up, it is the school who is the boss’. Now, I do not like parental interventions in the school, probably more than all of you together. But I would say, that this is exactly the situation where either an exception or change of rule should be made.

    There is a world of difference between parent that intervenes because the kid has bad feelings over B+ and parent that intervenes because kids immune system is weaker then usually and the kid might get sick.

  52. BMS January 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    As a professor, and a former starving student, I think there is a lot to be said for NOT paying your child’s full freight in college.

    I worked two jobs to supplement what my parents could afford to contribute for college, in addition to taking loans and getting any grants and scholarships I could scrape together. I learned several valuable lessons from this:

    1) If I skipped class, it was money out of MY pocket. Money that I earned by flipping burgers or sorting mail for hours in the dorm office.

    2) It sucks to go hungry, but you can survive it. It is possible to live on ramen for extended periods, carrots are cheap and nutritious, and if you have one onion, some vegetable broth, a few borrowed spices, and some butter, you can make a small but delicious pot of French onion soup.

    3)Libraries and sharing with friends is a great way to handle books you can’t afford.

    4)There is lots of free fun to be had if you seek it out.

    5)Death will not result from not having a TV, a game system, or any other expensive luxuries for 4 years.

    6)Dumpster diving is a fun and effective way to furnish a dorm room

    7) Most importantly, I learned that if I really, really wanted to bad enough, I could get through 4 years of little sleep, money troubles, some incredibly difficult and unpleasant professors and all the other tribulations and emerge on the other side with a sense of pride, ownership, and accomplishment. I survived 4 years at MIT. I can do damn near anything.

    I won’t send my kids to school with nothing. But I won’t rob them of that ownership either.

  53. Sera January 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm #


    What the HELL???

    I’ve just graduated (with distinction) from a decent university with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. My parents *did* pay for my education – and not once, ever, at all, to any degree, did the university contact my parents. It would be more accurate to say that I paid for my education with my dad’s credit card (about $1600 per semester – hard sciences are currently unpopular, hence very cheap). None of my lecturers have ever met my parents.

    What on earth goes on in the USA that the university and the students’ parents actually communicate??? Here in Australia, all tertiary education is considered a service provided to a customer – lectures, lecture materials, syllabuses, examinations, textbook lists and accreditation upon demonstrating successful learning have all been bought. What the student then does with them is completely up to them. Never at any point is the student’s parents involved in anything whatsoever.

    A school – primary, middle or secondary – is a construct supplied and paid for by the state, and is specifically and exclusively an institution instated in order to educate dependent children who are assumed to be living with, disciplined and guided by a carer of some sort. As a carer of children (and yes, a school is definitely considered to be a guardian/carer of the children that attend it, while they are present), the school has a “duty of care” to see that said children are kept safe, healthy, disciplined where necessary, fed, kept track of, and not allowed to do things that the primary carer (parents) do not approve of. The school must then keep the primary carers informed of educational progress, disciplinary issues, and any other problems. Again, this is because a large part of the function of a school is, in fact, daycare for children aged ~5-18

    A tertiary education institution such as a university, institute or tafe is a business. It is not state-run. It is not considered “necessary” the way schools are. Education is bought as a product, but it is NOT a day-care. Tertiary institutions do not discipline the students for not handing in assignments. The punishment for goofing off in class is to be told to leave the lecture. The punishment for bad behaviour on campus is to be removed by campus security and possibly expelled from the university. There are no detentions or calls to home. There are no report cards. This is because the university is NOT answerable to the student’s “primary carers” because the university is never considered to be “carers”. In most cases, the students are too old to even legally HAVE guardians.

    Think of it like a movie. If your 15-year-old goes to see a movie, at no point is the movie theater considered responsible for your child, beyond delivering the product (one movie viewing). The ticket is bought by whoever pays for it, used by the child, and the rest of it is up to them. If they behave badly and are thrown out, decide to leave partway through, or dislike the movie, the price of whatever movie watching they didn’t get out of it is forfeit. The theater is not responsible for how much of the movie the kid watches, nor where they go after it’s finished, nor any other needs or wants the child or their parents have. It’s the same thing. Service bought, service provided. The services are different, but NEITHER of the services are daycare.

  54. BMS January 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    Sera, if you hadn’t already graduated I would say PLEASE come to my university and clone yourself 50 times. A class full of students like you would be heaven.

  55. pentamom January 14, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    “Most of my outrage was directed at the fact that I was judged incapable of reading a sheet of paper and understanding what was appropriate to send my child to school in. It was a very belittling experience.”

    This is going to sound harsh, but apparently, you WERE incapable. White and off-white are distinguishable to most people, and you didn’t mention having any color-perception problems.

    It gets tiresome when people react with “it’s insulting when people think I can’t….” when it’s evident that either they can’t, or that no personal imputation is intended, it’s just reality that a lot of people actually CAN’T do whatever is at issue, so they can’t pretend as though everyone can. It makes no more sense than to say “I was outraged that the policeman pulled me over and told me his radar reading, as though I’m incapable of looking at my own speedometer.” Whether or not you’re “capable of” reading your speedometer is really not what’s at issue in that case, just as whether or not you’re “capable” of reading a page and knowing what white is, is not really what’s at issue. Either you didn’t judge it well, or you didn’t care. No other real choice is possible when the rule is clear, and you didn’t follow it. That’s not insulting, that’s 2 + 2 = 4.

    And BTW, I’ll just reiterate that I’m with Donna in saying that an in-school suspension over this was stupid. It was not stupid for them to insist on their own interpretation of the rule they wrote clearly.

  56. RS January 14, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    Does anyone have a child in the Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland)? Galway Elementary School does NOT allow the children to speak at lunch. If someone is caught speaking, they are sent to another table to eat alone. Can someone please tell me how this is pedagogically beneficial to the children?

  57. Donna January 14, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    “ThatDeborahGirl complains that they used as white as possible sweater because it was impossible to buy a warm enough sweater of the right color. And the school told them to use less warm closes.”

    Except that it’s NOT remotely impossible to buy a nice warm white sweater. I have several of them in different varieties of warmth – summer to winter – all bought at regular, every day stores at a reasonable prices. It also appears that white sweatshirts are perfectly acceptable. This is an extremely common commodity available at any Walmart, Target or athletic store in the US. The trick is to not wait until the day the sweater is needed and then say “Oops, I don’t have a white sweater so I think I should be able to wear whatever I want.”

  58. Donna January 14, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    The thing that gets me about this whole college thing is the attitude of the “kids.” I’m sure that parents have always somewhat wanted to interfere with their college students. After 18 years, it’s a hard habit to break. They held back because doing so would have damaged their relationship with their children. I would have been HORRIFIED if my mother had contacted my school to try to solve my problems. I was an adult and WANTED to do those things on my own. Today’s college kids seem more than content to allow their parents to continue to micromanage their lives. It’s sad.

  59. BMS January 14, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    One of my best students last term (brilliant woman, awesome engineer, straight A’s, volunteers for Engineers without Borders – awesome!) still felt like she had to run every potential job offer past her parents. And it wasn’t a “I like their advice” thing. It was a “They won’t leave me alone unless I do” thing. It just seemed so silly that they didn’t trust her to run her own life – she’s amazing!

  60. Andy January 14, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    @RS following the rules apparently. Seems to be more important than anything else, regardless of whether the rule is reasonable or not.

    The more rules, the better, makes it easier to prove what they through about you (or kids) originally anyway.

  61. Sera January 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    @BMS – lol.

    Just come to Australia. All of the students are like this, because as far as I can tell all of the universities are like this, hence why I was so surprised by ThatDeborahGirl’s comment. Her offspring’s university contacts HER if the student has “done something wrong”???? If they “want money”???? My parents are only listed in my uni paperwork as emergency contacts! If I “do something wrong”, I probably get expelled from the university – and the people contacted would be the POLICE.

    Not handing in assignments, low grades or unit failures are my responsibility alone (and are their own punishments). I am also responsible for payment of my fees. I paid my fees with my dad’s credit card, but the PAYMENT is still under my name. Sure, with a bit of digging the uni can find out that the credit card is issued to someone with the same last name as me, but is male. From that, they can conclude that it was my dad/brother/husband or other male family member – but responsibility for making sure the uni gets their money, from whatever source – is mine, not whoever’s name is on the bank account that paid the last bill.

    What the heck is going on in the USA that causes university students to be treated like dependent children??? I mean, throughout uni I was financially dependent on my parents, but I wasn’t a child and they had no legal responsibility for me or my actions.

    I don’t even.

  62. pentamom January 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    “but responsibility for making sure the uni gets their money, from whatever source – is mine, not whoever’s name is on the bank account that paid the last bill.”

    That’s really also true in the U.S. — payment is made in the student’s name, no matter whose name is on the check/credit card/bank account. It’s just that people have so fully bought into the notion that “parents pay for kids going to college” that they think that somehow they’re on the hook for it. They’re actually not. I think it’s fine if parents choose to pay, if they’re able — as long as they understand that they are paying for something *for their adult children,* and that they can’t control what the adult children will do with it, any more than if they bought the child a car and put it in the child’s name. The most they can do is stop paying if the child is uncooperative about keeping them informed and using their gift in the way they see fit. That’s how it is anytime you subsidize another adult — they can do what they want, and if you don’t like how they do it, you cut off the purse strings. But in any other case, you can’t make some outside institution keep you informed about the behavior of another adult; you can just make “keep me informed” a condition you make to other adult for the payment, which seems entirely fair.

    So many American parents have bought into the idea that they’re somehow obligated to pay for their kids’ college so therefore the college is obligated to treat them as sponsors. It’s just not true, and as an American, I’ve never really understood where this attitude comes from. They’re not obligated, so they need to have an understanding *with their kids* that their kids have to treat their sponsorship appropriately *if they want it to continue.*

  63. pentamom January 14, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    Generally, I believe the “contacting the parents” thing only happens if there’s something pretty serious going on — some behavioral thing that could result in the student being terminated eventually, or come to serious personal harm, if the situation is not dealt with. I suppose this is just a concession to the reality that most parents ARE paying at least a portion and most students ARE financial dependents of their parents. There is probably a way to specify if a student is truly independent and emancipated so the parents aren’t in the loop. With more older adults returning to college, I would think this would have to be the case.

    I guess an exception to this might be that some colleges cater to families that actually want more of a relationship between the school and parents, e.g. SOME more religiously conservative schools. Hopefully in this case the student is also agreeing to this situation, voluntarily choosing a school where they know this to be the case. Though with parents holding the purse strings, I suppose it isn’t always entirely voluntary. But most schools, including most private and religiously affiliated ones, don’t do this anymore.

  64. Donna January 15, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    “So many American parents have bought into the idea that they’re somehow obligated to pay for their kids’ college so therefore the college is obligated to treat them as sponsors. It’s just not true, and as an American, I’ve never really understood where this attitude comes from.”

    That’s easy – parents who pay for their child’s college education want to feel as though THEY are getting something for their money. It’s not enough that their “children” are getting a college education; THEY want a benefit and that benefit is CONTROL over the outcome of all their money. With the bad economy, this is just going to become more pronounced. Parents are paying for college educations that they truly can’t afford – often in the place of saving for their own retirement – and are going to want more benefit, aka CONTROL.

    The problem is that many universities are starting to cater to this
    attitude for very selfish reasons. If they keep parents in the loop, parents are more willing to fork over a ton of money to send their kids to that college. So rather than telling parents to go away, some colleges are starting to develop parent-relations departments to facilitate communication with parents. I read recently about a major financial company (I forget which one) doing the same for new college graduate hires. I anticipate that this trend will continue to grow because it benefits the university. The negative implications to the students and their futures be damned. But then again, I saw an article a couple years ago about a major US university that hired crossing guards for college students so colleges clearly do not have the best interest of their students at heart.

  65. ThatDeborahGirl January 17, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Dear Donna,

    I’m so glad that you have the money to shop for whatever you want, whenever you want in whatever shades you wish.

    At the time this had happened, we were really struggling. We washed her school uniforms by hand because we could not afford the laundry mat. We had allotted her school clothes and they came from thrift stores, not Target. She ended up wearing the same 2 blue sweaters every day.

    It isn’t like we’re talking about a great big change of clothes here. It wasn’t a matter of just waking up one day and saying, oh, let’s send her to school in somethign inappropriate. By the time the teacher even noticed it was January. She’d been wearing the sweater since September. The only reason she noticed: she got close enough to pull a stray banana sticker from lunch off her sleeve.

    Only that one teacher had a problem with the “off colored” sweater. That one teacher made my already stressful life a bit more difficult for the sake of not having one extra change of sweater.

    But hey, I guess I’m just being a whiner who expects the world to make exceptions for me. After all, it’s far more important to make sure a child is sitting in a classroom in short sleves in effing January, than it is to make sure she’s getting an education. That barely off-white vs. white is such a distraction from the educational process.

    Honestly, I find such strict adherence to nitpicking rules over maybe possibly focusing on what the kids are supposed to be there for absurd.

    But that’s just me.

    Part of me is angry but part of me feels like you just had to be there.

  66. kherbert January 17, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    I’m sorry the teacher was so nitpicky. I will send home a copy of the Uniform Dress Code – if a child is consistently out of dress code. I’m more likely to send a request to our Nurse and Coach for a couple of uniforms for the child.

    We don’t get picky about jackets/sweaters as long as they don’t violate the general dress code (no advertising illegal products, no cursing, no gang symbols)

    I have a bag of shoes and clothes in my trunk that my niece and nephew outgrew to donate to our emergency clothing box at school.

  67. kiesha January 18, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    The dress code thing does apply to real life sometimes. I worked at a bookstore and we were required to wear “dress shoes” – basically we weren’t allowed to wear sneakers and some other types of shoes were questionable. I wore Doc Martens because they were the only thing that didn’t make me want to cry at night in pain from standing on concrete for 8 hours.
    Anyway, one of my coworkers left work one night and it was pouring rain. Since employees were not allowed to park in the bookstore’s lot and instead had to park waaaaaaaaay far away, his shoes got soaked on the walk to his car. The next work, they were still awfully wet. So he decided to chance it and wear black Converse, hoping no one would notice.
    Well, a manager noticed and threw a fit. My coworker explained the situation and said it would only be for the day, until his other shoes dried out. The manager demanded that my coworker clock out, go to a shoe store in the adjoining mall and buy a new pair of dress shoes. My coworker refused, saying he couldn’t afford another $60 pair of shoes; if he could, he would have already owned them for situations just like this.
    He got to wear his Converse for the day, but I think that manager hated him until the day he quit.

  68. Maureen Blake January 23, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Here in Loudoun VA I am a Mother of three little girls at an elementary school who was just ARRESTED for getting my girls late to school. After the fifth offense there was a meeting with a truant officer. We were late twice since then which resulted in the surprise of three officers showing up on this Sat night ( 1.21.2012) where I was literally handcuffed and brought to the Adult Detention Center to meet with the magistrate who chose to release me with a $3000 bond promised to be paid if I fail to show up for the arraignment in a few days. The Charge is “contribute to the delinquency of her minor children”.

    Considering that all four of us- kids and Mom, have had medical care for either disabilities, some with diagnosis of ADHD or care for other psychological issues, which the school is very aware of- I find it not only a waste of resources and taxpayer dollars to engage our police and courts for this; but also find it to be an absolute failure of our school to service those with disabilities with any sort of empathy and understanding. There is nothing short of an attitude of animosity and treatment of me as a mother as if I am incompetent due to the one limitation of having difficulty getting my children to school on time. While it is debatable whether or not I am a decent mother- EVEN IF I WERE NOT, it would hardly be CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR to be so imperfect.

  69. Jenn January 25, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    @ Maureen- I wish my jurisdiction was so strict about truancy with students and had similar consequences to what you experienced. I’ve had students accumulate over 100 lates/absences in one school year (and there’s less than 200 days in a school year) without repercussion. What does it teach your child to be late for school on a regular basis? Do you know how disruptive it is to a child’s education and to the education of the rest of the students? I understand that you and your child have disabilities and schools are usually accommodating. I don’t know if you are employed but if you do, does your disability make you late for work and if it does, what does your employer feel about that? I don’t know many places of employment that will tolerate 7 absences in less than five months (I’m assuming that the lates that you are mentioning are for this school year starting in September). And when you say that you were only late five times (plus another two), I have to question how late were you and if this was an issue in previous school years. Being 5 minutes late compared to 2 hours late may explain the criminal charges. I wish you luck, mainly because I’m hoping you and your children will learn from this experience that being punctual is valued not only in the education system but the rest of society.

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