Watch as a School becomes a Prison!

Readers — I just got off the phone with a mom in Pennsylvania whose tiny school district has allotted $100,000 for new security measures without even knowing what it will spend the money on. This district dropped about 10% of its teachers last year for lack of funding, but it is so freaked out by Sandy Hook that it is happy to throw cash at security companies. Here we witness a classic case of fear freezing the brain. When we’re scared we demand a solution NOW! This MINUTE! Without thinking about which measures — if any — make the most sense. 

Similarly, I heard Emily Bazelon giving a talk about her new book, Sticks and Stones, on Tuesday night at the New America Foundation, and she talked about what’s happening with anti-bullying programs. She’s visited some schools that had implemented eight different programs — eight! — to combat a bullying problem that might or might not exist there. Why this willy-nilly approach? Because the administrators felt they had to be doing SOMETHING and apparently they felt the MORE they did, the BETTER. It didn’t really seem to matter if the programs made sense, or dovetailed with each other, or were ever actually proven effective. All that mattered was that, in the face of fear, the school was being pro-active. 

Which brings us to this note about school security that I just got from a high school student. – L. 

dear free-range kids: i know at my school — and note this is in a town with about 500 people covering 0.2 of a square mile — before sandy hook it was great. you could go to your car almost any time when you weren’t in class. if you needed to use the restroom you just asked the teacher, left, and came back, no strings attached. before and after school you could just walk on and off campus as you pleased as the only thing in front of our school was an old rock wall, about 2 to 5 feet high, depending on where you were standing. parents could just come and pick you up when ever they needed. and everyone was happy, no shooters, no bullying, no violence of almost any kind.

but now we have a fence surrounding the school. we aren’t allowed to go to our cars anymore or park behind the school. bathroom breaks require hall passes and sign in sheets, and teachers and visitors both have to wear ID cards. it pretty much just sucks now, because me and my friends used to go sit and hang out on the rock wall
during breaks but now we can’t even go near it because of  the mother-FRICKIN FENCE. i think this was a huge overreaction on my school’s part. — a student who felt safe before

Dear Student: I share your opinion. And I wish that other schools rushing headlong into new security measures would take a deep breath and consider: Are these necessary? Are they truly effective? Or are they just doing SOMETHING for something’s sake? – L

Welcome, students!

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91 Responses to Watch as a School becomes a Prison!

  1. Silver Fang April 5, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    It’s very disturbing to see schools turning into prisons and fortresses, ostensibly to protect students, but in reality treating students like criminals.

  2. Chad G April 5, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Here is the big problem with all these new security measures. NONE of them are tested and/or reviewed for effectiveness. Sometimes what looks like a good idea at first ends up making things worse, a lot worse. I am absolutely sure that at least half of these untested “Security” measures being implemented across the country right now will make schools much LESS safe and secure.

  3. C. S. P. Schofield April 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Dear High School Student;

    Please take this lesson to heart; the Government is NOT your friend, it can be relied upon to to too far, and most of what it does amounts to trying to scare you with Hobgoblins in the hopes that you will rush into its arms to be ‘saved’.

  4. Emily April 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    How does it make it safer to put a huge fence around the school, AND require I.D. cards for the staff, AND ban students from going to their cars during the school day, ban them from parking in a certain location, AND require hall passes and sign-in/sign-out sheets for bathroom breaks? Do they also ban teachers from going to their cars during the school day, and document every bathroom break? I don’t think a lot of adults would take kindly to those rules, so why do it to teenagers? If this school is so small, surely they’d recognize one of their own students coming and going within the school grounds during the day, and if someone was on the school grounds with the intent to do harm, surely they either wouldn’t know, or wouldn’t care, about the parking rules, and probably wouldn’t bother to sign in at the office, and write “Killing spree” in the blank that says “Purpose of Visit.” Where does this student even go to school? All this “security theatre” is a massive overreaction, but even more so if the school isn’t anywhere within the vicinity of Sandy Hook. All this kind of thing serves to do is needlessly punish the general population of the school, who haven’t done anything wrong.

  5. Sky April 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Clearly the school should be spending that money teaching grammar and writing instead. For instance, it only costs a few cents per student per year to emphasize that each sentence begins with a capital letter.

  6. SKL April 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Sad, but this kid’s school is just doing what many other schools have been doing for decades. Heck, I needed a pass to go to the bathroom 30 years ago. And since the teacher would want to know exactly WHY I wanted to go there (duh), I just figured out ways (some unhealthy) to avoid ever having to ask.

  7. Danielle April 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    I agree with Chad. I’d be somebody could still just wander in quite easily but in an attempt to escape the entire school would have to get out one or two spots in the fence. Sounds super secure to me.

  8. SKL April 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    This is a little OT because it’s my kids’ “spring camp” at the local rec center. (They offer all-day activities so parents can work during spring break.) Each day I go to sign my kids out and they demand to see my drivers’ license. Kuz the fact that my kids run up to me, hug me, etc. could mean something other than that I’m safe for them to go with . . . .

    Today I told them I’d be picking my kids up in the middle of their “field trip” to the nearby bowling alley. They said, “I don’t know if that’s allowed.” I said, “since they are my kids, I think I ought to be allowed to pick them up whenever and wherever I want.” A concerned flurry ensued as several nervous employees discussed whether something so out of the ordinary could be permitted. “What if we don’t have the sign-out sheet? We need to keep track of all the kids.” I said, “I’ll write on the sign-in sheet that I’m going to pick them up from the bowling alley.” That didn’t calm anyone. Finally someone with a brain gave the OK and everyone heaved a sigh of relief.

    Seriously? Is this a difficult issue? I am their mother and I’m picking them up. Document it any way you wish, but they are my kids 24/7 regardless of your procedures.

  9. Nick April 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    The imprisonment began with the initiation of compulsory education.

  10. SKL April 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Nick, you have a point.

    Seriously, I always felt like a prisoner in school, especially as I got into the teen years. Sometimes more like a zoo animal. And that was before they took the doors off the bathroom stalls. Honestly, I don’t know how kids stand it.

  11. SKL April 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Hey Lenore, did you know that one of the ads that comes on the top of your page is for a sex offender registry? “X thousands of sex offenders . . . Click here to see if one lives near you.” Is there any way to control what ads get on your page?

  12. Leslie April 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Our (rather large) school district is going to spend over 2 million dollars hiring security guards from a security company for all the schools in the district that don’t already have a police officer or a security guard. We have one at our kids elementary school and he is a very nice guy. However, I am fairly certain he would be useless against an armed intruder. Really, we have so many problems in this school district – not enough teacher aids, our transportation system is a disaster, crumbling infrastructure. It makes me CRAZY that they are spending this money on security guards.

  13. Emily April 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    @SKL–Your school took the doors off the bathroom stalls? Why? Again, if someone did that anywhere outside of a school setting, and ADULTS were affected, everyone would agree that it was unconscionable, and there’d probably be a huge media frenzy about it, but with young people, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. That actually happened at my brother’s school once, when the vice-principal took down the doors in the boys’ bathroom (and ONLY the boys’ bathroom), supposedly in an effort to prevent vandalism. Then, he lectured all of the boys about how “doors were a privilege.” At the time, my mom was a newly-minted lawyer, and she called the school, in full-on Lawyer Mode, and demanded that the doors be put back, because taking them off was a violation of privacy. Then, the VP changed his story, and said that the doors had only been taken down to be painted.

  14. Donna April 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    This is the one huge drawback to returning to the US proper in a couple months. Our little island school has no security. It is a collection of small wood buildings with no a/c so lots of open windows and doors. Nothing needs to be checked in and out through the office. The K & 1 class requires you to walk to the door for pick up – and that is probably not a horrible thing considering some of the kids and the traffic mess on the narrow street at drop off and pick up time – but we regularly get other kids with no prior authorization from the parents of the other kids. I guess the teacher figures she knows us all well enough to know that we are not taking home extra kids for sport.

  15. derpdedoo April 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    We can’t effect change until we all admit one thing: public schools are jails. The public school inmate’s crime is being born within the last 18 years.

  16. Warren April 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    To the OP

    My suggestion is to organize a protest of some sort.

    Maybe get the student body to paint black stripes on white tee shirts and wear them to school.

    Hang posters, without doing damage, on the new fence “Is this a Board of Education or the Dept. of Corrections?”

    Get all the students you can to go outside the fence and sit on your wall, for a newspaper photo op.
    Keep it relevant and peaceful.

  17. Smatsy April 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Dear Student,

    This is a great opportunity for you to take stock of your values and improvements that you believe could benefit your community.

    Sharing the experience and spreading your discomfort and disapproval is a powerful move. As you get older, remember this. Get involved in the political process. Be loud; be a leader. Change can be infuriatingly slow, but that is how it happens. Don’t give up.

  18. Christina April 5, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    There is a reason so many schools look like jails. They are designed by the same firms.

  19. SKL April 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Emily, I was told the reason for taking the doors off the stalls was to prevent kids from smoking in there. So because *some* kids smoke, *all* of them have to do all their business in public. Disgusting.

  20. Geena April 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    I don’t disagree with the comments;however, I wonder if the real reason for these over-reactions is lawsuit avoidance? Is it reasonable to think that seemingly rational people who say that these “security” measures are unnecessary are going to make the same claim if something did happen to their own families? My experience with human nature makes me think it is unlikely. Perhaps schools need some level of lawsuit protection from being held responsible for unforeseeable and rare tragedies such as Sandy Hook. My take is that until the American culture shifts away from using lawsuits to deal with grief these seemingly over-the-top security measures will only get worse (yes of course some lawsuits are totally justified).

  21. SKL April 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    I thought schools were immune from a lot of lawsuits.

  22. Geena April 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    You’re probably right that they have a certain level of immunity (definitely not my area of expertise) but it seems like a rational explanation for an irrational response to rare events. A very brief search showed me that there are lawsuits against public schools in some incidents (such as shuffling around a sex offender between schools) and I’m aware of a successful suit against my school district for racial profiling for a magnet program.

  23. Peter Brülls April 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Wait, what?

    No doors in the bathroom stalls?

    We are talking about bathroom stalls for people to sit down and defecate?

    Jesus, how does that even work in US, where people wear a bathing suit to the sauna?

    I think this would be nearly considered a human rights violation over here.

  24. Donna April 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    @Geena – These shootings have happened in several schools throughout the years. Has a single one been sued by the families of the victims for not having enough security? If not, this is not a rational explanation. It is spending millions of dollars to prevent a so far nonexistent threat in the case of an extremely rare event.

    The other things that you are talking about – sex offenders or racial profiling – are a completely different ballgames. The first deserves a lawsuit if this sex offender then molested kids in the new school and the second is a Constitutional issue. That is completely different than suing a school for negligence for failing to prevent an unknown person from coming into a school and killing people.

  25. Donna April 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    I don’t doubt that fear of lawsuits is an explanation as to why this safety theater is occurring. I just don’t see it as a RATIONAL reason why it is occurring. It is as irrational as any other reason.

  26. Havva April 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    @a student who felt safe before,

    Ask where this decision came from. Gather support from teachers and students. Argue for a change in policy. And ask to be involved in the discussion about what to do. Because as Lenore rightly said, they are going to want to feel like they are doing the all mighty SOMETHING.

    My daughter’s daycare told the staff (and parents) not to open doors, even for people they knew. Lenore published my letter here:

    The school passed that and another letter up to corporate. Corporate simultaneously backed the rule down to not holding the door for unknown people. And implemented lock down drills (sigh, grumble). They just had to do the almighty “something.”

  27. Geena April 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    So if negligence or perceived negligence is not an offense for which public schools or school personnel can be sued than why the security theater? Why the extreme safety measures regarding play grounds and why the legion of school district lawyers? The underlying cause of this is intriguing to me. It could be that school board members and administrators are some of the stupidest people on the planet but id like to consider other options as well. Any ideas?

  28. BL April 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    I thought suing school districts, even successfully, was relatively common.

    However, school personnel are individually not liable except in rare cases. The district (i.e., the taxpayers) take the hit.

    That’s what I understood to be the case. If anyone knows something different …

  29. AW13 April 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    In my time working in the public school system, I only knew of one lawsuit to be lobbied against the school, but it wasn’t over a safety issue (and frankly, the parents had a good point and a case, in my opinion). Schools are not meant to be jails. Sending your child out into the great wide world carries inherent risk. I find the fear that is sneaking through American culture (perpetuated by the media) absolutely repulsive! It is destroying any sense of community that might still be alive. We must take our schools and communities from fear!

  30. Donna April 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    “I thought suing school districts, even successfully, was relatively common.”

    I don’t think that it is common, but it does occur occasionally.

    “Why the extreme safety measures regarding play grounds and why the legion of school district lawyers?”

    That is a completely different scenario. The school is responsible for buying, installing and maintaining the equipment. The equipment itself is the cause of the injury. Further, not having equipment means that 100% someone can’t get hurt on it. The only thing to definitively protect against school shootings is to not have school.

    Further, I think this is much like the fear of pedophiles – the fear substantially outweighs the actual threat. Yes, an occasional money grubber may sue the school because her Snowflake fell off a perfectly well maintained swing and broke her arm, but it is extremely rare.

    I have never heard of lawsuits in this particular situation – failing to prevent a completely random act of violence outside of the school’s control. And the problem is that you don’t KNOW what would have prevented an act from occurring. You can’t say “had there been a fence, the shooter would not have gotten in” since fences can be cut and climbed over. You can’t point to any one particular thing that the school could have done that ABSOLUTELY would have changed the outcome of Sandy Hook or made the casualties smaller. So how can a school be found negligent in failing to do X when we don’t even know if X would have prevented what happened.

    This may be a different situation if the shooter was a student and the school knew, and failed to do anything about, his violent or antisocial tendencies.

  31. AW13 April 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    “Lobbied”? Filed, I meant. Don’t know what I was thinking there!

  32. Emily April 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    @SKL–That is disgusting, taking away all students’ (relative) privacy in the bathrooms, just because some students smoked in there. My high school dealt with the smoking issue in an entirely different way–technically, smoking wasn’t allowed on school grounds, but the school was open campus, and we had designated “smoking areas” at the front and the back of the property, JUST outside the property lines.

  33. SKL April 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Emily, once my brother (then age 18 and legal to smoke) got suspended for several days because he had a pack of cigarettes in his coat pocket. He wasn’t even smoking on school grounds. Not that he was sad to be out of school for several days, but it affects grades and such. A lot of school employees are on a huge power trip.

  34. Holly April 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Anyone who has Netflix should watch “The War On Kids” which addresses in deep detail the ridiculousness that is currently going on in America’s schools.

    What I found most interesting was that 90% of Ritalin use in the world is consumed by kids here in the USA. Over 4 million kids are on some sort of psychiatric medication. Many because they don’t fit the mold of the “normal” (read: compliant & unquestioning) student, not because they truly need to be medicated. In addition to Ritalin there are many other psychiatric drugs kids are put on, many of which have not been tested for their safety in children.

    So, why were the statistics given about medication the most interesting part of the movie? Because as it turns out PSYCHOTIC EPISODES & UNCONTROLLED VIOLENCE are a common side effect of these medications in roughly 4% of kids who take it. In fact, all the school shooters since, and including, Columbine have been on psychiatric medications. The Columbine shooter was in fact on a medication that had not been approved for use in his age group at all.

    I find it more than just a little ironic with all the security theater going on at schools themselves, and the questionable gun control laws being passed in many states, that the REAL threat is coming from the schools & medical professionals themselves. They have pushed ridiculous amounts of medication on this generation of kids, and no surprise it’s coming out in uncontrolled, even violent behaviors.

    (Disclaimer: Before anyone freaks about my “putting down” psychiatric medication for kids please know that I’m not 100% kids being on medication. When it’s really needed. I have several friends who tried everything under the sun before trying medication & it made a huge difference. It *is* needed sometime, but so overused here in the USA. There’s a reason England has outlawed the use of Ritalin & similar drugs in children.)

  35. CrazyCatLady April 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to recall from film footage at the time of the Stockton School Yard shooting, that the guy was shooting through or over a chain link fence.

    Making the stone wall higher…sure, that would actually protect the kids assuming that no one could climb over it. But putting up what sounds like a chain link fence…not really helpful.

  36. Emily April 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    I have another question for the high school student who wrote in–is the fence intended only to keep non-members of the school out, or is it also intended to keep students in during the day? As I said before, my high school was open campus, so we were free to come and go as we pleased at lunch time and during our spares (and we could sign ourselves in and out once we turned 18). That was one of my favourite things about high school–if I wanted something for lunch that the cafeteria didn’t have, or if I needed something for a project, or if I just wanted to go for a walk, or needed a change of scenery, that was fine. Also, for older students in grade 12 and OAC who had spare periods, if you had first period as a spare, you wouldn’t have to be at school until second, and if you had last period as your spare, you could go home early. I know it sounds silly, but I think this arrangement probably improved morale for students–a closed campus sounds, as Lenore said, too much like prison.

  37. Eliza April 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    Hearing about the security measures in some of the US schools, makes me feel sad and yes a bit scared as here in Australia authorities love looking at what people in the US are doing and want to copy them. My daughter’s school is set up around a central courtyard with verandas and gardens around the classrooms. There is a perimeter fence around the school, which is only locked between 6:pm – 7am. Other then that the school is open with several gates around the school with a sign posted on the fence or near the fence saying “All visitors please use the main gate and enter through the front office before entering the school.” These signs seem to work as I have seen people walk up to the gate and then walk around the fence to the front office before entering the school. Must admit some people, like me take the short cut through the school grounds to get to the front office. Not one incident of school shootings, or teenage/child abduction. Maybe the occasional truant student caught at the local shops. Also out of school hours the public are allowed to use the school oval and hard courts. In primary schools the public are allowed to use the playground equipment at the school. As I said I would hate the schools in my state of South Australia to loose our level of safety and security.

  38. Emily April 5, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    Eliza–Are the gates of your daughter’s school always locked after 6 p.m.? What about evening activities? How would they handle it if someone wanted to go to the school in the evening to watch their child play in a basketball game, or pick them up from a school dance? One of the universities I went to had similar “security theatre” measures in place–the fine arts building always closed at 6 p.m. on weekends, but not during the week. So, a person going to the art building on a Saturday at 5:59 p.m. was legitimately going to paint, but if it was 6:01 p.m., they were clearly up to no good. What made it even stupider was the fact that they didn’t kick people out at six, so as long as you were in there before then, you could stay. They also actively encouraged people to get around the rules by calling/texting friends in the art building on their cell phones, and asking to be let in. Sometimes, I’d bang on the front door if I saw someone, and they’d let me in, because even if they didn’t know me by name, they knew me by sight, seeing me come and go to and from painting class, and on my own to paint on my spare time as well–and, the craziest part is, I wasn’t even a fine arts major; I was a music major who wanted to be well-rounded.

  39. Eliza April 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I know at my daughter’s school there sports are usually held elsewhere, such as my daughter’s netball team plays at the community courts. If there are meetings or the occasional out of school hours activity the relevant people have keys to the gate and that particular building. For example my daughter’s dance teacher hires one of the local school’s hall. She has a key for the front gate as well as the hall. Most schools in South Australia are not in one building, but are several small rooms on the school grounds. I’m not saying that the security is perfect, as during school holidays, some schools experience vandalism and theft, due to lack of supervision of grounds during these breaks. But as for child safety, which this article is about, the measures seem appropriate.

  40. Donna April 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    @Emily – Most US high schools have closed campuses. Have even since I was in high school in the 80s. In fact, my mother commented about the high school that I would have gone to in NJ if had stayed there having been the only high school around with an open campus when she was in high school in the late 60s.

  41. BPFH April 5, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    Watch AS school becomes a prison? Seriously? School has BEEN a prison for quite a long while. They’ve been more concerned about keeping children *under* *control* than educating them–the ostensible purpose of schools–for a bare minimum of 25 years.

    Though I should probably point out that I attended a high school that decided that you couldn’t *possibly* graduate in less than 8 semesters, and therefore made that a requirement. Bitter? Me? Nah, I’d just rather have spent four years at university and three in high school than the other way around, which is what actually happened.

  42. pentamom April 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    I graduated 30 years ago and the doors were sometimes off the stalls in at least some of the bathrooms in a moderately nice suburban high school that did not have particularly bad discipline problems. I understand that in the nearby urban districts, doorless stalls were SOP at that time. This is not new, but it has always been a bad thing.

    Thankfully my kids go to an urban magnet school where there is an idea that treating the kids like responsible people will encourage responsible behavior. it’s not 100% consistent, but it’s better than a typical school. There’s no way they could have a completely closed campus as a significant percentage of the students are always taking classes during school hours at nearby college campuses, and their schedules are all over the map. They still have to enter by a single entrance (before the opening bell and after school, multiple entrances are used) and be buzzed in but anyone can walk out of the building at any time — it’s on you if you break school rules by leaving during school hours without the right permission, it’s not nanny’s job to stop you.

    As for evening hours, when there is a public event scheduled, such as a play, music performance, or some such thing, the doors are open when people are going in. I don’t know if they lock them from the inside after the event begins, or not, but I suspect they do at some point after people have had ample time to arrive (and be late.) There are no sports at this school but the students participate in sports in their home-area schools.

    In my own high school, you were not allowed to leave for any reason during the school day unless specifically dismissed with an excuse, but that was before the days of locking everything and security systems, so people did sneak out now and then. It was strictly against the rules, but there was nothing really in place to prevent it, other than being stopped by a teacher who saw you go out the door and asked if you had permission.

  43. Canadian Emily April 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    @Donna–Maybe it’s my Canadian upbringing talking here, but I really don’t get the point of a closed-campus high school, because in order to enforce that, the school administrators would have to expend a lot of energy “cracking down” on the “delinquent” students who decide to, say, go to McDonald’s at lunch time, or the student who ducks out to Wal-Mart or similar to rectify a wardrobe malfunction. All of that energy could be much better channelled into actually teaching, and building a sense of community in the school. But, my point is, I think that open campuses give students a measure of reciprocal respect, by saying, “class time belongs to the teachers, but break time is yours to spend as you see fit.” It makes sense to do it this way, because once you get to university, it’s a free-for-all, and most professors don’t even take attendance, unless it’s a class like orchestra or choir, where your presence or absence affects other people’s experience. So, how do students cope with the jump from being imprisoned in a building for six hours a day, five days a week, whether or not they actually have anything to do there, from being let loose on a university campus, where nobody even tries to keep tabs on them?

  44. pentamom April 5, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    Emily, I don’t know how it is everywhere but I think at my kids’ school the way it works is not that they have to stop people from leaving to go somewhere for lunch, but that if you do that, and then try to get back in, you’re going to find yourself in trouble. It’s sort of like going from the U.S. to Canada without a passport — the Canadians won’t always stop you, but you’re going to have a wee bit of a problem crossing back into the U.S.

    So it doesn’t really take more effort than just having only one accessible entrance during the day and someone posted there who’s going to make an issue of it if kids suddenly start appearing in droves at the end of the lunch period.

  45. Heath April 5, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    @SKL, Peter, and others, my high school didn’t have doors on the stalls, either. For, ostensibly, the same reason (smoking). And that was late 80s/early 90s, in a small, working-class town in the US South. To answer the question of what we did when we had to defecate…we didn’t! You just held it in all day. That, or you sneaked into one of the teachers’ restrooms. We also weren’t allowed to leave the school building, without permission. And all doors were locked from the outside (you could go out, but not in), except for the ones by the main office. Again, this was 20+ years ago.

  46. SKL April 5, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    To the question of how we dealt with our release from prison-school into university? Personally I could hardly believe the feeling of being treated like an actual human being with valuable decision-making capabilities. Of course I skipped some classes etc., but I got through college just fine. I was 16 (technically two years young) when I entered college. I don’t know if I could have stuck it out in high school until age 18. I really, truly hated being treated like a criminal for no reason. They treat people like lower primates and then wonder why some kids start to act accordingly.

  47. RunTime714 April 6, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    I’m so glad I grew up with open campus high schools. Our school actually had the academic wings off the main foyer, and students were only to be in the classroom area when they were actually going to class. No lockers were in these wings, so you could go to your locker, socialize in the foyer, get some sunshine outside, go to the library, or leave campus as you saw fit if you weren’t actually in a scheduled class. Nobody WANTED us in the academic area making noise and distracting from the students who were attending class!

    Actually, forget HIGH SCHOOL being open campus. All schools were open. As grade school children we obviously didn’t have spare periods, but we could come and go by ourselves from the day we started school. I still remember a very embarrassing moment for me, when in Grade 1 I went home for lunch, only to find out it was only morning recess time. Couldn’t make it back without being late, and other than being humiliated at being such a total idiot, I don’t remember any panic on the part of either the school or my parents.

    Does anybody else remember when they actually made misbehaving students leave the room and stand in the hall?

  48. Donna April 6, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    @Emily –

    I went to two high schools. Both closed campuses.

    The first didn’t do anything special. It was simply against the rules to leave, and if you got caught, you got in-school suspension. Since we lived in the middle of nowhere, there is nowhere to go even if you wanted to go so everyone pretty much stayed.

    The second school had a fence around it all except the main entrance and a security guard at that entrance. Considering this school was in the middle of sorority and fraternity row of a major state university, there were a number of diversions more interesting the alegbra that sometimes included keg parties right next door so not a great location for ample freedom to roam. Seniors were allowed to leave at lunch, joint enroll with the college and go school part time so it wasn’t exactly a fortress. The people who were authorized to leave had stickers on their cars to get passed security, everyone else got stopped on the way out and had to show a pass to leave. And there was a HUGE outside area for the school that everyone had free access to on breaks – which was really only lunch – so it was not like students were confined inside a building all day.

    People from my generation functioned just fine in college because they usually had ample freedom outside of school. Kids today? Who knows. Colleges seem much more babysitter-like than they did when I was in college. I lived in an apartment from the first day of college. Now, at the same university, Freshman must live in dorms, have meal plans, etc.

  49. Donna April 6, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    Unlike SKL, I would never define any school I attended as treating kids as lower primates nor was my decision making capabilities overly squelched. I guess it depends on your school. Despite the requirement to be there (which actually became a choice at 16) and the necessity of fulfilling certain minimum class requirements (same as college), I don’t recall feeling particularly repressed or more juvenile than the teenager – ie, not adult – that I was.

  50. Warren April 6, 2013 at 7:21 am #


    There does appear to be a huge difference in the systems, Canada to US, even back in the 80’s.

    In Durham Region our High School was wide open, and from what I saw last year, little has changed. Attendance was taken in class and that was it. No other forms of control.
    My high school treated you like students, not infants. Your education was your responsibility. Attending on time was your job. They didn’t babysit you, they didn’t hold your hand, they wipe your tears. Mind you for the most part the teachers were awesome and always available of help and advice.
    Best quote ever by one of my Gr. 13 English teachers, on the first day. He stood at the head of the class, ” My name is Mr.——-, and despite what you may believe, I am not here to deprive you of the right to fail my class.”

  51. Warren April 6, 2013 at 7:24 am #

    oops “they didn’t wipe your tears” was what I meant

    Any one else have that one teacher, that you swear was over 100 yrs old. One, and a fantastic one, teacher I swear to god she had to have been 150 yrs old if she was a day. LOL, but she was also the best at getting us to open up.

  52. Michael April 6, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Actually, these security measures make perfect sense. If the unthinkable happens and a deranged gunman is on the loose in that school it will at least make the police’s job easier. For one, they won’t have to check the bathrooms because I doubt the gunman would have asked for a pass to go there. for two, everyone who looks demoralized and deflated is obviously a student in that wretched school and not the gunman.

  53. Susan2 April 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    It sounds like these measures are a reaction to the school shooting, which is too bad. However, none of the schools where I live have open campuses, and it has nothing to do with shootings. Think back to our school days – the kids who were leaving campus during the day (no teens had cars in my school back in the olden days) and wandering around outside were usually doing something involving drugs. I know drugs are much less of an issue among teens now than in the 1980s, but that’s when and where the battening of the hatches started happening, at least in my neck of the woods. Smoking regular cigarettes didn’t matter – we had an official student smoking area!

    My kids’ high school campus became much tighter since NCLB because kids who left school during the day without a parent picking them up were very likely to not return. A high number of unexcused absences (not due to medical appointment, death in family, court date) counts against a school in identifying “Persistently Lowest Achieving” schools. Since our school is on the edge of getting that label, they are very strict about keeping the campus tight.

  54. Lucy April 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    It seems every day brings another reason to be thankful that my kids don’t go to school.

    I finished serving my sentence in public school more than 40 years ago, and it always felt like a prison to me. I deeply resented the fact that I was forced to spend nearly all my daylight hours languishing in hideous classrooms under depressing fluorescent lights listening to mediocre teachers drone on endlessly about things I could not possibly have cared less about. But most of all, I hated being treated like a child. At school you can’t do anything — not even go to the bathroom — without an adult’s permission. It makes you feel like a hostage, only no one is negotiating for your release.

    The only good thing about high school back in the 1970s was that as soon as you fulfilled all your requirements, you could graduate. I took extra courses every semester and went to summer school so that I was able to complete the requirements a year early and thus avoided one more year of suffering. Nowadays most schools in the U.S. don’t allow that; you have to serve your complete four-year sentence before they’ll give you a diploma. It’s all about the teachers and administrators keeping their jobs, and keeping the government money (which is based on how many students’ rear ends are in the seats) flowing. It has nothing to do with education or preparing students for life as adults.

  55. carriem April 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    I’m a little astonished by this rush to security measures without considering whether any of them will help. In a slightly related note, my elementary daughter was asked by a substitute play ground teacher, “are you guys allowed on those?” My daughter was on the monkey bars.

  56. Taradlion April 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    My HS (1986-1990) was open campus. We actually traveled between several buildings (all single story) for classes. There were areas where kids hung out to smoke, doors on all the bathrooms, and seniors (and maybe juniors) could leave for lunch/open periods. Attendance taken in each class, 3 unexcused absences per quarter meant no credit (PE and English and a few other courses this might mean no graduation). I don’t know if kids can still leave (they could as late as 2003 when my littlest sister graduated). Kids still have to walk (outside) between buildings for classes.

    At my kids small school in NYC there has always been a guard (Jewish day school). Post recent shootings, doors are locked, kids are signed out at pickup. The head of the PA (“head case” of the PA?) set up a bunch of meetings asking for intercoms, insisting teachers have cell phones on at all times, and more lockdown drills. She wasn’t happy with me and my asking how ANY if these things would make a difference in the extremely unlikely event that someone came to the school intent on hurting the kids.

  57. Steve April 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Have any parents reading this blog EVER complained to their children’s schools about cameras and prison like conditions?

    Has anyone ever organized a parent protest group?

    Has anyone ever even HEARD of a local parent group organized to protest these security measures at their children’s schools?

  58. Warren April 7, 2013 at 12:05 am #


    Unfortunately, when it comes to an emotionally charged issue such as safety of children, it is far easier to implement new procedures and standards, than it is to have them reversed. I cannot imagine the percentage of parents it would take to demand these measures be taken out. I highly doubt that even a 100% vote in favour would do it. The school or the board would state that the equipment is already there, so it may as well be used, or that it is not a topic for parents, that it is the board’s call based on insurance and whatever.

    If you try to prevent these measures from being implimented, you are blamed for not caring about the safety of the kids, or you are blamed for inviting perverts and shooters to come to the school.

    As if those wouldn’t be enough, they would resort to the old stand by of “better safe than sorry”, “how would you feel if we didn’t do this and something happened?”, or my personal favorite, “When it comes to our children, our most valuable resource, can you ever be too safe?”
    Honestly Steve, as much as I hate to see schools going this way, I do not know what it will take to stop this latest trend.

  59. Donna April 7, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    @Steve –

    I think we would be shouting into a vaccuum on this issue with most parents yelling back that we are just asking shooters to come into the school. It is sad how afraid American society has become.

  60. hineata April 7, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    @Taradlion- does open campus mean that you have several buildings on site? Are high schools in the US commonly one big building? I must say that is a new concept for me – there may be one somewhere, but I cannot remember seeing one here in NZ. They are usually a mishmash of different buildings. It would be quite demoralizing I imagine, to be stuck inside the same building all day.

    Was wondering though if the fences are only about security. A lot of schools are fenced here now so as to stop the ‘runners’ – usually but not always low functioning autistic kids – from escaping. Saves everyone’s time and energy.

  61. hineata April 7, 2013 at 12:30 am #

    @Donna – yep, sadly there’s not too many people who take home spare kids for sport. Occasionally wished someone would do it with mine, LOL! Seriously, that is something I’ve always wondered about, when it comes to teachers getting concerned about who picks up kids, unless there is a known custody issue – what sort of nuts do they think people are, that anyone would make extra trouble for themselves by kidnapping other kids. Your own are usually quite enough to deal with….

  62. Emily April 7, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    About the open/closed campus debate, even if the school doesn’t have to do that much to keep students from leaving at lunch time or during spare periods, I still think that all the effort of posting security guards, and disciplining the “transgressors” is excessive. I mean, while the principal is grilling the students who left at lunch time to go to Subway, but still made it to their next class, or worse, the girl who got her period unexpectedly, and left to sort herself out, and while the principal is deciding who had a legitimate reason to leave, who didn’t, who’s telling the truth, and who isn’t, etc., there could be (and probably are) real problems that are going unchecked–bullying, drug dealing, cheating, students showing up at school dances drunk, etc. Even on its face, the attitude of “we don’t trust you,” or “we don’t trust you until you’re X years old,” isn’t good for morale.

    My high school experience, and most of my high school teachers, were similar to Warren’s. We had an open campus, and a laughably inadequate system for tracking unexcused absences, that most of us knew how to circumvent by about mid grade nine. Our teachers didn’t hover, didn’t meddle, didn’t micromanage in our lives, and mostly didn’t chase us for assignments, much past grade nine either; however, most of them were there for us if we needed help with anything, academic or otherwise. It was this kind of approach that made me (and a lot of people) actually WANT to come to school every day, and stay afterwards to participate in extra-curricular activities. I know that these over-the-top security measures that turn schools into prisons are intended to make the schools safer, but I’m afraid they’ll lead to kids growing up without the kind of positive memories I had. I remember the band practices, concerts, and trips, the Spirit Weeks I ran with the student council (and coming to school in pajamas, Halloween costumes, school colours, etc.), and all the time I had to roam freely and figure things out for myself, still knowing that help was nearby. I’m afraid that kids who attend these “improved, safer” schools will only remember having to walk through the metal detector every morning, and being cross-examined by security guards if they dare to try to leave at lunch time, and possibly having to use bathrooms without stall doors.

    The thing about high school (or really, any kind of school) is, the lessons that stick with you the most there, are rarely the “intended” ones. So, when I was in high school, I learned how to play the clarinet, sing properly, write a novella and a play, plan and run events, make and keep friends, and I also learned that I was a valid, worthwhile, and competent person who had something to give to the school community. I’m afraid that kids who attend schools like the one the student in the article described, will inadvertently learn that they can’t be trusted, because they’re guilty of the dubious and amorphous crime of “being teenagers,” and they somehow deserve to live like prisoners.

  63. Betsy April 7, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    It would be interesting to compare test scores of schools that have a high degree of “security” with those that don’t.

  64. Taradlion April 7, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    @hineata- yes, it was several different buildings. They were close with (usually) covered walkways between them. It was a fairly unique set up. Nearby towns and the HS where my dad worked were large multi floor buildings.

    We also had a middle school with open floor plan. Bookcases and tall blackboards divided classroom space. The other middle school on town was more typical.

  65. Emily April 7, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    @Betsy–I agree that it’d be interesting to compare test scores, and I also think it’d be a good idea to interview students, staff, and parents at schools all over the spectrum between “free range,” and “total lockdown,” and just see what their overall impressions are. For all we know, the students at Alcatraz High might be getting their high grades from after-school Kumon programs or similar, whereas feelings are facts. If students say things like, “I don’t like my school, because I’m not allowed to leave at lunch time, the bathrooms have no stall doors, there are security cameras everywhere, and all the adults seem angry and mistrustful,” then there are really no two ways to take that.

  66. Donna April 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    @Emily – The principal in a closed campus school isn’t witting around listening to stories about why you left and deciding if that is valid. I’m not sure where you got that idea. Leaving is absolutely not valid unless preapproved or you are signed out by a parent. Not matter why you went.

    A closed campus never bothered me in the least. Unless the school is surrounded by stores and restaurants (and neither of my high schools were), driving someplace, ordering, eating, and driving back within a 45 minute lunch period is just stressful. But I’ve never been one to go to lunch at work either. I can count on my hands the number of times I do it durng the year and I always have trouble with motivation to work afterwards.

  67. Donna April 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    @Emily – And everything you described was fully practiced at my closed campus schools. We simply couldn’t leave for lunch.

  68. Donna April 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    “Sitting around listening to stories” and

    “No matter why you went”

    Fingers not working today.

  69. Emily April 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    @Donna–I guess that’s the difference. My high school was in the middle of downtown, so there were plenty of places that we could go to during lunch and spares. Also, the school day was divided into five periods that were 75 minutes each, including lunch. So, most people would have two classes in the morning, then lunch, then two more in the afternoon. When enrollment was higher, lunch would be in shifts, and some people would have it third period, and others would have it in fourth, but either way, we definitely had time to leave and come back. Also, I know you said that the principal “isn’t sitting around listening to stories about why a student left and deciding if that’s valid,” but I’d like to think that a GOOD principal would react differently to a student who left to deal with a mishap of some kind, than to a student who was deliberately breaking the rules just because they wanted to.

  70. Warren April 7, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    There seems to be a huge difference between Canada and the US, when it comes to these things.

    The hall pass for one, never seen them in use at any school I or my kids attended.

    Metal detectors, security guards, actual police officers are all foreign concepts.

    The biggest difference I can see is that a school down there has the right to dictate and restrict the movement of a student. The only time I have ever seen strict rules on student movement was during final exams. Always was a pain in the ass being done the exam and having to sit there for the twenty minutes until the session was done. I know 20 mins is nothing, but to a teenager it was cruel and unusual punishment. lol.

    How in the world do these educators expect students to handle the hands off education of University, when they have been herded and handheld all through high school?

  71. hineata April 8, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    @Emily, your high school schedule sounds rather interesting. How did you fit in all your core classes, or did you have different things different days? An hour and a quarter for lunch sounds like a bit of overkill too but great if you were allowed out. Otherwise how did kids fill it? Study? My son’s school chopped the lunch hour from that to forty minutes, as they had serious bullying issues happening, physical assault etc. Haven’t read all of the post above, but hope your lot were employing their time better!

  72. Warren April 8, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    Alot of the high schools in Ontario employ a semester system. So you would take 4 classes each semester, usually for the first three years, and then you would have the credit freedom to lighten the course load.

    My friends and I graduated with our Grade 13 in 4.5 years by not taking spares.

  73. hineata April 8, 2013 at 1:08 am #

    Hmm.That sounds like a great idea in theory. Is a semester roughly half a school year? Our schools run on terms, but timewise probably similar.
    Am interested because I plan to do my thesis on ways ‘talented’ kids could be shunted through the system faster. Currently mainstream kids are generally forced to stick out five years before they can carry on to uni. Will check out Ontario’s education sites ….

  74. Warren April 8, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    For the most part it is Sept to mid Jan, and then the second semester picks up there.
    When I went to High School back in the 80’s there were maybe 1 in 8 schools doing the semester system, and now from what I have seen the semester system is the vast majority.

    Seems to be beneficial for those going on to higher education.

  75. hineata April 8, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    @Warren – Ta for that. Will definitely look into it. Am assuming the provinces all run their own systems?

  76. mystic_eye_cda April 8, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    All provinces have their own systems and Ontario has the distinction of having the most years of schooling. Until somewhat recently (10ish years ago?) we had “OAC” which was an optional 5th year of highschool. “Optional” in that it was considered a requirement for post-secondary but not actually needed for a diploma.

    We’re also oh so lucky to have junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten which are now a full day rather than half days (or two full and one half days per week for rural schools). Not only that but there’s a huge push for all schools to offer before and after school programming which was meant to be run be ECEs but the teachers’ unions made a huge stink so now I think they’re required to have a teacher. It was right about then I gave up following what on earth they were doing.

    Kindergarten is *not* mandatory but most parents believe senior kindergarten is. As far as I’m aware we’re the only province to offer junior kindergarten. There’s been discussion about adding a year before it, as well as making some or all the early years mandatory.

    I opted out of all the insanity, we homeschool. I used to have time for more activism by I mainly stick to voting now. Luckily getting out of mandatory schooling is still relatively simple.

  77. Emily April 8, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    @Hineata–My high school ran in semesters. So, students in grades 9 through 11 would sign up for eight classes per year, and students in grades 12 and OAC could just sign up for six, because by then, they had 24 credits (eight classes per year, for three years), and because the classes in grade 12 and OAC were harder. Actually, I think grade 11 was my hardest year there, because the material was much harder than grade 10, especially in math, but I still had to take eight classes. Anyway, we’d sign up for classes the previous year, and then the guidance counsellor would put our choices into the computer, and we’d get four classes each semester (or three, for the older students). This system wasn’t perfect, and sometimes we’d end up with holes in our timetables, or older students intending on a spare each semester would get four classes one semester, and two the next, so that could be fixed. However, when I was in grade eleven, I got all my hardest classes the first semester, and I knew it was going to be a problem, but I couldn’t change it. As for “core subjects,” we had an increasing amount of choice and autonomy as we progressed through. Grade nine students got to choose their arts subject (music, art or drama), and everything else was mandatory. By grade 12 and OAC, the only mandatory subject we had was English, and in OAC, you had a choice of which branch of English to take. We also had different levels of courses, for grade 10 through 12 students. There was Basic, General, and Advanced. Grade nines in my year just had “destreamed” classes, and if you made it to OAC, all the courses at that level were Advanced.

    As for the longer lunch period, I don’t remember there being huge problems with bullying, etc., because we had things to do. A lot of the clubs and activities met at lunch at least sometimes (student council and band did, from time to time, although they were mostly an after school or evening thing), the library, music room, and fitness centre were open, and I think the art room and the graphic arts/photography room, and the other “shop” rooms (wood shop, electrical, metal, drafting, and auto shop) were too. I’m sure some kids fought and caused trouble at lunch time, but I really don’t remember, because I usually spent lunch time in the music room, if I didn’t have something else on. Anyway, since elementary school was so oppressive for me, I think having an increased amount of choice in my educational life in high school, made me start actually liking school.

  78. pentamom April 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    hineata, at my kids’ school in the U.S., instead of going by semesters, they go by alternate days. Eight classes a semester, with full credit classes running for a full year, but the days alternate between two sets of four 90 minute classes. Lunch periods are staggered — some have it after second period, some have a split third period and have lunch in the middle, and some have it after third period, since it’s a fairly large school with only one lunchroom.

    So on “A” days you might have math, history, language arts, and gym; on “B” days science, foreign language, an extra math or science, and an elective.

    I like the long classes and I believe that this system is superior to the one where you get four classes every day for a semester, and then four different ones the next semester. How can it possibly work well to go eight months between math or foreign language classes?

  79. pentamom April 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    FWIW I think another benefit of the system we’re under is that there are always two days to homework, but you get just as much — so you learn to budget what’s good to get done ahead of time, and what will take you the two days.

  80. hineata April 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Thank you everyone, you’ve all given me lots to go on :-). I will have to reference this site, LOL! Some quite different systems to what we use and I can see some definite advantage to the different things you are referring to. There seems flexibility here that we do not have enough of, at least in our mainstream schools. Interestingly our indigenous language schools, which were set up by Maori themselves, have a lot more flexibility in timing of school quals etc and I wanted to see that extended to our mainstream kids.

  81. Donna April 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    hineata –

    My high school broke down into “marking periods” but all classes were for the full year. Each class was an hour long. Not a recommended set up to me.

    My middle school (in a different state) was set up sort of like pentamom’s. Except we actually had a 6 day rotating school calendar – ABCDEF. ACE days were the same and BDF days were the same. Since it was a 6 day schedule, each class varied from 2-3 days a week depending on the week. I really liked this schedule. Everything wasn’t the same day in and day out.

  82. pentamom April 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    Donna, I had a six-day schedule in high school, too. It was rather maddening — a large number of days, but no correlation to the day of the week. In our case we had full-credit classes every day, but there were also half credit classes on three of the days and an occasional 1/3 credit class (I think this was only gym) on 1/3 of the days, We called them 1-6 rather than A-F.

    Of course, my high school for some reason optimized it for inefficiency — you actually didn’t have the same class at the same class period every day, but each class was in a different period on each of the six days. I think it was supposed to combat the problem of sleeping through math class first period every day, but I imagine it was a logistical nightmare for the teachers.

  83. Donna April 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    pentamom –

    The same class at different class periods every day? Good grief. Our schedule was the same on ACE days and then the same on BDF days.

  84. Emily April 8, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    @Pentamom–You have a point about semestering not really being good for consistency, but I guess we just made it work. For the classes that were really important to me, like music, I didn’t just take music class; I was also in the band. So, even if I didn’t have music class in school for a whole semester, I was still going to band practice twice a week, and private clarinet lessons in Toronto from time to time as well. For my foreign language course, I took French, and that was never a problem for me either, because I’ve always been good at languages, so I kept up with French even if it was just every other semester. As for math, yeah, that was kind of a problem, because I was never good at math, but I kind of looked forward to the semesters without math, because I hated it so much. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is, we didn’t really have a choice about semestering, so we just made it work because we had to. We had an alternate-day schedule for music and English in grade ten, so we’d have music one day, and English the next, all year long (and, the people who took English but not music had their class with a different teacher, just for one semester), but that just resulted in some people dropping music because they didn’t like the English teacher who taught the music students. Some boys went as far as to put an open can of Spam in her desk. Anyway, I don’t know if they still do that system for grade ten students at my old high school, but it was an experimental thing at the time, and, like everything, it wasn’t perfect.

  85. Warren April 8, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    There are pro’s and con’s to every system.

    Our semester system was awesome come final exams. There were times I had only two final exams to study for, because I also had a shop and phys ed. that semester.

    On the other hand, if you didn’t get phys ed in the semester you wanted, you wouldn’t get the sports you wanted, because sports followed the seasons.

    A missed day or two was nothing to fret over, as the most you had was four classes, to catch up on.

  86. pentamom April 9, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    ” Some boys went as far as to put an open can of Spam in her desk. ”

    Wow, that was one really rough school, Emily! LOL

  87. Emily April 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    @Pentamom–I should have mentioned that our English teacher was a bit mentally unstable, and it didn’t take much to set her off. She wasn’t an angry person; she was just kind of blah, and she’d take forever to grade our assignments, and a lot of the time, we’d show up for English, and she’d tell us to just read, or work on whatever, while she just sat at her desk and read and did whatever of her own, because she “just didn’t have the energy.” So, I guess when people said they “didn’t like the English teacher,” what they meant to say was that they didn’t like her teaching style. Anyway, because this woman was so sensitive, the Spam prank apparently made me cry. I didn’t witness this, but the perpetrators told me about it after the fact. I had no knowledge of the prank until they mentioned it out of the blue after music class one day.

  88. Caleb April 10, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    Some may thing this is off topic, but I think it is important.

    Up here in New Hampshire, after what seemed like forever, we had a really nice day. Temperatures touched seventy. The cruel north, northeast, and east winds relented, and shifted to the west.

    I fully expect, because I know New England weather, it will snow again. However the kindness of today did something I have a lot of trouble doing, as do psychiatrists.

    It made the children be nice.

    As a person running a childcare it is humbling to see a sunny day do what I have trouble doing. After all, spring sunshine has no brain. It has an IQ of zero. But it makes children behave better.

    It also makes adults behave better.

    I should also point out a sunny, spring day involves no rules and regulations. It has no walls or barbed wire.

    Think about it. ( wrote some of my personal thoughts at: )

    At times I feel all our arguing and bickering, our rules and counter-rules, our Republicans vs Democrats and our this wing vs that wing and our male vs female and so on and so forth is like a long, long winter.

    What we crave most, aged six to sixty, is spring.

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