Outrage of the Week: Mom HANDCUFFED for Tardy Kids

Hi kefnarbdss
Folks — This blog, as you know, is always trying to distinguish between real threats to children and the over-hyped ones. In this case, the fear of children being neglected or falling behind has gone overboard.  The mom is due in court this morning  — Wednesday. I wish her a lot of luck, and a judge with compassion and common sense. — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: Here in Loudoun, VA,  I am a the 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 $3,000 bond promised to be paid if I fail to show up for the arraignment in a few days.  [N.B. The court date is Weds., Jan. 25.]

The charge is “contributing to the delinquency of her minor children.”  The VA code is written that after five absences the truant officer meets with parents and then works with them in cases in which students are absent without awareness and notification from a parent.  My truant officer seems to miss the rather obvious distinction between ABSENCE without a parent’s knowledge, and TARDINESS.  Our lateness has been, on average, less than ten minutes.

Considering that all four of us — the kids and me — have had medical care for disabilities (some with a diagnosis of ADHD, others with 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 an absolute failure on the part of our school to service those with disabilities with any sort of empathy and understanding. There is nothing short of animosity in their treatment of me as a mother, as if I am incompetent due to the one problem 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. — A Virginia Mom

Lenore here again: I agree. Once we start criminalizing imperfect parents, all of us are at risk…because there are no perfect parents.  

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474 Responses to Outrage of the Week: Mom HANDCUFFED for Tardy Kids

  1. Cyn January 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    If you are in Virginia (or any other state, I believe) and you have children with those DIAGNOSED conditions (they MUST be OFFICIALLY diagnosed by a physician) your children should have what’s called a “504” plan in place. If they do, you should’nt have any problems. Our son had a chronic health condition when we were in Virginia and he missed on average 2 WHOLE days of school a week for more than 1/2 his 3rd grade year. Yes, we met with school officials and had to show we were being “proactive” in helping him keep up (we had to get him tutors for those subjects he was understandably struggling in). But with that plan in place, they couldn’t legally mess with us. Is your children’s 10 minutes of tardy as bad as my son’s attendance record? No. But you need to also cover yourself legally if you haven’t already. And if you have already done this plan, BRING IT UP IN COURT. It could be taken as an ADA violation that the school is harassing you over your childrens’ disabilities. Above all: GET A LAWYER who understands these medical issues. AND GOOD LUCK!!

  2. Heather January 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Hey Lenore. Love your new show and your twitter feed! I have three kids one of whom has some very distinct anxiety issues. There are days when there is no hope of me getting the kids to school on time unless I literally force – or drag her to school. This will never happen because in any sane person’s mind tardiness is a minor infraction relative to physically abusing your kids to get them to school. In her 1st year we were late 17 times. By second year maybe 7 times. I attribute some of this to the fact that I didn’t make a big deal out of it in the first year and she feels far more confident getting there before the bell rings. Now as with any family with kids there are just days when it doesn’t come together – but being arrested for lateness – of course insane. Thank you for spreading the word for mom’s that let their kids grow up and promoting common sense as good parenting.
    ps – saw the note above on Do you Ever…
    see if my url fits what you are looking for.

  3. SKL January 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Somebody in authority needs to be disciplined over this.

    Way to traumatize “vulnerable” little kids.

    When I was a kid, I was tardy a lot because (a) I walked to school, (b) my mom worked and (some years) left before we did, (c) there were 4-6 of us (depending on what year), and (d) there were just too darn many fun distractions in the morning! And when I was in high school, it was because homeroom was stupid and I didn’t see the point of rushing to get there. But you know what? I was still a top student, had no “other” behavior issues, and managed to grow up literate and competent (and even employable, depending on the job! I’m still not a morning person).

    My own kids are 5 and it is their responsibility to get ready for school in the morning. Not because I’m a lazy mom, but because I am making the effort to develop their competence. So sometimes we are late to school – a couple of minutes here and there. I’m not going to dress my capable kids just to save a minute. That one minute saved would result in hours of catering to a spoiled, “helpless” brat. Blah. And no, I won’t get started an hour earlier; did I mention I’m not a morning person?

    So should I start telling my kids that if they don’t tie their shoes faster, Mommy’s gonna go to jail?

  4. Heather January 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Hey SKL,
    Funny post on “not morning moms”

  5. Andy January 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    @SKL My parents used the same method with homework and me. It was on me to make sure it is getting done and that I did not forgot anything needed for school.

    Worked out the same way as with you and tardiness – sometimes forgetting the homework or having less good grade because it was done on the last possible moment. Otherwise no problems and a good student.

    Parent sometimes really know best which trick works on their children :).

  6. KD January 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    My youngest daughter has learning and processing issues and my middle daughter has ADHD and there are days when we are late. I have recived two phone calls this year about tardiness and let the teachers and staff know that one, we have an IEP for one child and a 504 for the other that approves tardiness for those bad days. I wouldn’t know what to do if we could be thrown in jail for this. I also use the personal responsibility model for the kids getting ready because that is what is best for them despite our challenges. Every year I have to explain this to the new teacher and I have had mixed reactions about this.

  7. Ben January 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    There are clearly circumstances here that should cater for some minor tardiness, but even if there wasn’t, what happened to good old-fashioned detention? You don’t punish a parent for being late and you certainly don’t serve them a court date. Also, if one parent drives 4 kids to school, you can’t blame the kids for being late either; they are dependant on the parent and all the other kids to arrive on time.

    Also, it’s laughable she had to meet with a truancy officer. The kids were in school and not playing truant.

  8. Sera January 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm #


    Yes, you do punish the parent for enabling consistent lateness and/or truancy. In a case like this one, where there are multiple disabilites and multiple children involved, special treatment and leniency is called for.

    However, under normal circumstances, school attendance (in lieu of homeschooling, distance education etc.) is mandatory up to a certain age or completion level – here in NSW, Aus, that point is 17 years of age. The parents certainly CAN and certainly SHOULD be held criminally accountable for ensuring that their children are in school, on time, and remain there for the whole day, daily. In the first world, one of the most important duties of a parent is ensuring that their child has at least a secondary education qualification. Getting to school on time is NOT something that should be considered an onerous task that some people should be exempt from without good reason.

    If you don’t get to work on time, daily, you get fired. You are considered a subpar worker. If you have no good reason for not ensuring that your children get to school on time, daily, then you are doing something wrong. Certainly when I went to school, there were plenty of kids that did at least one of the following:

    – Got to school in excess of an hour before school started, because that was the only bus/method of parental transportation that got them there before it started

    – Got on a bus that took in excess of an hour to reach the school (i.e. had to be ready at 7:50 to catch a bus that got to school at 8:50)

    – Walked a long but manageable distance to/from school

    Whatever the reason, though, the kids were usually at school on time, because getting there late goes on the attendance record. If getting there excessively early prevented them from getting there late, they did it.

  9. owen59 January 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    This is INSANITY! I could cry at this inhumane power play dressed up as child benefit. Perhaps it is proof of the failure of the USA education system that ‘educated’ persons will fail their community so badly. What is the point of maintaining a system with these outcomes.

  10. Katrin Geisler, Frankfurt, Germany January 25, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    I can hardly believe it – to me as a german it is just not imaginable, that someone is arrested for being late. No one would even think of something like this. The police is only intervening when parents don’t send their children to school at all (school attendance is compulsory in Germany) or when children are skipping school repeatedly. Then the police can bring the kids to school.

    We witnessed an arrest just yesterday when I wanted to pick my daughter up from school. We had just gotten into the car when another car stopped directly behind us and the driver was arrested by two policemen. We couldn’t drive away because the cars stood in the way so we had to wait a few minutes. My daughter – she is seven years old – started crying because she thought we were in trouble, too. Imagine, she had to see me being handcuffed and arrested, she would absolutely be in panic.

    Virginia Mom, I wish you all the best.

  11. knutty knitter January 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm #


    You can’t do that here. No child is allowed to be at school more than half an hour before the bell. You have to get child care for that. And pay for it.

    We have had issues with lateness for both children – one because his carpool person was always running late which he hated (he likes to be on time). The other because he is just like that and not a morning person. The first issue we sorted with the teacher and the second resulted in a string of detentions (at our request – dragging a teen who is unwilling out of bed is difficult!). We hope for better results this year as the carpooling is at an end (he is first year high school and this school is in walking/biking distance) and the other is now in the senior part of the school – maybe he will start to show some responsibility having grown up a lot over the holidays.

    In either case I can’t see any benefits in blaming us for what we can’t help. The blame belongs to the carpool in the first instance (and we are too poor to use any other system) and the child in the second instance (using physical force on a child who is bigger than you isn’t the way to go – or any child actually).

    Another thought – the threat of handcuffs for you might lead to some interesting power struggles with older children – blackmail anyone. I’m not saying that every child would see this but there are certainly some who would.

    viv in nz

  12. Sean January 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    I charge these people with “contributing to the delinquency of common sense, decency, and compassion.”

  13. curiositykt January 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    I was often late for school due to my bus. We had the farthest out bus run, and one of the wheelchair kids, AND various things kept happening to our poor bus (It broke down, it got into an accident, it spun around on some ice..) I think one year we had 4 different buses due to the actual vehicle breaking down.

    It would have been very funny if our bus driver had been arrested for making us late, but since it was a known issue to the school, nothing ever happened to us.

  14. Miriam January 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    OMG, this is so atrocious I am beyond words.

  15. Michelle January 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    This is so insanely stupid! So is this mother really going to get her kids to school on time when she’s in JAIL??? Seriously, a few minutes late here and there is meaningless considering pretty much NO teaching occurs in the first 20 minutes of school anyway as the kids get settled in for the day.

    When my kids were in public school it was 15 miles away and I had to drive them. A lot can happen with traffic in 15 miles but more often than not, if we were running late it was because my ADHD kid had decided he wasn’t getting in the car. When he was 5 I could still manhandle him into the car seat. By 6 and 7 that just wasn’t possible any more so sure, there were days where we had to play a negotiating game or just wait it out. Sometimes he wouldn’t get OUT of the car once we got to the school. Pulling your kid out of the car by his toe nails in the carpool line just isn’t socially acceptable which left little choice but to go park in the parents lot and go back to negotiating or wait it out again then walk him in calmly like everything was just fine even if I was mad as a wet hen and had sweat soaked through my suit.

    But if I had been arrested for those times? Holy moly, a wet hen wouldn’t begin to explain my anger! I’d be insisting one of those people go to my house and get that kid to school on time 5 days in a row without using any physical force! School was a total nightmare for that poor kid and forcing him to go every day was pure torture for both of us.

  16. Christi January 25, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Hmmm… can’t say this really bothers me!

    As an elementary teacher who is CONSTANTLY being held to increasingly ridiculous standards by pampered helicopter parents (not saying that YOU are a helicopter parent, though, to a teacher, your explanation of the situation does display some of the hallmarks), it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to thing of parents being held to equally high standards.

  17. Sera January 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    @ Knutty Knitter

    Perhaps you’re right. I’m probably far too used to my country’s government being a bit better about this sort of thing (as opposed to: “here are the rules, and if you’re too poor/disabled/single to comply, to hell and to jail with you”). I grew up in a rural area with no public transport. The government, then, supplied a bus (via the school) that picked up all of the kids that went to my school in that area and then dropped them to school. This was one bus over a small area for my small, rural public school, and multiple buses (some were public transport, but most were specifically school buses) for my larger high school that was in a nearby town. If you caught public transport buses to school, you were issued a student pass that got you a discount (usually somewhere between 50-100%). If you had to pay your childrens’ bus fares, and you were poor, you could get financial assistance that meant that bus fares were free. The school was “open” (had teachers etc there) long before 9:00 when classes started, usually because some kids had early classes (at 8:00 or so). Although, even if it weren’t, there’s no law preventing kids from hanging around on the nearby streets until it does…

    I’m pretty sure that the Australian government puts in a lot of work and money to ensure that primary and secondary education for children can, in fact, be free (or very close to). Financial assistance is available for uniforms, school supplies and transport costs. School fees are optional. If that wasn’t the case, the families who couldn’t afford to send their children to school would end up in a perpetual poverty cycle (little education = little money = little education).

    I don’t know what would happen with the teenager who won’t get out of bed, though. It IS the parents’ responsibility to use whatever (legal) discipline is necessary to get their children to school, but if that’s impossible because the parent doesn’t actually have any sort of discipline measure that they can use (i.e. there are no privelages or objects that can be taken away), or they won’t because the child becomes dangerously violent, the only real recourse is police intervention.

  18. David Kruger January 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    As an elementary school teacher in inner-city Toronto I am horrifically offended by this. That said, as a teacher I am horrifically offended by the tardiness of many of my students. Showing up 15-30 minutes late, almost daily. I have suggested that these students get their lunches and clothes ready the day before. I have suggested they go to bed earlier. I have suggested they get good/better alarm clocks.


    More often than not, these are the students that are struggling to succeed. So, what do I do? What does the school do? What does the school board do? When I was a child there were truant officers. They don’t exist anymore.

  19. Katrin Geisler, Frankfurt, Germany January 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Christi, I can understand that being a teacher sometimes can be annoying, but does being late to school really justify an arrest? What does this have to do with “standards”. What educational effect should this arrest have, it’s nothing but power play and punishment. We’re not talking about about abuse not even about neglect – they are late, period. An arrest is far beyond any sense of proportion.

    Sera: I agree with you that it’s the parents’ responsibility to assure that the children are at school on time – until a certain age depending on the length of the schoolway and the childrens personality, then it’s the childrens’ responsibility. And what legal discipline should I use as a parent to get my child to school?

  20. specialneedsmom January 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    I feel so badly for this poor woman! I have a special needs child and it is often difficult to get him to school on time. Being tardy is part of a larger issue we have with transitions in general and severe anxiety regarding school.

    The school should send a home support person to help this woman before arresting her! If a child with a disability is having issues at home, the parent can request an evaluation to acquire “home services”. We did this and the “home trainer” helped to some degree. If nothing else IT PROVES to the school that you are trying! Even with a home trainer, we were not always able to get him to school on time. I think the administration is probably lashing out at this woman for some reason. In our district, parents with special needs children who complain or file formal complaints (as I have!) are retaliated against in viscous ways. This situation makes me sick to my stomach!

  21. Christi January 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Katrin- Having worked for 5 years in a German school, I can first say that, unless you have lived in America in the last 10 years and been involved with the education system here, you can not even begin to imagine how different it is from Germany. The way education is set up here, having a student who shows up habitually even 10 minutes late is putting the entire class at a disadvantage, and teachers here are held accountable for every minute of every school day- there is literally a chart on the board in just about every classroom in our state that lists at exactly what moment you are teaching what subject and exactly what students will be learning. (And I don’t mean that it says 8 AM- Math. It says 8 AM- Math- Mini-lesson- Review Double Digit addition up to 40. 8:10-Math-Independent Practice- Students use math toolkits to replicate problems form the Mini-Lesson 8:30-Math- pg. 125- Adding double digit numbers. Students will work alone and in pairs to practice double digit addition. Students will be able to complete double digit addition problems with 80% accuracy. You get the idea…) Teachers can not just tell that child to sit down and catch up. You are then reintroducing the entire lesson to that child, leading them through the steps necessary to catch up. Then another child walks in 5 minutes later and you are doing it all over again. AND THEN a supervisor walks in to evaluate you on the spot and what you are doing with that child does not match what it says on the board. A

    Also, that same parent who is dropping their child off late every day is NOT going to care one lick when you try to explain to the parent that the child has to make up some extra work because they were late or that the child is not doing well because, by being late every day, they are missing the equivalent of about an hour’s worth of teaching every day, in addition to the time that they are taking from other students. It is not that it is “annoying” to be a teacher, it is that we are being held to superhuman standards, and parents are taking little to no responsibility for their own children. Parents waltz children in and out of school for whatever reasons they please, parents hover over teachers, send a multitude of unnecessary e-mails and steal time from teachers at every turn, and then complain about teachers’ performance.

    Much of what parents are doing today DOES amount to educational neglect, and at 5 “lates” or “absences” I do think it is perfectly fair to bring a parent in to meet with school officials and truant officers and, while it does seem extreme, I can’t say whole heartedly that a few arrests aren’t warranted in cases that the schools deem to be egregious. No, it wouldn’t have worked this way 50 years ago when kids were responsible for walking themselves to school, but the education system we have no in NO WAY mirrors the educational system we had back then. The two have evolved in quite a disharmonious way, and the sad result is that parents feel entitled to take complete and total advantage of the educational system and lateness is just one microcosmic example of the ways in which they are doing that. Of course, I feel that at the High School level it is a different story– the officers should be coming for the teenagers themselves and not the parents. But, in the US, elementary and middle school aged parents are responsible for getting their children to school on time, and if the children are not getting there it is the child’s fault. It is 100% the parent’s fault and, for that, the parents should have to answer to someone.

  22. headlight January 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Although the arrest is extreme–I dont have too much support for the mother. She is teaching her kids because they have ADHD that its ok to be late if you can’t get it together. Instead she should put her energy towards working out a plan to have mornings go smoother. Put items in backpacks the night before, lay out and agree what clothes to be worn, make a check list for all to follow. As these kids move into adulthood, life generally runs on schedule–you have to be at work on time, train, bus, plane run on schedules. Get it together instead of using your disability as an excuse and causing inconvenience to others because you cant get their on time.

  23. Melody January 25, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    As a teacher, it is more than irritating to deal with chornic tardiness. We get started, and then the tardies come in to disrupt. I don’t understand parents like this, and I don’t understand friends like this. There are articles that analyze those who are chronically late and it shows that they believe that their time is more important than everyone else’s. They always have a ton of excuses as to why they can’t be on time. And guess what, the people who ARE on time could use the same excuses, but they choose not to. They choose to respect everyone else’s time and arrive on time. If hundreds of other parents CAN overcome and get their kids to school on time, why can’t you?

    These will be the same kids who can’t hold a job when they are adults because they have a zillion excuses as to why they are late. Then, when they are fired, it will always be the company’s fault for not understanding why they are late.

    There are two sides to every story, and unfortunately, the school often has to take the abuse and not defend its actions. I don’t have a problem with them taking legal action against the parents. At the elementary school level it IS the parent’s responsibility. Why would they use detention on the child when it is the parent’s fault?

    Finally, I currently teach college, and I hear every excuse in the book as to why they can’t get to class on time (or at all); why they can’t complete their papers, etc. But here is my problem: I have four kids, I teach, I volunteer, and I have MS. There are days it takes everything I have to get out of bed and get done what I have to do, but I do it. There are days that I have graded papers in a hospital bed, but I did/do it. I tell my students that they can either USE their excuses or learn to OVERCOME their excuses. We all have them; it is how we choose to deal with them.

  24. pentamom January 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    For the non-Americans — I’m pretty sure this is an anomaly even in America. As far as I know, most schools will accommodate a family when there are known issues like this, as Cyn says. Not that the parent isn’t still responsible for holding up their end, but this nonsense of not making any allowances for multiple disability issues within the family and bringing out the handcuffs for a half dozen or so infractions wouldn’t fly.

    Yes, it’s true that in this country we take attendance and tardiness very seriously, but going from there to this kind of abusive treatment of special needs situations is not the norm.

    Apparently this is a school district that has very few issues with truancy, or they wouldn’t have time to pick on this family.

  25. Diane S. January 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    @Christi – here in TX it’s 3 unexcused absences – meaning if my daughter forgot to get her note from the orthodontist, that would be unexcused. I ended up having to change an important doctors appointment up in Houston, because taking my daughter out of school for the last hour would mean an unexcused absence, and she already had one. The principal told me at 3, you go to court, and have to explain to a judge why she was late/not in a class at a certain time. Orwellian – for THREE.

    When we had them in private school, we would go for a week somewhere, all we did was get their work ahead of time, and take it with us, so they could work on their schoolwork, and score it when we returned.

    I do see your point, when I was teaching preK/K, we had a mother who almost every day would bring her kids late – including dropping the 3 year old off in the parking lot and dtiving off before he went into the building – this was a day they were late – one of the people down the street brought him back to the school, as he was walking down the road, and being he was wearing a uniform, they figured he was missing from school.

    I don’t hover over my kids, but I was like “Really? a 3 year old?”

    A good portion of the time they just didn’t show up for school. But there is a world of difference between being late, and just blowing it off totally.

  26. specialneedsmom January 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    None of us know for sure what is causing the tardiness, but I assure you there are real reasons a special needs child may be tardy and it has NOTHING to do with educational neglect. Having a child on the autism spectrum means there are meltdowns often and difficulties moving from one thing to the next ~~~~ laying out clothes the night before and packing a bag ahead is not always the panacea some would prescribe. A mother with several special needs kids is probably juggling more than she can manage and we should give her the benefit of the doubt. Again I say, the school should support her and send in a home trainer. Let the home trainer “trouble shoot” and set up systems that may alleviate the problems she is having. They should have compassion and want to help, not arrest.

  27. TaraK January 25, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Forgive me if I’m repeating myself. Sounds like a bit of a “loose start time” should be in the IEP. Best to you as you face the court system. 🙁

  28. Christi January 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    “Loose Start Time” should only be in the IEP/504 if it is educationally necessary! The IEP/504 is not a dumping ground of excuses/procedures to make life easier for a family or a child- this is a massive problem with the special education system we have.

    Even if one of the children in the family had a legitimate reason for “loose start time” to be included in an IEP/504 that doesn’t make it acceptable for the other children to be late if it is not educationally necessary for them to be late. And, I’m sorry, but a parent’s individual medical needs should not be taken into account by the school in devising a child’s plan. The parents are the adults in the situation. They are the people who decided to have children. If they have needs that make it difficult for them to get their children to school on time, then they are the ones who need to address those problems. The school is looking out for the best educational interests of the children by insisting they be at school when school starts.

  29. Lisa January 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Wow … I hope they don’t catch up with me. My son has been tardy 8 days since school started back in January … Not counting last semester. Of course, that’s because our district chooses to run counter to the research noting that 7:00 a.m. Starts don’t work for most middle/high schoolers, and I choose the battle of getting the ~20 hours of homework done each week. There are only so many battles parents can fight on behalf of the school. I’m normally an on-time person, and i feel for the teachers, but I choose not to ruin my entire family’s day starting at 5:30 a.m. over this one.

  30. Lisa January 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Wow … I hope they don’t catch up with me. My son has been tardy 8 days since school started back in January … Not counting last semester. Of course, that’s because our district chooses to run counter to the research noting that 7:00 a.m. Starts don’t work for most middle/high schoolers, and I choose the battle of getting the ~20 hours of homework done each week. There are only so many battles parents can fight on behalf of the school. I’m normally an on-time person, and i feel for the teachers, but I choose not to ruin my entire family’s day starting at 5:30 a.m. over this one.

  31. Christi January 25, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    Diane- I can see why that would seem unreasonable, especially for a high school age child. Once kids hit HS, in my opinion, they are responsible for their attendence and school work. Bringing parent to court there seems unnecssary.

    Just to draw attention to one thing you said– (and I have worked in a private school) “When we had them in private school, we would go for a week somewhere, all we did was get their work ahead of time, and take it with us, so they could work on their schoolwork, and score it when we returned.”

    I wonder if you know how much extra time it takes your child’s teacher to put together and then score that work for your child alone. To get all of the work together ahead of time for a single student and then to score it in isolation is adding at least 3 hours of work to that teacher’s week for your child alone. In a private school, teachers often have the luxury of fewer students and, therefore, more time. In a public school environment, that is nearly impossible for a teacher to do without then cutting corners in other places to get it all together. This is not written to criticize– I understand whole heartedly why parents need to do this, I honestly do, but just to raise awareness. I doubt most parents think, “Wow, our vacation is costing my daughter’s teacher her evening at the gym or 3 hours with his own family.”

  32. Savannah January 25, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    As a child my parents ALWAYS made me late growing up. It was horribly embarrassing, teachers always made it seem like it was my fault, calling me out. I was the running joke in places that were not as strict on time-saying our family had their own time zone.
    Not only that, but as I grew into an adult, I struggled for years to overcome the tardiness that was ingrained in my habits. I now get extremely anxious about being on time, and show up for things an hour or so early and wait outside.
    My mother would probably blame the running late on my brothers, yet had she instilled in them a sense of timeliness, the importance of punctuality, it would have been a different story. Also-my brothers have never been able to keep a job now that they are adults-have been fired more than once for being late.

    All that to say, maybe being arrested was extreme, but I’m not so sure it was.
    It sucks being “taught” that being late is normal and acceptable. Sad for those kids when they hit the real world.

  33. pentamom January 25, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    “The parents are the adults in the situation. They are the people who decided to have children.”

    Okay, wow, so if you have kids, and then a difficult situation crops up, and it takes a few months to get a handle on things, you should be arrested if your kids wind up being late to school more than a half dozen times.

    I agree that there’s room for skepticism here and we shouldn’t necessarily take the mom’s account hook, line, and sinker that the fault is all or mostly on the school’s side. But to go to the other extreme and assume that it must just be tough luck if any situation comes up that creates these kinds of issues — well, that seems more than a little harsh.

  34. Debbie January 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    I was a teacher for many years. I know of one parent that was prosecuted for truancy due to lateness. They were not arrested, but served a subpoena to appear in court. They were late fifteen times in one semester. Three of those were more than thirty minutes. As far as I know, parents are not prosecuted for being ten minutes late a few times. I would guess this parent is not being truthful about how many times she was late and how late she was.She was not considerate of the teacher, the other children in the class, and showed a bad example to her child. Why are you all rallying around this? I thought this was a blog where personal responsibility and not babying your children was important. She needs to get her act together and stop whining. And I have never seen a 504 that says it’s okay to be consistently late!

  35. Lollipoplover January 25, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    I have the image of Paul Blart, Truancy Officer, in my head now handcuffing bad moms for late drop offs.

    I just hope they don’t sent the Lunch Box Inspectors out next, to point out the nutritionally deficient lunches. They’d be calling me in for what we threw in today (no bread due to lack of grocery shopping- saltine crackers with peanut butter and a butter knife!) Sometimes you run out of groceries. Sometimes there is traffic, or you child decides he needs to drop a deuce as you’re leaving for school. Nobody’s perfect, and yes, tardiness DOES disrupt classrooms. But schools are for learning and education, not prisons where minor infractions are punished so severely.

  36. Laura January 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    The reaction is over the top. Arresting a parent over tardiness is a waste of tax dollars.

    Late is late. 10 minutes or an hour past start time – both are late. There are no degrees making one acceptable over the other. Repeatedly being late shows everyone else “your time is less valuable/important than mine”. What about the other 20 children in class? They are arrive on time only to have their day disrupted when the tardy child walks in. What about their education? It’s not always about your child. Sometimes it’s about the other children.

    This mom was told by the school how much her children need to be on time. She disregarded it. She shouldn’t have been arrested. On the other hand how else is the school to punish the parent who is at the root of the issue? Detention doesn’t really punish a parent (great I get 30 minutes extra errand time today!).

    As a parent it is my job to model behavior. It is my job to teach courtesy and respect for others. That means being on time and ready to learn in this scenario.

  37. kiesha January 25, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    If a kid dropping a deuce before leaving makes him tardy for school, I would think that the parents need to be leaving the house earlier. My bus came at around 7:30 a.m.; I was ready to be out the door at 7:15 to go and stand at the end of the driveway. If at 7:15, I suddenly needed to use the bathroom, I had a 15-minute window to take care of business and still get to the end of the driveway on time. I have carried that over into my adulthood; if I know it takes me 30 minutes to get somewhere, I tend to leave 45 to 50 minutes before I need to be there to account for traffic, train problems, etc. At worst, I’m waiting outside in the cold for 20 minutes. At best, I get 15 minutes to shop at a nearby store.

  38. Lollipoplover January 25, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    @Debbie- This IS about personal responsibility and not babying your children. So then why is the punishment taken out on the parent??!

    My kids get themselves to school every day (they are all in elementary school). They get their own breakfast, wash, and pack their bags and bike or walk. They also call friends who bike with them to see how many stops to make on the way (we are the farthest from school) and if everyone is running on time. They want to be the first ones at school to get a head start on morning classwork. My 8 yo, who aspires to be a teacher, likes to help her teacher with handouts and the computer before her classmates arrive. If they were to get distracted by a shiny object on their way to school and be late, why should I be punished??
    Punishing the parents teaches the child NOTHING.

  39. crowjoy January 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Thinking of this mom today, her day in court. May everyone’s best sense prevail!

  40. Christi January 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    @Lolli- In this case, it does not sound as if these children are being sent off to school on their own and dillydalliying around instead of getting there. If a parent is the responsible party, if they are ensuring that a young child get to school by car or by helicopter, then it is their job to see that that happens. AND it is a parent’s job to teach children to be timely. Even if a child was responsible for getting himself to school, when that parent found out that it wasn’t happening, it would be the parent’s job to see that another method is employed. I think this blog is about teaching responsibility, not abdicating it.

  41. Debora January 25, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    I think that as parents we have an obligation to do our best to get our children to school on time, but there has to be some understanding that each family is different. Some families have disabilities to deal with, others have many kids and only 1 mom, and others, like myself, have a stubborn child that sometimes just won’t hurry up. When I was in elementary school my mom would threaten to take me to school in my pajamas..I was expected to be ready to leave with her at the designated time, and whether I was ready or not, I did! When I got older, the rule was that she was leaving at 7:40, with me or without me. Of course, I tested her, and when she refused to take me after she returned from dropping off the other kids, I responded by refusing to walk (it was pretty far!) so I just stayed home. When my mother refused to call in to excuse the absence, I was rewarded for my stubbornness by the school with a weeks worth of detention, which also meant I missed my ride home and had to walk home for a week. I didn’t try that again!

    Common sense, not so common any more! I think the schools need to be our partners in teaching our kids how the world works. I would venture to say that more times than not, the reason for the tardy is the childs fault, not the parents fault, so blaming the parent for the kids not being on time does not go very far in teaching the children responsibility. Even children with disabilities need to learn responsibility to the best of their capability, and the punishment should be appropriate to the childs age and understanding, but should most definitely be aimed at the child, not the parent in most cases.

    I’m so tired of the “one size fits all” remedies to such silly non-problems. Have we, as a society, become so busy that we can’t deal with people on a personal level rather than a stupid bureaucracy method, which doesn’t go very far at all in solving most problems, and when did we stop treating everyone like individuals and more like cattle?? It drives me crazy!

  42. Lisa January 25, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    sounds ridiculous to arrest the mother, how traumatic for the whole family. What did the school do to try and help this family get the kids to school on time? One of my friends had a child who regularly refused to go to school, making his three brothers late as well. In the end the school principal would drive over to the house and pick him and drive him – it worked.

    As for the parent in NSW Australia who said she would send her kids to school up to an hour early, you are basically leaving your children unsupervised in the school yard. It is not the responsibility of the school to babysit your child, that is what before and after school care is for.

  43. Christi January 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Lisa- part of the problem with the education situation today is that anyone would even THINK TO ASK what the school did to help get the children to school on time. It is the parents’ job to get them there. It is the school’s job to make sure they are educated and remain on school grounds until dismissal. The farthest a school should have to go is to offer a school wide incentive (you make to school on time every day for a year and you get to attend a pizza party on the last day) or a school wide punishment (after the second late day in a month there is a consequence).

  44. Debora January 25, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    @Laura, I understand where you’re coming from, but I have to say that when a child comes into class late, the disruption to the other students is only as much as the teacher lets it be. If I were a teacher, I wouldn’t even acknowledge it with much more than a quick “Johnny, get out your history book and join us on page 46…” and then back to the lesson at hand. If a child coming through the door is going to distract the other children to the point that they can’t get back on task, then we have way bigger problems. If the teacher wants to talk to Johnny about it, maybe recess would be a good time for that. A good teacher knows how to minimize the impact of any one child, for any number of reasons, on the rest of the class.

  45. Lea January 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Arresting a mother or even meeting with truant officer for childrens tartiness is mindboggling. I certainly hope the judge has a better brain in thier head than the school officials. I can only imagine the trauma this has cuased this family. Yep being late is a disruption and annoying…but it’s not a reason to arrest someone!!!

    20, 30, 40 years ago this wouldn’t have been even thought of much less have happened. Of course we didn’t have a policy in place to script every single moment and day of the school year then either. We didn’t have imppossible to meet, panic and stress inducing plocies like NCLB. We had teachers that taught how, what and when their students needed to be taught, actually meeting the students educational needs. Heck we had recess and understood the educational importance of it for everyone involved. Now teachers have scripts and federal guideleines and massive testing six times a year that require massive test preping for weeks prior to each test. We have zero tolerance/thinking policies that suspend kids for hugging and drawings or weapons, arrest five year olds for sexual harrasment, moms for not getting kids to school on time………… What used to be common sense and easily worked out between parents and administrators for a medical issues that caused some school issues now has to have a legal document to do that working out. In this case it appears jail time is what the school sees as reasonable :(.

    A bit about 504, they are often the best kept secret in school districts. Parents have to know about them and the reasons for them, in order to request one and schools have to be cooperative with setting them up and following them. So many schools will go to great lengths to avoid implimenting them, even simply telling parents they don’t do them at that school (which is illegal). Parents often don’t want to rock the boat or don’t understand that something such as a 504 or IEP is a legal protection for their child and the school.

    Of course tardieness and abscences due to medical issues are educationally relevant and should be addressed in 504 and IEPs. Medical issues and learning disabilities cause problems with functioning in an educational setting, functioning like getting there on time or at all.

    Plenty of people went through their entire school life getting their on time, because mom or dad forced it and dragged them their, only to be complete failures at getting anywhere else on time the rest of their lives because they have no iinternal drive or skills to do so. Plenty of people that have blown off school or missed a lot and were often tardy have gone on to be great successes in real life with no problem getting somewhere they want to be on time.

    Certainly tardiness and missing days should be frowned upon for a a whole lot of reasons. Exeptions, understanding and common sense (not handcuffs) should be applied to all situations though. Children being late to school, even a lot of times, should not = anybody being arrested!

  46. Jespren January 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    This is not *criminal* behavior and so it is apauling that she was arrested. However, if the kid is too young to get to school on time by themself, then it is up to the parent to get the child to school on time. It is not appropriate to disrupt class half a dozen or a dozen times within what, half a year since it’s about midway through school term right now. A parents inability to deal with your kids is not the schools or the other students fault, and they don’t deserve to be penalized for it. If the child is too young to consistantly behave, then they are still young enough to be told “that’s ‘yes’! When mom tells you to do something” and picked up and deposited in car or out of the car. “ADHD” was not a valid excuse for tardiness 100 years ago and it’s not one now, nor is pretty much anything else. If a country kid can get up at 5am, feed the animals, help with chores, eat breakfast, and then walk half a mile to the nearest bus stop, a city kid can darn well get up at 5am if that’s what it takes to walk to the car by 7am to get to school by 7:30 (or whenever it starts) no excuses! But again. Being a bad parent is NOT criminal and the police had NO BUSINESS arresting this women.

  47. kiesha January 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I don’t think it’s the school’s responsibility to make sure a kid gets there on time. My boss certainly isn’t going to swing by my apartment and pick me up if I’m regularly late to work.

    I don’t think this mother should have been arrested, but I do think some sort of intervention was needed, for both the children and the mother. If the children are ready for school and the mother is making them late through disability, then perhaps alternate forms of transportation are needed. If the mother is ready to go and the kids are dragging their feet, then the children should be punished at school with detentions or extra work or community service, etc.

    When I was in elementary school, my grandmother got me up and ready for school because both my parents left for work at 5 a.m. I had to be ready to catch a bus at 7:30 (and ride it for an hour). If I missed it, I was out of luck (grandma didn’t drive) unless I could convince my best friend’s mom to stop by and pick me up (only after she’d dropped off her own child at the school). In middle and high school I got myself up and ready. I am by no means a morning person. I hate waking up with a fiery passion and prefer to sleep until 11 a.m. But I got myself up and out of bed at 6:30 every day because I knew if I missed that bus, there would be hell to pay from my parents, as well as just the general shame of having to stand in the school office and be marked ‘tardy’.

  48. Jonathan Bartlett January 25, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    @Melody –

    Thank you for reminding me why homeschooling was such a good option! In my life I’ve had to deal with such things as having a child who required tube feeding all night long. This required preparing their last meal at 1:30 AM in order to be ready to feed at 2 AM. Then, at 6 AM, I had to be up to shut it off, and make sure it didn’t get disconnected and spill all over the bed, or that he didn’t throw it up without my hearing it, and having to clean up him, his bed, give him a shower, etc. The other child was ADHD, probably from the lack of parenting I could give him because of the amount of attention my older child needed.

    I just have to say I’m so glad that during this time I didn’t have to receive a lecture from you about how my lateness was the result of my giving into excuses, and how many problems I was causing everyone else by thinking that my time was more important than others.

  49. Debora January 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    @Melody..I just couldn’t disagree more! “There are articles that analyze those who are chronically late and it shows that they believe that their time is more important than everyone else’s.” NOT true! I am late a lot, and it has nothing to do with who’s time I feel is more important…it has to do with the fact that my brain has a hard time “playing chess” if you will…in other words, I can’t plan 5-10 moves in advance. If I know it takes 45 minutes to get somewhere, I leave 45 minutes before I need to be there, and 90% of the time, it works out just fine. If I had to force myself to stop and think about all the things that may happen..traffic, stopping for gas, forgetting something and having to turn back, etc., even though these things only happen 10% of the time, I’d overwhelm myself to the point that I wouldn’t be able to leave the house! I admit it, I’m not a good multi-tasker. I need to focus on the issue at hand, one thing at a time. My brain just doesn’t work any other way. Some people are great at multi-tasking, and I admire that, but I’m not…so I guess I’m just a self-important irritant to society….maybe I should just curl up and die because of the inconvenience I wreak upon the rest of the world….

  50. Lisa January 25, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    No its not the school’s responsibility to get the child there on time but as the school is part of the community surely working with families is part of the their responsibility. I am a teacher and at my school I have children who are constantly late and yes it is very disruptive. There are times when I get so sick of interruptions to the morning routine.
    Our first line is to contact families and find out what is going on and see how we could help the family. Getting a parent arrested is going to be very traumatic for the child (and I think would cause more harm than good). Working with families is more likely to have a positive outcome as opposed to having the law involved. Last resort refer to Community Services and get Home School Liasion to deal with it.

  51. hmschlmom January 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm #


    Why would anyone willingly suffer the company of these fools?

  52. dmd January 25, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    I think the comment that the reaction (handcuffs and court date) is over the top is dead on. This mom obviously needs help, not a court date.

    I have a one son with ADHD. He is never tardy, but it is far from easy to make that the case. If we had more kids, I really don’t think that I could say that and other parents of ADHD kids that I know are tardy because it’s hard enough to to get someone with extreme slow processing out the door – but nearly impossible where there’s more than that kid to get out the door. Heck, the parents of “neurotypical” kids have a hard time.

    ADHD is so extremely misunderstood. If you don’t experience it firsthand, you think: well, just tell them to focus. Stay on task. Or you think it’s all hyperactive behavior, not realizing it varies from child to child and hyperactivity may not even be a part of it, but impulsiveness and distraction can make simple things monumental. For my son, it is not uncommon for him to get fully dressed, then get half-undressed because something doesn’t feel right. We have to start really early to allow for that when it happens.

    Then there is the opposition. Before my son was diagnosed I had no idea that opposition was a big part of ADHD. Everything can be an argument. Every little thing. For a neurotypical kid you can just cut it off and move on, but for an ADHD they can’t process that in the same way, at least not when the meds haven’t kicked in. That split second where they ought to realize realize, oh, I shouldn’t respond – they are already there. It’s hard to get out the door when you are arguing over what’s for breakfast, to stop playing with a ping pong ball, the only uniform shirt that’s clean but is not comfortable for some reason, or where the book he promised to bring is.

    It’s so easy to say, well, get ready the night before. In schools today, homework is taking on epic proportions. For my son (4th grade) and others like him, it’s hard enough to be doing a half hour of homework in 5 subjects every night but harder when it takes him 2 or 3 times as long, especially because medication is wearing off. He’s tired, he’s hungry (the medication suppresses appetite so now he is starving), and he’s been on task all day and his body can’t take it anymore. We try really hard to be reasonable about all of it – bedtime is bedtime regardless of how much homework there is, but some parents still try to do it all and multiply it by three kids. Good heavens!

    Sorry…I didn’t mean to get on a tear. It is so close to my heart. Tardiness is not desirable. It’s hard on the teachers and also hard on the kids. That’s why this mom needs assistance, not handcuffs! You can legal your way to a smooth, on-time morning.

    For other parents of ADHD kids, visit me at my blog: http://argonnechronicles.blogspot.com. I try to post at least once a week to share the trials and tribulations of parenting a child with this disorder.

  53. Meghan January 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Stories like this make me even more grateful that I’ve chosen to home school my children.

  54. s0nicfreak January 25, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Well obviously she should be arrested – she didn’t get her kids to their jail on time. That’s harboring fugitives!

  55. Christi January 25, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Just to put into a bit more perspective where I’m coming from with some of my earlier comments–

    Besides being a teacher now, years ago I was the child of two alcoholics with an alcoholic grandmother living in the same house. I was, essentially, the teenage “parent” to my brother, 4 years younger than me. When I was in HS, it was my job to get an angry, defiant, failing younger sibling out the door to school on time and on nearly every occasion for 5 years I did just that. I can’t say he stayed put once I got him there but he was not late for 1st period. He generally hated me for it, but he was there.

    Excuses for why kids are late are almost always just those… excuses. You know your situation. You know your limitations. You know your kids. And you plan to overcome all 3.

  56. SKL January 25, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Teachers, is there any reason why the first 10 minutes of the day has to be serious math instruction?? My kids’ teacher has the kids do “free reading” at that time. So if someone comes in late, it does not affect the other kids and does not directly impact “standards.” Other schools have “homeroom” or “quiet time” or some other transitional activity that doesn’t directly relate to “standards.” I could not imagine being expected to listen to a new math skill just upon arriving at school. Honestly, that is dumb.

    Tardiness is a fact of life. Plan around it.

    I am not opposed to punishing the child in an age-appropriate way for being tardy. That would make sense, as over time, they would figure out how to improve.

    But I’m frankly disgusted that anyone here, teacher or otherwise, considers the arrest of a parent to be proportional to the offense of getting multiple young kids to school a few minutes late.

    I would also like to know if any of these teachers has ever tried to get four kids (special needs or not) anywhere early in the morning.

    I did not know that special needs kids can get exemptions from the tardiness policy. It doesn’t sound like the school bothered to inform this jailed mom of her rights in that respect, either.

  57. kiesha January 26, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    Rereading the original article, I noticed something. The mother says that each of the times they were tardy, they were tardy by less than 10 minutes. That seems like a very consistent pattern that could be learned from and it’s such a small amount of time that it could maybe be overcome by getting going 20 minutes earlier in the morning. If the children were late by half an hour every time or if the times varied wildly, it would be much harder to get a handle on it, yes. But if a person is consistently seven minutes late (I’ve had coworkers like this), it seems that just getting going earlier would be a big help to the problem.

  58. SKL January 26, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    Another thing. If it is OK to arrest a mom for tardiness on the basis that it’s bad for the kids and impacts the teacher’s test scores, then I guess we need to also arrest parents whose kids:

    – Don’t do all of their homework perfectly every day;
    – Don’t provide tutoring in the evenings so struggling children can keep up;
    – Ever create distractions in the classroom, regardless of special needs excuses;
    – Daydream in class;
    – Cough, sniff, or scratch too much in class;
    – Get sick and stay home from school;
    – Spend too much time in the potty at school;

    My kid would definitely get me arrested since, when she decides to go number 2, it takes her a good 15-20 minutes each time. I should order an enema kid to ensure that we take care of al these things outside of the school day, out of consideration for the teachers’ test scores.

    Seriously, people. We’re talking about children here. This is not the military.

  59. specialneedsmom January 26, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    Special needs kids can and should if there is good reason for it! Although our district did not like that our son was sometimes late getting in, they never threatened any kind of action. In fact, the autism teacher would sometimes call and talk to my son when he was too frightened to cooperatively go to school. This would reduce anxiety.

    To say there is no good excuse as to why a child might be late to school… that’s pure and utter bullshit. There are non-special needs reasons. Like last week when our new kitten ran out the door as we were getting in the car. It was freezing and we live on a busy road and this new kitten does not have a collar yet or know where “home” is yet. Yes, we were late getting to school ( 5 minutes!) because we had to capture kitten. That is not something we could have “planned for”. Nor was it when my car did not start last month. I think it is absurd that anyone would be arrested for tardiness of 5 or 10 minutes. I agree with the homeschooling Moms.

  60. Andy January 26, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    @Christi how are you able to put up with such micromanagement? That seems to me like a bigger problem than tardiness. Otherwise, you could simple say ‘sit down and open book on page 45’ and give the kid some extra exercises for homework if it needs catch up.

    Depending on the circumstances, tardiness may be a serious problem or just a quirk of otherwise great kid/family. Other kids should not be held back for it through.

  61. BMS January 26, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Homeschooling will help with the school tardiness issue. But it will not cure chronic tardiness. It will not make it easier for someone with ADHD to get somewhere at a particular time. Even if you homeschool, there are still doctor’s appointments, church services, and other events that need to be gotten to on time. So while homeschooling will sidestep this one issue, it isn’t a miracle cure.

    I have no problem with people homeschooling. I sort of wish I could sometimes, but between the need to eat and the fact that my kids and I would kill each other in a week, it is just never going to happen. But I get tired of it being brought out as the cure for all school related ills. It just isn’t an option for everyone, or even for a majority of folks, and we can’t stop trying to make the schools better.

  62. Ellen January 26, 2012 at 12:19 am #

    To the teachers who have responded here, I thank you for your take on this subject. I agree that many parents are disrespectful of the schools and teachers. I have seen it firsthand. Many parents make the mistake of protecting their children from the teacher, instead of cooperatively working with the teacher. I think the problem is out of hand. It pushes good, quality teachers out of the profession.

    However, what we need is balance, and reasonable consequences. Let’s not backlash unreasonable behavior with more unreasonable behavior. A child who is ten minutes late to school ought to have recess detention or after school detention, where missed assignments or lessons are made up. If it is a recurrent problem, perhaps a home suspension, where work is sent home (which is a real pain for parents) is appropriate. To arrest the parent does not solve the problem and is not a natural or reasonable consequence. Furthermore, it is a misuse of public resources.

  63. becky January 26, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    Hoooooboy, I’m in that county. I better make sure that my husband gets them to school on time when they start K in the fall. He has an issue with arriving to things on time, he’s chronically late, especially with two 4 year old defiant turkeys. I suppose I should tell him that the school starts earlier than it really does.

    (And honestly, I don’t think our police department has anything better to do after reading the crime logs.)

  64. Peter January 26, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    I am horrified by the arrest, and disgusted at the meddlesome busybodies that support this system. My child is only 6 weeks old, so I haven’t had to deal with the “system” yet nor decide what kind of schooling to give him. But I will do my darnedest to keep my family as far away from the type A’s that aren’t satisfied with hyper managing their own lives. I day dream about home schooling. I thought perhaps there is some good in public school, and I could mix home schooling with it. There is a new exhibit at the museum, so I could take my boy to that and write a note for the absence. Looks like 100% home schooling will be my best choice.

  65. Christi January 26, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    Andy- It’s an absolute nightmare, it really is. Teachers do not have the flexibility to accommodate late students. We are on a tight schedule dictated to us by our administrators, dictated to them by the superintendent, dictated to them by the state officials who have not been in a classroom since they were children but who are chasing pennies offered by the federal government. I am quite honestly not exaggerating about the schedule on the board. It is called the “Flow of the Day” and is generally accompanied by the materials for each part of the day, and an objective or aim and a statement of SWBAT (what Students Will Be Able To Do by the end of the lesson that they were not able to do before it). Essentially, teachers are asked to display their lesson plan for the day on the board in full sight of whoever walks in so that a person can check the board, check the clock and check a child’s desk to see if the teacher is on task.

    But it is what is expected of teachers in the current educational climate and parents support it because it “proves” we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. Do I personally feel that, in the grand scheme of the world, children being late for school is an offense punishable by law? However, when “your” child being late every day is going to affect how much I am going to be paid, do I want to use every measure available to me to make sure that I “you” are being held as accountable as I am? I sure as hell do.

  66. Holly January 26, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    In the US, school doesn’t start at 9 (like it does in Australia). It starts at 8. Sometimes at 7:30! And since ALL of that time is spent in academic instruction and many electives have been eliminated due to budget cuts or NCLB regulation, that means that any “extra” stuff has to be provided outside of school hours. Plus, teachers are sometimes ENCOURAGED to assign homework (busy work) just because the school wants them to, and when you have kids with ADHD, getting them to do that nightly busy work can be miserable! Our kids used to take 3-4 hours EVERY NIGHT to do homework in FIRST GRADE! Then as they get older, they have band practice, football practice, and part-time jobs because they won’t get into a good college without extra-curriculars and they have to work to help pay bills and save up money for college.

    So you have a student in school from 8 to 4. With 2 hours a of homework, 1 hour for dinner, 30 minutes to get home, and 30 minutes to get ready for bed, it’s 8 PM before they’ve had a chance to veg out, work on extra projects, read a book, practice their instrument, call their friends, or do any of that other stuff that they want or need to do. If you factor in an hour to pursue their interests or extra-curriculars and an hour of “down time” to help them wind down for bed, it’s 10 PM before they’re getting to bed! Since they need to leave the house by 7:30 to get to school on time, that means that they need to be awake by 6:30 in order to be ready to leave on time. That means that they’re getting 8 1/2 hours of sleep a night. That is NOT ENOUGH sleep for a child. Is it any wonder that they oversleep? Or that morning is always such a battleground because none of the kids want to wake up? They’re EXHAUSTED!

  67. pentamom January 26, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    “But if a person is consistently seven minutes late (I’ve had coworkers like this), it seems that just getting going earlier would be a big help to the problem.”

    This is a very good point. If issues come up that make you just a few minutes late, fairly often, then you just have to change your target time. It’s not a matter of “try harder to be on time,” it’s “plan to be early, then whatever real — but apparently fairly short term — problems come up, you’ll have a margin.”

    The issue isn’t really whether those issues are “her fault,” but whether it’s reasonable to say that she could, at least in time, develop coping strategies to compensate.

    So just in case anyone’s having trouble following my position here, I come down solidly in the middle. 1. There are situations where some leeway should be given, and if those issues are real and visible, the school should not act like a prison camp. 2. Even if the mom is not holding up her end well, arrest is over the top if it is not a clear case of flouting her responsibility to get her kids to school. Judgment calls CAN be made in situations like this, but too often administrative and law enforcement officials aren’t willing to make them. 3. If there is a consistent pattern of being a little bit late, even if the issues that create it are quite real, there probably ARE ways to cope with it. I have a great deal of sympathy if the situation is quite difficult, but yes, there are things that can help the situation.

    If this was a matter of a family being an hour late six times over the course of an entire year because of some erratic problem that would come up even if they started the process two hours early, it would be one thing. But if getting your kids to school on time means you have to tell yourself that your target time is a half hour before the actual time because on a semi-regular basis, something happens that throws you 20 minutes off schedule, that’s what you have to do.

  68. pentamom January 26, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    specialneedsmom — if you have a kitten-in-the-street type issue seven times in five months of school (it IS only January) you are highly unusual.

    As I’ve said before, I think it’s terrible that arrest was part of the process here. But this wasn’t a situation where something came up once or twice. It WAS seven infractions in one year, for multiple children.

  69. Lollipoplover January 26, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    A friend of mine received a call from our elementary school that his 3 children were tardy and he needed to have an excuse note for them to get to class. He got them to the bus stop on time, but their bus broke down and they had to switch buses and were tardy. He told the administrator to get the note from the bus driver!
    Late is late. It is not a crime. Yes, there should be consequences, but do not perpetuate helicopter parenting by making the parent responsible for the late student.

  70. EDB January 26, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    I am outraged that people are outraged by this! Yes, an arrest is over the top and a waste of taxpayer money; however, I am really disappointed in Lenore for publishing this on her blog and just taking what this mother is saying at face value. Having kids with ADHD is NOT an excuse for being late all the time and if it has become one, well then that’s one of the reasons this country is going to hell in a handbasket. What happened to teaching kids responsibility regardless of what circumstances we find ourselves in? And while there is nothing wrong with homeschooling, homeschooling is not the answer for not wanting to deal with the consequences of tardiness! As someone else mentioned, life is run on a schedule – so you can only shield your kids from that for so long. Lenore, please reconsider your position on this. I agree, imperfect parenting should not be criminalized, as you said; however, this isn’t about imperfect parenting – it’s about following certain societal rules. If your children are enrolled in a school, there are RULES to follow in that school! Come on!

  71. MaeMae January 26, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    I agree that the arrest part of the story is outrageous especially if she has children with disabilities that make it hard to be on time every single day. However, I have to side with the teachers on general tardiness. If you don’t want to follow the school schedule then homeschool. That’s what I chose to do.

  72. pentamom January 26, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    @Debora “If I had to force myself to stop and think about all the things that may happen..traffic, stopping for gas, forgetting something and having to turn back, etc., even though these things only happen 10% of the time, I’d overwhelm myself to the point that I wouldn’t be able to leave the house!”

    Okay, we’re getting a little OT here, and maybe I’m just not understanding, but why can’t you just say, “I know that it takes me 45 minutes. Something could happen to delay me. I don’t have to worry about what it might be, but since stuff happens, Ill leave 60 minutes early”?

    I know that when I plan extra time “in case anything happens,” I don’t worry about what the “anything” is. I just know, something could happen. So I don’t really understand why not being able to process the possibilities should paralyze you from allowing extra time.

  73. kiesha January 26, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    Pentamom – thanks for articulating that better than I did.

    Lollipoplover – was it a school bus or a city bus? In my school district, whenever school buses were late, those students were automatically excused, as they should be. I’m not sure how it work for a city bus, but I would hope that the school would have a little sympathy on that issue. Public transportation is fantastic, but it does have its moments.

  74. SKL January 26, 2012 at 12:47 am #

    So, teachers who think an arrest is proportional to the “crime” because it might affect your pay:

    I assume that you are also OK with teachers being ARRESTED (and dragged into court) every time a child is chronically not meeting expectations on the arbitrary timeline?

    No excuses, now. I don’t want to hear “that child has special needs and can’t keep up no matter what I do.” Hands behind your back, you have the right to remain silent . . . .

  75. SKL January 26, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    As a person who at 45 still occasionally struggles with tardiness – and I know I’m not the only one – I don’t really care if you all don’t understand my problem. I don’t understand why people do a lot of things, and I’m OK with that.

    The fact that you can’t relate to it doesn’t make it a crime.

  76. Sharon January 26, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    My daughter takes the school bus and if it is late she and the rest of the kids are automatically excused. She has only been late a handful of times due to doctors appointments.

    Her school in fourth grade from 8:40 does unpack, attenance, lunch count, and morning work. If a child is late they may not get a choice of lunch if they buy (or they may have to walk to the office and put their own order in) but serious work doesn’t begin until 9 am.

  77. Diane S. January 26, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    @Christi – the time away from school does not affect the teachers at the school – it was an ACE school – students scored the work in their book. Some kids were regularly double-checked daily due to cheating, but the majority weren’t. And at the end of the PACE, if they got < a certain amount (I forget which.. 90%?) they had to repeat the whole thing. My oldest graduated at 16 from there, the school was self-paced. Some students took longer than others, some flew through the studies. A friend's son graduated at 15, his sisters were mad because they were 17 and still not completed.

    Plus, if someone doesn't want to do an extra 3 hours of grading, um, isn't that part of being a teacher? Doing whatever work is necessary? Sure, sometimes work sucks, but doesn't everyone's?

  78. View Point January 26, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Can’t get your kids to school on time, but can send your story to Lenore? Hmmm.

    But I agree that being arrested went way to far and makes THEM a laughing stock.

    They should have just realized some people have very little ability to discipline themselves.

  79. Christi January 26, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    Diane– I want to believe that you are kidding… I truly, truly hope that your last comment was sarcasm that doesn’t translate well over the computer…

    No. Part of being a teacher is not facilitating your mid-March get-away just because you scored fantastic tickets at Disney World in the off-season and combined it with cheap airfare from your credit cards and the timeshare owned by your uncle-in-law. If children are pulled out of school for an illegal absence like that, they should be responsible for making the work up when the return. Teachers will, of course, grade it as they did the rest of the class’s work. If I had the flexibly to set my own rules in this area, such missed work would only be counted at partial credit for older students. If, of course, students were traveling while school was in session for a funeral, for extreme illness or for their own medical care, only the most essential of assignments would need to be completed.

    If that comment was not sarcastic, you clearly have a very warped view of what is “necessary”.

  80. Christi January 26, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    SKL- They should be fired, for sure. And, if repeatedly reporting that a child is not meeting state mandates results in breach of contract or some other legal mumbo-jumbo under the state’s laws, sure.

    Of course, I do think that having the parents arrested is more of a stretch than necessary. It would best be handed over to the local child protective authorities. I guess that is the closest thing we have to “firing” parents…

  81. LRH January 26, 2012 at 1:40 am #

    I could not agree more with SKL and Peter. An arrest for this is WAY over the top. The simple reality is this: it is up to the parents to TEACH their children to get to school on-time, and to help facilitate it (setting the alarm clock or getting them up etc), but depending on the age, is it the CHILD’S JOB to get i[ and so forth for school on-time. Once you’ve told them “you’re going to be late for school” etc & they fail at it, it’s not your job to fix it for them, and if society & the law say it is, they’re wrong and, frankly, screw them. How in blazes is a child supposed to be motivated to do what they need to do if they know (and they’ll figure it out if they don’t already know) that the parent will be the one ultimately responsible anyway?

    EDB and Christi seem to epitomize the very thing we at free-range kids seek to shine a light on–the notion that imperfect parents deserve to have the book thrown at them like they’re scum. Sorry, you shouldn’t be selling it you two, because we aren’t buying. And no Christi, this does NOT merit a CPS investigation. Bruises, molestation, starving–THOSE merit it, not nonsense like this. Shame on you for perpetrating this warped view that all imperfect parents ought to be snitched on this way.

    You do NOT define what parenting is, and that the state of VA has chosen to define parenting this way–shame on them. The law needs to be changed, and those who support it voted out & run out of town on a rail. They are pitiful excuses for lawmakers if I’ve ever seen any.


  82. Christi January 26, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    LRH- I would love to hear your developmentally and educationally informed view on what consequences a chronically late 6 year old should face at school.

  83. LRH January 26, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    PS–Sorry for the typo in the earlier post.

    Also, I especially agree with what SKL said earlier. Where does it stop? Can you be arrested because your child didn’t do a good job with their science project & you didn’t intervene to help? Where I come from, the CHILD is responsible for their assignments, and ONLY the child. It is my job WITHIN REASON to get them to school on-time & to provide for their needs, IT IS NOT MY JOB to do EVERYTHING for them, and screw teachers & politicians and lawmakers who think it is & make such issues their business like (as SKL said) as if this is the military. My 8-5 job is my job, period. That’s it. My child’s homework is my CHILD’S homework, NOT MINE. It’s my job to provide them the pencils & supplies, it is not my job to do the actual writing for them, thank you–but isn’t that where we’re headed very quickly?

    And shame on those of you who SUPPORT and ADVOCATE this. I didn’t ask to be put under a microscope & live a fishbowl experience because I have children. Save your CPS tattle-taling for molestors & pedophiles and those who starve their children, not for petty imperfections. Go meddle in your own business and leave decent people the hell alone.

  84. LRH January 26, 2012 at 1:53 am #

    Christi–I have enough sense to know that arresting the parent isn’t the answer. If the parent is strung out on drugs or just plain horrible all the way around, then maybe a CPS involvement because the children aren’t being taken care of, but that’s it–and not for simple everyday goof-ups.

    That you are a teacher in no way makes you more qualified to speak on this matter than I or the other posters here. How I would punish my child for it–I’d consult my common sense or someone smart & reasoned like John Rosemond, but beyond that, I don’t have to explain to you nor to CPS what I would do. I would do what my common sense & feedback from such persons compels me to. Beyond that,, it isn’t any of your business what I would do, and if the law says it is–the law is wrong & should be changed. This whole “it takes a village to raise a child” so therefore we should meddle in everyone’s business whether they asked for it or not is a bunch of bullfeathers. It takes a village all right–but not a bunch of village IDIOTS quick to call the police or CPS over every silly little thing.


  85. EDB January 26, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    First of all, LRH – read my post. I did NOT say imperfect parenting should be criminalized. My point is that everyone is coming to this woman’s defense when all we’ve heard is her side of the story which is that they are late due to issues with disabilities such as ADHD. Excuses like that are just that – excuses. I said the arrest was over the top. But at some point you have to drop the excuses and follow the rules! The world cannot revolve around your child’s ADHD and your list of various excuses. Everyone can come up with some sort of excuse. And yes, everyone is an imperfect parent. But you have to take responsibility. And if you enroll your child in school, you have to conform to those rules. End of story!

  86. Sera January 26, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    @ Larry

    Good lord.

    The idea that the parent needs to be held accountable for a child’s attendance – at school, on time, daily – is based on the premise that, as the parent, YOU have control over what happens in that household. The parents are the only people who have control over what the child does at home, and this includes in the morning.

    It is THE PARENT who has the responsibility to teach their children how to budget their time in order to get to a designated place at a designated time. This takes as long as it takes for the child to be able to get up, get prepared for school and then take whatever method of transportation that will get them there on time, without the parent’s intervention. If the children are still in the process of learning how to do that independently, it is THE PARENT who is responsible for making sure that they are ready on time – this is the process of teaching the children how to do it themselves.

    Going to school on time is an incredibly important life skill – medical appointments, buses, trains, planes, lectures, exams, and most importantly, WORK. Teaching important life skills like this is what parents are FOR. Quite apart from that, the parents, as the adult guardians of legal minors, are in most places held LEGALLY ACCOUNTABLE for ensuring that their children get a certain level of education – this means going to school, daily, on time. Schools can and generally do give detention for lateness, but because the problem of failing to get ready for school and then to school on time originates AT HOME, it is the adults responsible for the child AT HOME who need to be dealing with the problem.

    Pretty much everyone in here, including me, has stated that they feel that the adult being arrested is over the top. This does not, however, mean that the adult does not have responsibility over their child getting to school. They do. It’s a discipline issue, and the parents need to exert more control until it is no longer an issue.

  87. Sera January 26, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    Addition: Oops. I try not to double post, but I forgot a bit:

    It’s not about parents being perfect vs. imperfect. Getting to school on time is a pretty basic skill, which children need to master in order to be functional adults who can reliably be at work on time. If the parent is failing to impart that skill, they are not “imperfect”, they are not fulfilling one of the most fundamental aspects of being a parent – helping their children grow into functional adults.

  88. Puzzled January 26, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    Well Melody – those latecomers annoy you. Does it follow that you want to cage them?

    There’s a bigger point here. What the schools do can hardly be called teaching, especially at that age. It’s more similar to systematic child abuse. Interruptions and lateness are a good thing. It’s also good for more citizens to get a real sense of how the state sees them.

    Regarding Sera – any atrocious evil will always find an advocate.

  89. Puzzled January 26, 2012 at 2:18 am #

    I’m seeing a few arguments here that revolve around “parents are slaves whose purpose is to enable the stupidity of the bureacratic system.” That is not the purpose of parents. Parents are there to parent their children. If the parent decides that being an hour late each day is what is appropriate for their child, to hell with anyone who thinks they know better.

  90. Jeremy January 26, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    At what point are we going to recognize that our schools are not prisions and our children are not born with some kind of original sin which requires that their most creative years be filled with cramming for skills tests? The only other situation I can think of a magistrate getting involved with _lateness_ are for court appearances or work release and parole. What this policy is preparing kids for?

    Tardiness and absence are annoying for teachers, but those educators are not a legal authority over your children or you. Laws that make otherwise typical behavior (wearing particular clothes, speech, or refusal to participate) _crimes_ are enormously misguided. If there are penalties, they need to stay within the school walls because that is the only space where the school needs jurisdiction.

    Parents, I’m sorry, but the fault lies in our acceptance of schooling as mandatory. Our rights as parents were inexorably diminished when that happened, and we’re finally starting to see what that means as laws continue to infringe on our basic rights to parent as we see fit. We’ve lost the ability to balance our children’s lives, determine their priorities, or let them make mistakes. My son is late for school often: he takes the city bus which is unreliable, and he has to do his own before school prep. As a parent I’m absolutely certain the experience of being responsible for getting himself up, out the door, and to a destination on time is a better learning experience than the few minutes of school he might miss on days when the bus is unreliable. 10 years old is the BEST time to make mistakes! Not to mention this allows us to avoid owning a car (better exercise for everyone!). If his school enforced this policy I would have to buy a car and drive him, or at least take away all his responsibility by micromanaging his morning routine and escorting him to school each day.

    The law this woman was charged under is a travesty, but it follows organically from the idea that the government owns your children during school hours. Start questioning _that_ assumption and these extreme examples of enforcement will get rightly thrown out the window.

  91. Christi January 26, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    “How I would punish my child for it–I’d consult my common sense or someone smart & reasoned like John Rosemond, but beyond that, I don’t have to explain to you nor to CPS what I would do. I would do what my common sense & feedback from such persons compels me to. Beyond that,, it isn’t any of your business what I would do.”

    As a teacher, I suggest you slow down and read for comprehension. I didn’t ask what the parent should do… I asked what you would suggest a school do as punishment for a chronically late child.

    Lunch detention for a 6 year old who is constantly late? Bad idea… kids really do need that recess time after sitting through 4 hours of school work. Plus, there’s no budget for the school to have someone supervise them.

    Extra work? Nah. The parents will just do it for the kids at home so they can go out and play.

    Withhold privileges at school? Well, there’s an idea…

    True story. A 3rd grader is habitually late to English first period. I talk to her mom about it, and mom tells me it’s the kid’s fault because she takes too long to get dressed and that mom is trying to tech her kid the value of responsibility, so I should, of course, take whatever action is necessary to reinforce that this lateness is unacceptable. I enforce what consequences I can, when I can. One day the girl shows up nearly an hour late, having missed an in-class writing assignment during the first hour. During the second hour her classmates attend a special assembly/ theater performance in the auditorium. I keep the girl with me to complete the writing assignment.

    That afternoon I get a VERY angry e-mail from the parent. Her poor daughter was HEARTBROKEN that she missed the assembly and it was terribly callous of me to keep her daughter from going. Couldn’t I have administered the assessment at another time. “But this was a consequence of her own actions”, I reminded the mother. “Oh, but it wasn’t her fault today. Today I couldn’t find my keys/wallet/cell phone/brain/whatever and we were late.” Could her daughter please go tomorrow to see the performance with the kindergarten class rather than attend my class? HELL NO!

    So how, exactly, are schools supposed to help children realize the consequences of being late?

  92. EricS January 26, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    There is criminal and there is this. Really? Arrested for tardiness. Sheeeeeeet…if we had those lame as “laws” where I come from, there wouldn’t be enough jails to hold all of us. And the courts would be backed up for years with awaiting trials. What a waste of resources. When there are more REAL crimes being committed. If the law put as much effort and time into these “crimes” towards real crimes, communities would be so much in better condition. Definitely no common sense. The kids aren’t neglected, they aren’t mistreated, they are in any way in any danger. People can say “parents should have control of their household”. Tell me what family does, 100%. Exactly…NONE. Is that criminal…NO it is definitely not. Even teachers in school, how many have full control of what their students say or do in class? Exactly…NONE. Teachers have the authority to discipline within regulations of the school. But they never have full control. Kids will be kids. And not all kids are the same. Just like adults. You have adults that are morning people, and you have adults that are late starters. We’ve all been late on more than one occasion for whatever we are scheduled to do. Should we be arrested for that? I didn’t think so. And really, up to 10 min late?! I can understand an hour or so everyday. But 10 min? Yes, yes…”late is late” as some of you may say. But that’s the same mentality of “a crime is a crime”. So for all the jay walkers, litterers, people rolling on a stop sign (yes these are all against the law…thereby considered criminal), and I’m sure that’s most people, they should all be arrested? Hmmmmmm. Think before you judge people. And USE COMMON SENSE when you do. Not some holier than thou mentality. No one is perfect not even the ones that believe they are.

  93. LRH January 26, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    I stand by what I have said, and I especially agree with Eric S‘s post. He illustrates total common sense, like he said–yes, “late’s late,” but ‘cmon–there’s 10 minutes here & there vs an hour daily.

    And Sera, I have made it clear that I think it is the job of parents to TEACH their children how to get ready for school & to facilitate that, but IT IS NOT MY JOB to GET them ready. They’re old enough to get THEMSELVES ready. It sure as hell ought not to be criminalized, but beyond that, it still isn’t my job to GET THEM ready. it is only my job to TEACH them how to get ready. I sure as hell will not physically dress someone who knows how to put their clothes on. That’s on THEM, they know how to get dressed, they’re physically able, it’s on THEM.

    If the law says otherwise–frankly, it needs to be changed. It’s wrong. Stay out of my business & other people’s business too.


  94. EricS January 26, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    Christi, in your example. Where the parents and that child warned of will happen should she be continually late? Or did you just have enough and implement the “punishment” that day without prior notice to the child or her parents? I understand when the child is habitually late, and late half hour to an hour everyday. But if the child is only 5-10 min late (even everyday), but has a good attitude, a good student, gets along with everyone, does her work in class and gets good grades, it obviously shows that child’s tardiness has no affect on his ability to learn and get good grades. In this situation, my common sense would tell me there is not point in disciplining. The ONLY problem with allowing a child like this to come in a little later than that other kids, is that other kids (who may not be as good in class) to feel they can come in later. That is a different situation, based on one factor…tardiness. Personally, I would sit the parents down of the lesser bright students and tell them the situation. 5-10 min tardiness is not a big deal, but if it affects the child’s ability to learn, and do well in school, it has to be addressed individually. Yes, if other kids can come in a little later without consequence, why can’t others. But I would also add, if those kids that do come in 5-10 min later, do very well and do the work in class, then the other kids should do the same thing. Think of it as a privilege. People/kids will be late, but if they are good students doing well, you can’t punish them for such a small infraction like that. But hey, that’s just me. As long as kids have a positive upbringing, and thrive because of it, I can look pass the small stuff. That’s not to say I wouldn’t work at the small stuff.

  95. pentamom January 26, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    “If the parent decides that being an hour late each day is what is appropriate for their child, to hell with anyone who thinks they know better.”

    Then that parent needs to withdraw the child from school, because it is entirely unreasonable to expect the school to educate the child if your position is that you have no interest in and no responsibility to conform with any of the guidelines that the school puts in place.

    And they’re entirely free to do so. I’m as ready as anyone to criticize schools for ridiculous rules and excessive punishment, but thinking you can send your child to school to be educated but that you don’t have to cooperate in that process in any way is just ridiculous.

  96. Coccinelle January 26, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    “As for the parent in NSW Australia who said she would send her kids to school up to an hour early, you are basically leaving your children unsupervised in the school yard. It is not the responsibility of the school to babysit your child, that is what before and after school care is for”

    That, I think, is the heart of the problem. It’s the insane fear of leaving a child “unsupervised” in the school yard that started the whole “before and after school care” system that comes with the fact that children have a window of only 15 minutes to show up to school which is REALLY difficult to manage. I’m pretty sure that before all that hype, parents who were told their children was late for school simply send them earlier by the next day and everyone was happy AND safe. Pretty hard to imagine eh?

  97. pentamom January 26, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    “Tardiness and absence are annoying for teachers, but those educators are not a legal authority over your children or you. ”

    No, but there are compulsory attendance laws and those laws contain specifics about the number of absences and the amount of tardiness that the school is allowed to permit. And teachers are the ones who record your compliance with those laws by taking attendance.

    Whether you agree with the existence or specifics of those laws, saying that children attending school on time is not a legal matter is simply not accurate.

  98. pentamom January 26, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    “And Sera, I have made it clear that I think it is the job of parents to TEACH their children how to get ready for school & to facilitate that, but IT IS NOT MY JOB to GET them ready.”

    Larry, you are correct that it is not your job to get your kids ready for school and get them there on time, if they are able to get there on their own.

    What you’re missing is that it IS your legal responsibility to ensure that it happens, since they are minors and you are their parent. How you feel about that doesn’t change how it actually is.

  99. Christi January 26, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    David- The parents and I had spoken and the parents had said that, of course, I should enforce whatever consequences came naturally of her behavior. The natural consequence of her being late that day (and we are talking generally more than a half hour late more than twice a week) was for her to take the assessment, which was time sensitive and had to be completed that day, while other students were at the assembly (the assembly was timed that way so as to allow teachers to grade the mandatory assessments). Had she, for example, missed a spelling test, she would have taken the spelling test during the first few minutes of recess or been asked to stay after school to take it. The problem here was that the parents were really only catering to the whims of their child and doing only what it took to stay in the child’s good graces. They were interested in being the child’s friend, rather than her parent, and I have found that that is very often the case with parents who can’t lay down rules and get their children to follow them. They want someone else to do the enforcing and someone else to do the punishing, and then, when someone else does that and the child complains, they show the child that they will immediately jump to the child’s defense, whether the child was in the right or in the wrong.

  100. kiesha January 26, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    I am quite certain that I could have come in ten minutes late to my bookstore job and still have been able to get all my work done, not inconvenienced anyone and the store wouldn’t have crumbled to pieces. Most of the time, my first ten minutes at that job were spent yakking with other employees.

    But if I had clocked in 10 minutes late every single day, pretty soon a manager would have noticed and I would have been spoken to about it. If it had continued, I would have been fired. Even though I wasn’t getting paid for those 10 minutes because I wasn’t clocked in, it was understood that I would be clocked in at the time that was written on my schedule.

    I find it incredibly odd to encourage a student to show up five minutes late for school every day. Crimeny, as stated before, if you’re showing up five minutes late every. single. day then you need to get up five minutes earlier.

    It’s incredibly disrespectful to habitually be tardy. There are outstanding circumstances, of course, but just adopting an “Eh, I’ll get there when I get there, it’s not that important” attitude is incredibly disrespectful to the other people involved.

  101. SKL January 26, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    If getting to school on time every day were necessary to growing up competent, I would be chronically unemployed and homeless.

    There are plenty of jobs that do not require the individual to be at a desk ready to do math at 8am or 9am every day.

    Getting to school on time is a courtesy to the teacher and classmates. Yes, I want my kids to know that it’s important to show that courtesy. Yes, I believe it’s my responsibility to figure out a combination of planning and discipline that results in my kids being on time as often as possible. Yes, I support the school if they administer age-appropriate discipline for tardiness that the child is capable of avoiding.

    But when tardiness occurs despite my efforts, because we’re on a learning curve or because sh-t happens, I put it in perspective, and I expect child development experts (aka teachers) to do the same.

    My kid’s KG classmate bit her a few weeks ago. She’s been on the “bad list” more often than not this school year. Surely this is distracting to the teachers and the other children. Surely it disrupts the school day more than a tardy. Yet I am sure there is no arrest warrant out for this child’s mother. Nobody is saying she should go to jail or pay a fine because her discipline methods obviously come up short. I guess they figure that since the mom isn’t right there to do anything about it while the kid is chomping down on another, mom gets a free pass. I wonder if they should arrest the mom whose kid screeches at drop-off every morning? After all, she’s right there and it’s her responsibility!

    So why do educators think that when it comes to tardiness, they get to tell me how I should handle things in my own home? Because for every parent to always get their kids to school on time, some would have to physically dress them from the skin out, force-feed them breakfast (or let them starve), and drag them to school against all protests. And if they don’t do this, they get a criminal record. That’s way interfering into my right to make parenting choices, regarding preparing my kid for adult life.

    You say that my kid needs to be on time to succeed in life; I say, she needs to be able to get her own self ready in the morning before she can be on time! Your way is legal, mine is apparently illegal. Whatever! I guess I’ll just beat my kids more often to make sure they don’t get me arrested for tardiness.

  102. Jenne January 26, 2012 at 2:53 am #

    When I was in high school, you had to have a note on the OFFICIAL SCHOOL ABSENCE CARD (a handwritten note from a parent wouldn’t do) if you were tardy or absent. I got a lot of detentions for failing to turn in my absence cards, because I had difficulties with organization and never seemed to have the cards at home for my mom to sign. (Since we had a school bus system, if I was tardy, it was because I had missed the bus and she drove me to school.) Eventually she gave up and gave me permission to forge her signature. (My whole family was disorganized.)

    Since then, tardiness and absence has been made a much bigger deal. 10 years later they were putting kids in in-school suspension for tardiness– I knew one kid who deliberately would set out to be tardy in order to be put in ISS so she could finish her book.

    Nowadays it’s turned into a nightmare, apparently, in some school districts. Very odd. When I was in high school, for instance, we had a 25 minute ‘homeroom’ at the beginning of the day, with announcements at 8:00 and classes starting at 8:10. So 10 minutes tardy meant you missed very little. Nowadays Ms. Christi says there is no space in the school day at all, which may vary by district of course. Given how much of the school day is still devoted to time-wasters like
    “Character education” and standardized testing, it’s really a pity.

    It seems strange to me, though, that asking for a kid’s work ahead of time should be such a problem as Christi described. Back in the day, it was certainly an annoyance, since you had to be sure you already had your lesson plans set up already for the days in question and could duplicate the worksheets home the week ahead. But I’m not following how it takes 3 separate hours to do that.

  103. Heidi January 26, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    I’m not a morning person, but I’ve been working (professionally, in a 40 hour/week job) for about 8 years now. In my current position, my hours start at 8:00am. I routinely come in between 8:15 to 8:30 because I’m not a fan of mornings. My boss is a-okay with this because 1) I get my work done accurately and on time, and 2) I stay late if necessary. I’ve asked if it’s an issue, and it’s not.

    Now, am I always late? No… especially if I have an important meeting at 8am or something. I do what needs to be done.

    Prior to my current position, I was a teacher. The past 10 years have brought about such dramatic changes in education and teaching, I’m pretty certain that although my passion is there, my heart isn’t in battling regulations, requirements, and entitled parents.

  104. LRH January 26, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    SKL nailed it, totally, especially the last 2 paragraphs. “You say that my kid needs to be on time to succeed in life; I say, she needs to be able to get her own self ready in the morning before she can be on time! Your way is legal, mine is apparently illegal.” Exactly, exactly–amen, a-freaking MEN.

    Frankly, if the law is this way, it needs to be changed. It’s wrong, and that’s that. The law will EARN my respect by not being overbearing & wrong like this–otherwise, it does nothing but compel me to skirt it & to only obey it to the extent that I have this thing about not paying court fines or spending my life behind bars. And that’s not the kind of society we should be striving for.


  105. David January 26, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    BMS, homeschooling may not be an option for all, but that doesn’t mean those who do homeschool should have to keep quiet about it or not express that it IS an option that some may not have considered. I, personally have come across at least a dozen personal friends who have sent their kids to school, had issues, I mention homeschooling, they talk to me and find out more about it, and then they decided to make the plunge and do it. And they were SO much happier! So for us that do homeschool, we feel it is such a blessing we just want to share it with others. We should definitely be trying to make the schools better, as well. But arresting a mother for tardy children is NOT making the schools better. Getting rid of policies on testing and micromanagement of the day WILL. And homeschooling is certainly not a cure for tardiness, but I don’t even pretend to understand what it is like living with 3 special needs kids and so I can’t and won’t judge her. Any teacher who can’t understand that is not worthy of being a teacher. And even if the days are micromanaged, it’s still pretty easy to start the child where everyone else is and assign what was missed for homework. Like it was said earlier, a good teacher knows how to manage these things with little to no disturbance to the school day. If you are right in the middle of something, the child can sit quietly while the rest of the class continues on until you a reach a point the child can jump in. (That’s what all of my teachers did when I was in school as a kid. Then at recess you call the kid up and tell them what they missed and assign it for homework. No big deal.)

  106. Jenne January 26, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    One thing I find really frustrating is school rules that leave you a 10 minute window to get the kid to school, combined with an expectation that you will drive your kid to school– because you are *not allowed* to drop the kid off except in that 10 minute window. The lack of flexibility shown in that sort of thing is certainly a characteristic of some parts of the adult world, but many of them you can adjust– for instance, if you can’t manage a job that begins at 8 am, you can find one that begins at 9. If you can’t handle working with a particular supervisor, you can look for another job. Unfortunately, school doesn’t work like that. No matter how negative a situation is, there are no or few options for changing the situation. Which is why I should think administrators might try to be a little flexible.

  107. BMS January 26, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    Pentamom, I gotta agree.

    If you want to be in group x, you need to follow group x’s rules. If I join a softball league, and the rules of the team say you must show up to all practices or you can’t play, I have 2 choices: show up to practice, or find another league. I know the rules before I start, and I can’t expect them to change. I sing in a church choir. I can sight read, and I know most of the music. I don’t really need to rehearse most days. But we have a rule: if you don’t show up 90 minutes before the service, you can’t sing that day. So even though I could easily breeze in 5 minutes before mass and sing just fine, I have to play by the rules, or I can’t sing. I want to sing, so I get my lazy self out of bed.

    If you want free education, you need to either provide it yourself via homeschooling, or play by the rules of your school system. If you think those rules are so stupid that you cannot abide them, you have the choice of working to get those rules changed, switching to private school or homeschooling, or sucking it up. I personally don’t think kids will die if they have to abide by a dress code, arrive at school on time, and do what the teacher says as long as it’s not illegal, so I don’t sweat the petty rules.

    The kids who are raised to think that being on time isn’t a big deal come to my college courses. They arrive at 8:15 for an 8am class. And they miss the pop quiz that started at 8 sharp. Or they miss the explanation of that really tricky problem from the day before. Or they miss the announcement that there is no class next week. And that’s just too damn bad. I don’t have time to repeat myself 10 times for the people who arrive 5, 10, 15 minutes late. Being on time for stuff is a life skill. Learn it.

  108. Brian January 26, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    As I posted during our discussion of missing school, being on time is perhaps the most important skill that a person can have in life. Everything else flows out of showing up and being on time (or early). I also believe that being late is the ultimate demonstration of disrespect for your teacher, classmates, etc.

    That all having been said, arresting the mother at a cost to the criminal justice system, etc. etc. is beyond absurd. I actually think the meeting with the truancy officer was reasonable. I am sure the other 5 times the teacher or principal spoke to the parents also were reasonable. The arrest does little though to help solve the problem.

    Arresting someone though is a whole other ball game. Not to mention, I am sure that if the mother was on probation for a low level drug offense or unpaid parking tickets or child support, etc. this would have been used to keep her in jail (clearly not helping the kids).

  109. Sera January 26, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    @ Larry –

    If a child or children are not managing to get themselves up, ready, and to their transport to school on time, then the parent has NOT successfully taught them how to get to school on time.

    Your kid might be able to dress themselves, get and eat breakfast by themselves, brush their teeth by themselves, pack their bag by themselves, and go out to the bus stop and wait by themselves. That is good. However, that is NOT equal to them having good enough time management to get themselves ready for school on time – just because they can perform each INDIVIDUAL ACTION by themselves does not mean that you do not need to help them learn how to manage their TIME properly – i.e., be able to accomplish everything they need to to between when they wake up and when they need to be on the bus or walking to school.

    It’s like if I taught a child how to recognise individual letters. The child can recognise “a” as being the letter “a”, etc… I then say that the child is literate and I can stop teaching them how to read and write, yes?

    No. The child is not literate. The child might be able to recognise “c”, “h”, “a”, “i”, “r”, but cannot recognise the collection of letters as the word “chair” and connect it to the concept of a chair. The basic building blocks are there, but the child needs more learning before the they can come together as a useful whole. It’s the same with your kid getting ready for school. If they can do all of the individual actions by themselves, that’s great and they’re halfway there, but they need more help, because they’re not ALL the way there yet. The fact that they aren’t getting there on time is proof that they they need more help to get it right.

    And, yes, there are very good reasons for the laws that exist to ensure that your children do go to school, daily, and on time. They are there to ensure that the children get enough education to get by in the world, be able to fill at least menial jobs, and, ideally, are able to pursue tertiary education later in life should they so choose. Those laws are there to protect children from parents who would prefer that their child is not educated enough to be independent, or, those parents who place little or no value on education and view it as unnecessary – which, in the first world where everybody needs a certain level of education to be able to get by, certainly is abuse, right up there with beating and starving. Denying a child – ANY child – basic secondary education is just wrong, and the law reflects this, both in my country and in yours.

  110. Cheryl W January 26, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    Christi, I loved the thing about the vacation at Disney. I love it because of double standards. Where my daughter started school, they wanted no one to take any vacation during school time. Considering that they give a month off in December/January, it seemed reasonable. There are great holiday fares to Hawaii in January.

    But, when they had a school fund raiser auction, 3 families got the trip to Hawaii. And they went in October. And gee, because they contributed about $3000 to the school, they did not get a truancy notice. Seems to me that if the condo was going to be donated that they should have made sure it coincided with the school schedule.

    The single working mom with no car got threatened to be reported to the police by the principal when she couldn’t pick up her daughter in the next 15 minutes because the girl was sick. The mom was alone at the store and had to either get a hold of some one else, who was not at their own appointment or such, or had to take the bus, which was a 2 hour trip.

    I hope that compassion rules for this mother. Unless you have a special needs kid with the exact same issues, you have no clue what life is like.

  111. Christi January 26, 2012 at 3:17 am #

    Jenne- I remember homeroom too… and it, sadly, seems like bygone luxury, at least where I’m teaching and in many neighboring districts.

    I’m not trying to be argumentative at all, and I’m thinking through my “3 hour” estimate. I will speak to 4th grade, in this case, because I am very familiar with it.

    Let me preface this by saying that I am thinking of my own experience in an affluent district where we do not use text books.

    Reading- (about 30 minutes of preparation for one student)
    Determine which book the child is reading and if they are likely to finish it before the week is out.
    If they are likely to finish it before the end of this week (and they will be gone next week), what cumulative assessment is being used for this time in the reading workshop? Let’s say the child is likely to finish the book and the class is working on tracing character development. The child’s work in the following week at school would likely be to return to the text and find 5 places where the reader can see the character changing. For each of those 5 instances, the student is going to need to fill out a graphic organizer. Collect those 5 graphic organizers, get them photocopied if necessary, sit down with the student and explain how to fill out the graphic organizers. Perhaps do one together if necessary. This will probably be done during the teacher’s lunch time.

    If they are not likely to finish it before the end of the week, there may be slightly less time required.

    Writing- (About 30 to 45 minutes for one student)
    Where in the writing process is this student? If they are still collecting seed ideas, you need to explain how students will be spending the next week using a seed idea to, for example, draft a personal narrative about a time when they were frightened about something. Make sure that students understand what makes a personal narrative different from a fully fleshed out story, etc. Make sure you have a graphic organizer ready and photocopied to begin expanding the seed idea into paragraph form. Make sure that the rubric you will be using to edit and revise the rough draft has already been made (likely you will have to sit down and create that rubric as each rubric is supposed to be created for the individual assignment). Sit down with the student and make sure that he or she knows which seed idea they are going to choose. Go over, with the student, what each part of the rubric means and how to do a self check and self evaluation at the end of the draft– since this child will not be in class to peer revise and peer edit, they will be doing the work on their own. Also try and instill in the student that THEY should be writing this, and not their parent.

    Math- (about 30 minutes depending on if you are starting something new or if you are continuing with a current topic)
    Let’s pretend, for ease sake, you are continuing with a topic. Get the student a set of the manipulatives they will need to complete a week’s worth of exercises. Gather all of the photocopies and entrance/exit tickets you will use to assess comprehension and make sure that there are directions for the parents who many not understand the way “new math” is being taught. This is likely to be about 10 workbook pages/photocopies sprialing back to topics covered in previous units. Sit down with the student and ensure that they understand the topic. Provide remedial sheets for a student you know is struggling. Provide advanced sheets for a student who is good at math.

    Social Studies/Science- 10 to 20 minutes, similar to above. Make photocopies, sit with student, explain what to do, assign any reading

    Homework- (10 to 15 minutes) Look at the week ahead and put together a homework sheet in advance, guessing what you will actually cover during the current AND upcoming week. Gather photocopies, materials, texts, etc. Explain any longer term projects to the student. Make sure he/she has an independent reading book and enough sheets/space to continue his/her reading log.

    Tests/Quizzes- (10 to 30 minutes depending on the week)Be sure the parents know what parts of the covered material will be tested/quizzed upon the child’s return. Once the child is back, arrange for him or her to come in early/stay in at lunch/stay late to take missing tests/quizzes/in class writing assignments.

    Grading/Correcting- (up to an hour)
    Go over the reading and writing responses, editing where necessary. Meet with the students 1 on 1 to go over corrections to the written piece before the student begins writing a final copy. If possible, arrange time for the student to pair-share with at least one other student before getting to work on this. The rest is rather self explanatory. You will be grading things individually that you would have done in a batch for the other students, or which you might have only gone over as a group. There may also be a need for more backtracking to be done if any of the lessons went in a different direction during instruction time than you had initially planned or if it is clear that the child did not understand any key parts of what was taught in class.

    Added up, even on the low end, that comes to about 3 hours that you suddenly have to find time for when a parent e-mails you on Thursday afternoon and says, “I’ll be taking little Lilly away next week for a vacation in Miami… could you just send me her work?”

  112. mollie January 26, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    My grade 5 son is very close to my same weight and we’re a pretty even match as far as wrestling goes. If he doesn’t want to go somewhere, well, he isn’t going. I can’t physically force him. And at our house, there really isn’t anything to take away, like video games, TV, or iCrap. I guess I could promise to pay him $10 if he’ll go to school that one day he’s having an “off” day and refusing to go (this is pretty much what his dad does, bribe him), and this not only poisons his sense of self-responsibility, but it poisons our ability to connect on any significant level, because I become simply the arbiter of the rewards for what is already necessary functioning.

    So. It’s Monday morning. My other four kids, all in elementary school as well, have gone to school. The grades 2 & 3 kids walked themselves there and got there on time, the kindergartener was accompanied by me to her separate school. When I got home, there was my surly, tantrumming, 98-lb 10-year-old in bed, refusing to go to school. He was late already, and I did what I needed to do to talk him through it (without threats). See, the reason he got “off track” is because he lives in two homes, a week with me, a week with Dad. He’d been expecting to go to Dad’s after school to start his week there, but Dad wasn’t going to be home due to inclement weather so my son was to come to my house instead. For whatever reason, this set him off.

    He’s 10. He’s dealing with all the issues of development as a 10-year-old, and he’s also dealing with more transitions back and forth between two homes, a blended family that now includes four young kids… see where I’m going with this? We don’t have a diagnosable problem, but we do have days when one or more kids end up at school a few minutes late due to regular old run-of-the-mill developmental or emotional issues that come up.

    So what?

    When my son was in kindergarten, the school year began a month after I had moved into a separate home from his dad. There were many mornings when the combination of his resistance and little sister’s emotional upheavals meant we were late. Our solution (the kids came up with it) was to have the kids sleep in the clothes they were going to wear to school the next day. They still do it, just because it became a habit, but are starting to transition to pajamas.

    We were still late some days. And you know what I said? “Kindergarten serves us. We do not serve kindergarten.” I still firmly believe that. Had I been threatened with arrest for my kids’ lateness that year, or any year, my response would be the same.

    I think the goal for all humans is to have your actions support everyone’s needs, not just your own. Can you find a way to have rest, fun, play, freedom and choice while supporting participation, learning, respect, consideration, and community? That’s what I challenge my kids with when they refuse to go to school. Your being late, or being absent from this sports practice or game will have an effect on others. Choose strategies that take everyone into account, but definitely, definitely honour your own needs as well.

    We’re not perfect, sometimes we’re late, but we’re pretty compassionate and aware, and getting more so each day, I hope…

  113. LRH January 26, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    Sera Maybe and JUST MAYBE the laws were created with the end result of what you’re saying, not neglecting a child’s needs vis-a-vis the provision of a quality education, but the thing is that they’ve been taken too far, and this story is a perfect illustration of it. Your sermon on “what your job as a parent is” notwithstanding, it’s a (maybe?) good law taken WAY too far. When you’ve done more than enough to teach them how to do what they need to in ALL aspects (as SKL explained perfectly) but they are late anyway on occasion, that is NOT “denying a child education,” I don’t care what the law says, and to equate such as being in the same league as starvation & molestation etc is just ridiculous.


  114. Steve January 26, 2012 at 3:24 am #

    Special Needs child?


  115. SKL January 26, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    Christi, your example of the little girl who missed the assembly is a good one. You administered a consequence and she didn’t like it (are kids supposed to like punishments?). Mom complained but you held your ground. Child and mom learned. Sounds like successful discipline to me.

    You felt bad about it. Well, I can’t ever remember a time when I’ve felt great about having to discipline someone – at home or at work. Just because it’s a sucky part of your job doesn’t mean the system is sucky. Try having to fire someone. (Maybe I should have had that employee’s mom arrested instead.)

  116. SKL January 26, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    Is it so hard for educators to understand that getting started in the morning is a learning curve?

    You do know what a learning curve is, right?

  117. Christi January 26, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    SKL- thanks.. I am being genuine here.

    Sadly, it didn’t end there. The mother went above my head and complained that I was “picking on” her child because she had been late to school. Long story short, the girl got to go to the assembly the next day with the Kindergarteners. Which was during 1st period. And, surprisingly, the little girl was on time that day.

  118. SKL January 26, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    Well, Christi, I still think learning occurred.

    I know it’s frustrating, but you dealt with it and that’s what needs to be done. Like I said before, I support age-appropriate discipline for school violations within the school.

    There will always be some parents who will stick up for their kids and be unfair to the teacher. Whether it’s over tardiness or 100 other things. Best is not to dwell on it. Like in my industry, there will always be people who will take credit for your work and get paid/promoted more for doing less. At least for teachers, it’s only a matter of months before they get to stop dealing with the same jerks.

  119. LRH January 26, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    It’s apparently off-topic, but I do also want to point out that I do agree with SKL also on the topic of parents who argue with teachers enforcing reasonable rules. I think it makes sense myself in terms of there being accountability for this, so long as that accountability is WITHIN THE SCHOOL. In fact I was thinking about this myself–Lenore once said in a video (I forget which one) that in years past if, say, a child became separated from the parents at Six Flags etc the reply of society would’ve been along the lines of “those darned kids! Poor parent & all they’re doing and still that happens,” but now it’s more about blaming the parent & “why weren’t you holding their hand, why didn’t you GPS track them” etc.

    I think it’s much the same thing here.

    But more to the point, I agree about parents who are ridiculous in terms of not taking the teacher’s side in cases of disobedient children. Again, much as John Rosemond would say (I realize this is Free Range Kids not rosemond.com, just saying that he’s the other parenting pundit I’m big on), if he had come home with red marks on his behavior sheet, his mother didn’t want an explanation from him, she wanted an apology & a promise to do better. THE TEACHER was backed.

    I agree with that totally, and I plan to do it that way myself. So Christi, where it regards that sort of thing, I am on your side. May I humbly say, in that regard, you’d LOVE having me as a parent in your school. Now, if there were ridiculous rules in school (ones like a child being treated as a criminal for taking an aspirin into school, for example), I would advocate against the RULE, but where it regards my child acting up in your class (not sitting still, bullying other kids etc), I would TOTALLY support your authority & my child would be expected to conform to YOU. Where it regards the horror stories I hear about parents THERE, I AGREE with you in THAT part anyway.


  120. Vetnita in MN January 26, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    I have a 10 year old son with ADHD and a 7 year old princess who can’t decide what clothes to wear and we still make it to the bus on time every day. Yes, it is tough, yes it involves yelling and feeling like we are mean parents. But we are the parents! My daughter was famous for going to school with uncombed hair because if she takes too long, that is something that is skippable. When she would come home sad that someone made fun of her, I sympathized and worked with her to figure out a way for her to get ready faster (dress the night before and sleep in her very stylish outfits). I organize everything for my son before I wake him up because I know that he is cognitively not able to do that at 7am. Now, I am NOT a morning person and my husband’s help sometimes causes more stress but we value teaching our kids that we value education. I feel showing up on time for school is much less stressful for the kids than being the tardy one that everyone looks at. Also, having a kid that shows up everyday on time also helps when you have to have meetings with the teachers about focus, homework, and behavioral issues. Or when we would go to Mexico every January for 2 weeks (we live in MN!!!). Oh, and as a ex-homeschooler, I miss the quiet cuddly mornings like a crack addict.

  121. Marie January 26, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Arresting the mother was ridiculous. Nothing wrong with the school talking to the mother to find ways to get the kids to school on time or get a 504 to allow tardies if they agree it’s necessary.

    Makes my kids’ school policy of meeting with parents if kids hit 10 excused absences look mild, although they also say it can involve law enforcement. I’ve never heard of them arresting anyone though. I did meet a mom one time who had to pay a fine for her child being absent or late too often. Grocery store line discussion, not something where I have details, so I really don’t know what all went on first.

  122. Myriam January 26, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    “It takes a village alright – but not a village of IDIOTS”. Love it!

  123. Jane January 26, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    Christi, sadly, it seems as if you are becoming part of the problem. You seem to have bought into what the bureaucracy is feeding you, hook, line and sinker. You seem to see school as the be-all, end-all, most important thing ever in the life of a child. I’ve heard the song and dance, (being an ed major many years ago – and it wasn’t even as bad then and the daughter and granddaughter of teachers) and, after raising four kids, I have rejected it. There is far more to life than a classroom. Yes, you are paid to do a job. Yes, it would be far easier if everything and everyone were completely uniform, with no differences or special needs or bad days. But that’s not reality. And frankly, if you are wed to the idea the a parent of tardy children should be criminalized (because that’s what an arrest means) because it upsets your classroom flow, then maybe you should start thinking about another line of work. Sadly, I have found that the teachers who think like you may look good to the administration, but I have not found them the most effective teachers. Far and away, the best teachers have been the flexible ones who took things in stride, kept problems in perspective, and were doing their best to engage the children in a lifelong love of learning. (But this often requires creatively skirting the boundaries that administrations put into place.)
    I understand why Lenore posted this.I see this whole thing as just another way that parental rights – including our rights to make decisions based on our family situations and needs – are being diminished. The government needs to remember that they do not own our children. Neither do we – but we are the ones who are raising them, and we still have rights. It infuriates me to see things that are small turned into crimes. Zero tolerance? No, just zero thought.
    My own experience with tardy children: My kids walked or biked to school from the time they were small. They were late occasionally, yes, but it was never a criminal matter. When DD was in high school, she would get her dad to give her a ride, and since he doesn’t get the passage of time very well, she was often late (he still can’t get anywhere on time – and no, he has not been fired over it – his job is flexible.) She got the detention for that, not him. Was it fair? Maybe not, but then she could have taken the school bus instead and not been late, which was her choice. But at least at that time, and in that place, it was not considered a criminal matter.

  124. Lollipoplover January 26, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    @keisha- it was a school bus!
    They went to their classroom, where the teacher sent them to the office. They wait in the office for the secretary. Secretary calls home, no answer. Calls Dad’s cell, tells him he needs to drop off note as his kids are late and waiting to go to their classroom. He leaves work, comes to school confused as to how his kids are late, and everyone discovers it was because the bus broke down and a big misunderstanding, but a big WASTE OF TIME.
    Sometimes being late is just being late, especially for little kids.

  125. Loudounmom January 26, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    I live in Loudoun County, VA and see plenty of kids arriving tardy to school on multiple occasions. I do not know of any parents that have been arrested for their child’s tardiness. I suspect there is something more to this story.

  126. dwoodruff January 26, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    I personally applaud the school for taking action. The other students are interrupted and the late student needs to catch up, which in turn causes the on time students to have to wait. It’s not fair to them or the teachers who are constantly being held to the fire for good test scores, etc. There’s a reason school starts and ends when it does. If all the other students can make it to class on time, why can’t you? You’re no more special then they are. I can’t even say I understand a student with a disability such as ADHD. Downs syndrome, maybe, but ADHD??? If you’re child has ADHD, get them up earlier and keep them on track to get ready for the day. Sorry but I have a disability and I never let that be an excuse as to why I can’t learn or do something. I pride myself on being on time and I’m teaching that to my children as well. I’m not perfect and am not on time all the time, but I strive to make sure I allow enough time to get ready and get to where I need to be in a timely manner. I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time, as well as my own, being late. Maybe if more schools took for action like this, we’d have more kids with respect for other people instead of being so self-absorbed all the time! Schools can’t be to blame for everything. Parents need to get held responsible for their children’s actions and it’s great that the schools aren’t bending over backwards.

  127. Jonathan Bartlett January 26, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    There seem to be three distinct threads of thought here, and I thought I’d point them out for clarity’s sake.

    The first – we are not all perfect.

    The second – we are not all in the same situation.

    The third – we don’t all have the same priorities

    I think one of the ideas of Free-Ranging is that none of these should be criminalized. Part of being in a community is recognizing that others have other limitations than you do, and others have other priorities than you do, and others are facing other situations than you are.

    I am certainly not the most perfect parent. We do a homeschool co-op on Fridays. When I manage to get all my children there on-time, I announce it to my world of friends on Facebook as a major triumph. I know that makes me a bad parent to some, but the fact is that I’m not perfect, and no amount of patronizing is going to make me better. Trying all the time, but no, I’m not perfect. And I’m sure there are parts of your life that other’s could point to for their imperfection as well. But rather than being judgmental about each other, and dragging each other to jail, we should be helping each other out.

    We have all pointed out the various situations we are in. Some of them are more conducive to being on-time than others. Some handle it well, some poorly. See the first point on that subject.

    Finally, we don’t all have the same priorities. In Oklahoma, homeschooling is an easy option if you want to have different priorities with your children than the state does. But in other places, homeschooling isn’t such a bright option. Some families can’t afford it. Some families can afford it, but don’t know how (see point one above). One of the problems with the current school system is that it mandates itself as the ultimate priority – as evidenced by many of the comments here. I believe in education – I spend more time with books than with anything else. But this doesn’t exactly equate to school. Some have mentioned all of the terrible things they have to do to their kids to get them to school. Perhaps some families think that doing such things is immoral? Perhaps some have a priority of relationship with their children than school? Perhaps they don’t want their children to be hyper-stressed about deadlines all the time? (note – there are many cultures in which deadlines aren’t a big deal – being late is usually assumed). The fact is, we don’t all have the same priorities, and having the school system assert itself as the main priority above any priorities your family has is a problem, especially when failure to comply with their priorities means jail time.

    There are priorities which are morally better than others. Perhaps you have the better set of priorities than everyone else. For that, see again point one.

  128. SYM January 26, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    What bothers me about this whole discussion is the evident truth that consequences are administered *because they can be* and not *because they should be.* This goes for many of the examples and counter-examples given, but I will stick with just one that’s relevant to the original complaint of the woman arrested because children were late 7 times. (And yes, we have only her word for it, but let’s just operate from the premise that her story is accurate.)
    A number of parents have written in about buses delivering children late to school and this has been my personal experience as well. In elementary school, my children’s bus was late to school most days of the week. Other buses did the same. This happened, the district argued, because funding had been cut and the routes were longer and drivers were frequently absent. Not a single of these tardy arrivals was recorded on my children’s attendance records, even though they frequently missed not only opening bell activities not relevant to learning, but actual class time. When I would drive my kids in exasperation after waiting AGAIN for the bus in the cold, they would be given tardies — even though their bus arrived AFTER they did. Sorry, that’s just policy, I was told, those are “the rules.” Those would be “the rules” that some of you are so ferociously defending, by the way.
    Instead of teaching my children “responsibility,” this experience taught them that public institutions will sometimes excuse themselves for behaviors they are utterly intolerant of in others and, further, may not value or respect the time and effort of their constituents, the students. The school system was, at the time, perfectly content to have my children stand in all kinds of weather for 20-30 minutes waiting for the tardy bus. They were at liberty to ignore “the rules” because they wrote them, or lobbied the State to get them, and then conveniently exempted themselves. And they enforced the tardy penalty only because they could, and not because it was fair or necessary.
    By the way, I got a bunch of parents together and we took the issue to the school board meetings, the Town council meetings, and the County commission meetings. The director of the transportation service was eventually fired and, lo and behold, the next year the buses ran on time! So apparently it was a competency issue, not a financial or logistical one. This taught my kids another important lesson: communities need “pampered helicopter parents” to hold schools to “high standards” such as buses arriving on time, not to mention hiring and rewarding teachers who succeed in teaching.

  129. LRH January 26, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    Jane That is so dead-on. I could not agree more with everything you said, especially (a) “if you are wed to the idea the a parent of tardy children should be criminalized (because that’s what an arrest means) because it upsets your classroom flow, then maybe you should start thinking about another line of work” (b) the government needing to remember that WE are the parents, NOT them.

    Frankly dwoodruff, are you offering to HELP such people or just judge & condemn? If you’re offering to help, good, that’s the very sort of thing Lenore advocates. If all you’re going to do is judge & condemn from a pulpit towering above the condemned, frankly, shut up.

    Good Lord, no one is saying (certainly not me) that the original poster is “special,” but neither is it right for her to be CRIMINALIZED as an awful parent. Perspective is in order–it’s one thing for a child to be late to school a few times, it’s another to starve them to death or beat them with a wood plank. Part of society’s problem is thinking the police & social services etc ought to be alerted over EVERYTHING, even relatively petty-everyday stuff. Criminalizing everyday struggles of being an imperfect parent is blatantly outrageous.

    Parents should only be held responsible for their children’s actions up to a reasonable extent, and the problem with your position is that you’re making no distinction between a passive & lazy parent versus one who has done everything they know how but things still aren’t going ideally for them. As Lenore said, actions like this speak of a society bent on making imperfect parents, NOT negligent ones, criminally responsible, and that’s just blatantly ridiculous.

    Moreover, part of what Lenore advocates here is that we look to HELP each other through these struggles rather than drawing battlelines and criminalizing each other, that we COME TOGETHER and help each other. What’s so bad about someone HELPING this mother, in a NICE and NON-JUDGMENTAL way regarding this, in a way that still respects her as the children’s mother, rather than being as ridiculous as the kids themselves & looking to tattle-tale or throw spitballs at her? Okay, it is HER responsibility not other people’s to parent her children, but as I said earlier, if you’re not going to help–frankly, shut the hell up and butt out.

  130. SKL January 26, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    SYM, true. I was a “walker” when I was little – one of the few at my school. It was just a few city blocks, but still a challenge in the Great Lakes winter. There were many blizzardy days when I was marked down for being “tardy” and then when a group of other kids clamored in later, all they had to say was “the bus was late” and they were off the hook. Somehow a “walker” never has an acceptable excuse.

    Once I had to go back home after walking most of the mile to high school, because there was a sudden downpour and my clothes were literally soaked through. I had to put my clothes in the dryer as I had run out of jeans for the week. The principal was this close to expelling me.

    So glad that season of life is behind me. Though I wonder (with some trepidation) what my kids’ upcoming school years have in store.

  131. SKL January 26, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    I must admit to getting a chuckle at the idea that my kid being on time means that there will be no time wasted in the classroom.

    Having daydreamed much of my childhood away in school (patiently waiting for the teachers to be done explaining what I already knew to the rest of the class), I find such comments to be slightly hypocritical.

  132. SKL January 26, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Adding to my comment about “walkers” never having an excuse – I’m kinda glad it was that way, in retrospect (provided the consequences aren’t too ridiculous). It did motivate me to try harder to be on time, come what may. I did not always succeed, but considering that I did not have the help of adults (my parents were at work when we left for school), I did OK. If my more coddled classmates had ever had to get themselves up, dressed, fed, bundled up, out, and to school on time on their own, I’m pretty sure most would have failed miserably. Why, I had a classmate in 7th grade who wasn’t allowed to comb her own hair.

  133. Cheryl W January 26, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    After thinking about this for a while, I put the blame totally on the school. “Why?” you ask. Here is why. I have a child with an IEP. I have friends with children with IEPs. I frequent message boards for people with kids with IEPs.

    And I have found that it is extraordinarily rare for a school volunteer things that might help the kid. The parent has to ASK for it. Which means, if you don’t know what to ask for, you will not get it. At all. Even things that can bring school test scores up….they will not say “Johnny would benefit from having a scribe or a word processor to do his work.” when Johnny can hardly put two words on a page. They will not say that a child in a virtual school that is a public school should do less of the grade level work when they tested 3 grades below and need massive remedial work. They will only check to see if it is possible IF the parent asks.

    And when you have parents who are working, who are dealing with siblings, who are fighting every night just to get the homework done, they are not going to even have the time to research, much less ask, for what they need, because they haven’t a clue what is and what is not allowed. And since the school won’t volunteer that information, how are they to know? We have all been brainwashed into believing that teachers are experts, and we shouldn’t question the experts, and that experts will do what is best for our kids. It is BS. Like big corporations, they look out for the bottom line. The little ones, the classroom teachers for mainstreamed kids…they are not experts and they have no clue, kind of like the mine worker in the mine, do what the boss says, even if it doesn’t ring quite right.

    This school could have offered, as the first person to reply said, to put in the IEP that the kid could be tardy based on the disability. Yes, that may mean some kids have to ride the bus, and one or two get taken in if they are the ones late. But the school did not offer this information and so, they call the police on her. Real nice. IEPs are supposed to be made by a team, including higher ups who actually know what the rules are.

  134. Sky January 26, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    I have to admit I’m skeptical that tardiness was all that was going on here. No one in Northern Virignia gets handcuffed because their child was LESS than TEN MINUTES tardy to school seven times in a year. I suspect there’s more to this story. If this is true, it’s so outrageous and unusual and over the top for the area as to be worthy of a very big news story. It would be all over the place, and I haven’t seen it. The only information I can find on this is websites quoting the mother herself. So far I am finding no other third party sources attempting to verify the claims. Ask the guy in handcuffs what he did, and then publish whatever he says as if it were fact…

    “I wonder if you know how much extra time it takes your child’s teacher to put together and then score that work for your child alone…Wow, our vacation is costing my daughter’s teacher her evening at the gym or 3 hours with his own family.”

    If it really takes him 3 EXTRA hours to pull a few tests and worksheets early and then grade them late (or to give makeup work after the fact if he can’t manage to send it home ahead of time), then he’s an inefficient teacher. Private schools do this cheerfully not just because of smaller class sizes (our class sizes aren’t actually much smaller), but because they have well planned (often school-wide) curricula and set materials that are prepared weeks in advance, and they cover material according to a set schedule, and because the homework directly reviews and reinforces the classwork. Looking up, pulling, and copying the homework sheets now instead of next week with the rest takes an extra ten minutes or so, which is, yes, a slight imposition, but hardly a lost night at the gym. As for “grading in isolation,” I can’t see how that creates a time issue. Why would it take longer to grade the same paper on Thursday than it would to grade it on Monday? If it takes five minutes to grade a paper, it takes five minutes to grade a paper. Add two minutes perhaps to find your answer key on an off day.

  135. Ann January 26, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Do not use disabilities as an excuse for being tardy!

  136. BMS January 26, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I think that arresting this mom was unnecessary and over the top. She has her hands full and needs help.

    But I just get kinda irritated at this undercurrent of “It’s okay to be habitually late for things.”

    It’s annoying and disrespectful. And not just to us teacher types. If I throw a party, and plan dinner for time x, and my friends come at time x + 1 hour, the food is cold and I’m pissed off. If it happens once, because of something out of their control (like car trouble), I’ll sympathize and heat things up. But if this person is late every single time I invite them over, I’ll stop inviting them. Clearly, they either care not at all about my time, so I won’t waste my time on them. Some doctors’ offices will charge you for late or missed appointments. Various kid related activities will charge you if you are late picking up your kids – they want to go home to their families too! When my cub scouts are 10 minutes late to a one hour meeting, it means that some activity is not going to happen, and if that activity is something they need to earn an advancement, then they’re going to miss out.

    I’m not saying I’m perfect. But this is one of those things that just irks me to no end. Because I’m a big believer in the golden rule, I will practically run over my grandmother to get somewhere on time, because it is just so incredibly rude not to.

  137. Jenn January 26, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    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. Is it something that is diagnosed by a physician and you have it documented in an IEP? I don’t know if you are employed but if you do, does your disability make you late for work and if it does, how does your employer feel about that? If your child does have an IEP, it will not follow him/her into his/her workplace as an adult so how are you helping your child develop the life skills or arriving at work on time? I don’t know many places of employment that will tolerate 7 absences in less than five months, regardless of the disability (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. You say it was an average of ten minutes, does the school record your entry time so you can verify that? Being 10 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. I have a 7 year old son who is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (and has an IEP) and had an issue with getting ready for school. I had to take him to our local police station (pre-arranged) to explain to him how it is the law that he attend school and that there are consequences for not attending school (disrupting his classmates and teachers, not participating in instructional lessons, missing out on fun and learning activities, etc.,). We have not had a single late. I will not allow my son’s `dis’ability impede his ability to becoming a fully functional adult. I’m actually quite disappointed in Lenore and many posters here because there is another side to this story.

  138. Jenn January 26, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    @Sky -it is actually a huge inconvenience for teachers to prepare work ahead of time for students who are away for a week’s holiday and may take hours. Contractually, most teachers are required to plan two-three days in advance but usually have `emergency’ plans available in case of an unplanned absence. I will happily prepare work for a family who is going away but I do expect it to be completed upon your return. It takes a lot of time to prepare it because usually we plan a few days at a time. Because students may learn something faster or slower than what we expect, a good teacher will change her plans to suit her students’ needs. When I’m asked to plan for a full week (and I can’t do it the day before or day of as I can’t leave it to the last minute to get the work adequately prepared for the student), I have to hope that the students will be where I think they will be and that we will work at the speed I anticipate. A lot of today’s classrooms do a lot of modelling, collaborating, guided practice, and reflection so missing these instructional pieces needs to be modified for a child who will be away for a lengthy period. That’s an entirely different lesson that you are creating for one child because they are lucky enough to go on holidays (which btw, in some jurisdictions is illegal, you can’t pull your child out of school without permission from the school board). Here’s a fun article which explains why teachers dread the “my child will be missing school for vacation”


  139. Cheryl W January 26, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Ok folks. Lets get over the fact: School is NOT the REAL world. It is not at all like you get to choose where you will go and when you will go.

    If I have issues getting up in the morning, I will not get a job where I have to work early in the morning. I will work night shift. If I can’t sit still, I will get a job where I can be on my feet, like a chef, police officer or such. If I can’t be to work on time, I will work for people who will let me work later if I come in later.

    This argument that school needs to prepare kids for the real world…nah, parents do that, not school. Yes, some things I learned in school like basic math and reading were useful. Some stuff was interesting. But very little of what I learned in school is useful in REAL life. Those things I learned from my family.

  140. LRH January 26, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Okay, Jenn, so you wish for parents to be treated as CRIMINALS for late children? I agree, lateness is rude & annoying, but treating parents of tardy children as CRIMINALS?

    Good Lord, that’s what’s wrong with this culture nowadays, that sort of thinking. A parent is imperfect, let’s throw the bums in jail. That’s the attitude of many in this country (I will grant you that, you’re not alone in your thinking, heaven help us), and it’s high time that sort of thinking was thrown out to the curb along with the rest of the garbage.


  141. Katherine January 26, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Is it a waste of resources in this specific case? Probably. But the rule is there for a reason, and a legitimate one at that. Kids are required to go to school. It’s the parents’ responsibility to get them there. I don’t see why this mom can’t do it on time. Asking for special consideration is a pretty privileged thing to do, frankly, unless you go through the usual methods such as getting documentation for the disabilities. But “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude is pretty selfish in my mind.

    Why did the school feel the need to enforce the rule if the family was <10 min late each time? Because it's an enormous disruption to have kids late to your class when you're teaching!

    I think that if the mom has such a problem with it she has three options:
    1) get off her a$$ and get documentation for the disabilities so that she can get deserved special treatment.
    2) just f-ing get to school on time. Wake up earlier. Set up everything the night before. Wake the kids earlier. Leave more time to account for inevitable traffic. Just GET there.
    3) Enroll the kids in private school. Kids are still required to go to school by law, but private schools don't tend to enforce these kinds of rules and are much more likely to give leeway regarding absences.

  142. Lisa January 26, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    I realise that preparing work for high school students who will be away on vacation may be time consuming for the teacher but for Primary school it should not be. We took our two boys to the UK for six weeks when they were in Primary school. I did not ask permission, I told the school we were going – first of all the Principal congratulated me for giving my children a wonderful rich educational experience. His advice do not take maths text books or home readers with you but to integrate the learning into the holiday – get the boys to keep a journal, calculate money and distance traveled. Use maps to navigate, read up on places of interest. Even just the experience of traveling through a foreign country would be a rich educational experience. Experiencing a different climate – these are just a few things that could not be replicated in the classroom. So I am surprised to see that some people considering children being taken away on holidays with parental permission as truancy. Come on not all learning happens in the classroom – when my son studied Ancient Egypt in Year 7 he was able to relate to what was being taught as he had been to the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings. Taking kids out of school for vacation is not truancy (and I know many teachers who take long service leave and take their own children traveling),

  143. LRH January 26, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I think you Katherine have 2 options yourself:

    (1) Offer to HELP this woman, or offer creative & helpful suggestions WITHOUT the mean, nasty and condescending tone


    (2) Take your self-righteous holier-than-thou and judgmental tone with you and just shut up.

    That’s it.

    The world has enough self-righteous, mean-spirited jerks such as yourself, we sure as hell don’t need anymore.


  144. Jenn January 26, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    @LRH, this parent SAYS that she was late this year 7 times and that she and her 4 kids have disabilities. I don’t believe it just like I don’t believe the parent of my student who says her child has been late 31 times this year because of asthma. When I explained that the puffers can be kept at school and that my child has asthma so I’m well versed in the signs of breathing troubles with asthma, I was told that her child is actually late because her two teenaged daughters have three children between them and it’s too much work for mom (grandma now) to get the teenagers to school, plus her two school-aged children, and look after her three grandchildren. Another student had over 80 lates last year and dad didn’t see it as an issue because “I didn’t learn anything of value in school” yet dad admits that he is illiterate and can’t get a job because he is illiterate.

    I have a 15 year old family member who has an anxiety disorder and ASD and has not attended school in over 10 months and nothing has been done (other than phone calls home). His mother is just passing the time until he turns 16 and the school will stop phoning. He spends his nights playing video games and sleeps all day instead of going to school. How is this helping him? How is this child going to have a future when he has no skills to function in society? This is a child who already had involvement with the police for harassing people and hacking into people’s computers. I’d rather see his mother (a family member) face criminal charges than see this child’s life ruined and also the life of his sister who will be his responsibility when his mother passes away. How is it fair that his mother’s lack of parenting (these attendance issues started as lates in elementary school) has prevented him from being a functioning adult and has prevented his sister from having a normal life? We are not raising children but future adults. People here claim to be free range but are really just anti-society. They refuse to comply to the simple rules that help the majority to function together. Doctors, lawyers, hairdressers and mechanics have appointments. Stores and businesses have opening and closing hours. And schools have start and end times. If children could just come and go from school as they pleased, any time of the day, how would that model work? Or, why don’t we just let our teachers and school staff arrive at whatever time suits them and see how that works? I would love to have a career where I could arrive 15 minutes late because I have a medical appointment, or a repair guy coming.

    What it comes down to in this situation, “special needs kids have special needs parents”. This is a parent who has not told the whole story. I just don’t believe her story as the full truth.

  145. Laura January 26, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Haven’t read other responses yet. What comes to mind as I read about this incident is a proposed plan of action:

    1. Move to Texas
    2. Home School

    I have no patience with a system that treats parents as imbeciles and felons, nor do I have the desire to give my children over to people who think they know how to raise my children. They don’t even know my children. Our society has forgotten what freedom feels like, and instead thinks that security and prosperity must come through doing everything as it has been structured for us by experts who, “must know better than the rest of us” because because they get paychecks for their professional opinions. The issue isn’t tardiness. The issue is how much power do we give to institutions to raise the children we are supposed to be parenting.

  146. Cheryl W January 26, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    I have a friend with a kid who has autism. These kids are not kids to be bullied into doing something because you are the adult and they are the kid. They don’t recognize that and they will NOT comply.

    As such, the mom is homeschooling, through a charter school. Because teachers hate it when kids don’t do what they say with out explaining the why of it. So, he gets test anxiety. But, he is supposed to do state testing. The teacher agreed to meet him at the library and give him the test in a one on one situation. At 4th grade, when she asked if he was ready to do the test, he took the test from her hands and ripped it in half. She was totally shocked.

    But, THIS KID IS NOT A NORMAL KID! He does NOT think the way that others do. The mom deals with this all the time – she is not a slacker, she did very well with her other kids in getting them to be respectful and follow the rules. If this boy has decided that he is NOT going to do something, well, you need an NFL linebacker to get him to do it, and he will still fight the guy. And I mean that – this kid would take a licking from someone, and has, rather than do what he was told to do.

    I would suggest to you all, to take this woman at her word that the children she is dealing with are resistant. Maybe not all of them. But it sounds like a couple of them. Resistant kids do stuff because they want to, not because you make them. If they have a mental illness or other disability they could be like the kid above. Mom could yell, beat, cajole and bribe, but unless the kid wants to do it, it won’t help.

    Personally, I am willing to bet that the school doesn’t want her kids there. They are hoping that she will homeschool them so they don’t have to deal with them. And probably, that would be the best thing, but not everyone is financially able to do that, or emotional cut out to handle it, especially kids with special needs.

  147. LRH January 26, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Jenn Regardless of what you think, the issue is, arresting the parent is just ridiculous. Period.

    You are, as others are, confusing “it’s rude to be late” (and I agree, it is) and “society depends on people learning how to allocate their time, plan ahead, so others don’t suffer” (again, I agree)–you’re confusing that with the act of arresting a parent just for being, at worst, a little sloppy in the game. It’s one thing, to use an analogy, for me to say that I think tattoos are hideous on a woman (I really think that) and another altogether to advocate a law that MANDATES that a woman isn’t allowed to have a tattoo just because I feel as I do about their tastelessness. The former isn’t justification for the latter.

    Same thing here. Yes, being on-time is the right way to handle your life & to teach your kids, yes teachers don’t need any pain-in-the-rear “special needs” consideration more than is absolutely necessary, but to arrest a parent for a child’s lateness? Oh good grief, that’s so beyond ridiculous it’s flirty with mental insanity.

    Enough with the scorning of the mother for being, at worst, a little sloppy. What is with all of you anyway? Good Lord, if this is what passes as USA society nowadays, no wonder Lenore has this site. A lot of you need to learn some serious humility & could do with a lot less judgementalism and “holier than thou” nonsense.


  148. Jenn January 26, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    It is mandatory by law for children to attend school. If you don’t like the rules, home-school or go to private school. If you do not attend school, then it is a criminal act because you are breaking the law. This woman broke the law. It’s not simply a rude to be late thing but it is illegal to keep your child from attending school.

  149. J.T. Wenting January 26, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    So here we have a mother who repeatedly and without any other explanation than “we’re to be pitied for our condition” fails to have her children in school on time.
    She’s therefore repeatedly and quite easily compensated for (get up half an hour earlier in the morning, you lazy #$^#$) in violation of the law and should face the consequences.

    I don’t think it warrants being arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs, but I’ve no pity on her and would convict her were I that judge to quite a hefty fine (or say a week in jail if it’s not the first time she had been arraigned for this).

  150. LRH January 26, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Jenn I NEVER said it was not the law to attend school, but to arrest someone in this situation is over the top. As far as I’m concerned, your attitude–“the law’s the law”–is part of what’s wrong with this whole deal. You know, in some states it’s the law not to cheat on your spouse or to engage in certain “positions”–does that mean we should arrest all of these people because, you know, “the law’s the law?” Get real, lady.

    You & your ilk are why Lenore, in my view, has to start a Free Range Kids site & movement, because of people like you who think every little thing like this ought to be legislated. It’s completely ridiculous, if the law says this woman is a lawkbreaker then I see this NOT as a lesson for the woman to learn (“get your act together, lady!”) but a lesson for us to learn about how maybe the law is getting ridiculous & is in need of some serious changes.

    I said it to the others, and I say it to you too–if all you’re going to do is come in here & judge with a hateful attitude, you’re helping no one & doing nothing but glorifying stupidity. Learn about what community is–HELPING each other, not SNITCHING on each other like a bunch of brats tattle-tale-ing in school. God this gets SO old.


  151. Lisa January 26, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    the time and money it must cost to have this woman arrested, kept in jail and attend court could be better used to have a social worker or such like look at ways to help her manage. More likely to have a compliant parent and happy child if intervention is proactive instead of a reactive lets punish her attitude. Money is being spent in the wrong place.

  152. LRH January 26, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    PS, J.T. Wenting–same to you. I take it you enjoy judging other imperfect parents much?

    It’s hard to believe just how right Lenore is–there IS a “condemning culture” out there just chomping at the bit to smack the gavel down on every “sorry, lazy ass, good-for-nothing, can’t drag her lazy butt out of bed” mother & father out there. God help all of you, because you sure as hell need it.


  153. Laura January 26, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Jenn Just so you know we home school, and we have rules. Rules are not the issue. As a parent developing character in my child is important to me, timeliness is an issue that can be worked on and developed. However making tardiness “illegal” is ridiculous, and throwing the person who has the direct relationship with the child, and can work with her best, into handcuffs, is absurd.

  154. SKL January 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Really, I’m not a bleedin’ heart, but I am surprised at the negative attitude here toward this mom. So she’s still on a learning curve for getting her kids to school on time. Is that really enough to condemn her as a mother? To assume that she and her kids have no redeeming qualities, add no value to the classroom, and will never amount to anything?

    Honestly, it feels strange to be in this conversation.

  155. Jenn January 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    I’m not judging but reserving judgement. I don’t believe what this woman has said. Why would you take the words of a complete stranger as the truth? This is a person who didn’t like how she was being treated so she went to the media to solve her problems. Many people have posted that they reside in the same jurisdiction as this woman and have had their children late for school more often and have not had the same experience. So either she’s lying or the school moved along the progressive discipline model too quickly. Considering that the school is accountable and is required to note all attempts to work with the family, which will be called up as documentation to the courts, this woman has to at least be exaggerating her story. When I overhear your kid saying, “my parents are going to kill me because I failed my test” I don’t call CPS but call the kid on what is an obvious exaggeration. I’m calling this woman on her story. I want proof that she was only late seven times this year and not late in previous years, and that she was really only late for an average of ten minutes, that she and the kids have a diagnosed documented disability and that she has sought an IEP for her children to show that she is attempting to work with the school system. Then I will believe her story.

    People are not here snitching but trying to help a child, a family. If this child does not attend school, where does it leave this child? How will this child get a job? Write a resume? Pay bills? Get a place to live? Have a meaningful relationship? Free range does not mean that you condem all of bureaucracy and societal constraints/norms. It’s a balance of raising a child to be a successful adult who functions within society. Society does have rules that you need to follow, for your safety and the safety of others. Free range does not mean you just ignore rules and laws altogether and say, ‘well that’s not free range so I won’t comply’. People drive on the same side of the road for a reason. If you think that there law is ridiculous than work to change the law, rather than go crying foul play to the media. Going to the media is not going to help her children and it isn’t going to help her either. What do you suggest would get children who are chronically late or absent to school? Students who accumulate over 100 absences/lates in one year? Students who refuse to attend school for ten months? Parents who keep their children home because they are hungover and can’t get out of bed let alone their kids?

  156. Jenn January 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    @ Laura -not saying home-schoolers have no rules but you have the advantage of making rules that fit your needs. When you have over 500 students, you may have more rules than a home-schooling situation of less than ten kids (and typically less than that).

  157. LRH January 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Laura and SKL right on to both of you. To answer your question SKL–honestly, based on what I’ve seen in more recent comments, I think people DO believe that very thing, that such is enough to condemn a mother. And that’s part of what I think Lenore is talking about.

    I remember her saying this in an interview she gave with an Australian journalist (I don’t recall his name) before she gave a lecture in Australia about 18 months ago, I liked the video so much I actually managed to find a transcript of it way back & I saved it to my records. (I archive LOTS of stuff, it’s a hobby I’ve had for years. Lenore: if you’re reading this, don’t presume on me too much, I don’t archive EVERYTHING, ha ha.)

    Here is the relevant part:

    I think that the fear of blame is one of the things that is making parents even more afraid than just watching the TV, because it feels like if I had run away from my mom at the fair when I was 5 years old, a million years ago, and–you know–it took a half-hour to find me and, say, I had twisted my ankle, people would go “ah, kids, you know they’re always getting into trouble” or “what can you do” or “poor you Ms Skenazy” [the parent]. And, now, it’s “why weren’t you holding on to her” “why didn’t you have her on a leash” “why didn’t you have your number written on her arm” “why didn’t she have a cell phone” “why didn’t you GPS her?” It’s all your fault.

    The assumption is that nothing bad ever happens to a child unless there’s a terrible parent. So parents fear anything happening to their kids, not just because they want their kids to be safe, but because they know that they’re not going to get a lot of sympathy–they’re going to get a lot of blame.

    Does that seem to fit in here? You bet it does. Substitute “late for school” in place of “run away from my mom at the fair” & it’s the same thing: it’s the PARENT’S responsibility, there are no excuses, etc etc. And you guessed it–this mother is getting very little sympathy, and an awful lot of blame. (“Get your a-double-S out of bed” etc.)

    Part of our blame culture. Don’t you just love it, SKL?


  158. Gina January 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    IMHO the only reason the schools care about absences and lateness is because they lose money.
    That being said, I don’t think this is why TEACHERS care about it. It is disruptive to have students straggling in when you’ve begun a lesson. I teach toddlers and even at that age, the child who is late has a harder time integrating into the classroom when s/he is not there to start the flow of the day.
    However, I think arresting a mother for a child’s lateness at any age is beyond ridiculous. Bottom line, these are OUR kids, not the schools’ and we need to parent as we see fit. My own high schooler was frequently late last year (8th grade) and we allowed him to suffer the consequences at school. For the school to have had us arrested would have counteracted our effort to have HIM be responsible for his actions! Yes we drove him to school, when HE was ready to go…HE had to get up and dressed and gather what belongings he needed. By the way, he has ADHD and is responsible for taking his meds.
    Best school story: At a Parent Night at the HIGH SCHOOL I actually heard the mother of a ninth-grader ask if her son’s papers had to be typed. WHY, praytell, did SHE need to know this?
    Another great one: At a party in my daughter’s 4th Grade classroom, I heard all the mothers (no dads there that day) discussing a homework assignment that they had stayed up all night completing with their child. I was vaguely aware of the assignment they were talking about. ME stay up all night? No thanks, I’ve already gone to 4th grade. And I doubt my daughter did either. She did HER best in a reasonable amount of time.
    FYI: My kids are now 27, 25, 22, 20 and 14. All are responsible, kind and happy.

  159. Jenn January 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I don’t know where you live Gina but where I live, schools are funded by the government so if a child is enrolled in a public school, the money is there for the school board. If the child does not attend, they still get their money regardless.

    A reason why the mom may want to know why her 9th grade son needs to type his assignments or not is because she may have had that very argument with her son and wanted to know for sure. My 7 year old claims that his teacher spells words differently than I do (and I’m a teacher). I’d love to have his teacher there to settle these arguments! He even tried telling me that his teacher told him that he doesn’t have to do his (minimal) homework because he already knows everything. He’s a kid who tests boundaries which I’m okay with but if it means that he is not working to his potential, I’m going to check with the teacher to make sure that he isn’t trying to pull a fast one.

  160. Carol January 26, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    I have to agree with earlier comments from educators and say I’m not outraged by this at all. As a teacher, what actually outrages me is the Virginia mom’s unapologetic attitude about getting her kids to school late. I know a lot of people regard tardiness as a frivolous issue but I applaud whatever school district authorized this. I think this shows they have a high standard for their students.

  161. Carol January 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    @Jenn – In NYC (where I teach), schools get penalized on their progress reports and funding if attendance rates are low. It’s another way that NYC holds the wrong people accountable for getting kids to school. Btw, I agree with a lot of your ideas.

  162. Beth Bom January 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    I had a daughter who was ill with a degenerative disease. By 6 years old she was becoming so ill I just took her to school whenever she was awake enough and had the energy to go, mostly 1/2 the day. Many days not at all. She had an IEP. I called the school everyday to let them know whether she was coming or not. They did not care one bit. She was in a special ed class and they knew she was deteriorating. The special ed teacher would leave the class to come get her at the office and we would put her in the stroller and she took her to class. No biggie. Well, she’s been dead for almost 3 years now. I am disgusted by some of these comments that are so harsh on tardiness. Life is too short for that kind of shi. There are bigger fish to fry. My son has some anxiety issues and has meltdowns in the am. I will not physically put him in the car that way. Taking care of his emotional needs is much more important than a couple minutes of lateness. Ignoring his emotional needs is more neglectful than sending him a little late. He has an IEP, so the school knows what is going on. So chill out everyone. Arrest is absolutely ridiculous. We have no idea what is going on with this family.

  163. SKL January 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    “I think this shows they have high standards for their students.”

    Because handcuffed parents and kids who get beat out the door in the morning are SO good for test scores.

  164. SKL January 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Now some of you are talking like this woman’s kids never went to school. How is 7 tardies equivalent to being denied an education? Really??

    There actually are kids whose parents don’t bother to get them to school in the morning at all. This mom (per the description we all have) is not in that category.

  165. Cheryl W January 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    When I was in college, I worked at a large preschool. The interesting thing was, it was set up not only to teach the kids, but also to work to the schedules of the parents.

    I taught there, and my mother taught there, along with a bunch of nice women and a few young men. Kids arrived any time during the day that the parents brought them. It did not disrupt lessons. The kids hung up their coats, and joined the group. Some times the teacher had to get out more paper, paints, clay, or ask the kids to make the circle bigger. But really, it did not disrupt everything.

    The kids all ended up in kinder and teachers all said they knew which ones had attended our preschool because they all knew the basics and were able to stand in line and wait in a circle if needed.

    When I taught in high school, if a kid came in late, I had them give me their note, and sit down. When my daughter was in school, and I was volunteering, the only time that a kid coming in late was a disruption was if the teacher MADE it is disruption – that is, lecturing the one kid instead of teaching the rest like she was supposed to. One teacher would handle it well I thought, and tell the kid to ask the kid next to them what to do. It was quiet, and did not lose the focus of the entire class. She would switch the kids around, so it was not an issue for the kid next to the other.

    Kids have to leave class all the time for occupational therapy, speech therapy or remedial classes. They come back into the class too. Teachers don’t seem to be complaining about that though. Even though it amounts to the same thing as the kid who is late. Or maybe it isn’t PC to complain about them.

  166. Donna January 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I think arresting the mother for a child being late is a completely idiotic waste of the court system’s time (I actually don’t think that is the full story at all but for the sake of argument we’ll go with it). As a member of said court system that would have to represent this woman if she were in my jurisdiction, I really have far better things to do with my time and far bigger issues to deal with than to devote my time to a case involving getting kids to school on time. I don’t think this woman is mother of the year, but I don’t think tardiness is something the court needs to waste time on. Unfortunately, every kid doesn’t get a great parent. It’s not the court system’s job to interfere, and somehow try to force greatness, unless the situation is serious. Tardiness just doesn’t come close.

    That said, I’m not at all on board with the “it’s only 10 minutes” and “it’s not the parent’s fault if the child is late” mentality here either. It’s not easy getting myself and my child up and out the door every day, but we do it – on time. Even if it is done kicking and screaming, half-dressed with funky breath and bedhead, it’s done. Not because I necessarily care about 10 minutes of school time, but because it’s my job to teach my child (a) to be on time for her responsibilities, (b) that the world doesn’t revolve around her and her whims of the morning, and (c) that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, suck it up and do them.

    Other than the fact that arrest is always stupid in these cases, I’m not going to side with either the mother or the school because we don’t know enough information. Saying the kid has disabilities doesn’t answer my questions. Does the child’s disability truly impact the child getting to school on time (i.e. no matter what time kid gets up, issues are going to sometimes prevent timely arrival)? Or is this a problem that can be solved with better planning? Or does the disability have no impact at all and this is just irresponsible parenting? Is time management and too many kids to get to school on time the problem? I’d love it if the US had a real social services program that could send a social worker in to try to identify the problem and work with the family to come up with solutions rather than relying on two extremes – allowing the children to continue to be tardy or arresting the mother to try to force her to fix something she may not have the know-how or resources to fix. But sadly, social services sucks in this country (I actually think it’s better in American Samoa where there is no foster care system and only one shelter so social services needs to work within families, now if there were resources on the island).

  167. Beth Bom January 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    @ Cheryl W. I love your post. You hit it on the mark. Kids leave the class all the time for PT, OT. speech therapy, reading help, etc. What’s the difference between that and arriving a few minutes late if it is not an everyday thing? Glad your preschool didn’t punish and instead fostered an environment of caring. I’m sure the children picked up on that.

  168. Donna January 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    @ Jenn – Attendance is a proponent of the school’s score in No Child Left Behind. If the enrolled students aren’t in the seats, it decreases the school’s score. I don’t know if tardiness is considered or not. Since No Child Left Behind, schools in many areas have had HUGE pushes for perfect attendance. Schools in my area (former area) have big parties or other treats for kids with perfect attendance. One school even did a drawing for a car (I’m not sure how the car was acquired as it wasn’t my school district).

  169. SKL January 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    When I was in high school, I walked a mile in all types of weather (snow belt) to school and back (uphill both ways). No, seriously, it was nearly a mile and sometimes the snow was more than knee deep the whole way. School started at 8am. I was usually up until the wee hours doing chores and homework, so getting up really early was not realistic.

    We had a 5-minute homeroom which buffered a lot of tardies. But there were times when I could not get to school before 1st period, and I’d have to go sign in at the far end of the school, listen to the lecture from the [high school dropout] idiot who monitored the sign-in sheet, and walk into class late. The 1st period teacher expressed that this pissed her off. So I figured out that if I was going to be more than 5 minutes late, I might as well skip 1st period and just waltz into 2nd. Sometimes I didn’t get back from my skipping route in time for 2nd period so I would skip that too. (I still got As in both classes.) Being reported absent did not get me in as much trouble as being tardy.

    I’d like to think there might be some reasonable middle ground. But reading here, it seems that all teachers consider tardiness to be unforgivable and indicative of general lousiness. How dare anyone put anything ahead of the first minute of xyz class!

    You know, when I have a client arrive late for a meeting/call or fail to email me something when promised – or even pay late – I don’t have this kind of reaction. I figure there must have been a reason for it and move on. I guess the difference is that teachers don’t consider themselves to be working for kids and parents, or even collaborating with them on a mutual project. The tone here is that teachers view kids as line workers or even prison inmates. That doesn’t sit well with me. It’s no wonder many kids aren’t internally motivated to achieve perfect attendance.

  170. Jenny Islander January 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    This is a logical consequence of Every Child Dragged Along, I mean, No Child Left Behind. Teach to the test, teach to the test, cram cram cram cram cram. If your student body doesn’t keep cranking up those test scores your entire school is penalized. Hence being ten minutes (ten minutes?!) late for school making it impossible for a child to catch up, potentially dragging down the whole school’s scores, endangering the whole school’s funding, and causing the school authorities to chimp out over kids being ten minutes late.

    Hence potentially depriving the children of one of their full-time caregivers and possibly exposing them to the stresses of foster care, and/or putting extra stress on the other full-time caregiver (assuming that there is one) in an economic climate where that person really does not need another thing interfering with his or her ability to keep his or her paid job. All in the name of protecting their educational future. Hey, kiddo, your mom’s in jail! Here’s your stack of homework. Now remember, keep up, sweetie, or else!

    Ten minutes late. I am so glad I homeschool.

  171. Donna January 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    “I was usually up until the wee hours doing chores and homework, so getting up really early was not realistic.”

    At which point the question becomes, why were you up until the wee hours doing chores and homework? Was it because you seriously had that many chores or because you put them off until the wee hours of the morning? There are kids with that many obligations and SKL may have been one (I do seem to recall her mentioning having many responsibilities as a child). But I hear this exact same comment (minus the chores) all the time from my friends with older children, and yet I know none who actually have such obligations and many who are up until the wee hours of the morning doing homework. The general scenario I see with my friends’ kids is that they do a million and one extracurricular activities after school, start their homework when they should go to bed and then complain that it’s too hard to get up in the morning. Well duh!

  172. SKL January 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Well, let’s see, I had multiple paper routes / babysitting jobs (my only source of spending money), the responsibility to keep the woodburner burning and the driveway/walkways shoveled, responsibility to clean the kitchen and do the laundry for a family of 8, and responsibility to care for my much younger siblings after school since my parents worked. As for homework, I was taking a heavy college prep course load so I could graduate in 3 years instead of 4. Maybe I did have a few personal interests as well – give a teen girl a break. I was and am a “night person” and probably could not have slept early even if I wanted to.

    Didn’t someone do a study that showed that teens should start school later?

  173. Jenny Islander January 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    @Donna: And if you stick to your academics and leave the extracurriculars to other people, you don’t get any scholarships. At least that was my experience.

    Again, back on topic: The kids are less than ten minutes late on average for school and therefore their adult driver is threatened with jail time for contributing to delinquency of minors? The surreality of the punishment is difficult to believe, but there it is. This school district is not serving the people it was set up to serve, to put it very mildly. If causing a minor to be a few minutes late for first period is treated as a prosecutable crime, then something is seriously wrong with the school.

    I am inclined to blame NCLB, but whatever the cause, the result must not be allowed to stand. Everyone reading this, remember: If it becomes precedent in one state, it can become precedent in other states. It is very easy, very comforting, to point out how that other person is doing it wrong and how she* could avoid the punishment** if she could just do better. But if the law is permitted to do this to one person, it can just as easily happen to you.

    *Of course it’s the mom, and of course she must be punished** for not being perfect.

    **Punish, punish, punish. Why punish? Why must someone always be to blame? Why must someone always be singled out as the perp if something goes wrong? What, does shit not just happen?

  174. daddyof3 January 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    I was a school counselor and it was my job to work with families with chronic absences and tardiness. I’m done with that. Now I’m a single dad with three very young kids in one of those very same schools. The issue for me is whether I am going to turn into a screaming, abusive madman in order to comply with the law OR I can create a teachable/learn-able environment each morning. On weekends, if we have an early commitment, I become the parent I want my kids to remember for the rest of their lives with gentle verbal encouragement, pointed questions, time counts, and the like. Result? It takes three full hours from the time I get up until we have all strapped ourselves in for the ride. To accomplish this on school days without someone melting down I would have to set the alarm for 4:30. Since chores take me past midnight each night, I break some fundamental rules of parenting to keep the school statistics peachy. Unfortunately, the way schools are now funded, bad school stats have serious consequences, unlike when I worked in the system.

    Here’s a trick I have known people to use–they take their kid to school on time (ungroomed and underfed), then return after an hour or two for early pick-up to do important family tasks. Since there are no stats reviewed for early pick-up, the school takes no action. The hypocrisy is mind boggling.

  175. Donna January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    I wasn’t talking about you personally, SKL, but I do get really tired of hearing complaints from friends (and clients) that act as though life is so unfair because they treat their choices as insurmountable odds that other people need to make allowances for. The school doesn’t have to let you come in late every morning because you’re too busy with tennis, dance, piano, soccer, etc. to start your homework until 10pm every night (An actual complaint from an acquaintance a few months ago who was mad that her child got some punishment for being late; I guess now she should just be happy she wasn’t arrested).

    And, yes, there was a study but I’m not sure I completely buy it. People seem to pretty much be early birds or night owls from infancy. I’m most alert in the morning and drag all afternoon. I always have been. Once I’m up I’m good to go, caffeineless, whether 5am or 8am (and I never sleep past that). A school day from 9 to 4 or so would be bad for me. There is no way I could have paid attention in my afternoon classes. I’d much rather get up at 5am and take an afternoon nap.

  176. Donna January 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    @Jenny Islander – There are meaningful interests and there’s filling every single hour of every single day with something, often things that you are only involved in because they “look good” on your college application but otherwise would have no interest in whatsoever. Regardless, if you want to do a ton of extracurriculars, great. But the world doesn’t have to alter it’s time for you to do so if it doesn’t want to.

  177. SKL January 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    “The school doesn’t have to let you come in late every morning . . . .”

    Well, I would have been happy to not go in at all, but there was this pesky law requiring me to do so, and the pesky school enforcing that requirement.

    See, this is what I hated about school and why if I hadn’t graduated at 16, I would have dropped out. School is run like some cross between a prison and a zoo. You don’t have to do anything wrong to receive “criminal/animal” treatment. That’s the baseline. A handful of kids who are jocks and brown-nosers manage to avoid some of it. But if you’re just trying to mind your own business, you are presumed guilty and restricted accordingly. You know what they say – if you treat someone like an animal, he’ll act like an animal.

    I can’t think of any other place (except maybe a standardized testing location or a quiet theatre) where you’re not allowed to come in late if you want to. Maybe you won’t be rewarded for doing so, but that’s a different issue.

    I keep remembering the time that my sister at 13 got to school early (she’s an early person) and went into the restroom to comb her hair (after walking a mile in the wind). She still arrived at her homeroom before the tardy bell. She was given a detention because she had not asked the teacher’s permission to comb her hair before school. Now in this kind of environment, how will there be any motivation to show courtesy for the teacher’s desire to start instruction at exactly 8am? (And no, this has nothing to do with NCLB.)

  178. Christi January 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    “So here we have a mother who repeatedly and without any other explanation than “we’re to be pitied for our condition” fails to have her children in school on time.
    She’s therefore repeatedly and quite easily compensated for (get up half an hour earlier in the morning, you lazy #$^#$) in violation of the law and should face the consequences.
    I don’t think it warrants being arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs, but I’ve no pity on her and would convict her were I that judge to quite a hefty fine (or say a week in jail if it’s not the first time she had been arraigned for this).”

    JT Wenting- You hit the nail on the head!

    I’d only say a week in jail is appropriate if she’s late to arraignment 🙂

  179. Christi January 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Jenn- Welcome to the fray! Thank you, as a fellow teacher, for your words of wisdom here. Sadly, there are people too blinded by wind of their own helicopter rotors to recognize it.

  180. LRH January 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    You know, with all due respect, I think Lenore got the title of this article all wrong. The outrage isn’t that the woman was arrested, so much as that a bunch of damn idiots and judgmental witches here AGREE with it. My soul.

    Other than Jenny Islander and SKL and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Donna (and the couple of others I’ve mentioned before), the judgemental busybodies have absolutely taken this thread completely over. “Get off your lazy ass” etc etc. I don’t know when I’ve seen so much collective mean-spiritness and harsh judgmentalism in all of my life. If this is a “representative sample” of what the United States of America’s society looks like nowadays, no wonder Lenore had to start this site and has to speak all over the country trying to bring back some common sense into this country.

    The teachers here especially are very telling. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Somehow, in becoming teachers, you think you’re God all of a sudden, endowed with the right to come down on imperfect parents like Jehoviah raining down fire & brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. News flash–you’re not God, and your attitude is completely freaked up.

    You know who you all sound like? For “Seinfeld” fans, remember the episode where Brad Garrett (known for playing Ray Barone’s brother Robert in “Everybody Loves Raymond”) plays an obsessed car mechanic? He’s grilling Jerry Seinfeld about petty things like picking on the gearshift etc, and making him feel like a bad person, rather than just fixing his car, offering his advice with the proper tone, and at some point the Jerry character ends up basically saying to him “it’s my car, I don’t owe you an explanation” and he ends up just saying “I’d like to take my business elsewhere.”

    That is EXACTLY what many of you here, the teachers especially, sound like, and what Jerry said to him applies here to you.

    Well let me spell it out for you: come down from your throne of arrogance and cockiness and realize this, you are NOT these kids’ parents. Yes you are their teachers, but your authority ENDS outside of the classroom. You are NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY, to tell us what God awful parents we are just because we’re not perfect in our pursuits.

    I have 2 kids, and you know what? THEY’RE MY KIDS, they are NOT yours. I appreciate your teaching them in the classroom & I will support your authority there where it regards my children obeying you and not being brats, but beyond that, you are a NOBODY to try & tell me how to live my life. I don’t morally answer to you and you can go jump in the damn cold lake for all I stinking care. Go suck on THAT egg for awhile!

    For you to applaud this school for involving the POLICE–good Lord, can you idiots even hear what Lenore is saying, the POLICE!!–over tardiness, that is the height of overreach and downright stupidity, and those of you advocating it are STUPID YOURSELVES for advocating it. You deserve the absolute height of shame and embarrassment that can be produced for the attitude you have. You are the very essence of EVIL, yes EVIL, corrupting our society, because in supporting this you effectively guarantee its continued existence. You are every bit as awful a person as there is, short of the molesters and pedophiles and rapists, I won’t put you quite in that class of pond scum, but you’re not far behind it in my book.

    May God have mercy on your soul. There is a reason you’re not God, and there is a reason I’m not, (He’s wiser than all of us) because if it were up to me, the next time a tornado rampage breaks out, I would specifically have it hit your house (while none of you were home) if it were up to me. If someone here says “that’s tasteless, wishing a thing like that on someone,” maybe it is, but it’s no worse than someone applauding the ARRESTING of someone for a child being tardy. God help us if THIS is the prevaling attitude in this country. I feel sorry for Lenore, because she seems like such a perky & energetic and tireless crusader, but I don’t know if even she has what it takes to overcome this tidal wave of stupidity.


  181. Christi January 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    LRH- Judgmental witches? Now you’re striking out at peoples’ religion? Wow… defensive much?

    For many of these kids, if we WERE their parents, they’d be dong a hell of a lot better in school and in life…

  182. LRH January 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Well Christi that is just it “if we were their parents.”

    Well that’s just the thing, you aren’t. And that attitude is part of the problem, members of society going “if I were their parents I’d” blah blah blah.

    Exactly. You think you’re judge, jury and jailer for all the imperfect parents out there. YOU’RE NOT! Get that through your thick skull of yours., Your “concern” does NOT give you the moral authority to butt your nose into someone else’s business when someone ought to sock you right smack in said nose for doing just that.


  183. Jenn January 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    I find it so ironic that Free Rangers are supporting this mother. Isn’t raising your kids free range about teaching them responsibility? You may not like the consequence, but perhaps that is what will teach you not to do it again. My son would jump off the top of the playground structure (ten feet), it wasn’t the safest thing to do but despite cautions, he would do it. When his friend jumped off and broke his leg, my son learned that when you take risks, there are consequences, consequences that you may not like. he learned about risk management, his own physical limitations and also that despite your best efforts, bad things can still happen. Free range parenting isn’t about saying screw the rules of society. It’s working with them and this parent does not appear to have worked with society to fix this problem. Where is the IEP? Where is the diagnosis? Where is the documentation that proves the number of lates and the times late? What about last year? Instead of pointing the finger saying that the school and system here is picking on a disabled family, why not find out what really happened here? The school system is underfunded and overworked. Do you really think teachers want more work for themselves reporting this woman? Because she is in court, the school will need to provide the documentation, release staff from their duties, pay for replacements, advice from counsel, etc., When you take an extreme approach with a family, there is a reason behind it. Time to stop blaming the school system for every child and family that isn’t succeeding. People are saying that Lenore started free range because it’s a situation of blaming the parents, rather than sympathizing with them. Sometimes you deserve to be blamed, especially when you’ve been given opportunities and support. Schools work with a progressive discipline model which has to be documented. Look at what support she has already be given, and see how she responded. To me, this situation is not about raising children free range but raising children to not understand responsibilities and respecting rules.

  184. Suzanne January 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    I noticed that a lot of the comments talk about children who are late to school everyday. I agree that for children who are late several times times a week there should be some consequence for the parent. Not arresting them, that’s too extreme but they shold be held accountable. This womna’s children have been late 7 times, that’s about once every 2 weeks. Given their mental issues I think that really isn’t too bad and I wouldn’t call it habitual tardiness.

  185. Andy January 26, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    @Christi @Jenn You do not teach anybody anything by blowing things out of proportion. Maybe except that you are a controlling jerk, which may or may not be fair. I’m not saying that you are such a person, I’m saying that most people will come to that conclusion.

    You will not get respect, you will get resentment and maybe fear. That resentment will come back to you in millions of little issues. Like calling the school a cross of prison and zoo. Like good students desperately trying to graduate as soon as possible and bad students dropping off

    There is huge difference between enemy in power and authority.

    I used to like to go to school, but we had no ‘punish strongly for small mistakes’ policies. I was sometimes forgetful about homework, other kids has been late sometimes, but the consequences has been reasonable. Most of us grown having deep respect to teachers, education and schools.

    There is very little learning if there is no respect toward education. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. If they do not respect you, they will do only the minimum necessary to get what they want.

    Additionally, it is not this parent’s fault that you have to hold back whole class because of one tardy kid. Blame micromanagement in your school. It is not this parents fault that your salary is lower if kids are late (how does that work?). Blame those in charge.

  186. Christi January 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Here’s the thing many people are missing about the teachers.

    We are LEGALLY REQUIRED to report tardiness and absence because it breaks the law. We did not write the law. We did not lobby for the law. We do not necessarily support what happens once we report that the law is being broken. The law (compulsory schooling) predates most of us being teachers or even being born and has changed over time. THERE IS NOTHING “FREE RANGE” ABOUT SUPPORTING A CHILD’S LATENESS. A child who was late to school in a more free range era may have been whipped by both the teacher AND the parent– teacher in a more free range era were not just going to turn a blind eye to the behavior and think, “Gee, I hope they learned something useful while dillydallying to school.” Sadly, as most people on this blog are here to attest to, the days of our society allowing children to be responsible for their own behavior are gone and, as a society, we have put the onus that used to rest on the child onto their parents. Teachers are not in a policy making positions. We are the pawns in a much bigger game. If I didn’t have to account for every moment of my day and prove my effectiveness with quantifiable data that demonstrates my students’ daily progress, if didn’t have to worry about unsupportive helicopter parents who just want to be their child’s best friend, if I wasn’t mandated to be chasing pennies offered by Race to the Top while implementing test prep mandated by NCLB, I would happily berate your late child, send her to get book and open to whatever page we were on and punish her by making her sit and complete work while the rest of the class did something fun. No problem. But I do not have that option. That is not the world we live in or the world we teach in. So instead of tearing down the teachers who are stuck supporting a system that unrealistic and unsupportive parents have been instrumental in creating, go after the elected officials who DO have to answer to you. And, in the mean time, support the teachers who are spending their days wrangling 29 children BESIDES yours and trying to teach them to function as part of a mannerly and cohesive group outside of your 4 walls.

  187. LRH January 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    Well Jenn and the other ones supporting this evil nonsense, allow me to continue.

    I support this woman, and I surely support Lenore, and I say this as
    someone who has a very unblemished record of not only getting my (not quite) 5 year old off to pre-K every morning on-time (at 6:45 a.m. or so, mind you), but also letting both the principal and teachers know that if she acts up, you can count on me to back YOU up. I will NOT be one of these parents coming in here blaming you for my daughter’s bratty behavior if it happens, I will BACK YOU up.

    But you know what? I keep it in perspective. Yes I’ve done very well
    getting her to pre-school on-time, but that’s because the school is
    only 7/10ths of a mile from here, yes, 7/10ths. I also, much as Donna said about herself, someone who is naturally an early-riser. I was up this morning probably 30 minutes before I had to get her up. It comes easily for me.

    But you know what? It doesn’t come easily for everyone, and for those for whom this is the case, I think they need our SUPPORT, not the likes of Christi coming in here with a holier-than-thou attitude saying “if I were their parent they’d be better off.” That attitude is exactly what is poisoning parenting today, other people judging you and having that attitude that “if I were their parent, this is what I’d do, but since I’m not the parent, the next best thing I can do is call social services to MAKE them do it the way I think they should do it.”

    That is exactly what we DON’T need.

    And good grief, the consequences (arrest) will motivate her to do better? Even if it does, it’s still an extreme overreaction, and the ends do NOT justify the means by any stretch. If people like you REALLY BELIEVE that it is okay to arrest someone if that’s what it takes, frankly–your thinking is all wrong. It’s downright sick if you ask me.

    Getting up on-time and getting our (almost) 5 year old to pre-K on-time may come naturally for me, but house-cleaning doesn’t–for me OR for my wife. Our house may not have rats or 40 “hoarded” cats with feces everywhere, it’s nowhere near that degree, but it sure doesn’t look like Martha Stewart living either. House cleaning doesn’t come naturally for me, and frankly, so what? They’re fed, their rooms are still clean (and we do keep the living room respectable), it’s fine. I don’t need Miss High & Mighty coming in here reading me the riot act for not having a house that Marie Barone (the intrusive mother/mother-in-law from “Everybody Loves Raymond”) would approve of. In like manner, this woman did not deserve to be arrested or even (in a figurative sense) get a ruler smacking on her knuckles.

    The response of the school system is insane, and frankly the response of way too many in here is equally insane. Welcome to the new society, people, where imperfection will get you arrested and a bunch of damn idiots are all too eager to applaud it.


  188. Andy January 26, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    @Christi supporting tardiness and thinking that this reaction is over the top are two different things. Teaching independence and responsibility and supporting whatever overly harsh policies are two different things too.

    If you say that you are happy about what happened, people will assume that you support such policies.

    Policies you hate are not tardy parents fault. Detailed policies on everything are rarely written by disorganized people.

  189. Christi January 26, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Correction, LRH, I didn’t say they’d be better off. I said they’d be doing better in school. Again, I’d suggest you slow down, monitor for meaning and read for comprehension.

  190. LRH January 26, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Well Christi “that is not the world we [teachers] live in” doesn’t make it right. Like John Mellencamp said in “Rain on the Scarecrow,” regarding the guy coming by to foreclose on their farm and saying “it’s my job,” his reply: “calling it your job doesn’t make it right.”

    You’re just passing the buck, blaming it on the law. If the law is that outrageous, maybe YOU should get off of YOUR ass and work to change it. Like it or not, you’re part of the problem even if you don’t write the rules, because you enforce them when frankly, if it were me, I would risk my job by REFUSING to do as they told me. Seriously, that is exactly what I would do. I would look the principal straight in the eye & tell him or her “YOU call the police, I’m not going to do it, it’s a stupid response and I won’t be a party to it.”

    If the days of holding children instead of the parents accountable are gone, as you said, it’s because of people like YOU that it is, because (a) you go along with this, you could always protest it in the appropriate avenues or even take up another profession but ESPECIALLY because of (b) of your previously cited attitude “if I were the parents of those children they’d be better off.”

    You’re as much a part of the system, maybe MORE so, than a lot of other people. If it REALLY is that crooked, quit making excuses for it already, otherwise, you’re just enabling more stupidity and even downright advocating for it.


  191. Poe January 26, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I am a student advisor for a major U.S. university, and I tend to agree with those that do not have much sympathy for the mother. On a daily basis, we deal with students who are accustomed to having rules bent for them. These are 18-22+ year olds who can’t make an appointment on time, completely disregard deadlines and have a general lack of respect for any time frame that is not their own. We are faced with parental ire when the student finds out that no, we cannot honor a scholarship application submitted one week after our deadline when we have 200 on-time applications sitting in our office. It’s distressing to hear a legal adult whine in the hopes of having the rules bent to accommodate him/her.

    None of us know the full details of the situation that led to the mother’s arrest, so it’s impossible to understand this situation accurately. I don’t like the idea of a parent’s being arrested and sent to court for bringing kids to school late, and this doesn’t sit well with me. However, I’m also concerned by the mother’s seeming lack of self-responsibility for bringing her kids to school late and the values she’s teaching them as a result. If there were an IEP or 504 on file that demonstrated possible tardiness, I can’t but hope that the school would go out of their way to accommodate them. For this level of supposed persecution – which again, I fully disagree with – it seems that there’s more to the issue than the side the mother is presenting.

  192. Brian January 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    I think the point of the law is exactly to combat the parental answers of “who cares if they are late a few days” “teachers are “nobody” and “school is just something you suffer through.”

    The law was probably created to make it the parent’s problem. The idea is that punishing the child with detention, etc. does nothing if the parent at home says “oh, this is so stupid you were just a few minutes late.”

    I am in no way supportive of the criminalization aspect of this law, jail is not the answer.

    However, I would fully support a policy whereby parents of habitually tardy students first speak with counselors about the issue (as this family did). But that if the problem was not resolved then the parents could be required to join their child for mandatory community service at the school. Cleaning up the school, running a fundraiser, helping in the classroom whatever. With the caveat that there are reasonable options for evenings, mornings or weekends for parents who work.

    One of those sessions would go a long way towards making the parents an active participant in making sure kids are at school on time. The counseling would be used to weed out any parents with extraordinary circumstances that make accommodation of tardiness the more prudent course.

  193. Christi January 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    LHR- The teachers don’t make the calls. We report our attendance to the main office. The office bring attendance problems to the attention of the principal. The principal consults with the superintendent. If they deem it necessary, they call the police.

    Are you suggesting I stop taking attendance?

    And, before you suggest I “ignore” kids who come in late… school starts at 8:30. Attendance is due by 8:35. It is done electronically. If a student has not sat down in their seat by 8:35, they are marked absent. If they turn up after 8:35, they are supposed to check in at the office and hand in a late note. Then they get a pass to come to class. Often they come to me before going to the office. I send them back to get the pass. The office logs that they were late and not absent. I do not have access to that system to change the attendance. This is the way it works in many schools now. If a teacher fails to take attendance, they are legally responsible and can be held accountable for any thing that happened to that child in the meantime. We are considered to be “En loco parentis” during school hours.

    There is a lot more to this issue than you realize.

  194. Jenny Islander January 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Hey, Christi et al., you know what?

    I’m going to pretend that I am your state legislature. I’m going to make a law that you are not to obstruct the snowplows on their appointed rounds by leaving stuff on the sidewalk or you will be fined. I’m going to make another law that you are not to damage city property on purpose or you will be locked up for vandalism.

    Then I’m going to pretend that it’s trash pickup day. Your trash got picked up on time even though there was snow on the streets and sidewalk. But you had a spell of wet snow, then a sudden freeze, during the day. You come home and the empty trash can is cemented to the sidewalk by a thick layer of ice. You are the primary caregiver of four school-age children. You look at the trash can, realize that you will have to chop it free with an ax, and leave it because there is dinner to fix, homework to supervise, medication to administer, and another day to prepare for. Yes, the trash can stuck to the sidewalk is a problem. But you have a list of things that need to be addressed that is eleventy items long and this is number eleventy-one. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

    The snowplow goes by in the night, pushing a berm past the sidewalk onto your front lawn. CLUNK goes the trash can, popped loose by the force of the blade. The snowplow driver has to stop, move the can, and continue on. There is no damage to the snowplow, but the driver is behind schedule and worried about his job. His schedule is insane. He has to account for every ten minutes, calling in from predetermined checkpoints at preset times no matter what is on the sidewalk. He practically has to pee in a bottle to get it all done. He is fed up. He makes a call.

    The cops arrive and lead you out of your house in handcuffs on a charge of deliberately damaging city property. Your kids’ security, your job security, and your future employability and reputation have been damaged because somebody decided to blame you for his screwed-up work situation. Also, a precedent has been set: this could happen to your neighbor if his kid leaves her bike out; this could happen to anybody.

    Do you get it yet?

  195. Christi January 26, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    OK- let me correct that in case you take it literally. I do not mean that they have to physically be in their chair to be marked present (though I have used it as a threat with kids who won’t stop talking and sit the F* down… but that’s with HS age kids). They just need to be in class. Didn’t want to confuse anyone or give the impression that I’m going to mark a kid absent and have the cops sent to get his mom because he was sharpening his pencil. Though we all know that sharp pencils aren’t allowed in classrooms anymore anyway. Safety first!! (can anyone find the sarcasm?)

  196. Myriam January 26, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    Making sure that my children know that THEY are responsible for getting themselves to school on time has worked well for me to this extent (and I do accept that ultimately I am accountable and this won’t work for everyone): Past the age of 8 (and believe me, letting a child walk to school unaccompanied that age is a radical idea where I live), I have made it clear that if my older child is not ready when it is time to leave, I will go without him, and I have done so. My thinking is that at least I will get the younger one there on time.

    I got tired of standing there every morning, repeatedly telling the older one it’s time to go, get your shoes on, have you got your bag, 10 minutes to go, why haven’t you got your socks on yet, 5 minutes to go, hurry up, hurry up, we should be leaving now, have you seen your hair, go and look in the mirror, etc.

    When I used to leave him behind, he would suddenly get a move on and go running down the road. We are never late, but I’m sure we would be if I waited for him, and he just waited and waited until I started screaming at him.

    My point is that some people might think I was abdicating my responsibilities by leaving him – he is a chronic procastinator and to some extent this is me giving up on him. However this approach can have its merits, and also feels very liberating!

    One of the problems with arresting this woman is that surely it is assuming the worst about her – that she doesn’t care less about her children and is not making any effort to get her children to school. We don’t know whether or not this is the case and whether this is first or last resort, all I know is that it seems many people seem quick to assume that if there is any problem with children, the parents must be feckless and rather clueless about parenting.

  197. Christi January 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    I sure do get it! I feel terribly for the driver. I should have done my civic responsibility, boiled up some water, taught my kids a mini science lesson on how to melt ice quickly (Salt? Hot water? Blowing on it? Peeing on it? Hey…toilet training included!) and carried the garbage can back to where it belongs.

    Do I think the law is stupid? Yes. Would I have lobbied my state legislator against it? Yes. Would I have sent letters? Yes. Would I have helped vote him/her out of office? Yes. But I take responsibility very seriously and I make a point of showing my daughter whenever possible that we are not above common law. Which is often very hard because or family often faces a great deal of legal prejudice. And we fight against it while living by ridiculous constraints.

  198. Jenny Islander January 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    Christi, you are probably a very valiant mother.

    Can other people be less valiant than you without being threatened with a criminal record–for an average of one tardy every two weeks?

    I am up at five past fraggit in the morning because my toddler has had a rough night. I am just going to bed because he is finally asleep. Tomorrow (today!) I am going to do some stupid things because, damn it, I am tired. Should I pay for inconveniencing someone else by being threatened with a criminal record? Sometimes shit just happens.

  199. MichaelEdits January 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Back when I was a student, Mom and I quickly learned that a simple note from her excused my infrequent absences, but that no note could excuse a tardiness. So, if I was running late, we simply decided that I’d simply stay home that day. Stupid but true.

    This story, however, is much stupider. Also, unfortunately, just as true. Grr…

  200. kiesha January 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    On weekends when I refused to get up (I love sleep!), my dad would bring a glass of water into my bedroom and threaten to pour it over my head if I didn’t get up RIGHT NOW. I always immediately got up.

  201. Brian January 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    Jenny-I again don’t agree with the arrest. However, if the same house had left garbage cans out 10 times already this year, I have no problem if the sanitation department reminds them of the law and if still not in compliance fines the homeowner.

  202. SKL January 26, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Kiesha, they used to throw cold water on me some mornings. It warms up after a while. I learned to go back to sleep that way. 😉

  203. Jashby January 27, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    I see this cropping up too much as I scan comments:
    {Repeatedly being late shows everyone else “your time is less valuable/important than mine”.}

    Too general and critical, folks. I know it’s true for some, but not true for all.

    I was late to school for most of 5th year. I needed to watch my 2 year old brother in between the times my grandmother left for work and my mother (who worked nights) came home. My grandmother was often a little late for work to get us ready for the day. If my mother raced home from work, which she did, I was only 5 minutes late to school.

    I think public school teachers are held to unreasonable standards for what can be accomplished and when. We MUST fix this. I also think parents are being held to unreasonable standards, especially in the responses when there is no tolerance for a little lateness (10 minutes is different than 30).

    I’m not saying the school as a system should shrug it’s figurative shoulders when a child is chronically late — my school certainly didn’t, there were consequences for my tardiness — but socially, interpersonally, we should understand that there are differences in what we can accomplish.

    And here, on this board, we should understand that we are in different parts of the country, we have different limits for patience, we have different personalities in our families. And there are so many other variables. It all affects what we are able to do.

    My thoughts with this mother. As said before: I hope the judge was full of compassion and parental common sense.

    PS If mothers were held to today’s rules a few decades ago, my mother probably would have been arrested. Yet she’s a great role model for women: independent, the second one of her family to get a college education, the only one to get a master’s degree, a successful career, two successful & independent kids. And she’s chronically late to just about everything except work. Not that she thinks she’s more important, she just cannot judge how much time something will take.

    Long response. The criticism over tardiness made me mad, but teachers – do not think I’m unaware of how difficult a tardy child makes a class structure. Christi, I knew before but your explanation made it more clear for me.

  204. SKL January 27, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    Christi and others, one minute you are saying you’r glad this woman was arrested, and the next minute you’re saying that you really don’t like the rules that led to it and you’re trying to distance yourself from it. I tend to believe that you really are as judgmental and frankly mean as you come across in your “I’m glad because she sucks” posts.

    Tardiness is an ugly fact of life. As a teacher, you have to have a strategy in place to deal with it. As I said before, I cannot think of any good reason to put important, required academic stuff in the first 10 minutes of the day. That’s about as smart as me scheduling homework for the five minutes before we’re suppose to leave for school in the morning.

    You have our kids for 7 hours a day. Give me a break. Homeschoolers and afterschoolers accomplish so much in a few hours a day. Older generations learned so much (usually better) in the same school hours without any homework and with a lot more recess. There just has to be something non-essential that you can move to the first 10 minutes. Maybe the fun crafty stuff, to encourage the kids to try harder to get there on time.

    You sound very bitter and I can’t help wondering why you are a teacher if you get so upset every time someone walks through the door of your classroom unscheduled, asks you for homework in advance of a planned absence, and basically any time things don’t go according to your perfect plan. You are dealing with a roomful of children. Bitching about the reality that they are unpredictable and imperfect is a waste of time. I’m not paying you for that.

  205. SKL January 27, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    PS, I spanked my kid for dawdling this morning. Are you happy?

  206. Diane S. January 27, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    @christi – our getaway was for hubby’s computer conference, and the kids were too young to be left alone at the house. Although later on no problem. And the schooling – it was ACE schools, self-paced, self-scored. So no biggie there. Daughter ended up with just having to score her work when we got back.

    Um, I really wasn’t being sarcastic or joking, actually. You just do what you have to do with your job. So what if it sucks? it’s a job that one voluntarily took on.

  207. Dan January 27, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    When I was at school they typically punished the child which was pretty stupid since the school has no way of knowing who was to blame and the child has no control over whether their parents leave on time. And similarly for a number of other things that resulted in punishment where the responsibility could very well have rested with the parents.

    If there is some chronic problem with lateness, then it does make sense to figure out why with the parents, but arresting and prosecuting someone seems petty at the very least, and definitely a waste of resources. I do think every effort should be made to be there on time. A child being difficult is hardly a valid excuse. There may be extreme exceptions, but in general it’s something the parents have to solve.

    Not being able to drop your child off more than half an hour before school is pretty dumb too, so the authorities are themselves contributing to the problem. On my way to my old office at 06h30 I’d see children who had been dropped at the school I drove past. That’s a good 90 minutes before the start of the school day. But it’s allowed here. In fact I’d have to drop my child off at that sort of time, so that a 20 minute drive didn’t take more than an hour. And if arriving very early wasn’t allowed I’d have no problem telling the school to take a hike if we’re occasionally late.

    I remember at university I had a lecturer who would go completely bananas if someone came in late. And we’re not talking about a chronic problem or regular repeat offenders. No-one really wanted to explain to this guy that simply ignoring it and carrying on was in fact far less disruptive than spending several minutes ranting and raving.

    Of course whether one has to arrive at work at a specific time depends very much on your business. In my working life I’ve arrived at work anywhere from 06h30 to 10h00. One of the great benefits of being an adult is that I have that flexibility.

  208. Jenny Islander January 27, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    @Dan: Here’s a scenario:

    Parent must have X hours of sleep to function. Parent begins sleep period as early as possible in order to end it as early as possible. Parent then has time Y to get child from bed to door of school. However, getting child from bed to door of school requires a procedure that, because children are not in fact computer programs, sometimes consumes time Y and sometimes time Y+1.

    Question: Who should be punished?

  209. Jenny Islander January 27, 2012 at 12:57 am #

    Oh, and I am up again after an hour and a half of sleep, because life. I am going to be slow today because life. Who should be punished?

  210. Diane S. January 27, 2012 at 1:01 am #

    @christi – hadn’t realized you taught kindergarteners – our daughter was doing 10th grade work, but according to PS standards, she would have been in 7th grade. A big difference between K & 10th grade. As it stands, she is coming with us to Boston for the Marathon (my husband qualified) and we are going for a week – already arranged with the college for work for her to do prior to leaving. By the way, K is not mandatory, it’s a nice thing to have, but both my kids were reading & doing math before K age.

  211. Christi January 27, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Diane– never said what grades I teach…

  212. SKL January 27, 2012 at 1:14 am #

    Christi said she is an elementary school teacher. So, yes, different from 10th grade.

  213. Cheryl W January 27, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    I don’t see this parent as a habitual late person. When I was working, I had people who were late habitually – at least 2 or more times a week. I asked that they adjust their hours and work later. My husband is one of these habitually late people. As a result, we eat dinner later than I would like. I deal with it.

    Being 10 minutes or so late every couple of weeks…sorry, not going to get my goat. 80% or better of the time they are are time. My daughter’s school bus had a worse record. Why should a parent be held to higher standards than the school bus?

    Yes, the kids may not learn all they need to learn – but 10 minutes every couple of weeks? Kids lose more than that by going to the bathroom, which as a normal human function I hope that all the teachers are allowing the kids to do.

    All this is much ado about nothing. A kid who is late 3-5 days a week, yes there is an issue. I don’t see this so much with this parent.

  214. Jenn January 27, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    As I keep saying, there has got to be a lot more to the story than what was stated in the original post. If you go back and read Lenore’s entry and comments from `Paper Airplane? Late for School?…” this mother first posted about her situation in the comments section there on January 23. I promptly responded and the next day saw that her story became Lenore’s outrage of the week. The mother used her real name so I did a quick search on the internet, Facebook (her profile is currently viewable to everyone), and found her blog and she isn’t as innocent as she seems. Not her first time (nor her second) dealing with the legal system so maybe what you think was blown out of proportion is in actuality years of accumulated incidences.

  215. Christi January 27, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    I’m certified to teach K-12. I’ve taught every grade K-5 as well as 8, 9 and 10. I’ve taught in both the private and the public system. I graduated from my masters program with a 4.0 and my undergrad degree is from a very prestigious college. My writing has been published in books that remained for weeks on the NYT best seller list. I did not miss a day of school from the 3rd grade through the 12th grade, despite some of my parents’ best efforts to keep me home, and that was of my own doing and my own interest. Any other aspects of my qualifications or background that need to be addressed?

  216. Christi January 27, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    Oh Jenn, I wish this blog had a “Like” button…

  217. Jenn January 27, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    Christi, I spend a lot of time at school sorting through stories to find out what happened. As a teacher, you know there is always two sides to a story. Just found it a lot easier than I thought for this situation (less than ten minutes). I kept saying that there has to be more to this story but those who support the mother just can’t use their judgement and see that there could be a reason for the arrest (not jail time but a $3000 bond). People should really take the time to think before posting on here…

  218. Christi January 27, 2012 at 1:53 am #

    I completely agree, Jenn, and I would bet that I’ve had enough teaching experience and dealing with parents experience to sort out the two sides here and paint a more realistic portrait of what is happening here on both the side of the school AND the parent. I’m not trying to demonize this parent, or to say that parents need to be perfect.

    My guess? It goes something like this:

    Oldest child is chronically late for kindergarten. KG is not mandatory, so teacher mentions it, but there’s no real consequence.

    Oldest child is frequently late for 1st grade. Teacher mentions it, mom explains that there are two younger siblings at home. Teacher nods knowingly. Teacher mentions that student is struggling. Mother becomes very upset and makes a lot of excuses. Teacher begins evaluation process. Mother is angry, insists nothing is wrong. Child study team decides to suggest child is promoted with unofficial supports in place.

    Oldest child and younger sibling are frequently late to respective classes. KG teacher notices similar patterns in younger siblings. Sits down and speaks with mom. Child study team put together for younger sibling. Mom explains at large round table meeting that she too has problems and just hasn’t wanted to see it in her own children. Mom cries. Everyone offers support. Both children get IEPs. Accommodations help some, but there is no way to properly handle the difficulties with homework, parent-school contact and other issues that take place outside the classroom but affect the child’s work inside the classroom.

    All 3 children are now in school. It is a little easier to get them out of the house in the morning, but students continue to be late from time to time. The youngest sibling does not have actual academic or behavioral issues, but has learned to manifest them for the attention. The youngest sibling does not have an IEP, but is not working to potential either and the mother would now LIKE the child to have an IEP because it would make life easier if the child could have the same accommodations as her siblings. Mom holds the teachers to every letter of the words in the IEPs, but does not hold up her end because she is overwhelmed. The school has met with her in increasingly structured meetings, calling in all manner of school professionals when necessary.

    All 3 children arrive late for school for the 7th time in a semester (note we don’t know how long the semester has been going on when this 7th lateness occurs… it may be only the second week) and the principal is aware of his duty to report the lateness under a relatively new law. The mother is reported. She is arrested. She is indignant and reaches out to the mob mentality of the internet to validate her feelings.

    Note- This is a hypothetical rendering of how a similar situation could occur. I do not mean to say that THIS exact scenario played out with THIS exact parent.

  219. Jane January 27, 2012 at 1:53 am #

    Being free range means learning to deal with things and not avoiding consequences, yes, but that means REASONABLE consequences, not outrageous ones. You do not take a sledgehammer to put in a thumbtack unless you want to break the wall.

    You keep saying things like “this must not be the whole story,” but at the same time, you are condoning this arrest for the story as given. Even if it were a hypothetical situation, you are reacting based on the given information, and agreeing with an over-the-top reaction.

    There is a difference between a law enacted to protect people and property in our society, and a regulation put into place at the behest of people with an interest in having things run a certain way (not necessarily for the betterment of society, just for their, or their organization’s, benefit.) Criminal prosecution for the latter has become more and more common. I find this frightening. Let’s step back, remember people are human, and stop trying to impose our own personal belief structure on everyone else. Loosen up, lighten up, and you will probably have less stress in your life – at least if others will let you. The world does not generally rise or fall on whether or not people are early or late, no matter how you, personally, might feel about it. Personally, I don’t like to be late, but I have been happily married to a man who can’t seem to be on time, no matter what, and I have learned to pick my battles. Our children are a little of each.

    Remember, someday, you may be on the other end of a self-righteous, over the top judgement – and I don’t think you will find it as pleasant to be on the receiving end. We are all just human, after all.

    Truly, Christi and Jenn and others who claim to be teachers and are supporting actually ARRESTING a parent over something like this, PLEASE find another line of work. (I am actually wondering if you are, in fact, teachers, and not just trolls bent on making mischief on this website.) I am so very glad that my children did not have you for teachers. The few times my children did have people who thought like you, they had terrible school experiences. (My youngest, dyslexic, son was put in with a teacher who was very “structured” for fourth and fifth grades – against my wishes – where he was miserable and learned almost nothing. In previous years and subsequent years he had flexible teachers, was happy, and learned quite well. We had two wasted years thanks to that.)

  220. Jane January 27, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    Just noting here that Christi seems to have an awful lot of daytime access to a computer for someone who claims to be a teacher. Shouldn’t you been in your classroom?

  221. Christi January 27, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    Maternity leave

  222. LRH January 27, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    Well Jenn if you are going to say that you have something quantifiable that suggests there is more to this, then you should CITE it. Saying “Google it” isn’t good enough, you should cite it YOURSELF.

    Regardless, the general attitudes expressed here are telling, people in support of arrest just for lateness for school. If this woman was arrested for something other than just lateness, then fine, but that doesn’t mean those of us decrying the many reactions we often-times see along these lines that are way over-the-top now have an egg on our face for posting. There were certainly many people posting here that they approved of this arrest NOT based on what you say you’ve found out, but just based on the lateness itself, and that was and is ridiculous.


  223. Andy January 27, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    @SKL Older generations learned so much (usually better) in the same school hours without any homework and with a lot more recess.

    It is likely, that kids learn better with recess than without. I know for a fact, that I can achieve more if I’m giving myself active breaks (small walk, few push ups). And I’m an adult.

  224. Cheryl W January 27, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    Well, since we are into hypothetical situations, here is what I see, (and why people turn to homeschooling.)

    Child has difficulties in school. Parent asks teacher, teacher says to give it time. Child is falling behind, year by year. Parent asks if there is anything else that can be done. Child hates school, can’t do the work. Teacher blames the parent for not reading to the kid or doing stuff at home. Teacher says that the child “doesn’t want to do the work”. Parent talks with some other parents, and finally asks for an evaluation in writing so that the school will do something. By this time the kid feels that he is stupid and doesn’t want to be at school where he is told by teachers to work harder when he is already doing his best work.

    Next child also has issue. Studies show if first child has autism subsequent children are much more likely to be on the spectrum. Parent asks for testing earlier. But kid is noticing that he can’t do the work like the rest of the kids and is not liking that.

    Parent is frustrated as each kid she has to ask for what is needed, but she is not an expert. Yes, parent has had some issues with the law, because guess what? Autism, mental illnesses run in families. Not surprising.

    Parent wants to do what is right, but also doesn’t want to abuse her kids to get them to school. Parent is labeled as a troublemaker for asking for appropriate services that cost money. Parent needs a rest from the kids (not jail!) and needs support. She fights with the kids each night to get them to do homework, then again each morning to get them to school. She wonders what she did to deserve this.

    At this point a lot of the parents turn to homeschooling just so they don’t have to fight the school any more. This is what I see. I used to be inside the schools, now I am outside.

  225. LRH January 27, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    I especially want to state my agreement with Jane‘s last posting. There have been many here supporting the arrest as-is. Yes some have said “there’s more to this story,” but many have been all too eager to support an arrest based simply on lateness.

    And lateness should NOT be cause for an arrest. Period. It’s an extreme overreaction. Again, if someone is struggling to get their children to school, they should be helped & encouraged on how to do this better, not criticized and told “get your lazy a** out of bed” etc. That’s just not the kind of society I’m for.


  226. Jane January 27, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    Christi, Jenn, and all other who are being so judgmental, think about it. You are being just as bad as any helicopter parent, only over a different issue. They feel as strongly about free-range being bad as you seem to about tardiness in school being bad.

    Since you read this blog, I am assuming (perhaps wrongly) that you are free-range parents. How would you feel if you were hauled off, under arrest, because of something related to being free-range, because someone else saw it as unnecessary child endangerment?

    You are becoming the very thing you claim to dislike, because to you, your attitudes are the only things that matter. Please, think about this.

  227. Donna January 27, 2012 at 2:18 am #

    “And she’s chronically late to just about everything except work. Not that she thinks she’s more important, she just cannot judge how much time something will take.”

    Except that she obviously CAN judge how much time something will take when it is important to her. If she couldn’t, she wouldn’t be on time for work either.

    “I can’t think of any other place (except maybe a standardized testing location or a quiet theatre) where you’re not allowed to come in late if you want to”

    Work. Some employers will allow you to adjust your hours, many will simply fire you after awhile, particularly jobs tied to time clocks.

    Court. Don’t come on time and you may find yourself in jail on a bench warrant.

    Meetings with me and many other people. Of course shit sometimes happens, but if you’re going to be late every single time we arrange to do something, we’re simply never going to arrange to do anything. I don’t have the patience to sit around and wait for you every time.

    While I do not think anyone should be arrested for tardy kids, this “I can be late whenever I want because I’m not a morning person or I can’t judge how much time things take, or I’m up late and can’t get up early … which all basically boils down to I’m special and your time is not important to me” is also mindboggling to me. I try to be on time but am not completely militant about it. Emergency delays happen. Occasional bad mornings happen. People sometimes lose track of time. Repeated complete disregard for the time that things are scheduled is simply rude and disrespectful to the other people involved, whether it’s school, work or friends.

    Taking this woman at her word, she was not at the stage and I’m not referring to her at all. But many of her supporters here seem to be taking a stance that being on time should NEVER matter and nobody should ever required to be on time for anything at all. We are all “special” and should all be able to do things in our own time and everyone else should respect that. There’s a point in both directions where the behavior of the people is absurd. Arresting someone for tardiness at school is clearly on one side and consistent, blatant disregard for everyone else’s time is another.

  228. SKL January 27, 2012 at 2:21 am #

    Christi, in your example, the woman and her kids are doing better over time at getting to school on time. Sounds positive to me. Seems logical that rather than throw the mom in jail, the school should acknowledge that the situation is moving in the right direction.

    As a former education student, I was taught in my intro to ed class (and it was continuously reinforced in later classes) that teachers will deal with all kinds of people and need to accept that and develop skills to do it well and without judgmentalism. The worst thing you can do, they said, was make parents feel alienated from the school. You accept that the parent is where she is and work from there. Whether the parent is stupid, illiterate, depressed, dirty, or has no sense of the value of education. You don’t look at a child’s issues through the eyes of the parent YOU would be to him, but learn to see things through their actual parents’ eyes. Otherwise you will fail the child and the community. Sounds like some teachers could use a reminder of that.

  229. SKL January 27, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    Oh, Cheryl, you reminded me of my mom and my little brother decades ago.

    Little bro has a September 30 birthday and ambliopia. (We learn later that his eye doc used a wrong medication and basically killed one eye – it is not correctible.) Does great in KG and 1st; tests into advanced 2nd grade. 2nd grade teacher finds everything wrong with the kid. Granted, his handwriting is poor and he’s about as mature as the youngest boy in the class (which he is). He can’t physically keep up with essentially 3rd grade work. He either gets 100% or 0%. Teacher makes him “do over” or gives him no credit because of his “lazy” handwriting. Mom files his schoolwork for future reference.

    Kid gets lousy report card and meets with mom. Mom demands meeting with principal. Mom brings all school papers.

    Teacher claims to mom and principal: “he doesn’t care. He won’t do his work. He’s too immature. He needs to be held back.” Mom pulls out large stack of papers. “Explain this to me. All these papers are completed. 100%. 0%. A. F. . . .” Teacher stammers.

    Mom demands child be tested for special ed. Principal and teacher gasp in shock and horror. (Apparently no parent ever initiates that discussion?) Boy is tested. Boy is fine. Boy gets transferred to another 2nd grade where the teacher treats him like a 2nd grade boy.

    (But boy hates school now and never really recovers motivation until junior high school.)

    But apparently the teachers here would love to see my mom in jail because some of her older kids had a lot of tardies. Teachers are always blameless.

  230. Christi January 27, 2012 at 2:36 am #


    The teacher. Is merely. Taking. Attendance.

    And yes, SKL, kids learned much differently 100 years ago. But what did a child need to know by the age of 16 back then? Spelling wasn’t even standardized in the US until the 1920s. Comparing the 1 room country school house to the bureaucratic nightmare that schools are today isn’t is comparing apples and tire irons.

    And yes, Jane, I do consider myself to be quite free range. And I am used to people looking askance at my parenting. But the issue that is being discussed here is not a parent’s choice to use shopping cart covers. If using shopping cart covers became a matter of law, I’d buy one of the stupid things and put it on. A parent chose to break a law. The parent was warned about possible consequences for continuing to break the law. The parent did not heed the waring. The parent is suffering the consequences of her choice. As I have said several times over, no. I don’t think that, based on the details that were give… partial though I’m sure they are… that arrest makes the most sense. What would make the most sense would be to turn the situation over to the local child protection authorities and have them further investigate the situation and see what supports or interventions are necessary to fix the problem.

  231. Jane January 27, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    Thank you, Christi – what has had me concerned was your stated agreement with said law. You quite blatantly applauded the arrest in your first post, and have seemed, in subsequent posts, to be agreeing with a rather harsh set of regulations. This last post is the first one in which you have CLEARLY said that maybe an arrest – given the information we have been going on – was not the most appropriate reaction. (You hinted at it, but did not say it outright.)

    And given the proclivity for Child Protective Services to remove children first and ask questions later, I am not sure that starting with them is the best thing. (Don’t get me wrong – my daughter and son-in-law work in a facility for troubled youth, and some kids need to never see a biological parent again, but this is not the usual case in society.)

    And as for changing unreasonable laws – sometimes the best place to start is on the inside. Teachers do have some voice (although, if what you say about your lesson plans is true, less in your district that others.)

  232. SKL January 27, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    Donna: here’s what I think. Someday soon, there’s going to be a “slow-in-the-morning-osis” disorder that will be identified as a special need for which kids can be diagnosed. Because it seems clear to me that it’s rampant, and since I suffer from it, I assure you that it has NOTHING to do with thinking I’m more special than you. It has to do with feeling like you weigh 1,000 lbs when you try to get out of bed. And like you’re going to faint if you force yourself to get up “RIGHT NOW!” And further, not being able to wind down to go to sleep is also physical. It’s not like I used to say “screw my Spanish teacher, I’m gonna have me another cup of coffee now and sleep in tomorrow.” I never, ever went to bed with the intention of oversleeping.

    Point is, as a morning person, you don’t know how it feels and yet you feel quite free to judge me. You probably would not like it if I spoke of you as the scum of the earth because you feel sleepy whenever it’s your bedtime (which is when I’m getting back to work for second shift every night). Or if I considered it a personal affront that you did not produce any billable work between 12am and 4am every night.

    I want to be on time for everything. I usually am. When I’m late, I feel horrible and apologize profusely. I know it’s not the norm and it can be an inconvenience for other (sometimes). I tend to make up for it by working even longer hours so that when I do get started in the morning, I’m ahead of the game. How you get “I’m more special than you” out of tardiness . . . well, I guess I can understand it since you aren’t me, but I wish you would entertain the idea that maybe people like me aren’t that arrogant.

    I don’t think anyone (including me) has said it’s fine and dandy to be late all the time. I believe, however, that it needs to be put in perspective. If it does not cause an actual problem, then don’t make it into a problem, you know? And don’t take it personally, either. What good does it do for you to grind your teeth over people who are running a few minutes behind you? Best to find something positive to do with those few minutes and focus on the positive.

    Think of it as a mental or physical deficiency. If I were too dumb to write a legible paragraph, would you assume I was just too arrogant and lazy to care if you understood? Or if I were partially paralized, would you think it insulting if I didn’t hustle to keep up with you?

  233. SKL January 27, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    Christi, actually, I wasn’t talking about 100 years ago or one-room schoolhouses. I was talking about myself, my siblings, my mom, and most of the older adults who did not have significant learning problems. We keep hearing about how standards are so much higher nowadays, but kids aren’t actually learning more or coming out of school more competent. (I mean, if your baseline is a few decades ago when the public schools went to hell in a handbasket, then yeah, but I don’t think we should use our most pathetic educational years as a benchmark.)

    But like I said, I used to be an ed major, so I’ve heard all the excuses. Tests are horrible, accountability is horrible, parents are horrible, bla bla bla. But the fact is, you have those kids for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. That’s more time than a lot of parents have with their kids. So own it.

  234. Jane January 27, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    SKL, Bravo! I am a night person, but my job requires that I be alert in the mornings, so I manage, but I understand where you are coming from.

    I hate to be late, but it does happen, especially when I am doing things in concert with my husband of 32 years. He is a chronically late person. And no, he doesn’t feel entitled, or better than others. He simply seems to have a glitch in his mind that keeps him from accurately taking elapsed time into account. He is a very self-effacing person, who always thinks of others, but he lives in his own head a lot. And sometimes, he is late because he is working on something for someone else. He concentrates on whatever he is doing, and the rest of it falls to the wayside until that thing is done to his satisfaction. It’s not personal, it’s not a feeling of superiority, it’s just the way he is.

    I have spent a great deal of time around people who obsess about other people’s timeliness, and frankly, they seem to be the ones who think their time is worth more than anyone else’s. Sad, but it has been my experience.

  235. SKL January 27, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    My mom is also one of those people who can’t seem to be on time to save her soul. She’s agorrophobic and the more she thinks about getting out the door, the more paralyzed she feels. The family just assumes that she will be an hour late to every event and plans around it. When she’s early (and she is getting better), it’s a bonus.

    My mom is the last person to be accused of a superiority complex. She’s more in danger of feeling depressed, ashamed, even paranoid over her shortcomings.

    Perhaps this is one reason why she was a bit understanding if our efforts to get to school on time were not always successful.

  236. Lollipoplover January 27, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    Congratulations on your new addition, Christi.

    I have to say that I am grateful you do not teach my children, though. Mine are all in elementary, have great attendance (not perfect, like yours), and are good students. They have great teachers, who among the qualities I admire of them is the flexibility they allow their students (kids are in and out of the classroom seamlessly for OT, reading help, etc.) A good teacher can roll with the punches.

    Lateness is unfortunate and there should be consequences, but an arrest is not a rational consequence. This “law” as it stands is unjust. No, this isn’t like the shopping carts, but it’s much like the zero tolerance laws in American schools today. It’s STUPID and it teaches our kids NOTHING. Do you agree that an 8 yo child should be suspended because he accidentally brought in a real butter knive to eat his lunch? He made a mistake, and the punishment of this stupid crime is a suspension. Yes, he should have known the law, but would you call child protection on him, too?

    My youngest is in afternoon Kindergarten and I usually walk her (sometimes we bike) on the way up to school. It takes us @30 minutes in all kinds of weather. She has never been late, until last month. We were walking our two new puppies (rescues, and a handful) when we came upon a young man in a wheelchair. I don’t know his name, but have seen him before and his guide dog, Russell, had pulled away chasing a squirrel. Russell was a goofy Golden Retriever and was far into a big field and it was clear this man needed help. My daughter and I stopped to help him retrieve his Retriever and it took us a good 15 minutes to catch that dog. She was late to school by 2 minutes. They closed the “drive thru” doors just as we ran up (panting and muddy!) but glad we could help this man. We were told we had to walk around to the front of the building to enter now. With two muddy puppies in tow, I walked her to the door, but she ran out saying they wouldn’t let her in without a note. Tempted to enter with my muddy puppies, I didn’t, and instead hooked them to a hanging plant stake and filled out the beaucratic bullshit note, for her being 2 minutes late to school. I watched happily as the dogs pulled the plant stake back, much like a slingshot, and launched the plant into the air. I apologized for the plant, and filled out her reason for lateness was “being a good human being.”

    Yes, we were late. We are human, and sometimes this involves choices that may force you to break a rule. We do not make a habit of it, but being free range to me means thinking a rationalizing each situation, not jumping to conclusions. That is also what makes a good teacher, too.

  237. kiesha January 27, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    I like the idea of retrieving a Retriever.

  238. Lollipoplover January 27, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Keisha, the idea sounds fun, but executing it with 2 crazed puppies and a 5 year old is not a pretty sight.

  239. Jenn January 27, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    @ SKL -really “Teachers are always blameless”? Seriously??? Come sit in my classroom any day and see how it’s `my’ fault that A learned how to cuss, that B doesn’t bring home the school newsletter, that C pulled a knife on D, that E doesn’t have his gym shoes, or that F can’t concentrate because it’s too far to walk to the food bank so there was no dinner or breakfast last night, or that G slept in a car last night and punched a classmate who wanted to borrow a pencil. I work at an urban low-income school where attendance is an issue. We have numerous incentive programs that are funded by the teachers’ own pockets. Myself and four other teachers take turns in the morning, picking up kids at home to ensure they get to school. If you actually saw what happens with some of these kids and how much the SCHOOL is doing to support them, to feed and clothe them, and to love them, you’d see that sometimes, a drastic measure needs to be taken in order to help the family. We have one family that for one reason or another, despite many problems, doesn’t qualify for a range of social services. But we do know that if the police is involved, they will get all the support they need. I know of an administrator that with the parent’s agreement called the police, and thanks to that call, the family got a ton of support and is starting to move on from their problems.

    I know that I could have cited the websites that show that this is not the mother’s first time being involved in the courts, but I thought that because she was not cited on the post here, I wouldn’t out her. She’s got enough to deal with and I figured that I didn’t want to start people personally contacting her.

    I’m not sure why people are attacking my abilities as a teacher. What I post on here is not reflective of what I do in my classroom. Most teachers are very good at keeping their private life and private thoughts out of the classroom. I know that I am good at what I do and am passionate about ensuring that all children have a future. Reason that I’m posting today is that I’m not in the classroom today but have been in and out of consults with social workers, lawyers and the police because one of my students was caught in an armed robbery and claims he was at school on the day of the robbery. My attendance record is being called up as evidence that he was not present at school that day (or week).

  240. Gina January 27, 2012 at 4:37 am #

    Jenn-It is my belief that by ninth grade, a child should be 100% responsible for his/her own assignments. Paper not typed? Not my problem..suffer the school’s consequence.
    On the other hand, I need to thank you for my laugh of the day. I can totally picture your 7-year-old telling you that the teacher spells words differently than you do! How many times have I heard the same type of reasoning??
    That said, when it comes to school work, I still believe that the consequences, even for a 7-year-old, should come from the school.

  241. Jane January 27, 2012 at 4:54 am #

    Jenn – I am probably the one you are referring to over attacking your abilities as a teacher. The reason is, you seem to find the small things overwhelming to the point that you think the arrest of a parent is an appropriate way to deal with tardiness. (Other data aside, that is what is being discussed here.) In my many years of parenting (four kids, one of whom is hard of hearing, one of whom is dyslexic, and one of whom is academically gifted), the sort of teacher I have found to be LEAST effective is concerned with things like tardies. The best have been flexible and didn’t sweat the small stuff. They just taught and spread an enthusiasm for learning.

    From what you say, you have genuine problems in you classroom – parents who do not nourish their children adequately, students assaulting other students, and real criminals who are actually truant for large stretches of time. With all of this going on, how can you lump a parent who has children tardy into this mix? They are on a whole different spectrum from real criminal problems. To criminalize a parent simply because children are tardy detracts from the other, real, criminal issues.

    Seriously, you sound like you are burning out, and maybe you should at least find a less-stressful school in which to teach. Maybe then you could put things into the proper perspective.

    As I have said, I have a degree in education, and am the daughter and granddaughter of women who taught until they couldn’t any more.
    I myself taught preschool and substituted in the public schools until I realized that I would not be able to stand the bureaucracy’s idiocy – which often had little to do with actually teaching children and more to do with things like tardiness and days attended – and and keep my mouth shut, so I chose not to teach. I have regretted it occasionally, but only until yet another event dealing my kids and their schools reminded of why I did not pursue my career. I am not totally ignorant of what and how much teachers do. I do know, though, that neither my mother and grandmother ever obsessed over tardiness in students to the point that they thought someone should be arrested. They were too busy teaching.

  242. Andy January 27, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    @Jenn It sounds to me, that tardiness is the least of your problems. Tardy peaceful kid seems like an angel in comparison. That knife, hunger and robbery sounds more worthy of anger.

    Btw, you do not have to explain your posting, all of us wasted a lot of time on this discussion. None of us is better.

  243. Lisa January 27, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    This is a true outrage. It sounds like this family has a couple different challenges they are dealing with. I am usually a very punctual person but come on… jail time for mom because the kids are late to school? They should be ashamed.

    Another reason to avoid public schools…

  244. SKL January 27, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    Jenn, I wasn’t directly talking to you other than to be disappointed if you are one of the teachers who was glad (or unsympathetic) to hear of this parent’s arrest.

    Yes, teachers can be part of the problem, and if you don’t know that, you are too deep in it. I never said you personally were to blame for anything, did I? Why so defensive of the phrase “teachers are always blameless”? Haven’t you ever dealt with a teacher who has caused or exacerbated a problem? Or do you live on Utopia?

    You’re the second teacher to say you’re not in the classroom today for some legitimate reason. But, if it’s such an outrage to have a kid walk into class late, why isn’t it considered unacceptable to allow the disruption of, e.g., a teacher missing a day or going on mat leave? Can’t you see how this tardy thing is getting completely blown out of proportion? My kids’ teacher left a half-day early this Tuesday. That’s a lot more disruptive than if my kid walks in a couple minutes into free reading time – yet I’m the one you will demonize. I just think some of you teachers are failing to even try to see the other side.

  245. Jenn January 27, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    SKL: Try to see the other side of this: The woman in this article has a lot more going on that she did not reveal in her post. She failed to mention that she already has charges against her. When you break the law repetitively, there isn’t an opportunity for a softer treatment because of your prior history. I kept saying that there is another side to this story because I keep an open mind. I don’t read everything I see in the media and accept it as the truth. Perhaps more time spent on media literacy is a requirement for parents too!

    The phrase “teachers are always blameless” is quite offensive and can’t be taken as anything but. I accept responsibility for my actions as well as most of my colleagues. We have a professional body that also regulates us to ensure that we do act in accordance to our oath (similar to the Hippocratic Oath of doctors). When you say that we are ALWAYS blameless it’s saying that we never take responsibility for what we do and that is far from the truth. Just because you had a bad experience doesn’t mean that every teacher is a problem.

    @Jane and @Andy- Taught at a high-income school and would not go back! That school was full of helicopter types and was stressful in a different way that I didn’t enjoy. Where I teach now, I know that I am respected, appreciated and even loved by my students and families. Despite a few bad apples, it totally makes it worth it because with these kids, I know that I am making a difference and the difference is not about getting into the best school but the difference between a life of a crime to becoming a well-respected professional. These kids really need teachers who care and I can’t let them down.

  246. Jane January 27, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Jenn- I am glad you are in a place you can make a difference. Really, I am. My complaint with you was that you applauded the arrest, stating that you felt that tardiness was a sufficient reason as it interrupted the flow of a classroom, and my experience with teachers that are that upset about trivial things has NOT been positive. (And I have not been the sort of parent who blames things on the teacher.) Given the additional information you have supplied about your teaching situation, this surprises me even more.

    I was aware from the beginning that there might be more to the story; I am not naive, nor am I media-ignorant. However, this whole discussion has been under the premise that we were discussing the case as presented, not some larger, underlying story, and most peoples’ reactions have been based on that.

    SKL – Yes, I agree with you. Teachers coming and going (as well as the students getting special services) are just as disruptive as tardy students – but these are not criminalized.

  247. Jenn January 27, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    @Jane- I never applauded the arrest, I said that I wish there were something similar where I live because we have students with upwards of 100 lates/absences and there is no consequence. With lates/absences that high (and without valid reasons), how will these kids succeed? The parents in these situations view the school system as a joke and are harming their child’s chance of success (whatever that may be). Keeping your child home or away from school over 100 times in one school year is a crime, legally and figuratively against those poor kids. Arresting the parents may be one step towards ensuring that the child gets the support he or she needs.

  248. Jane January 27, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    Ah, but Jenn, you are talking about two different levels of tardies and absences. Again, you don’t use a sledgehammer to put in a thumbtack. One thing is NOT like the other. Yes, if a kid misses a third of the school year, that is a deeper problem. The case – as stated – was not nearly at that level.

  249. Jenny Islander January 27, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    What do prior charges against the adult in this case have to do with her being hauled in for contributing to the delinquency of a minor on the grounds of having an average of one tardy every two weeks?

    If you’re being audited for tax evasion and a cop happens to see you jaywalk, should you therefore be hauled in for driving while intoxicated?

  250. Catherine Scott January 27, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Actually NSW is comparatively lenient about attendance and children can be absent for a surprisingly large number of days ‘for family reasons’, for example.

    In Victoria it’s much more stringent and ‘family reasons’ don’t cut it. In theory parents can be legally sanctioned for as few as two days of absences for ‘unacceptable’ reasons. in practice schools have better things to do with their time than chase obviously responsible parents for occasional absences.

    Just as well, as the travel industry promotes cheap deals for vacations that fall within school term time and families often take advantage of these, it being the only way some could afford a trip away.

    People who have difficulties getting their kids to school generally just plain have difficulties, period. Criminalising bad circumstances is yet another example of ‘governing through crime’, that is, turning every social issue into a criminal one. And it ends up targeting the poor and struggling.

    Australian governments are – in patches – are getting better at making the necessary adjustments, eg changing school term times in remote areas to fit with traditional Aboriginal practices, so, instead of expecting the kids to be in school when the tribes are away hunting or on other business, school is set for when people are around the settlements.

    Beats the heck out of criminalising and punishing people.

  251. Jenn January 27, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    @Jenny Islander -I googled the woman’s name and found her blog, Facebook page, plus multiple court records with her priors. Didn’t really need the court records as she discusses her problems rather openly on her blog. I would guess that when truancy got involved they did a little digging and found the records, saw that she was late again (and we don’t know if these lates are from the start of the school year or the start of this school term) and decided to act. She also has an ex-husband and what looks like a nasty custody battle, which led to allegations of domestic abuse (from both parents).

  252. Sam January 27, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Jenn, how did you google her name? She has never given it, thus far. I googled the story and it shows up various places but never with a name. Am I missing something or are you connected to her in some way?

  253. Jenn January 27, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    She uses her full name on another place on this blog. I saw it a couple of days before it became the outrage of the week. Because she listed where she lived as well, it was pretty easy to find her.

  254. Gina January 27, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    LENORE: Don’t you love the lively discussions you encourage? I love reading all the perspectives, even those with which I disagree.

    ANOTHER STORY: Twice, when my children were younger, we had the opportunity to join my husband on a movie shoot. One of those times, my son was a Junior in high school. Well before we were to leave, I informed all of my childrens’ teachers (11th, 8th and 6th grade) that they would be out for 4 weeks. I asked for work to be provided in advance where possible. All of the middle school teachers were more than happy to oblige and were excited that my children were going to have this wonderful opportunity which included a cross-country drive and visits to various historic and otherwise educational places. My son’s teachers, however, did not even respond to my inquiries, nor were they available to discuss this with him. I didn’t have a problem with this because :
    A) I realize that teachers are overworked to begin with and that preparing work that far in advance for one student is not always possible
    B) I knew the things my children would do and see on this trip would provide a different kind of education.

    OK, fast-forward to our return….the girls go back to middle school with a bunch of stories about all the places they visited. Both are caught up with most of their subjects and start right back where they left off.
    My son, on the other hand, is told that there is no provision for this length of absence (what if a child is sick, God Forbid?) and that he will NOT be allowed to complete his year. (Remember, the teachers and his counselor were aware of the situation before we went.) He ended up taking the rest of the year online went back to school as a senior the following year.

    Now, I could certainly have stayed at home with my children and allowed them to miss the opportunity for this amazing hands-on learning experience. But in my mind, the High School was 100% wrong for not being able to find a way to make this work for my son. Inflexiblity is NEVER a good quality, in any situation.

    Absences for “family reasons” are legitimate and, again, are based on the fact that WE are the parents and WE are raising the children. Even if you are going to Disneyland, these are OUR children.

    My kids are now 27, 25, 22, 20 and 14. All are responsible, kind and happy.

  255. Donna January 27, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    “I have spent a great deal of time around people who obsess about other people’s timeliness, and frankly, they seem to be the ones who think their time is worth more than anyone else’s. Sad, but it has been my experience.”

    I’d love to know how your logic dictates that someone who sets up a meeting with you and shows up on time and ready to go is somehow in the wrong and has an elevated sense of their own time when she gets frustrated because you are late (for no legitimate emergency)? So anyone that isn’t thrilled to be delayed by you thinks too highly of themselves?

  256. SKL January 27, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Jenn: “The phrase “teachers are always blameless” is quite offensive and can’t be taken as anything but.”

    Well, I did not mean that to be an insult to all teachers. It may be an insult to those who are so deep into the “us vs. them” / “poor me” mentality that they would rather back a patently wrong and hurtful action against a child/parent than admit their colleague was in the wrong. Not sure why you decided that my meaning was that there are no teachers with integrity.

    But in a similar vein, many of the comments teachers here have made about kids and their parents are just as offensive to those of us on the receiving end.

    I just can’t imagine getting on a forum like this and ranting about how rotten my clients are and expecting all the readers to feel sympathy for my sad life. More likely the readers would think “that woman is about to fall off the deep end.” So I really don’t get the way teachers rant about their clients so often and so freely. Especially since you know that everyone reading here has been in the position of your clients at least twice over.

    But hey, I guess you must be happy that you found an excuse to play the victim once again.

  257. Jane January 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Donna, I said obsess about. The sorts of people I am referring to are the ones who consider no excuse adequate, and if someone does tend to be late, they consider that person to be somehow less than they are. Your indignation at what I said is a case in point. What you think is so much more important than what I think? Really? How about a bit of tolerance. That is what I am objecting to, more than anything else – the intolerance for anyone who does not think as you do. Do I like to kept waiting (even by my much-loved husband)? No, but I don’t become enraged about it. I try to remember that we are all human, and practice patience. Am I perfect about it? No, and if I am having a bad day, my attitude is worse. But I don’t regard time and the clock as the center of my life. I have known people who do, and they tended to be rather full of themselves, taking any lateness personally and being quite nasty about it. I am speaking only from personal experience, though. I am not a psychologist, and do not claim to be an expert on human behavior. I simply offer up my own person observations.

  258. SKL January 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    A few months ago, we threw a party for my parents’ 50th anniversary. It was in a very nice place, but unfortunately the roads were not marked well, and some people went off on a long detour before finding the place.

    Well, time was passing and some of the key people were not showing up. My sister, who was essentially in charge of the event, was way late. She called me to say she might not show up at all [medically fragile infant / marital fight / MIL triple whammy]. At least one of my other siblings was also late (some related drama), as was my best friend. My oldest brother who was the DJ was practically dying of some lung illness, and wasn’t sure he’d be able to last the whole evening. (He spent the following week in the hospital.) I spent some tense moments as the guests gathered.

    But the funny thing is that thoughout all this, an old family friend was even more nervous than I was, because his dad (just a guest) was late. I tried to lighten things up for him, but he kept getting more and more nervous. “Dad’s gonna be so upset. He must have gotten lost. He hates being late. He has been like this all his life. Every time he doesn’t get somewhere at least 10 minutes early, he’s in a bad mood for the rest of the day.” The guy was seriously stressed over his dad being maybe 15 minutes “late” for a friend party. The party of my parents, who have probably never been on time for a friend party in their lives. Weird. And I’d always thought that guy was a laid-back and tolerant sort. I tend to agree that people who obsess about time are just as bad as those who blow it off. Life is too short.

    In the end, everyone made it to the party, nobody missed anything important, and a good time was had by all. Unless you count the fact that I forgot to timely provide my parents with the wine I’d brought especially for their table. LOL.

  259. daddyof3 January 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Can someone please start a judgmental blog so we can just have a discussion of the issue at hand here and send the judgments elsewhere?

    OK, let me have it for not starting it myself…and for being judgmental.

    Goodnight, and see y’alls at 5:45 tomorrow morning!

  260. Sera January 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    @ Catherine Scott –

    I grew up in a rural area. This means that most of the people in that area were farmers – often poor and little-educated, or if they weren’t farmers, people who lived in the country because they were too poor, or too hippie to live in a city. This also meant that the commute to school was long – the school bus route was long because people were sparsely spread. I myself, and my little brother, had to be ready at 7:50am, to catch the bus that got to school at 8:50 (school started at 9:00).

    I don’t recall any of the children I knew in primary school being consistently late or absent for ANY reason other than a persisting, recurring medical issue.

    In high school it was much the same, except the children who were consistently late or absent were, in fact, the same children who were delinquents and had no respect for their parents or schooling.

    That is to say, HUNDREDS of families, many of whom were poor and/or struggling, managed to get their children into school on time, regularly. This often meant getting them to the bus stop between 1.5 hours and half 0.5 hours before school actually started.

    And, let’s draw a distinction here – there is a HUGE DIFFERENCE between lateness or absence due to an emergency or drastic unforseen complications – a pet escaping, a car failing to start, the house having a power failure, as well as illnesses, flooding etc. – and absence that is simply due to poor time management, or being unwilling to discipline a child who is being difficult.

    However, perhaps I am simply trying to draw a comparison between U.S schools and U.S families, with their Australian equivalents, where no comparison should be drawn. I am making a base assumption that because both cultures are in many respects similar, that in this case they are similar enough for me to apply Australian values to the situation. Maybe this is just wrong. Over here, a child being repeatedly late to school for reasons not due to emergency, illness or unforseeable complications, would be a sign of a dysfunctional family, and an issue that needs to be adressed. Over there, it seems that that is not the case. Certainly, back in my day in Aus schools (15-5 years ago), children did not have anywhere near 5 hours of homework per night. Homework and projects were never assigned with the assumption that parents would “help” their children with them to the extent that the parent actually does the whole assignment with them, or does part of the work for them. Perhaps U.S. schools need to revise the way that they teach, if their teaching methods are so ineffective that children are having to spend as long at home again, being intensively taught by their parents, in order to learn as much as we do, mostly in school, over here.

    I suppose that my biggest issue with this debate in here is that, as an Australian, the idea that children being late to school on a regular basis with no good reason, and that NOT meaning that child is either a delinquent or from a dysfunctional family, is mindboggling. Similarly, the idea that the parent is somehow not, or should not be, responsible for ensuring that their children get to school, daily, on time for their legally mandatory education, does not compute – especially for younger children.

    I think I need to accept that things are just different over in the U.S.

  261. Peter January 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    Wow, that is a lot of comments. I admit I haven’t read every comment between my comment and here, but I did read a bit.

    Starting with the last: Sera, your school system sounds better than ours. US public schools are very top heavy. Schools are failing, and the solution is a top down fix that apparently sees nothing wrong with micromanaging down to the 10 minute block. It is not a recipe for success. My outlook does not see a correlation of 7 latenesses and a highly dysfunctional family. And perhaps I am naive as someone’s research tells us the arrested mom has prior arrests. But whatever the dysfunction is should be the focus, and not any minor correlations. Arrest is the states power to abridge liberty. If I faced arrest for something like this, I would consider resisting. We are now talking about 7 10 minute latenesses escalating into a life and death situation. The state has no mechanism to back down. There is not the bad person arrest distinct fom the parking ticket arrest. Support for arrest, is in my opinion, support for the potential death penalty. Hence my disgust at such strong measures to handle, a school inadequacy. IMO.

    Public schools reason or being is the idea that some children would not get schooling if it was not provided free or everyone. Somehow most children eat without free meals for everyone. If I am late to a movie, I might miss a key plot point, but I’ll get over it. My view is that schools are a service to the families, and it is the families that should be the judge of the schools. If a school doesn’t meet my needs, I will search or one that does. In a properly run world, all families could do this. If the market didn’t support a school that hypermanges kids with no stellar results to compensate for the irritations. That would be a good thing. So in compromise with those that still believe in free education for all, I support vouchers. This preserves the market mechanism and puts control over schools in the hands of the families.

    For those teachers with the sob stories about how bad their students are, I suggest they find out about the Marva Collins way. Her example proves the problem is the schools or teachers, and not the students. Google the 60 minutes specials that give a glimpse, or read about her success in the book Mindset.

    As it is unschooling or Sudbury schools look much better to me than a public school system with teachers that would have a parent killed over lateness. If I were a teacher, my conscience dictates that I hide the absences from the authorities. Anyone who thinks arrest does not equal potential death is also naive.

  262. Z-girl January 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    There is a fine balance between understanding (good!) and enabling (bad!), and also a fine balance between high expectations (good!) and judging (bad!). Really, EITHER extreme is also bad. Because then you can’t see the other side’s point of view. That is so clear in all of these posts: on the one side, people being extreme in defending the tardy mom, and on the other, people condemning her, and NEITHER side being able to understand where the other is coming from.

    And this society in the USA also is one of blame, which is awful, and not something I grew up with (I’m from a small African country). I think it’s this culture of blame, along with the over-the-top legal system, that feeds on and then strengthens this culture of blame.

    It is ridiculous that this tardy mom was arrested, but it’s also obvious that she has not given us the whole truth.

    My hope is that once all of us find out the WHOLE truth from both sides, that maybe more of us would sit in the middle ground: not too much blame, not too much enabling.

  263. Christi January 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Wow… reading transcripts from previous court hearings and other information that is readily available out there about this woman makes it CLEAR that she is using this forum and the people in it to further her own screwed up agenda.

    This is the FIRST TIME in the history of the law allowing parents to be arrested for their child’s truancy that the local police have felt it necessary to follow up on the school’s report. That that in and of itself indicates that there is clearly something more to the case than the woman owned up to. Important an issue as this was to discuss, we were all pawns in her own mind games.

  264. Sam January 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    I have looked for quite some time and have yet to find anywhere on this site where this woman has given her first and last name. Are we sure she ever did? Maybe it’s there and I just can’t find it. (?)

  265. Christi January 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    In sure she did, and I’m not the only one who was able to find it! Maybe if more people employed some of those useless research skills thrown at them by unsympathetic, critical, insensitive and just-plain-evil teachers they could find it too! Or perhaps too many people were late those days to catch the beginning of the lesson…

  266. Sam January 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    So are you going to point us to where it is……..?

  267. Sam January 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    As far as I know the only two people on here who have been able to find it are the two “teachers” arguing adamantly against this woman. I admit, I am dyslexic and and sometimes “miss” things in print as it it something I have always struggled with. That is why I was asking for help. :/

  268. Lynda January 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    I don’t know, Sam. I’m a former teacher and I haven’t been able to find it yet. I’m not calling the other two “liars”, but I just haven’t seen it in the time I have been able to spend researching it.

  269. Christi January 27, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Can’t say there is anything terribly surprising in the fact that two teachers had the skills to look past all of the malarkey, find the relevant details and research the facts!

    Jenn already gave directions on where to find the information.

  270. Sera January 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Lynda, Sam – The name is around here somewhere, yes. I’ve seen it and I know where it is. I’m not going to say where is is, because I do not want to be instrumental in hordes of people trolling, flaming, spamming or emailing the woman and/or posting to her facebook page or what-have-you. But the name is here. They aren’t lying.

  271. Sam January 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Ok, I reread EVERY post Jenn posted. The only one that come close to directions is this one:

    “She uses her full name on another place on this blog. I saw it a couple of days before it became the outrage of the week. Because she listed where she lived as well, it was pretty easy to find her.”

    That still does not tell me where to find it. Was it on a previous post’s comment section? Was it on a comment in the FAQ section? Was it in a comment on the “For or Against” section? She did not give any more info then this. Help! I want to make an informed judgement based on my own research and not what someone I don’t even know on a blog tells me is true or not true. I have looked and looked and do not see it anywhere.

  272. Christi January 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    She also states the date and section on/in which it was used! Use “find” on your browser to help narrow it down.

  273. Lollipoplover January 27, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    Ooh a witch hunt…let me go to the garage and get my pitchfork, Christi!

  274. LRH January 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    Well, this is off-topic, but I am going to stick up for Sam and the rest of us who get told “LOOK IT UP YOURSELF!!”

    There is a difference between someone wanting everything spoon-fed to them & someone asking a reasonable question. You teachers griping “look it up yourself,” you’re teachers correct? Well I remember as a student when I wrote a paper etc (granted, this was pre-Internet) I was told over & over “cite your sources.” It was NOT enough to say “look it up yourself,” you had to CITE where you found what you had found–the name of the book, the author, even the page number. ALL of it.

    If you’re going to claim to have information about this person, and you think it’s relevant to this thread, cite your damn sources already. You brought the issue up, you claim to have proof–well, let’s see it. Put up or shut up.

    This attitude is something I have encountered in many places. God forbid you ask a very reasonable question. I am a camera junkie, and I recently asked very politely a very innocent question about a new camera that has just been introduced. I had actually tried & searched myself for the answer, but I couldn’t find it, and there was a news article about this camera, and people were posting comments, so I posted my question there, and you would not BELIEVE the number of people saying “if he had paid attention he’d know what the answer was.”

    I’ve encountered this numerous times, and my response–gee, what a helpful attitude (sarcasm). It’s not like I’m asking a very elementary question to an obvious answer etc, it was a VERY DETAILED and “nit picky” sort of question, and one I had already TRIED far & wide to get the answer to, and this was a posting about that very camera. As I replied, “if someone had asked me, I’d just answered the question, what’s the big deal?”

    I’m seeing this attitude more & more, and I am sick of it. If someone is asking a very reasonable question, answer it already. How many times have I mentioned the “Bath School Disaster” in postings here (regarding perspective about school shootings of now vs years ago) and I would provide an embedded link to Wikipedia for this article, even though it requires knowing a bit of computer code to do so?

    There’s a difference between “spoonfeeding” and answering a very reasonable question, and citing your sources. Get it straight.

    Oh, and PS–I STILL say the attitude of “get your a** out of bed or you DESERVE to be arrested, you lazy good-for-nothing slob of a parent” is absolutely over-the-top. The woman in this case MAY (and I stress MAY) have been deserving of an arrest related to OTHER things, but an arresting based on tardy kids is just insane.


  275. Lynda January 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Sam, after a bit more research the original comment was made under the paper airplane post on January 23. Hope that helps. Either way, no matter what her past – I personally am not going to even bother looking her up – we shouldn’t be judgmental and say she’s a bad parent. As Lenore said, we are all imperfect parents and all have our weaknesses. We should support each other and ESPECIALLY those families who entrust their children to us to teach. We should be striving to help them. Arresting for lateness doesn’t help anyone. (Yes I am a former teacher and have a hard time understanding the outrage of the other two teachers on this post.) 🙁

  276. Cheryl W January 27, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Ok,. so you all who say this woman has a (gasp) criminal record (when Lenore has posted that about 1/5 to 1/3 of US adult do,) tell us the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would have said.

    What exactly do those arrests have to do with this? (Other than the fact that depending on the town once arrested you are considered a toublemaker and are a target all the time while others get a pass for the same or more serious thing? And yes, the “Dukes of Hazard” mentality does exist with police forces in our country.)

    Why does that effect the fact that others talk about kids being late “100s of times” and this woman gets arrested for being late 7? Why is she the first to be used as an example of this law when by all accounts many are late WAY more times than her? Oh, because she is a known troublemaker, not because she is an example of true chronic lateness that this law is targeting?

    Justify this to me.

  277. Lynda January 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Thanks, Lynda! (You would have been the type of teacher I would have wanted in school.) 🙂 And thank you LRH for understanding the frustration. As a dyslexic it can be embarrassing to even have to ask and when you are told to “look it up yourself” it just makes you feel that much more like a loser. I read and reread posts and was unable to find it. Now that Lynda told me where to look I can get all the facts. I really hope you don’t treat the kids in your care like that, Christi. 🙁

  278. Kawaii January 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Google has a useful feature under advanced search where you can narrow your search to a specific web site or domain.

  279. Sam January 28, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    Thanks everyone. Not sure why my last post has Lynda’s name unless when I was copying and pasting it I accidentally hit it under my name spot, LOL. (I was in a hurry, so it’s possible. Unless it’s site glitch.) I wasn’t going to post anymore but the only Maureen Blake I found under court/criminal records so far has 4 children and this lady only has three. So maybe it’s a different Maureen Blake? Either way, I agree no matter what her past, arresting parents for tardy kids does not make sense.

  280. Sera January 28, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Right, I’ve finally got my thoughts together and I think I can mount a reasonable, thorough attack on why being late (and more specifically, to school) is not as acceptable as some people think it is.

    1) Lateness is a “slippery slope” issue when it comes to redefining deadlines.

    If you set an attendance deadline at 9:00, but you say that it’s acceptable to be, say, up to 15min late – you’ve just redefined the deadline to be at 9:15, rather than 9:00. This cycle repeats, and the deadline keeps slipping and slipping until it becomes completely unreasonable. It is best to simply stick to the original deadline.

    2) It becomes very difficult to arbitrate what level of lateness is “acceptable” and what is not.

    Much like in point #1, where do you draw the line? This requires you to draw a second deadline – or set of deadlines, which determine how late one has to be to be punished or not, and/or more severe punishments for greater magnitudes of tardiness. Why should someone who comes in at 9:15 get off free, but at 9:16, gets detention? At 9:30 it’s a pay dock, but at 9:31 it’s firing? Again, this gets into the issue of a second deadline. It is easier and more sane to simply stick to the original deadline. This also eliminates the issue of different people having different values about what level of lateness, if any, is acceptable. Instead of “Punishment Y for only being X min late? That’s not fair!” It becomes “Did you meet the deadline, yes/no? If no, punishment Y applies.”

    3) Paperwork is an issue when the intended timeline is not met.

    Usually, someone is held accountable for where people are and when. There needs to be some sort of adjustment or justification for reality not the paperwork, or the paperwork not meeting expectations. This is true in jobs where an amount of hours (and which hours) worked needs to be accounted for, in services that are paid for by the hour, and it applies for more strongly for schools, because schools have a duty of care to the minors that are enrolled in them and need to be able to keep track of said minors. Those minors being late generates paperwork.

    4) Lateness impacts the other people involved in the arranged meeting.

    Apart from sorting out paperwork, a variety of people are impacted in a variety of ways by those who are late. In a school, the lesson is disrupted for other children, and the teacher needs to reintroduce the lesson and tasks for the latecomer. In a shift work situation, the previous shift cannot clock off until the latecomer clocks on – meaning the previous shift has to work longer, and become late for any engagements they have planned. In a meeting, the other members either have to wait for the latecomer, or recap once they arrive – either way it makes the meeting unnecessarily longer for the timely people, or not all of the points that need to be addressed will be able to be fit into the meeting.

    5) Lateness IS disrespect, even though you do not consciously intend disrespect.

    By arriving late to a meeting or deadline, you are sending the message that whatever you were doing that caused you to be late is more important than whatever the other people could have been doing in that time. You might not mean to, but if you simply have poor planning issues, you are penalising other people for them (to the value of the cumulative time you are late in dealing with them). If I am eating and I suddenly look up at the clock and realise that I’m 5min late, I am saying that me taking my time about eating is more important than attending my lecture. If I think “it’s not time to go yet, I’ll just finish this Dragon Soul raid” and end up being 10min over time, I am saying that playing World of Warcraft is more important than my job. If I know that it takes me 45min to get there, and I decide to leave at “8:15-ish”, I decide that my inability to manage time should be paid for by others – deciding to leave no later than 8:10 would generally ensure that I’m not ridiculously early, and nobody else has to pay for it with their time.

    6) Punctuality is an important life skill that employers and friends will value.

    Some of you have mentioned that you have jobs where the boss doesn’t mind if you’re late. That’s good for you. However, not all jobs are like that. Not all bosses are like that. Your boss is ok with you being late because a) you are valuable and do good work, and b) for your job, it doesn’t matter.

    If you are getting an entry-level job, you have yet to prove the quality of your work to your employer. If you are consistently late, unless your work is stellar, and obviously so, very quickly, you will get replaced. If you are late often before you are fully trained (i.e. the employer is still investing in you by training you – you are not a competent worker yet) you will get replaced. This is especially true for the sort of jobs your children will first get – and because the job market is pretty bad at the unskilled, entry-level job end of the market, they can be replaced very easily by someone who works just as well but IS timely. Also: if their only academic reference is the school, and they have a bad attendance record? That’s bad for getting hired.

    For some jobs, timeliness is important. If you’re running a shop, the later the shop opens, the more business is lost. For shift work, clocking in late means that the previous shift clocks off late, and may need to be paid overtime (at higher wage) by the employer. If you have tardiness problems, you are likely to be unable to hold jobs with these issues.

    That’s all I can think of for now. I hope someone actually reads this, it’s so late in the discussion…

  281. Elizabeth January 28, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    I don’t get why a couple of people on here are saying that we don’t know the whole story and that she deserved to be arrested. Here’s the story in the paper:


    All the information we have already. If there is more to it, then wouldn’t they have arrested her on the higher charge? The question is, does a “tardy” count as a day missed? It seems to me that they can have a 2 hour delay or an early dismissal of 2 hours and it still counts as a day of school and doesn’t have to be made up. So when does 10 minutes equal missing a day of school? And if it does not equal missing a day of school, then she was not breaking any compulsory attendance laws, right? Seem pretty clear cut to me in the legal sense.

  282. Sera January 28, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    Oops, bugger, forgot some of my post again.

    More #6:

    Some things in life won’t wait at all – buses, trains, planes, court, doctors’ appointments. Friends will not appreciate you being late to social events and having to wait for you – it makes you a worse friend. Your date will not be impressed by you being late – it will cause him/her to question how much you really do like them.

  283. SKL January 28, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    Jenn, you could have been a little more direct in your first post after you did your research. It (and several thereafter) did not come across as if you researched her, but as if you made wild assumptions in judging her.

    And Jenn and Christi, you go on about how we don’t all know the “whole story,” and yet you too are engaging in very selective reporting, so you aren’t helping matters at all. Your self-serving comments implying that because you had the motivation (bias, proving your point) and the time (off work), teachers must be the best researchers in the world. Well, hail to you! Personally I am not motivated to spend my time digging for dirt on some mom who has done nothing to harm me – or, alternatively, to disprove the allegations you guys are making.

    So it has become clear – which we always assume anyway – that there is more to this story. I really don’t care how much more. The fact is that knowing only what was reported in the original post, both of you stated that you were glad this woman got arrested and you’d love to see more moms being arrested and/or losing their kids or having similarly family-unfriendly results over tardies alone. And that, not the woman’s past arrest record, is what we’ve been arguing about. Nice to know that teachers believe kids should be separated from their parents if the parents don’t put the teachers on a high enough pedestal.

  284. LRH January 28, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Now see, Elizabeth gets it. She LINKED to the story. She wasn’t “spoon-feeding,” she was just being helpful.

    Too many other people would say “the Leesburg Today newspaper has an article, there is this thing called GOOGLE (or Yahoo!, I use them instead) for those of you who’ve been living in a cave all of your life” etc.

    It reminds me of when I was traveling in an unknown area, thousands of miles from home, pre-GPS era, and was looking for (say) 32 west. I came up to 32, with the choice of left being one way, right the other. They actually failed to print “W” or “E” for each direction, they only put “32” & nothing else, NO WAY for you to know which way to turn for east or west, and my friend traveling with me actually had the nerve to say to me “the sun rises in the east, the sun sets in the west, use your head.”

    My reply–well what if it’s night-time or overcast, what are you supposed to do then? And for pete’s sake, would it have killed them to paint “32W” and “32E,” is the state THAT bankrupt to where they can’t afford that little bit of extra ink? For crying out LOUD.

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for not being like my friend of years ago (ha ha, and yes, we’re still friends).


  285. SKL January 28, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    I read the linked news article (thanks, Elizabeth). So the truant officer pushed for the arrest. I would love to know the truant officer’s personal education record. The one in our school used to include in her lecture: “you don’t want to be like me and end up never finishing high school.” So she was a dropout (who apparently was still able to find a job) and yet she spent her career telling off and harassing people who were a couple of minutes late to homeroom. (So, you know, they missed the pledge and the previous evening’s sports scores.)

  286. SKL January 28, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    For the record, I very rarely link stories either, though I do appreciate it when others to. I read stuff and file the substantive info away, but I usually don’t plan on having to go back and document the source of everything in my brain. I figure if people don’t want to believe me, that is their business. If they really need to know, they will figure it out, but I’m not going back over my research (which I do not save) because I don’t have time. If it’s really important to me (as demonizing this woman seems to be to some teachers), then I’ll go dig it out and post a link.

  287. SKL January 28, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    [Not that anyone cares, but when I said “file the substantive info away” in my last post, I meant in my brain, not in an actual file.]

  288. sue January 28, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    ‘ve been following the comments here. let me say at the begining that the majority of teachers i’ve dealt with in raising my 3 children have been helpful caring educators. however from the comments made by christi and jenn you two seem to be the type of rigid, holier than thou, i’m always right because i spent so many years in college and you’re just a stupid parent who can’t count past ten without taking your socks off teachers that i would move heaven and earth to get my kids OUT of their classes as fast as i could. unless you were that teacher’s pet you and your family would be treated like dirt. the two of you assume because she [alledgedly] has a criminal record she should be sterlized and never let near a minor again. i have one because a daughter’s boyfriends mother [a teachers aide by the way] called and lied to cps because i would not let her pimp her son to my daughter.

  289. sue January 28, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    by the way i was found innocent but that’s a hard detail to find if you do a search on me. also one of you mentioned she was going through a nasty custody battle. that couldn’t be a factor in her arrest could it .like maybe her husband has friends in high places. because as far as you to seem to be concerned, being in a custody battle must mean she’s a rotten mother[not]

  290. Peter January 28, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    It is a relief to hear that this is the single time anyone has been arrested under this law. Now let’s hope the judge throws it out.

    I am also glad to see that the proponents of the arrest site the extenuating circumstances of some despicable past as justification of the arrest. Perhaps they too would not be happy with the routine arrest of parents without extenuating circumstances for the child late to school offence.

    I offer the concept that a law not equally applied to all is a tool of tyrants. This law needs to be abolished. Louden county VA has given reason to avoid the place.

  291. Jenny Islander January 28, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    @Sera, re your remark that a child who is habitually tardy must be a delinquent or from a dysfunctional home:

    Is there no one who lives such a tightly scheduled life, what with paid work, child care, home care, and the need for sleep, that one little issue in the morning can make compliance with the school’s schedule impossible? And I repeat: with an average frequency of one tardy every two weeks. Here is a brief list of things that can tack ten minutes onto a busy morning routine, drawn from my own life with three kids: constipated child, child with diarrhea, a child who always acts like a butthead the day before she gets sick and that’s today, a child who always melts down in tears at the littlest thing the day before she gets sick and that’s today, cat threw up, toilet is acting up, zipper jammed and it’s below zero out there so you must fix it now.

    And once again (and again and again), why should someone who has arguably broken the rule (statute? law?) about having children to school on time, but nevertheless has gotten those children to that school, be arrested on a charge of having contributed to delinquency? And, no, “Your record says you’re a bad mom so obviously if we don’t nip this in the bud you will stop bringing them to school at all–to court with you!” does not fly. The court is not supposed to pretend to see the future.

    Tardy kids ended up in detention when I was in public school. Putting kids in detention even if their parents were to blame for not getting them out the door on time was unfair, but didn’t involve starting the grinding machinery of court time, the threat of foster care, potential job loss, criminal records, etc., etc., etc., as punishment for being tardy. They all graduated, got jobs, and became more or less solid citizens. No felons that I know of, and my hometown paper keeps track.

    Getting detention for being late teaches that if you can’t budget your time, you don’t get to play with your time. What did those children learn from the experience of having Mom taken away in handcuffs?

  292. daddyof3 January 28, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    Well, Sara, your arguments are detailed and persuasive, and some are easy to accept. However, the fact that a parent was arrested for (how many, 7,8?) tardies puts us in a position of disagreement. Unless you can show me research that show otherwise, I don’t think promptness is a virtue that assures future success. I know too many successful people who have different priorities than you do. Also, my experience in schools has shown that too much pressure on a family to comply with attendance rules can very well result in the student being withdrawn from school altogether.

  293. Peter January 28, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    I too believe tardiness has consequences. But they are natural consequences. No need for external consequences. I would not be outraged at a school that didn’t make special accommodations for the tardy. And tardy students should be a defense against a teacher not meeting all educational goals with a child. But I would judge a school superior to another if tardiness wasn’t such a huge deal.

    Apparently parents have discovered that schools tolerate absence better than tardiness, and if the child gets to school on time, they can be pulled from school many hours early without issue with the system.

    I think some people love their rules more than any other considerations. That is another reason for less rules.

  294. Sera January 28, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    @ Jenny Islander

    I said that in Australia, a child being frequently late to school for no good reason (good reasons including disasters, emergencies, medical problems) would be a sign of a dysfunctional family and/or a delinquent child. That entire post was about me realising that I should not be attempting to apply Australian values to U.S families and situations – for whatever reason, it is different over there. Apparently, frequent lateness with no good reason is not such a dire sign in the U.S., as I previously thought it was. I was wrong. Ok. I accept that.

    Now, onto the second issue. I’m on the verge of losing my temper about this, so I’m going to say this carefully, rationally and politely:

    There are an awful lot of strawman arguments in this thread, especially directed at the “children should not be late to school” side of the argument. This strawman argument is thus: If someone states that they think that children should not be late to school, then that person believes that the actions of the school and police were valid and the woman should be charged. This is not what most people are saying. In fact, most people, including myself, have expressly stated that they (and I) feel that the woman getting arrested in this situation was wrong. The fact that so many people are taking what someone else is saying, extrapolating it out to an absurd extreme and/or putting words in their mouth, and then piling hate on them because of this warped view of what was actually stated is… depressing. If you are going to argue against somebody, you need to take the time to read and fully comprehend what they are saying first, rather than just skim it, or just read the first paragraph. You are missing important points and making a fool of yourselves by doing that. If you are going to debate like a rational, intelligent adult, you need to be arguing against things that people are actually saying, not against a fantasy you have constructed around their actual words to make them seem more crazy/more evil/easier to attack.


  295. kiesha January 28, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    Those things that can tack 10 minutes on aren’t that big of a deal if you build 10 extra minutes of padding into your morning. I have to be at work at 9 a.m. I typically leave to catch the train at 8 a.m. and get to work 10 minutes early, giving myself a window of 10 minutes in case things happen, which they have. This morning I spent two or three minutes looking for my keys. A few days ago I had to clean up a hairball that the cat left. At least once every two weeks I have to spend three or four minutes helping my husband look for either his work badge, his wallet or his cellphone just as we’re getting ready to walk out the door. We can be as disorganized as the next person, but the key is that we KNOW that about ourselves and know that we need to be ready to go early to compensate for the random dumb things we do, like leave a cellphone in with the silverware.

  296. Cyn January 28, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    @Peter: Part of the problem stems from the fact that schools earn money from the state based on student attendance. When is attendance for the day taken? First thing in the morning. Really what this school is mad about is that they’re having to teach tardy children for a day without getting paid for it. This is also the reason they don’t get upset if you have your child there on time in the morning, but sign them out early. They aren’t really concerned for the child’s “well-being” or “educational development” — they just want their money.

  297. SKL January 28, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    To the argument that promptness is directly related to success: I would love to see scientific data on that.

    There was a commenter a while back who complained that lazy parents were the reason why kids arrived at his college class late. Maybe not. Maybe their tardiness is a part of the same “who I am” as the motivation and abilities that brought them to college in the first place.

    Have you ever read some of the stuff that’s been written about how engineers’ minds work? (There are always exceptions, but allowing that, hear me out.) They need and thrive on flexibility. They think outside the box and do not think as well inside the box. Employers (and others) who take the effort to understand how the most creative people operate, and adjust “the box” accordingly, will bring out the best in these folks. Obviously, calling them names and assigning out-of-proportion consequences will not.

    Don’t take this to mean that I am against attendence rules (as in, school is M-F Xam to Xpm and you will have reasonable consequences if you blow off the schedule). But don’t overgeneralize the evils of coming late to class, either. I happen to know quite a few very successful (and nice!) people who served lots of “tardy” detentions.

  298. SKL January 28, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    Sera, don’t get angry. The point of the strawmen is that being a mega-hardass about tardies will be counterproductive. Either it will punish people who are doing their best, or it will waste resources as someone has to investigate each exception to the rule. Just state a reasonable consequence that isn’t going to ruin anyone’s life, and most people will accept it and move on.

    Also, don’t assume that after reading hundreds of comments, everyone can remember who said what. If someone’s comment doesn’t seem to be a logical response to yours, it’s probably a response to someone else’s comment.

  299. Sera January 28, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    I never said anything as strong as that punctuality is THE key to success, or that it “assures” success, or that not being punctual means that you’re never successful, or whatever ridiculous extreme you’re taking my words to now, but I’m pretty damn certain that punctuality LIMITS success and employability.

    Let’s see if I can get these links through without getting moderated. Remove the spaces to get to them.

    w ww.dumblittleman.com/2011/03/why-punctuality-matters-and-how-to-be.ht ml

    w ww.skillsone.com.au/industry/179/advice/video/702/key-elements-3–the-importance-of-punctuality-1/

    http://jobaccess.gov.au/Advice/JobRequirement/Pages/Being_punctual.as px

    As for “scientific data”, I’ll see what I can find. Challenge accepted.

  300. SKL January 28, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    “I’m pretty damn certain that punctuality LIMITS success and employability.”

    So does rigidity, OCD, and a few other things I can think of. But let’s assume that a given individual does not need to qualify for EVERY job, only for SOME available job that provides a reasonable level of satisfaction and compensation.

  301. SKL January 28, 2012 at 2:53 am #

    Every time I read one of the comments that explains how parents can reduce tardiness, I get an urge to add my two cents worth. Because believe it or not, this is something I’m working with my kids on every day. I have discovered a few ideas that might even be useful to others in the same boat. But I’m not posting them, because of what it might imply in this context. Just because there are practical strategies to stay under the tardy radar, that doesn’t mean that having tardy kids makes a mom unfit. If apply that standard to other areas – obesity, behavior, low grades, respect, sleep habits, bla bla bla – why, the majority of parents would find themselves unfit. So let’s not go there.

    That said, I think it would be fun to have a non-emotional discussion (separate from this) for free-range ideas to help kids learn to manage their schedules. I’m sure many of us have good ideas and could learn from each other. Have we already done this on FRK or could it be done at some point?

  302. Cheryl W January 28, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    Oh, and lets please add in here that punctuality as far as human history goes is a relatively modern thing. Even 100 years ago they had to ring the bells of the church or school to get people there. Bells rang on the hour or half and people listened for that for the time. Most people did not have a watch or had a clock that operated with a key and was prone to getting behind. Standardized time only came about when we got trains and could travel fast enough that noon could travel with you.

    As a species, I think that we are still trying to adapt and that parts of the world still do not operate this way. Just because SOME of us have adapted does not mean that all of us can or even should. Creativity does not operate by the hour.

  303. Sera January 28, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    Augh, my comment got eaten by moderation! (I think.)

    Challenge completed:

    Here is a masters’ thesis submitted in 2004 to what seems to be a fairly highly-ranked university (University of Wisconsin).

    Again, remove the spaces to access it.

    http://ww w2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/thesis/2004/2004weadeb.pdf

    This thesis comes complete with a well-referenced literature review which discusses the following:

    – Employers look for punctual employees
    – Tardiness and absenteeism are very common grounds for firing
    – Tardiness negatively impacts productivity and profits
    – Employers DO track tardiness

    The thesis work itself addresses the following questions (among others):

    – Is tardiness at school indicative of tardiness at work? (Yes, it is).
    – Does tardiness have an effect on grades? (Yes, it does. A negative one.)

    I hope this, er, helps, or whatever.

    Honestly… out of all the things my university-taught research skills have been applied to, “find evidence that employers don’t like tardiness” has got to be one of the strangest.

  304. Christi January 28, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    “Honestly… out of all the things my university-taught research skills have been applied to, “find evidence that employers don’t like tardiness” has got to be one of the strangest.”

    I laughed hard enough to shoot coffee out my nose. Well put!

  305. s0nicfreak January 28, 2012 at 4:37 am #

    It’s interesting that so many teachers are saying that parents should come up with strategies to deal with lateness while they themselves refuse to do so and/or have excuses about why they can’t. It’s also interesting they’re fine with maternity leave during the school year, but not with kids taking vacation during the school year or even a total of 70 minutes of personal time over several weeks. With a bit more planning teachers can just have babies during summer break, right? Why don’t we make that a law?

    If your career doesn’t let you be 15 minutes late due to a doctor’s appointment or repair man coming, please let me know what it is so that I can teach my children to avoid that career like the plague. If society means not having choices in your own life, then I AM very much anti-society. When I got up this morning there was a major problem with all of our drains. My choices were; A. Say “we’re taking today off from work and school and we will make it up on another day,” then spend half the day arranging a plumber, digging up snow over the drains he would need access to, and doing things like turning the water on and off when he needed it to be done or B. “Go to” work and “get” my kids to school at 8am sharp and be unable to do anything about the problem. If I followed the rules of some of the people here, the kids would be up to their knees in poopy toilet water and I’d be in jail for letting the kids miss a bit of school. Instead they watched the man work from a safe distance as I answered their questions, and they learned a bit about plumbing (something that will likely help them a lot more in real life than memorizing the answers to the standardized tests will). I’m not going to get up 6 hours early every day in the future just in case something like this happens again. Sorry, everyone, but getting enough sleep to be mentally and physically healthy while still having time to spend with my family and partner in the evenings IS more important to me than your paycheck. My time IS more important than yours, if that’s how you want to say that. So don’t choose a job that depends on me getting up and ready by 8am on a regular basis.

    I’m raising people that can function in real life; Not people that follow fake-world rules only due to fear of outlandish consequences. (And no, I don’t inconvenience all the people trying to uphold these fake-world rules and outlandish consequences by putting my kids in the middle of them.) If school taught you that when you are 15 minutes late to work due to a doctor’s appointment or repair man visit you will be fired and unable to get another job with more realistic expectations (like expecting you to be a human rather than a robot that serves no purpose other than to work that job), they lied to you. If school not only lied to you but also did not teach you the skills to choose a different job, why exactly should everyone send their kids there on time 5 days a week?

    In real life, you get to choose your job. If you just can’t bring yourself to get up until 8am, you can choose a job that starts at 9am (or whatever time will allow you enough time to get up, ready, and to work). You can choose a job that starts at 11pm if you want. You can choose a job where you work whenever you feel like it on each particular day. You don’t have to take a job that starts at 8am and try to force yourself to get up at 7am and then end up late every day. You can choose to wait for a doctor’s appointment at noon next week, or take the 8am available tomorrow. If you’re late to that, you don’t get arrested – you just have to reschedule and be more honest with yourself, tell yourself not to schedule an appointment so early next time because getting up that early just isn’t for you. And you probably have to pay for both appointments. But you aren’t arrested, your parents aren’t arrested, the world doesn’t fall apart. Maybe the doctor gets to take a short break, or get some paperwork done early, and/or the next person in line for their appointment gets to go in a little bit earlier. The doctors and nurses and receptionists don’t stay there late waiting for the late patient and missing time with their families. If you are on time but the doctor is late, you don’t have the doctor arrested. You either deal with it or you choose a different doctor. So maybe the doctor makes a little less money. Or maybe he just ads on a new patient that wants appointments at a later time.

    Not that I’m saying being chronically late is a good or even okay thing. Just that in the real world, YOU pick events and agree upon the time, and if you happen to be late for some reason, life goes on. If you are chronically late, you have the option of not agreeing to be somewhere at that time anymore. You – not your parents – suffer the natural consequences of your actions. So children must learn all of this and how to manage their own time. That’s one of those things that can only be learned by experience, not by example. And they are going to make mistakes at first. I’d rather they make those mistakes and learn from them as children; I don’t want them to have to realize that they’re not a morning person and should have chosen a job that starts at noon rather than 8am when they’ve got bills to pay. If the law is stopping people from actually educating their children, then that’s a problem.

  306. SKL January 28, 2012 at 4:55 am #


    First, that is not the kind of evidence I was looking for. Obviously the % of employers who care when the employee shows up for work is greater than zero. If you were working on an assembly line, it would kinda suck if you weren’t there when they turned on the conveyor belt.

    But I don’t define “success” narrowly as the ability to keep a job where you have to punch the clock. The most successful people on the planet do not have to punch a clock. I’m pretty successful and it’s been 25 years since I punched a clock.

    I’m sure SOME employers look for punctuality, but I’ve never been asked about it in an interview. (Have you?) As for it being a common ground for firing, well, you can’t easily fire people for much nowadays, so if you can accuse them of attendance issues, go for it. The attendance issue in cases like that is most likely a symptom of something deeper, such as mental illness, substance abuse, or just having better things to do than one’s job; or, the employee is a pain in the rear and the boss was just watching for a “substantive” excuse.

    Honestly, as a boss, minor tardiness has never bugged me, but “needing” to rush out the door before completing work at (or before) the end of the day has. I used to have a secretary who decided to come in early and leave early (for her own convenience). We’d be assembling an important package for FedEx and she’d disappear. I could not stand her. Apparently she was of the opinion that I needed to start MY day earlier if I was going to get a day’s work out of her. (Hmph!)

    Another thing to remember is that there are at least two types of “tardy” students. The type who come from families that don’t care about education, and the type who do care, but have physical difficulties with waking up or have difficulty with the concept of time. (You may not believe there is such a distinction, but as a very educated person, I assure you that there is.) Did this study control for that?

    Not that I base my life off Masters’ theses. A Master’s thesis is per se biased, because the whole point is to, well, prove a point.

  307. Digit January 28, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    There are a lot of comments and at some point I lost track of who exactly was making which points in an effort to simply take the whole thing in.

    Sera said, “Honestly… out of all the things my university-taught research skills have been applied to, “find evidence that employers don’t like tardiness” has got to be one of the strangest.”

    This also made me giggle, but then it did not seem to me that anyone was asking for evidence that employers don’t like tardiness. What has been said, or implied, is that being habitually tardy is not a life killer if you can find employment that is flexible. It does actually exist. I had one, which is funny because I am the opposite of habitually late, I am habitually early. Except the one time, when I was reading a book on the bus and was so engrossed in it I missed my stop and didn’t realize until I was two miles away. Being habitually early, and responsible for my own hours meant that I was walking out the door sometimes as early as noon on Fridays.

    I will have to look into the rules in our district when my son starts K about tardiness vs absence. When I was in school, I was chronically ill throughout the winter, probably undiagnosed allergies, that always ended up as bronchitis. I missed a lot of school. As a Junior I ended up living by myself and because I could not sign my own absence notes until I turned 18, these common absences were a problem until I realized that all I had to do was be present for 1st period roll and then go to the office coughing up a lung and saying, “No, no, I can walk the six blocks home, theres no need to call,” and then because I had been counted already, there was no need for my mother to write a note.

    Really, tardiness and absence rules begin to make no sense when a person learns how to play games within the system.

    As many have already pointed out, the standardized educational system does not work well for everyone. It worked well for me, but then I was one of those irritating kids who was probably the teachers pet, yada yada. The more the system is streamlined, the fewer people it will serve well. The fewer people it serves well, the less educated the population. And so on, and so forth to your own personal version of dystopia.

  308. SKL January 28, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    As for teachers not being allowed to be late for a doc appt or service call – cry me a river. Teachers have a heck of a lot more time off than most other full-time professions (not even including summer). Shoot, my kids have a more rigorous schedule than most teachers.

    Though, the reality is, if you really needed to take time off on an emergency basis, you’d take it. That’s what substitutes are for.

  309. SKL January 28, 2012 at 5:10 am #

    Oh, and Sera, my second point was going to be: Hail to You for having University-Taught Research Skills. Why you felt the need to point that out (other than to attempt to put down those whose research skills were not University-Taught) I don’t know.

  310. SKL January 28, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    OK, so I started reading your linked Master’s Thesis and really, that’s not on point at all. The writer is preparing for a career in worker training. That means she’s going to work with people who need help qualifying for an entry level job. She is comparing teens’ tardiness at school to the same teens’ tardiness at work. She’s not comparing kids’ tardiness at school to future success as an adult. And finally, she’s focused on rural Wisconsin. (I would have thought the majority of teens there take the bus, but whatever.) I’m thinking a rural area is not going to be representative of the typical American experience.

    I read the first couple of pages and besides some grammatical errors, she seems to build inferences based on shaky logic. Though I do not have time to read the entire paper right now (and probably won’t ever, because that is not what I’m looking for).

    I’m not sending my kids to school for 13 years so that they can need a job training program after they graduate.

    But hey, I remember being a master’s student. More power to her if she got her degree.

  311. Sera January 28, 2012 at 5:28 am #


    I think the major problem we have in this discussion is what the defintion of “success” means. Could you please provide me with your defintion of “success”?

  312. Andy January 28, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    “It’s also interesting they’re fine with maternity leave during the school year, but not with kids taking vacation during the school year or even a total”

    No honey, not today, the kid might be born a mid year … are you seriously suggesting that teachers should plan their pregnancies so they happen in summer?

    It is a teacher, not a cross in between slave and monk. This is the most crazy demand I have heard. Comparing needs of new child with vacancies is pretty cool bonus too.

  313. Spoon Counsellor January 28, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    strict adherence to punctuality and respect for authority show a rigidity that is not conducive to real originality or creativity, and personally, as someone who appoints department heads at a large silicon valley tech-sector business, i’d try to stay away from such people.

    all the true greats i’ve hired have been loose self-motivated self-starters who work on their own AND as part of a team – a team of equals, not a trickle-down authoritarian system.

  314. SKL January 28, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    Sera, obviously success means different things to different people. I’m sure there are some life paths where being always on time or early is a major plus; even essential. But how about acknowledging that there are other paths where that is not the case?

    The fact is, eventually even the people with the worst attendence records I know of ended up happily employed. My dad, who was severely dyslexic, was told that he had the worst attendance record in the history of the [big-city] public schools. They let him quit school at 15 rather than fuss over it any longer. He found work fixing things. My mom taught him to read and he was continuously employed full-time for 45 years until he retired. Then there’s me and my siblings, who were not dyslexic but had a lot of tardies/absences (most absences were really tardies). All college educated, several with masters’ degrees, and I, the worst of the bunch, with a JD on top of that. So maybe you can see why I am skeptical of the theory of causation proposed here.

  315. Andy January 28, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    @SKL according to stats I have read recently, American teachers have the most work in the western world. They spend more time by teaching than teachers in other countries. It seems unfair to accuse them of not working enough. Just saying.

    @Sera there are plenty of good jobs where punctuality does not matter that much. Programming and administration, most technical work, most creative work for example. Basically, anything that does not happen in shifts and does not have frequent meetings with customers. All companies I worked for had flexible working hours, meaning that nobody cares when you come as long as you stay there 8 hours a day and produce results.

  316. SKL January 28, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    Andy, I think that comment was tongue-in-cheek. Probably a reaction to some teachers’ demand that families plan all weekday travel for summer.

  317. SKL January 28, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    Andy, once again – is your sarcasm meter off? I’m not saying teachers don’t work enough. Please don’t twist people’s words. You are just making yourself upset. I said “cry me a river” because a teacher above implied that she would never be able to take time to deal with a personal emergency during work hours. That’s BS on two levels.

  318. Andy January 28, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    @SKL if you mean the pregnancy one, I really do not like when someone attacks people this way. And especially someone with recently born child, it is just as low as you can get. Being a new parent can be hard enough without that.

    Attacking the weakest point of the person from the back when it is the most vulnerable, basically.

  319. Andy January 28, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    @SKL I meant this:

    “Teachers have a heck of a lot more time off than most other full-time professions (not even including summer). ”

    I did not meant to offend. Did not sounded like a sarcasm, sorry.

  320. SKL January 28, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    I don’t like it either, but Christi has said a lot of mean things about people here, so maybe she rubbed a raw nerve.

    Personally I don’t consider being a mother my weakest point, by the way.

  321. kiesha January 28, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    I don’t like the insinuation that successful jobs don’t require punching a clock. There are plenty of careers where you get paid hourly and are not salaried. I’ve got one.

  322. SKL January 28, 2012 at 6:00 am #

    OK, Andy, thanks for the clarification of why I offended you. As a professional who works seven day weeks, including almost all holidays, had one vacation in five years (and took work on it), and does not get “in-service days” nor leave work before 6pm ever (and also works evening hours after my kids are in bed), perhaps I overgeneralize. I should have said “many” full-time professionals (not sure what the actual % is). I know many professionals who work more hours than the average teacher. In my circle, it is definitely “most.”

  323. SKL January 28, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    “I don’t like the insinuation that successful jobs don’t require punching a clock. There are plenty of careers where you get paid hourly and are not salaried. I’ve got one.”

    Oh, brother. That is not what I said. The writer of the paper that Sera linked is focused on jobs that require punching a clock. I never said those could not be successful jobs. I said a discussion of success could not be so narrow as to include only those jobs.

  324. Andy January 28, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    @SKL you work a lot. This is definitely not a norm around here (and honestly I’m happy for it, I would not like to live that way).

  325. Andy January 28, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    this started to feel like a chat room 🙂

  326. SKL January 28, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    I agree with your last smilie, Andy.

  327. Gina January 28, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    s0nicfreak—Ditto, ditto and amen! I’ve never seen another post that so eloquently stated how I feel about raising kids, raising REAL people and society in general! Don’t you wish the whole world saw things this way?

  328. Jenn January 28, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    So teachers are not allowed to have children, nor take a mat leave unless they schedule their pregnancy for the summer vacation? Human rights violation? My country gives a full year maternity leave so now I would have to compromise my raising my children because I’ a teacher? What if I had fertility issues and happened to get pregnant in a month that is inconvenient for your child? Or what if I had an unplanned pregnancy? Seriously, you say teachers shouldn’t be put on a pedestal but yet you raise the bar to a whole new level to what a teacher can and can’t do in their PRIVATE lives.

    As for me being a terrible and unsympathetic teacher, I ponder how anyone here can come to that conclusion as they have never met me, seen me teach nor spoken to any of my students, parents, colleagues or superiors. Every year my district and country has awards for excellence in teaching. The one I have several times is the one that is based exclusively on student and parent nominations. I work at an urban, low-income school where my families are hard-working, taking overtime to make ends meet, recent immigrants trying to learn English, and some welfare/disability recipients who decided to `give back’ to the society by volunteering at the school. They see how I raised grants of $25 000 to plant an outdoor education centre, another $10 000 to pilot iPods in the classroom, negotiated with a local ski hill to bring my students once a week in the evening for the entire winter to learn how to ski/snowboard, went to the community to get donations of Lego to start a Lego Club which I’ve discovered through research on my personal time that aids literacy (especially boys and LD kids), act as teacher rep on the SCC, run an Environmental Club where we have won Gold status for three years in a row, not to mention my `regular’ teaching duties of actually teaching their children to love school. Parents beg to have their children in my classroom. One of my nominees wrote, “My relationship with Mrs. X started with me hating her. Hating her because I thought she was too hard on my son, for pushing him to be tested (I thought this meant that I had failed as a parent), for giving up her lunch hour to help him with what he struggled with (I thought she was punishing him at first and making me look bad because I couldn’t help him). My son was placed in her class for a second year and I was upset because I was abusive towards her in the past and thought she would take it out on my son. I came to realize that she requested to have my son again because she felt that he would benefit from the consistency of the same teacher for two years and understood his needs better than a teacher getting him for the first time. She put aside how I treated her, and decided to keep my son for a second year. She felt that a second year with him would give him a chance to get ahead because he was already comfortable with her and would give him confidence. She was right. I apologize to her for treating her so badly in the past and commend her professionalism and commitment not only to my son but to all her students. My son and I are lucky to have her in our lives.”

    As for me not citing the links to the information I found about the woman, I said that I did this because I didn’t want to subject her to hassles from strangers. I figured that she may not wish to have my trouble added to her life and was respecting her privacy. If she was to keep that information online, that is her choice. If you have a learning disability, I’m sorry that I did not make it easy for you. Based on your posts, I assumed that you had strong literacy skills. I know that learning disabilities aren’t obvious (as I have one myself) but wrongfully assumed that because I could find the information in a less than ten minutes that you could to. In the classroom, it becomes obvious who has different learning needs or styles and I accomodate accordingly. I didn’t realize that I would be expected to do so outside of my school life with people that I don’t know anything about.

    As for the lateness issue… These children were late for school MORE than seven times. Yet the original article states seven but because I reserved judgement and figured that there was more to the story, I investigated. Just like when I investigate when your child swore at a classmate. Instead of punishing your child, I asked them why she swore and as it turns out, the classmate called her racial slurs. As it turns out, the other child was suspended and your child was told, “try not to use such language again” (with a, but I understand why you did it, on the side). All I asked was that people not side with the mother right away. I not once said, “she deserves to be arrested”. I said, “I wish my district had a similar system of consequences’ because I “have students with over 100 lates/absences”. Once doing some research, I discovered that this woman (on her blog) has had truancy visit at least three times, she has six kids and lost custody of her first two because her child testified that her stepfather was abusive towards her and her mother, she has been fired from multiple jobs due to her own tardiness, that she has lost her children several times, that multiple people (teachers, day care providers, neighbours, former friends) have reported her to CPS. Did I say she deserved to be arrested? No, but I do think that the arrest came because of other factors that most people were not aware of. There is always another side to a story and instead of bashing the school system, why not investigate beforehand? Just because you may have had a bad experience in school does not mean that your child will or that the school system is broken. Why aren’t people naming ways to help the system deal with tardies? I know what programs my school and board have tried and have had little success with and am interested in hearing how other schools have tried to overcome this issue. An issue because when children are late, other children’s learning is compromised while you catch up that late child when you could have been helping that kid on an IEP.

  329. TJR January 28, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    Well said Jenn. Wish my kids could be in your classroom. We need more of you. Don’t let these idiots get you, because you are one of the only sane voices I have heard here.

  330. SKL January 28, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    Jenn, Christi is the one who said mean things. You are getting mixed up with her. I don’t agree with everything you have said, but you don’t have to go into your detailed work history to convince me you probably earn your paycheck. I’m sure most teachers do.

    As I said before, when you started going off about “there’s more to the story, this woman XYZ” without saying that you’d researched it, it sounded like you just have a bad attitude about certain groups of parents. (I mean, as far as we knew, the woman was anonymous.)

  331. Christi January 28, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    My comments have not been mean; they have been pointed and accurate— pointed and accurate enough that some people are clearly uncomfortable in the fact that they are realizing that they are, perhaps, just a wee bit wrong. And, in self defense, are backing themselves into corners like scared kitties and lashing out.

    First, to address the idea that I am inconveniencing students by taking maternity leave– please? My child was born in June. I took the first 5 months as allowed to me, paid, by my very generous school. I am taking the second 5 at a pay loss and not interrupting anyone’s school year. All of the children will have the same teacher all year long. I will pick up a new class in the fall.

    Not working enough? I will be leaving the house at 6:15 AM with my kid in tow to drop her off at daycare at 7 to be at work by 7:10 for a school day that will start at 7:40. I will be there until after 4 most days, will drive 45 minutes home, spend some time with my family and then grade papers and plan lessons and respond to e-mails late into the night.

    To all of the people who say they are glad I was not their child’s teacher– maybe I was. And maybe you loved me. Like Jenn, I have parents asking for their children to be put in my class. I have parents complaining when I do not teach their child’s grade that year. I am a very highly respected and highly valued teacher in my school because my students learn, they enjoy learning and they are in an environment where they and their families know there is structure, rigor and high expectations with the support needed to meet those expectations.

    I have been very forthright in my comments here, and perhaps my views would be easier swallowed if sugar coated in niceties– but I save my sugar for people I know personally, interact with daily and feel the need to make nice with. Intellectual debate and sparring with strangers over the internet is not a place where I feel the need to make nice.

    Was my first response flippant, a bit tongue in cheek and off the cuff? Sure. Do I stand by it? I stand by the spirit of it. If teachers are going to continue to be held accountable by parents to superhuman standards, than I am happy to see parents held to equally ridiculous standards. Equal treatment across the board.

    Also- my suggestion that these cases could be well handled by children’s services was not the same as saying they should be removed from the house. Childrens Services, at least where I am, provides a lot of support to struggling families. Removing children from families is often the last resort. Though yes, in some instances, children should be removed for their own safety. Is this one of those cases? Despite the extra research I did I still don’t have enough information to say. Do I feel that the decision to make the arrest was probably based on some of the additional information the school and childrens service and court system already had on this family? Yes. Do I think that officers in VA are just ganging up on every kid that has been late to school? No.

    I could go on… there is a plethora here to respond to… but I need to go get my kid to bed on time…

  332. sue January 28, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    christi, you say your comments were not mean they were pointed and people are lashing out because you think they think they’re wrong. how about a less self centered view; what you said was mean and people are lashing out because of that, not because they are scared. i won’t get into the maternity leave, as far as i’m concerned it’s off topic. though it is nice you get to take so much;most can’t. as for your working day, you chose your job and knew[or should have known] the hours and work it entails. you are not the only person on the planet to have to take work home, most do. you are not the only one with a long commute [i have an hour each way in good weather] you are not the only one to have to fit in time to cook clean,time with kids,etc. it’s called life.
    either you deal with it or get another job. i leave my house 5:45 each day[6 days a week, min.] and don’t get home til after 5. and yes i bring work home. yes i love my job or i won’t be doing it. but i don’t get on my high horse about how hard i have it and how hard i work. i get on with it.
    i’m glad there are kids and parents who love you.that’s great. but just from the way you come off here i’m also sure you have those who don’t.
    and saying getting cps involved does not involve removing kids at least temp. show you have no clue how they work. in this area it is their default procedure because you never know. and once involved they will always be involved. so not to sugar coat it you come off as a know it all who is always right. maybe your not but this is what it looks like.

  333. Brenda January 28, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    I’m sorry Jenn, but until you are willing to back up your sources, we can only assume that what you are saying is hearsay and perhaps even a bit fabricated. If you have a source that says her kids were late more than 7 times then you need to provide a link. If you are going to spread around that she has had children taken away and has lost multiple jobs because of tardiness, then there needs to be a solid source to back it up. Otherwise it’s just what you say and not based on factual sources, much like you claim this poor woman claimed. (If her blog is really that public that you could so easily find it, then a link wouldn’t be harmful.) Just my opinion.

  334. Christi January 28, 2012 at 8:36 am #

    My maternity leave IS very generous for the United States- though paltry compared to most parts of the industrialized world. But it is also, as you said, off topic.

    As for my working hours, I was responding to the charge that teachers do far less work than most professionals. I’m not complaining about my hours. I agree with Andy- we do far more work than most professionals, but I am not going to even begin attempting to quantify that here.

    I am continually surprised that there is so much focus here on how the teachers are somehow to blame. The teacher merely records the attendance during the first 5 minutes of class and sends it to the office. That is where the teacher’s involvement ends unless the records are subpoenaed or something. The only thing the teachers of this lady’s children did was mark a box.

    You are correct. In 11 years, I am aware of one parent who lodged a complaint against me. It was at the end of the year and her child only got a “B+”. Mom felt she deserved an A. In the end my principal sided with me.

    I have been very very deeply involved with “CPS” on a number of levels. They are generally wonderful, over worked people who went into their chosen field to make a difference and they view pulling a child out of his/her home a last resort.

    I come across as very confident and sure of myself and my beliefs. That is because I am.

  335. sue January 28, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    there is self confident and there is self righteous. you come off as the second. i did not say that there were those making compaints against you i said there were those who don’t think your god’s gift to teaching. nor was i blaming the teacher who took the roll. i was disagreeing about the fact you thought it was a good thing. big difference. i don’t know how much actual hands on experiance you have with cps. there are good ones BUT they are few and far between. there average one wants to make their quota[whether not they admit on the record there is one] and do any way they can. as i said their default is to pull the child out and then you must prove your innocence[ in other words guilty til proven otherwise] and nobody is ever totally innocent in their eyes. so to say call cps is not the unharmful action you seem to think it is. as to your hours being more then most professionals prove it. i interact with quite a few teachers[and as i noted most are good caring people] but they always seem to have the free time to take on extra projects or take off to take care of personal business[not emergencies. i’m not saying this is a bad thing but keep it in perspective.

  336. Anonymous January 28, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Oh for Pete’s sake!

    Her name is Maureen Blake. She posted that on January 23rd when she originally posted this on the Free Range Kids page.

    She goes by the name “msafire” on the internet.

    THIS is why people need to lock down their internet identities better. Never use first and last name.

    Morally, ethically, I’ve debated if it is right to publish this here, but none of it is rocket science and this person willingly offered it up in bits and pieces.

  337. Cin January 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Christi — OK, you’re a teacher. Read 1984.Or Brave New World. Or Animal Farm.Or, if you don’t like classic dystopia, read The Hunger Games. Educate yourself.

    When you start to squirell the question and add all sorts of poor behaviours and bad judgement calls to the definition of criminal activity, you create a police state.

    There is absolutely NO justification for arresting ANYONE for ANYTHING that is not criminal behaviour. Full , complete, absolute stop. Didn’t all you people fight the British for freedom, while we Canadians took the more deferential tactic and talked our way into it?? What, are you now going to hand it over meekly while we hold onto it?

    I too have 4 kids and one with ADHD that are rarely late for school. But being late for school is not listed in the Criminal Code in Canada, and it is none of the police’s business.If it became a criminal code offence, I would seriously consider getting arrested on purpose to fight a gross violation of my freedom.

    It may be very disruptive to deal with late students. It always annoyed the heck out of me as a student. But disrupting a classroom is not a criminal activity in a free country. Perhaps the solution is families who have constant tardiness should be encouraged to look into alternative schooling (they have that here in BC right to the early grades, it’s awesome), etc. There are solutions — JAIL is not a solution.

    OK, this libertarian is stepping off her soapbox.

  338. Donna January 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    If you have numerous options for jobs, punctuality probably doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot most of the time. You can find your niche somewhere. Punctuality is extremely important for my job some days – if I don’t appear in court by 8:30 absent a HUGE emergency, I will be fired – and completely unimportant other non-court days. But I could certainly pick another legal job where punctuality matters less.

    But the world is not filled with college-educated people with numerous job options who can carefully select a job to match their punctuality level. Nor does everyone start with the perfect job. I worked at a grocery store in college. Anything 10 minutes late or more was a write-up. A few write-ups for tardiness and you were fired. A store cannot simply shut down for 15 minutes because you can’t accurately judge time and are late everywhere. They need people in there on time. Yes, I could have gotten more flexible job in college but one with health benefits, paid holidays and a SCHOLARSHIP? Probably not.

    My job in life is not just to prepare my child for the job she will have when she’s finished grad school and is established in her career. She needs to be prepared to handle all the crappy jobs that will get her there, and some of those jobs will likely require punctuality. If my child has to pick the more flexible college job over the one that pays health benefits, paid holidays and a scholarship because she can’t manage to get to work on time, I will consider that a parenting failure. Same thing can be said for my child having to give up her dream of being a courtroom attorney (not her dream at all, thank god!!!) because she can’t be anywhere on time. So, yes, I teach my child that it’s important to be on time. Both because it’s inconsiderate to whomever you are meeting to be late, but also because it’s a skill that will possibly be an asset in her future and will definitely never be a detriment.

  339. Andy January 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    @Christi I understand your complain that you are hold to ridiculous standards, and reading this discussion (and some others) I tend to agree with it. But demanding that parents are hold to ridiculous standards too solves nothing, it only adds fuel to the fire.

    You only end up with too groups hating each other more and willing to cooperate less. You are making unnecessary enemies for no reason.

  340. Jenny Islander January 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    I would like to redirect attention to Cin’s comment, just a little way up from this one. She phrases much more clearly something I tried to express in an earlier post: The most disturbing issue here is that the original poster was arrested for a crime that she did not commit, that the school knew she did not commit, apparently on the grounds that she might commit future bad acts (tardies reframed as “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”) and nothing, absolutely nothing, prevents the same thing happening to any one of us if this becomes a precedent. In addition, she was arrested for failing to conform to a system which is known to be broken. If the entire school suffers because one student is five minutes late, that is a broken system.

    Instead of fixing the system, hammer down the nail that sticks up, and use the police to do it. Of such minor excesses are police states made. This must not be allowed to stand.

  341. SKL January 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    Anybody know the outcome of the court date?

  342. Myriam January 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Regarding teachers being held to ridiculously high standards by parents, I agree – from my observations it seems that parents have much too much to say about the way teachers run their classrooms, complaining after school every day about this and that to the point that teaching is obstructed.

    Is this really surprising though given the constant emphasis on “partner-home partnerships” and teachers and parents being equal partners in education.

    These are ideas originated from the schools to gain more control over hard to reach families that have back-fired spectacularly on the schools. I find it hard to feel sorry for them; they can’t have it both ways.

  343. Christi January 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Cin- I understand that your stance is based on a very rudimentary understanding of the US’s current education system. She was arrested for criminal behavior because what she did, by the letter of the law, was criminal. This was also the 3rd year consecutively that she was pulled in for meetings with the truancy officer… the first two years I believe she paid fines.

    If you decided that civil disobedience was the route to take, then at least it would be a conscious act and your reporting of the situation would probably be more factual. In responding to this as a teacher, part of my ire IS directed at the fact that this is another parent who is just trying to f*** around with the system and people’s perspectives of her. Yes, I know that comment is going to make people angry. No, I don’t care. Teachers, like everyone else is society, deal with these self aggrandizing citizens every day. They broadcast their problems, twist the facts to suit their own purpose and manipulate those around them. If this woman had been systematically dropping her older children off 1 minute late every day for a year and documenting how successful her children were anyway to protest a ridiculous law and explained her actions as such, my feelings would be very different.

    For a family to look into alternative schooling here in the US is usually cost prohibitive.

  344. Myriam January 28, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    “School-home partnerships” that was meant to say.

  345. TJR January 28, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    @Jenny Islander – can you read? You say the woman was arrested for a crime she did not commit. The law was x number of tardies can result in court action. If you read the woman’s own blog, she has been charged several times by the courts with truancy but this is the first time she was arrested. Her kids have an issue with being late. Not just a seven times thing, but as I can see from her own blog and admission, it’s an ongoing issue where her eldest two children would be hours late regularly. I reckon that she was arrested this time, rather than served papers to appear in court and pay a fine, was that maybe she was hostile or even aggressive towards the police. She does have a past where she has been abusive (not sure if it resulted in charges) and perhaps the police arrested because she was abusive towards them and knew she had priors and decided to handcuff.

    @SKL and LRH – you two are some pieces of work. Doing a little search on various comment threads here and you both come off as judgemental, uneducated, and ignorant. You hold bureaucracy to a standard that is unattainable but ask the average person (or victim in your eyes) to be treated sympathetically. Just because you had your own issues with bureaucracy, schools, and CPS, doesn’t mean that those organizations are out to get people. You condemn people who belong to bureaucracy merely by association and you over-generalize. Perhaps if you attended school regularly, you would have refined or polished how to present effectively an issue without having to attack a person. You both come across as intelligent but obviously you were so close minded to your teachers that you did not allow them to help you realize your potential.

    Many of you say that you can choose a career or job where punctuality is not a problem. Most people don’t get to choose their job or career, especially in today’s market. Most people can’t choose their job because their own education is limited or they have limited skills or travel is an issue for them (for personal, financial or medical reasons). Few people in society get to CHOOSE their career. Those who do are often those who were very successful in school (and punctual) and have the right opportunities. For most people, what it comes down to, you need to arrive at work on time to keep your job. Your employer may give you some flexibility and say arrive between 8-9 but if you keep showing up at 9:30, 10, or later, they aren’t going to be so flexible later on. Our society today values time and if you say you don’t, I challenge you to think of the time you had to wait to see a medical specialist for 6 months and then say in his office for three hours, or when the repair guy said he’d arrive at 10 but didn’t come until 2.

  346. LRH January 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Well TJR I make no apologies for my statements, and I would say you’re every bit as much of a “piece of work” as anyone else. I attended COLLEGE, not just school mind you, if you want to know the truth about it. For you to suggest we “closed off our teachers” or whatever, you yourself speak in ignorance. It’s not my job to fix your stupidity, that’s YOUR problem, so there.

    And it isn’t just me and/or others who have had issues with the Nazi-esque organization CPS and nosy busy-bodies (the latter are actually more my complaint than the former), I have read of many others who do likewise. I know people who have experienced likewise.

    And yes, regarding the police, being arrested just because you aren’t being a brown-noser is just ridiculous. Sometimes giving them a piece of your mind isn’t so out of line (NOT threatening them, just saying what’s on your mind period), and you can get arrested just for rightfully doing just that. Just ask Henry Louis Gates. Not to be political, but I agreed with Obama (much to the disdain of many of my close friends) that the Cambridge police did “acted stupidly.” Sounds like, based on what you’re telling me, the police acted stupidly here as well.

    And arresting someone for children being late, even if it is a number of times, is ridiculous. If it’s hideous to a level that maybe the children, at some point, would be better off elsewhere & such is done based on neglect, so be it, but I strongly attest that arrests should be saved for beatings, starvation, molestation, etc–not failure to be non-sloppy.

  347. Cheryl W January 28, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    TJR, what exactly is the age of the older children? (Because I don’t really want to go through all the stuff to find this.)

    If they are teens, well, why is she being charged and not them? The trend in serious crimes is to charge children as adults. But, we won’t charge them as adults for minor crimes?

    At 5, 6, 7 and maybe 8, yes, the parent should be that parent. But at some point the kids need to be the ones who are charged, not the parent as the kids are old enough to get them selves out of bed.

    If the child is older, and they don’t want to go to school, the issue is not tardiness usually, it is because the child does not WANT to be there. They do not see how school is going to help them in the future. If they wanted to be to a job on time (baring any mental illnesses or disabilities,) people will usually do what it takes to be there on time.

    Because these kids have IEPs, I will take the stance that no matter their age, they have been lead to believe that they are dumb and lazy and no matter what they do they will never amount to anything. I wouldn’t want to go to a place like that either.

  348. Brent January 28, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    The bigger question here becomes, “Should TARDINESS be against the law?” It is ludicrous for me to even fathom that it could be against the law. Not showing up for school at all? Sure. I get compulsory attendance laws. But if a school can count a TWO HOUR DELAY (for snow) as a full day of school then HOW can they count 10 minutes late as a day missed and claim they are breaking compulsory attendance laws? Someone needs to hash this out in court. It does not make legal sense, at all. I really hope she had some folks with good common sense fighting for her legal rights and that this turned out OK. I don’t condone the tardiness – I just don’t believe it should be considered “criminal behavior”.

  349. SKL January 29, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    TJR, thanks for doing exactly what you accuse me of. I did not insult anyone here except in reaction to nasty things that others said. Apparently you agree with Christi and are happy to overlook the nasty things she said. Last night I was very tempted to cut and paste her many nasty quotes (against parents and kids in general and against people here) to show why other commenters (including myself) are reacting less than kindly to her and her supporters. Then I thought, nah, let it go; what’s said is said. But your implication that my comments here are the most antagonizing is quite ridiculous.

    Yes, I am a person who found school very frustrating because it was made up of relatively undereducated people making arbitrary rules for everyone else. Not that I need to prove anything to you, but I happen to have a high IQ, an MBA, a CPA, and a JD / Attorney license and I’ve been successfully employed without a one-day gap since I was in grad school (with years of prior temp jobs under my belt during high school and college). If there is one recurrent theme in my comments, it is that I cannot stand institutionalized arbitrariness. I really don’t care if that offends you. I’m sure you have some strongly-held opinions that I disagree with as well.

    As for “holding bureaucracy to a standard” – that is a funny way of putting it, since I would really rather bureaucracy step back and stay out of my life as much as possible. In recent decades, schools have been overstepping more and more into family life. School should focus on what happens during school hours. They should not be assigning mandatory homework review, home reading logs, etc. to be signed by parents. They should not be requiring anything that they can’t facilitate / enforce during school hours and on school premises. Otherwise the schools encroach on other experiences that are just as important, if not more so. This has been proven by research many times over. BUT since the school does insist on dissolving the boundary surrounding the school day, the school cannot expect parents to view school time as out of their realm of control. The “bureaucracy” can’t have it both ways.

    Bureaucracy breeds all kinds of corruption and incompetence. Just look at how countries with relatively big bureaucracies fare. You have to bribe someone to get any normal everyday thing done, or wait for months or years for a service that you could get the same day in the USA. Look at the big bureaucracies in the USA – including the schools. They are failing their clients in so many ways – and constantly throwing good [tax] money after bad. So yes, I have a bad attitude about bureaucratic overreach. I wish more people did.

    As a parent, I have two 5yos who are accelerated in school and doing very well. My youngest has a high IQ, has been reading fluently since shortly after she turned 4, and is well advanced in every area. It is unbelievable how unhelpful the school systems have been about getting her into school a little early (her birthday is in early January). “We don’t do that. We don’t do that.” I heard it dozens of times over the course of months before I finally found a person who might listen (talk about wasted time!). I offered to pay or take her myself to be tested – just tell me what evidence you need. Nope. We don’t do that. I explained that it would be a disaster for all involved if she had to wait another year to start KG. Too bad. We don’t do that. Bureaucracy at its finest! They were willing to make my kid wait a whole year to start KG, but if my kid shows up to class a couple minutes late, I’m ruining her life. Because the bureaucracy always knows best.

  350. tricia January 29, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    I am not a stalker so I haven’t attempted to try and find this lady’s facebook page or blog, and since no one gives any links, (suspicious), I can’t assume everything being claimed is fact. That being said, I agree with the above comment in that if schools can be delayed 2 hours and count as a full day – as in they do not have to be made up – then how is bringing your kids a few minutes late considered breaking compulsory attendance laws? I don’t believe this could stand up in a sensible court.

  351. TJR January 29, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    @Cheryl W, the oldest children are now older teens and have not been in her custody for a number of years because she allowed her second husband to abuse them. The tardiness she had with them was when they were in elementary school, about ten years ago.

    Mother also never states that the children have an IEP just that she and her children have a disability. From what I can see on her blog, it is one of her children that has ADHD, just like her, but a diagnosis of ADHD is sometimes not enough for an IEP (and many individuals with ADHD do not need an IEP).

    @LRH and @SKL – Did I say you insult people? But now that @LRH just called me stupid (how childish is that?) that puts things in a different light. Let’s go around calling people names just because we don’t agree with or they have a different point of view than us. Sounds like you are bigoted, prejudiced and once again, judgemental. You accuse Christy of acting superior but really – naming off all your `credentials’ just makes me laugh. What two bit junior college that accepts any body with a couple of bucks did you go to? Do you walk around with your IQ pasted to your forehead so you can intimidate people with your `superiority.? What about your parent of the year award because you child is a `genius’? You’ve been here for four days posting at all hours so sounds like you have a fulfilling life where you don’t need to immerse yourself in a career, volunteer, home life or family at all. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why CPS has been in your life.

  352. TJR January 29, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    @SKL -BTW a high IQ doesn’t mean that you’re any smarter than anyone else. More likely to have your brain so far up your ass that you can’t see for all the s***.

  353. sally January 29, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    Yikes! Anyone remember Thumper’s mother’s advice?

    “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”


  354. SKL January 29, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    TJR, I don’t think any of that was necessary. You accused me directly of being uneducated (and presumably therefore not worthy of a hearing). So now you insult me when I point out that I am not uneducated. How come you did not say those same words about Christy and Jenn who posted a great deal more about their qualifications? Because you are biased. That is OK. I don’t like wearing my credentials on my sleeve, but what did you expect when you called me uneducated?

    As for my kid, I did not say “genius,” but I think it’s a fair point that I’m not failing my kids just because I don’t like bureaucracy.

    It’s true that I’ve been here posting at all hours on this particular thread. I don’t do that all the time, but this one touched a few nerves. (I’m sure you will be quick to point out that some threads in the past have done the same. After all, I come here because I’m a little passionate about some of the topics covered.) Also, being able to follow a discussion on the internet in real time (sometimes) is one of the benefits of having a flexible time work schedule (yes, they do exist).

  355. SKL January 29, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    Maybe TJR is Christi’s husband or something.

  356. Betsy Maloney January 29, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    As a person who has no children, I am fascinated by reading this blog and what is going on in schools today and what parents have to put up with.

    My parents generation would never have put up with it. My mother got two teachers FIRED when I was in elementary school. Now you are fingerprinted, arrested for being late?! What the hell has happened?

    I don’t even think ADHD or whatever it is, is even real. No kid had this when I growing up and if a kid was restless, they got to take walks around study hall and wander. Sort of like the fad of all the kids getting their tonsils out.
    More control by pharmaceuticals.

    Are perverts running amok? Are kids being kidnapped every five minutes?
    Are planes falling out of the sky every five minutes? Is the sky itself falling?
    But yet we have the TSA, and fingerprinting parents, teachers, even the kids! There is no excuse for this kind of hysteria!

    Its kinda nuts!

  357. Christi January 29, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    Assumptions assumptions. I don’t have a husband 🙂

  358. LRH January 29, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    TJR I don’t have to explain myself to you, or justify myself to you, neither does SKL, and frankly the woman who is the topic of this post sure doesn’t have to justify herself to you either.

    “Two-bit Jr college,” is that what you said? Call me on the carpet for calling you “stupid” by all means, but tell me–what are YOU bringing to the discussion going off on insulting rants like that? But hey, if you want to make yourself look even more ludicrous (see, that junior college I went to came in handy for spelling!), by all means, please–rant away. It’s a free country–yes, even for the worst of society.

    On the other hand, I couldn’t agree more with Brent, yes, we don’t want it to be to where children are kept out of school altogether by indifferent parents, but at the same time–arresting due to lateness, an act which was justified by some posters here based on that element alone (not just that “there’s more to this story”)? That is just ridiculous.

  359. LRH January 29, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    In the midst of all of this sometimes juvenile-toned discussion this thread has taken on, Betsy Maloney reminds me of exactly what this blog is all about–fear based on no basis in reality, and parents being punished for merely being imperfect.

    If I hadn’t been keeping up with things of this nature lately, and then found out some of what is going on these days that passes for a society, I would go “what in the hell happened” myself. It is BEYOND ridiculous.

    Part of it is something that Christi and other teachers have probably alluded to, and I certainly think myself–parents blaming teachers for their child’s misbehavior rather than holding their child accountable for it. 40-50 years ago, if a child got in trouble at school, said child got in trouble at home as well. As John Rosemond (a parenting pundit whom I really like) said in a lecture, if he had gotten in trouble at school, his mother didn’t even want to hear his side of the story at all. No excuses for misbehavior, period.

    But yes, now we have ADD this and ADHC that and gifted-this and special-needs that (and I mean no disrespect towards anyone who has struggled with whatever & tried to do what’s right, really I mean no disrespect), and frankly, if you ask me, much of it is all about absolving the child of any accountability for their behavior and putting it off on an adult whom we can punish more strongly. Hence, the parent blames the teacher for their child’s bratty behavior in class, and the school system blames parents for kids being late when maybe it was largely the CHILD’S doing.

    And yes, the safety thing, good Lord has it gotten crazy. As George carlin observed way back in 1999, (approximate quote), “adults have taken all the joy out of being a chlid just to save a few lives.” Most certainly, and if you are a parent that lets your child learn by doing, why that’s lazy, you were supposed to protect that child. So the truly negligent child that lets their children play in a room full of rat poison and loaded guns is lumped in as being the same as a parent that lets their children play on a slide without 3 different OSHA-approved helmets covering everything from their head to their ankles.

    You are right Betsy, it IS “kinda nuts.”


  360. Jp Merzetti January 29, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    Que Sera, Sera…………and lateness constitutes justification for springing the whole civil court profit-squeezing kangaroo sock-hop on yet one more targeted family? In this way we are not a civil society at all, but rather something more punitive (say, resembling one of our more favorite brand of Asian Cultural Revolutions?)
    And too sad beyond scary when we collectively don’t seem to notice this anymore.
    This harsh punishment (or threat of) doesn’t help anybody.
    It just satisfies the sad souls who truly do believe in the term: zero tolerance “literally” (as would a child of 3?)
    Personally, I prefer to suspect the “zero” is more along the lines of lack of brains to carefully think the thing through.

  361. Sera January 29, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    I’d like to inject a little more sanity. Here we go.


    Thanks for saying that while bit about most people not being able to pick and choose their careers. I gave up arguing with SKL because I can’t find a way to productively argue with somebody whose views (that most employers/most jobs, or even most SALARIED jobs don’t positively view punctuality and penalise for tardiness) are, according to every other source of every type I’ve ever heard from, not moored in reality. Don’t get me wrong, SKL, I’m not accusing you of lying about your job, or some other jobs, not placing value on punctuality – but I am still pretty damn sure that MOST jobs, salaried and waged, require punctuality and, the employee risks a pay dock or firing, or simply being passed over for raises and promotions, if they’re late often. The sort of jobs where lateness is not an issue (or “late” simply does not exist) are either rare, or a fair way down a career chain (where the worker is senior and works independently, rather than as part of a team. When you are a junior or a team member, you need to tow the line in order to be successful.

    @ LRH, Cheryl W, others:

    Both of you have stated that you feel that at some point, the child must directly be held responsible for their own latenesses to school, and that the parent should not be held legally responsible for this. I will base my counter argument on the following premise:

    Primary and secondary education are a basic right that ALL children in your country have, on par with nutrition, shelter, medical care and safety.

    Point #1: Cheryl W has stipulated that above ~8 years old, a child should be held responsible for their own tardiness. LRH has been more vague, but seems to be saying that if the child is capable of getting to school on time, s/he should be held responsible for doing so (I’ll approximate this at ~8 too, for simplicity).

    The thing is, your children are just that: children. There is a reason that the “age of majority” exists, there is a reason that your children are “minors”, and there is a reason that you are their legal guardians and considered responsible for, and in control of, many of their actions. A large part of this reasoning is that children below the age of 16-18 cannot reasonably or sanely be expected to make good, informed choices about their lives. You are talking about expecting ~8-year-olds to be able to understand why it is important for them to be at school on time – because it affects their grades and their attendance/discipline record, which affects their academic progression, which affects their tertiary education and/or job progression, which will affect them for the rest of their lives. Any child of that age IS NOT CAPABLE of the foresight, general knowledge, life knowledge, wisdom and long-term investment to make a sensible, informed decision about that sort of thing. This is where YOU come in – to use YOUR foresight and knowledge to make INFORMED decisions about your child’s future. THIS IS WHAT A PARENT IS FOR. This is WHY, in most cases, an adult guardian is held legally responsible for the actions of, and ensuring the rights of, children under 16-18.

    Point #2: Please see my previous post about “why being late is not as acceptable as people think”. Specifically, points #1 and #2.

    It is incredibly difficult to arbitrate at what level of lateness a child can be considered to not be “getting an education” (and hence being denied a basic human right). Somewhere, there needs to exist a line between 1min late once, and not present at school ever. That is why the line exists. Again, refer to my previous post as to why the line being set AT the deadline (when school starts) is the most sane choice. On top of that there is a number of times that lateness is acceptable per semester. This is a line in the sand that needs to exist at a pre-stated point, and respected, or otherwise people would have grounds for their children being late to any extent, up to and including complete absence.

    This is why the parents of a child are held legally responsible for ensuring that a child goes to school, on time, daily. The parent must ensure that the child’s rights (basic education) are met, even if the child does not understand this and is resistant. This is due to the fact that the child lacks the mental tools to make a rational decision about their choices, and future implications of their choices (outlined in point #1).

    Disclaimer, to fend off strawman arguments: I am talking exclusively about tardiness due to poor time management. Lateness or absence due to emergencies, illnesses, funerals, or unexpected disasters do not fall under this category. I am not advocating that parents be dragged away in handcuffs for tardy children, or any other specific punishment – I am simply stating the reasons why they are held legally responsible. I am not arguing that the rules that exist do no need adjusting – I am pointing out the reasons WHY the rules exist at all.

    Thank you for your time.

  362. Leigh January 29, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    These things will continue to happen as long as we have no child left behind and all the other government programs that are supposed to HELP us!!!

  363. TJR January 29, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    I have been told that I have to apologize for my last post and to explain who I am. My mother has told me that if I do not do this then I will not be allowed to use technology for the rest of the weekend. Because I don’t like this consequence, I am going to do what my mother says. She is an authority figure and although I may not agree with her, I do what she says because I don’t want a further consequence nor a harsher consequence. The mother didn’t seem to learn this lesson which is why she got arrested. She already had truancy fine her for the lateness (a rule that she knew about) yet she continued to be late. Then she cries poor me to the media. When my school banned sliding on the ice patches in our yard, instead of breaking the rules repetitively or crying to my mommy, I started a petition with my classmates and wrote a persuasive argument to our teachers asking that this rule be reconsidered. We live in a democratic society (if you don’t think that Canada, US, England and Australia are democratic try living in some republic states in Africa) so I worked within the system to make myself heard and had results. I know that asking to slide on ice is not the same as arresting for lateness but what is this mother teaching her children with her actions (being late, going to the media, and other)?

    So I apologize for my earlier post. I am not Christi’s husband but a 12 year old middle school student. I laugh at LRH being proud for being able to spell ludicrous correctly thanks to her junior college because most kids in my class can spell it but since when is spelling a sign that you’re smart. As to my earlier post, I should have said this, “Just because you have a high IQ, does not make you smart. Many people with high IQ’s act very stupidly.” Which is exactly what I’ve seen on these comments (and admittedly my own actions).

    I joined this debate because I am against lateness. I have a sibling with Down’s and because of that, I would sometimes be late for school. The school was always very accommodating (because my parents worked with the school not against) but it was really embarrassing to me. Kids would tease me about it. My teachers would, at a convenient time, help me catch up and I didn’t like the attention despite how discreet they were about it. It’s not really fair for the other kids (like my friend Melissa who is really smart but gets stuck in History) who really need my teacher’s help. Now that I’m in middle school, I get myself to school and I really resent the kids who come in late because they are infringing on MY time to learn. The teacher has to give up time to help them catch up which means that I don’t get the time with the teacher. The teacher can’t just ignore that kid and say, “well, you were late so too bad, figure out the lesson yourself.” That would be bad teaching. But it isn’t fair to those of us who are on time and wanting to learn.

    So there you go, a 12 year old can read between the lines and figure out that sometimes people in authority do what initially looks like an injustice, but when you look into it, find out that there is another side to the story. I really feel bad for this mother’s kids to have a mother that can’t get her act together and be a better parent.

  364. Jenn January 29, 2012 at 2:58 am #

    Well said TJR! I’d love to have a kid like you in my classroom! However, you did say earlier that you had kids and you come across as very articulate (and observant) for a 12 year old. I can’t ask you to prove it but I think that many people may accuse you of lying about who you are. I’m hopeful that you are who you say you are (again, reserving judgement before making a conclusion).

  365. TJR January 29, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    I said, “I wish my kids could be in your classroom.” I do, just that they would be my future kids. I passed that gifted test but chose not to go to a gifted class placement. The kids in there were crazy (I mean really badly behaved) and the others walked around with this self-importance attitude of “I’m gifted so I’m smarter than you so that means I’m right and you’re wrong! I’m better than you!” Kind of like the people on here who claim to have a high IQ. I figure that the real world doesn’t separate people based on giftedness, LD or otherwise, so why should I do that at school. People need to learn how to work with all people, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Some of those behaviour kids maybe belong in that classroom (keep them away from me and ruining the learning that I want to do) and may learn some social skills. Hope they aren’t late! HA HA!

  366. TJR January 29, 2012 at 3:24 am #

    I forgot to say that my mom also read over my previous post because she was checking that there was an apology and that I wasn’t doing something wrong again. We argued over a few things I wanted to say in my draft which kind of helped me to say what I wanted to in a better way. She does get in the way sometimes but it also made me (begrudgingly) figure out that I needed to rework some stuff I was trying to say.

  367. Cyndi January 29, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    I doubt several people on here are who they say they are…..
    Some of the stories and excuses that pop up are just way too convenient. For instance a certain teacher on here has been posting all hours of the day. Someone called her on it, so she claimed she was on maternity leave. Then someone mentioned maternity leave disrupting the teaching process so suddenly she was on maternity leave for a whole school year – so it wouldn’t disrupt the learning process. Then someone suggested TJR was her husband. She responds she has no husband. So we have a single mother, who is a public school teacher, taking a whole year of maternity leave. Hmmmmmm….. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but it IS a little unusual. She certainly couldn’t prove it either way any more than I could prove who I am. But it does make a good point that we can’t believe the experiences of anyone on here as absolutely factual. We can only hope they are telling the truth, but we need to be our own judges and be careful not to judge others based on what others “supposedly” read or even on what we read ourselves online. It’s a big mask where anyone can claim to be anyone.

  368. Christi January 29, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    “Part of it is something that Christi and other teachers have probably alluded to, and I certainly think myself–parents blaming teachers for their child’s misbehavior rather than holding their child accountable for it. 40-50 years ago, if a child got in trouble at school, said child got in trouble at home as well. As John Rosemond (a parenting pundit whom I really like) said in a lecture, if he had gotten in trouble at school, his mother didn’t even want to hear his side of the story at all. No excuses for misbehavior, period.
    But yes, now we have ADD this and ADHC that and gifted-this and special-needs that (and I mean no disrespect towards anyone who has struggled with whatever & tried to do what’s right, really I mean no disrespect), and frankly, if you ask me, much of it is all about absolving the child of any accountability for their behavior and putting it off on an adult whom we can punish more strongly. ”

    On this, we can agree!

  369. Christi January 29, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    We have private school teacher who has also worked in the public school system who is NOT a single mother and who had the luxury to take a full year maternity leave because she and her female partner have put aside enough money to fall back on during the 5 months she is not being paid.

    Just a convenient truth.

  370. Jenn January 29, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    She just said she has no husband… didn’t say if she had a common-law partner (male or female), used a sperm bank, or had a boy/girlfriend. Last time I checked you didn’t have to be married in order to have children. I don’t recall that she said if she taught in a public school or not (could be a generous private school) but with the one year maternity leave, enlightened civilizations have them and make it possible to be off work for a year (single parent or otherwise) to spend with your baby.

  371. Cyndi January 29, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    I’m not saying for sure that she is lying. I’m just saying I’ve been following this thread silently for a few days now and I just notice that it stuck out to me that every time something negative was said she had a very convienent answer, (like I stated in my previous statement). It just seemed a little funny. Honestly, we are online. We can’t see each other. Christi could be a 65 year old man. You and Christi could be the same person trying to increase your arguments by siding with each other even though in reality you are the same person. I’m not claiming any of this is true. I’m just saying it’s completely possible for ANYONE on here. I personally think long maternity leaves are great and I wish our country offered them. I think it’s very important for young babies/children to be with their mothers in the early years. Many studies support this. I myself am lucky to have a loving husband who supports me in being able to be at home full time with our children and home school them. I realize not everyone is so lucky. I just know I used to be a teacher and I know it would not be a “run of the mill” situation to be able to afford to take a years maternity leave as a single mom. Christi may very well have a live in boyfriend. Or she could live with her parents. Or she could have a large trust fund. Or maybe she worked two jobs for a while so she could afford to do this. Or she had a rich husband who is now paying her a large alimony/child support. Who knows? It just seemed a bit convenient. That’s all I said. Not that it was true. 😉

  372. Jenn January 29, 2012 at 4:25 am #

    So on one hand we’re not to trust what anyone posts in the comment thread because we don’t know who they are and what they are saying (or not saying) but on the other hand, we’re take that the Loudon, VA mother says as the 100% truth.

  373. Cyndi January 29, 2012 at 4:43 am #

    If you look back over my two posts and read them thoroughly, I believe you’ll find that I never said we should trust the Loudoun, VA woman. 🙂

  374. Jenn January 29, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    Didn’t say that you said we shouldn’t trust the woman but some people are using this double standard. Just saw it timely with your post to remind people of this. Sorry to infer without clarity!

  375. sue January 29, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    public servents [such as teacher police etc] are supposed to work for the taxpayers who fund the government,not the other way around. too often they feel that the rest of use not only work for them,but unelected ,are ruled by them. yes there are laws and rules and yes they need [most of the time] to be enforced for the common good,but when the public servents feel they don’t need to earn respect but should be given regardless the citizen fight back. it seems to me common courtesy and an attempt to understand each other is an old fashioned idea. bring them back.

  376. Donna January 29, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    I’m not defending anything Christi said in this thread but —

    As a single parent (no partner) who took 14 months off work after my child was born, some paid some not, it is possible. All it takes is a little savings.

    But since when does “not having a husband” equal being a single parent? A friend of mine is a stay-at-home mother who also doesn’t have a husband. She is, however, part of same-sex couple with a partner who works while she stays home with their now 3 children. I have several other friends who have never married the father of their children, although they’ve lived as a family for years. Still another who fathered a child out of wedlock in a brief relationship. The mother didn’t work until the child was over one because, although they were not together, he was able to contribute substantially to her household so that she didn’t have to work until the baby was older.

    While I don’t know if a word Christi said is true, maybe you need to expand your definition of “family” a little more since “I don’t have a husband” in no way indicates that one is a single parent. Nor does being a single parent mean that the person is young and penniless.

  377. T-Dawg January 29, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    @TJR, whether you’re an adult or a child, I don’t care. You’ve said what I’ve wanted to say for over a year. Thanks! And even though I am currently attending my local community college, I’ll overlook your cooment because it clearly got Larry’s goat. 🙂

  378. T-Dawg January 29, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    Comment! Crap! Can you tell by my spelling that I attend community college? haha

  379. Cheryl W January 29, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    SKL, “Yes, I am a person who found school very frustrating because it was made up of relatively undereducated people making arbitrary rules for everyone else.”

    Exactly. Both my husband and I, and all of our siblings felt the same way. And the experience you had with your daughter was the same I had with mine, December birthday. Had she started when I felt she was ready, we probably would not be homeschooling now. She learned to read that year she was home, and was way ahead by the time she got to school, then she was bored. Yes, one teacher helped her, one did not. I was not encouraged to think that the advanced work would be given each year.

    And I have seen how kids who have a disability (even, yes, ADHD) are told to “buckle down, try harder, don’t be lazy” and lots of other comments and how it destroys their confidence in themselves because they are doing their best work. So, they think they are stupid and don’t want to go to school. At a young age. It is so sad. And yes, to a certain point, mom/dad can physically get them out of bed and down the road. But that doesn’t last forever – the motivation has to come from within, and often these kids have that motivation squashed out of them by the people who are supposed to encourage them.

  380. LRH January 29, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    I would say what’s his name didn’t get my goat so much as we got his & he acted as I’d expect a 12 year-old to. As for you–if you’ve wanted to say whatever, go ahead.


  381. SKL January 29, 2012 at 10:07 am #


  382. T-Dawg January 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    @Larry, there’s really only a couple things TJR didn’t get to that I will mention.
    I think you overuse capitalization and bolding. I know that you feel that every third word you type is ultra-important, but I don’t need to have it emphasized.
    I don’t care that you are a hobbyist photographer/play basketball to stay in shape/thing women with tattoos are ugly/think that a nursing mother shouldn’t allow her infant in her bed. These facts about you that you love to throw out at every opportunity basically never apply to the discussion at hand.
    I’ll let you know if anything else comes up 🙂

  383. LRH January 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Well T Dawg I would suggest what you think of me is IRRELEVANT to this discussion & I sure don’t care what you think of me OR my opinions. I most assuredly don’t care what a 12 year-old BOY thinks. I don’t waste my time concerning myself with approval from someone who at any time can have his MOMMY revoke his posting privileges.

    I’m sure he’s probably off somewhere sucking on a candy pacifier & listening to Justin Bieber tunes on his Fisher Price MP3 player. Maybe in 6 more years he’ll be grown enough to have an opinion that’s relevant. Meanwhile he hasn’t experienced jack snot compared to us ADULTS in here & is in no position to offer us any useful advice & he would be well advised to stick to matters on which he is qualified to address. I’m sure there are some Veggie Tales sites his MOMMY would let him post in.


  384. TJR January 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    Didn’t know I was a boy… didn’t say anything that points to my gender identity so once again you are overgeneralizing and making assumptions based on limited information. LRH seems to know an awful lot about the private lives of myself, Jenn, Christi and others. I don’t feel I need to dignify your comments above with stating whether I’m male or female but really, Justin Bieber? Fisher Price? You’re just sore that you got bested by a kid and other people have recognized it. You call me a child (which I am!) and comment on how juvenile I am but yet you use the argument of “it’s a free country”. I mean six year old use that argument!!! Using that phrase in your argument makes you sound even more unintelligent. There is no such thing as a free country. If there was, you would be able to drive on whatever side of the road you wanted to, walk into any store or home and take what you wished, say what you wanted without repercussion, in fact, do anything without consequence. You misquote people to suit your own agenda (I earlier said that “you hold bureaucracy to a standard that is unattainable” and you quoted me as saying “holding bureaucracy to A standard” -two very different ideas) and on that note about bureaucracy, you have rights in this society (more than most societies) and because you have these rights you have a responsibility to work within these rights. What you proposed is anarchy.

    As for Mommy revoking my privileges, that’s what good parenting is. Something you obviously know nothing about. Personally, my mother can be a pain in the butt (sorry mom! But all parents are!) but after our `discussion’ and most of our discussions, I can see that she may have a point. Most kids my age don’t and can’t have that kind of dialogue with their parents but my parents have been raising me to understand that my choices and actions have consequences on others (for good or bad) and I have a responsibility to take ownership for my actions. Something that the Loudon, VA mother has not done (and I wonder what those kids are like because my parents look like the opposite of her and I know that I can cause a lot of trouble) and what looks like you don’t do with your own children.

    I know I got your goat because I had quietly left the conversation (other than T-Dawg there was no new comments directed at me) and then you drag me back in with a juvenile description of what a 12 year old MAY be like. Perhaps that’s because what you’re describing what you were like as a 12 year old (updating it with more relevant social trends than Elvis and the sodapop shop of your day). No wonder you’re so out of touch with society that you haven’t had the rich experiences that I (and most of my cohorts) have had. And I don’t need to list them because unlike you, I don’t have to yammer on about how `superior` I am because I have pre-schoolers that are accelerated, etc, etc, etc,. Sucks to be beat by a kid, doesn’t it?

  385. LRH January 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Beat by a kid, oh please. I could flick you like a bugger. Now go play with kids your own age.


  386. Anonymous January 29, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    There is a reason no one is listing this woman’s blog on here as a reference. It doesn’t exist. Just thought anyone left reading should know so they wouldn’t judge her unfairly.

  387. LRH January 29, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    By all means Anonymous. Personally, my thing is, if you have something to share that’s pertinent to the conversation, cite it if you have it. If you remember seeing it but can’t recall the specifics, I would say it’s okay to bring it up in that context, but to know where it is & not share this & tell someone “you know how to look it up,” sorry, that doesn’t count.


  388. Dan January 29, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    I agree, anonymous. I have searched and searched for the “evidence” a select few are claiming to have and I certainly haven’t found any blogs or facebook pages for a Maureen Blake that is 42 years old and lives in Loudoun VA. (I have found some facebook pages for some similiar sounding people, but not the same woman.) The only things I’ve found is a newspaper article that has already been posted here and a court hearing over a nasty divorce. (Hardly criminal and we should be feeling sorry for this poor woman instead of judging her so harshly.)

  389. SKL January 29, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    I think this thread is becoming a study in made-up online personalities.

    For the record, my real name isn’t SKL either . . . .

  390. LRH January 30, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    I agree SKL. There have been posts that were about nothing but attacking people personally & had nothing to do with the substantive issues at hand (and I probably ended up “stooping to their level” myself in self-defense, not good. Like they say, don’t try to argue with a fool, because then people can’t tell the difference between you & the actual fool.). Such is not what this is supposed to be about.

    But it bears to mind what retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal used to say whenever certain commentators would critique aspects of his game: unless you’re someone “at my level” (like Bill Russell or Michael Jordan etc) and similar experiences & have walked in my shoes, then you are in no way qualified to critique me.

    Oh yes, I’m sure your name isn’t SKL either, ha ha.

  391. Donna January 30, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    Speaking of which, where is our usual resident troll these days? I go offline for a few weeks while moving and she disappears.

  392. SKL January 30, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    I think I know who you mean, and I don’t think she’s a troll. I often disagree with her, but I sense she is sincere. I could be wrong, of course.

  393. SKL January 30, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    Just a funny. I was looking back at something I wrote the other day (I know, get a life). I mentioned sarcastically that I should probably buy an enema kit so my 5yo, who is very slow in the bathroom, doesn’t hold up the learning process every time she does #2 at school.

    Well, the other day she came home with an extra page in the “homework” part of her KG folder. (I know it’s extra because her sister, who is in the same class, brought the same paper home in the “keep” part of her folder.) I asked her why she had more homework than her sister. She said it was because she’d had to go #2 while the class was working on that paper, so she had to bring it home for homework, LOL.

    No child left behind indeed.

  394. Beth January 30, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    @Donna, I’ve been wondering the same thing, while realizing that I get so much more out of reading the blog and comments without her input.

  395. Donna January 30, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    I think she is who she says she is. She also enjoys stirring things up and writes things that she knows will do so. Whether she truly believes them or not, who knows. For the sake of society, I hope she doesn’t but I know a few who think that way so…

    By the way, how did you get them to take your younger kid into kindergarten early? I need to start dealing with the school over the complete lack of challenging work being given to my child. I gave it a few weeks to see if they’d adjust but she is way ahead of the work I see coming home. They tested her at a 1st grade reading level but don’t seem to be giving her work at that level (so what was the point of the test?). Nobody else in her kindergarten half of the class can even read according to her. First grade is in the same freakin classroom so you wouldn’t think this wouldn’t be an issue but apparently it is. I’m fine with them leaving her in kindergarten if they can give her more advanced work since doing half a year in kindergarten and half a year in first grade would probably lead to things being missed. I wish they went by the usual school year for this part of the world so we would have gotten here during summer break and she could have jumped in at the beginning of 1st grade next month.

  396. Anonymous January 30, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    Oops… Here it is. www. Msafire.diaryland.com.

  397. Anonymous January 30, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    Correction… http://msafire.diaryland.com/

    Turns out Loudoun is a county, not a town.

    Guess it did exist.

  398. Heather G January 30, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    Beth, Donna, SKL, I thought I was the only one who noticed her absence. Until this thread it’s been rather peaceful.

  399. hineata January 30, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    Know this is off the original topic, but Donna, you echo the frustration of so many parents, and I don’t have an answer for you, which is embarassing as I’m a teacher! There’s no earthly reason I can think of, providing the school actually has books at each grade level (which I hope American Samoan schools do), that the teacher can’t be providing books at your daughter’s level. All she would need to do is to test to determine what that level is (and I know tests aren’t 100% accurate, but they give a reasonable indication, or at least a starting point) and then take the results to the book room and pick books at that level. Not exactly rocket science. She might be the only kid at that level in the class, but so what? I have had years where I’ve had 6 or 7 reading groups because the disparity between young readers is too wide to group them all together.

    Doesn’t just go for reading etc. I feel constantly frustrated down here because I keep hearing about kids (also meeting some of them) getting held up in maths etc because they are ready in primary school to tackle high school maths, and they can’t possibly do that because then the high school won’t know what to do with them. Oh, I don’t know, maybe let them take ‘varsity stuff’? Just madness……or laziness.

    Good luck with getting something done.

    TJR, am starting a gifted and talented group at the primary school I work with this year and wish you could join it – you sound inspirational!

  400. SKL January 30, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    Heather, I have to admit I haven’t been on as much myself lately (until this thread), so I did not realize she’d been taking an extended vacation.

  401. Jenn January 30, 2012 at 4:54 am #

    @Donna -another reason they may not be giving work at your daughter’s reading level is that she may test for her decoding skills to be at grade one but that her comprehension skills may be a tad bit lower so she may need some extra instruction (or books at a lower level) to help fill that gap. I’ve found many kids who were pushed ahead because their strong decoding skills were later to be far behind with comprehension, inferencing, and analytical skills down the road. Strong decoders often appear on top of things when they’re young but because they didn’t have to `work for it’ they sometimes miss some skills that help them with more complex texts. I tend not to worry too much if decoding is a little behind because sometimes those kids have really strong comprehension skills which are harder to learn and harder to accommodate for. Maybe ask the teacher if that’s the case?

    Maybe let your daughter know that even though it looks like some kids can’t read, they may be learning information in a different manner. My son is a reluctant reader and it was hard to get him to look at a book (and he’s always been behind with his reading level). We never pushed him and hoped that it would come around later. I figure that forcing him to read would not give him a love of reading. He put me in my place this summer when we went to the summer reading club at the library and he hadn’t read his books. He told the librarian that he couldn’t tell her about the books he borrowed as he didn’t read them. That surprised me as I saw him with the book that morning. He claimed that he wasn’t reading but looking at the pictures. The librarian then asked him what the pictures were about and he gave a long and detailed summary of the water transportation system. Through pictures (not the captions) he was able to infer the meaning of the text which is also a very useful reading strategy. Good news, he tested above grade level this year for reading so it has come together for him but we still can’t get him to read! My husband and I are huge bookworms so it’s hard to see but so far our patience is paying off.

  402. SKL January 30, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    Donna, to your question about early KG, it’s been an uphill battle! After much trying and talking to at least a dozen different people at the public school (and several at other schools), I finally identified the individual whom I needed to talk to. I just decided I needed to be the squeaky wheel, which was not easy given my busy schedule. At some point I heard that the public school has a limited amount of time to act after a parent requests special needs testing. So I worded my voice messages accordingly (without being aggressive, just persistent). Once I got the right guy’s contact info, I started sending emails so I would have documentation that I’d been in contact. The emails seemed to make a difference. That said, they told me to sit tight until January and they’d call me to schedule testing. So far no call . . . I may have to send them a reminder.

    The daycare/preschool which my kids have attended for years has a private KG which is also a charter school. They took my October baby happily, but they insisted that they could not legally take my January baby. I told them I was working on getting her into the public KG. Then suddenly they decided they could take her in the private KG after all.

    Now that she’s in KG, suddenly many of the folks who pushed back are open to having her enter 1st grade in the fall. They still want to see test scores, but I’m not worried about that. Today I just attended an open house for the Lutheran school, and the same lady who was trying to talk me out of it 5 months ago is now very enthusiastic to have her in 1st next year. Whatever! I guess they have figured out that it’s not a question of what grade she goes into, but which school is gonna get the $$.

    Although my kid is reading far above grade level (probably 3rd grade level now), she does the same work as the other KG kids. It’s better than having to do it a year later, though. In our state, gifted programing starts in 2nd or 3rd grade. Before that, some kids are sent to higher grades for reading or math class if they are way ahead.

    Good luck!

  403. Christi January 30, 2012 at 5:15 am #


    Did the school give you a “Lexile” or DRA level? (If you don’t know one, ask your daughter if they have her look for a certain “letter” or “number” when she chooses a book… teacher often don’t use the terms with kids and parents).

    If you have one of those numbers or letters there are certain relatively simple steps you can take to administer a home version of the test and see if there is a decoding/comprehension gap to rule that out first. I’ve also seen kids with really strong aural comprehension and high decoding who get so caught up in the puzzle of the letters that the meaning of the text passes by.

  404. Rebecca January 30, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    I also think Larry/LRH is a pompous blowhard who got beat by a kid. Larry, look over your comments versus TJR’s and tell me who comes off as more immature, childish, and likely to be sucking on a candy pacifier. (The answer is you.)

  405. Elizabeth January 30, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Would an online charter school be a possibility for your daughter, Donna? I don’t have any personal experience, but I’v heard from a few friends who use them that they test your child and put them at the exact level they need to be in each subject and that they can move through as fast or slow as they need to. I’m not sure your situation during day or your work schedule, but I know of a couple of working parents, who with the help of sitters and doing projects/hands on lessons in the evenings and on weekends still make it work and their children blossom. Just something to consider. I hope you can work it out. It’s a shame all kids can’t get the individualized learning opportunities in our schools that they need. It’s not the teacher’s fault. It’s just the way the system is set up. 🙁

  406. LRH January 30, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Rebecca I have no interest in conversing with someone who is only hear to bash personalities & not even talk about the core issue at all. If you’d like to discuss what you think of the topic at hand, I will gladly debate that with you all day long. But I have no intention of being snookered into a childish “so & so is a blowhard” rant.

    What’s his name is a 12-year old child who came in here insulting people personally far more than actually discussing the key issue, where I come from I don’t care who you are, if you’re a child you know your place amongst experienced adults is to LEARN from THEM and to therefore know your place & speak only when spoken to. And yes, my own children are taught the exact same thing–if an adult is talking, you never interrupt them, you never insult them, you know your place, you show a little respect. What’s his name has only lived 12 years as a child under his parents’ leadership, he or she is NOBODY to come in here & bash personalities, it’s silly even for an adult to do it (and if that includes me & I deserve a little scolding, so be it) and it’s ure silly for a child to think he or she has any business doing it amongst adults with far more wisdom than he or she could possibly have at such a young age.

    Beyond this clarification I have no interest in discussing anything beyond the core issue at hand.


  407. TJR January 30, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Thank you Rebecca for recognizing that despite one’s age, that they can be worthy contributors. LRH, since you’re `old’, perhaps many people here will decide that your ideas are outdated and thus irrelevant to the conversation. If we’re going to filter people out based on age, then why not filter you out for immaturity? I have a lot learned from my adults, particularly the ones I respect, which is why I took responsibility for my words and apologized, something that you have yet to do. Who deserves respect now? I follow this blog because I do find the comments interesting and I have learned a lot from the posters. Some people have even changed my mind. Just because I do not share the same opinion as you, does not make me an unworthy adversary. In fact, despite differing views, I often respect my opponents more so than those who sit back and blindly accept information. I listened to what you had to say and disagreed. My views are valid as a student who has been late for school and as a student whose learning is impacted by those in my class who are late. I also did some research (something you are unwilling to do) to find out a little more before I made a judgement. I would think of that as being responsible for one’s learning. Would you rather me go back to watch You Tube videos of surprised cats? I would think that as an adult and parent, you’d rather see a child participating in an intellectually stimulating discussion than mindless tube viewing. Telling me to go play with kids my own age? Really? Maturity at it’s finest…

  408. Jenn January 30, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    LHR -Sounds real free range to tell kids to “know your place & speak only when spoken to”. If we all went with that attitude why not tell our kids that they can’t do anything without being told to. How is a child to learn what boundaries are and how to interact appropriately with others if we do not allow them to converse with people? I agree that TJR went far with ONE of his/her comments but then there was an apology and from what I (and others, including Rebecca) see, is that TJR added comments that were insightful and intelligent, all you keep saying is the same old thing. TJR asked that people think about who else is impacted by this mother’s lateness, demonstrating empathy. Something you appear to be incapable of based on how you continue to berate someone who isn’t falling for the bait. TJR has responded to all of your torments in a very dignified and mature manner. TJR, keep on posting, it’s great to hear from different point of views, regardless of the age.

  409. Donna January 30, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Hineata – Don’t even get me started on math. It’s no wonder the (for lack of a better way to say it) “white world” is falling way behind in math. Teachers seem afraid to teach it.

    Books are an issue in American Samoa. There has only been written language for less than 100 years and it was written by missionaries not Samoans. Books are not part of the Samoan culture at all and their access extremely limited on the island. Her school, a private “Americanized” school, does a good job of acquiring them through donations and Amazon but it is certainly not what we could get at home. They also get ruined fairly quickly in the heat and humidity. I said I’d never do it but I’ve ordered a Kindle. Her teacher is pushing for the school to get some for each grade too.

    Books, however, are not the problem. The school definitely has some at her level. It is her very sweet, but unwilling to think outside the box teacher who doesn’t really seem to be as able to teach to many different level kids as her previous one. Or maybe it’s just that there are really only two levels – my daughter and all the other kids – (as opposed to her other school which had several kids at each different ability level) so the teacher doesn’t want to make special lessons for one child. It is particularly frustrating because the classroom is kindergarten and 1st grade combined so there is learning going on at my child’s level IN THE EXACT SAME CLASSROOM that my child can’t join in because she’s not in 1st grade (and I don’t want her bumped up to 1st grade because she would have missed half of it now). But that is back to the not being able to think outside the box thing.

    @ Elizabeth – I have absolutely, positively no desire whatsoever to homeschool so we are going to have to work within what we have. I do work with her some on my own but we will never be a homeschooling family.

  410. LRH January 30, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    Like I said, I’m only here to address free-range issues.

    Now TJR if you want to debate the issue at-hand with me, I will, but NO MORE “wear your IQ on your forehead” comments. That’s disrespectful. My comments served to put you in your place as a 12-year old (and yes, children DO need to “know their place,”) and give a “tit for tat” in response to your smart-aleck remarks (you drew First Blood, not me, to paraphrase Rambo) but I will no longer go that route if you’re also saying that you’re withdrawing your smart-alecky remarks and we can stick to free-range issues.

    As for “age filtering” old vs child, keep reading & that will answer your question quite clearly.

    Since you, Jenn, brought up a free-range topic, it’s off-topic but IS free-range and that’s what this blog is about, hence I will address it. The “speak when spoken to” adage. I understand what you’re getting at with regards to that a child needs to learn by doing & that if you suppress a child too much you risk going against them learning independence. I do NOT seek to do that.

    That said, what I am getting at is this: that aside, kids DO need to know their place. That doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to a conversation, it doesn’t mean we are making it okay to mistreat & abuse them, but they darned well need to keep in mind that they’re addressing adults who have lived and been through far more than they have and are bound to know more. (I am NOT just referring to the TJR dialogue of before.) They need to keep that in mind and be respectful and not criticize, period. They also need to be more of a LISTENER than anything else. True, an adult shouldn’t be ugly to a child, but to me the child has the bigger obligation in terms of knowing their place.

    That is why, for instance, where I come from, kids are taught to address adults as “Mr/Mrs Last Name” and NEVER by their first name. We actually had friends from years past who taught their kids that, and explained to people saying “just call me by my 1st name” that “we are teaching our kids to respect all adults.” it’s a refreshing contrast to the “you ain’t my mother, you can’t tell me what to do” I see nowadays.

    When Lenore speaks of “community,” some of that which I remember (either on my own and/or other older persons recollecting) included that other adults could correct other people’s children, or at least if they told the parents then the child was corrected vs the adult being told “mind your own business.” I am very big on the “mind your own business” perspective where it regards judgmental types lecturing you on how to parent your children, but other people should be able to tell you of bratty behavior that they see & thus serve as someone who HELPS you in your parenting journey by informing you of occasions where your child misbehaves. In those days, you knew better than to act up because other adults acted in unison with your parents to hold you accountable to respectful behavior.

    That is why, if our kids get in trouble in school, I give the teacher the benefit of the doubt & I drive the point home to my kids–you are to do what the teacher says, period. I don’t care if she tells you to stand on your head and sing “O Christmas Tree” backwards, you better darn well do it. Period. No excuses.

    Sure, it’s not perfect, but it sure beats the heck out of helicopter parents always blaming the teachers for their child’s bratty behavior & giving the child the clear message–misbehave in class all you want, I will always take your side.

    So as for “age filtering,” I don’t mind sharing dialogue, but beyond that, TJB, you are a child, that DOES make your opinion less relevant–not IRRELEVANT, but LESS relevant. I say this respectfully, seriously–try reading some books on the 1992 Dream Team that Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkely & others were in. Why do I say that? Books which I’ve read on that speak of how, when they’d get together and brag about accomplishments & give advice, there was a “pecking” order–championships (or “rings”) were required for one who wanted to “woof” or state their opinion with any authority. Those who had the “rings” (Bird, Jordan, Johnson) did the talking, those who did not (Barkley, Patrick Ewing, the others) did the LISTENING.

    There IS a hierarchy in life often-times, and I’d suggest that if you want to contribute to this forum, by all means, but remember the “pecking” order. You have had experiences, yes, but they in no way compare to those of us here who’ve lived over twice as long as you have. Stick to the issues, too.



  411. Jenn January 30, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Well the teacher (school system) here said that the woman was to be arrested so we can apply your reasoning of;, “I don’t care if she tells you to stand on your head and sing “O Christmas Tree” backwards, you better darn well do it. Period. No excuses.”

  412. Cheryl W January 30, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Donna, I had the same issue when my daughter was in Kinder and 1st grade. In kinder the teacher gave lip service to her getting higher level books for reading. (She didn’t.) That may be part of the issue that you are having now.

    In 1st, my daughter was in a “combo” class of 1st, 2nd. Great, I thought. She will be able to work with the older kids. Wrong. The school had a policy with these classes that the kids couldn’t do the higher level work “because they will have it next year.” Fortunately, that year teacher was great at putting kids on the appropriate level, and my daughter was challenged, but told “don’t expect this every year.” We started homeschooling the next year.

    So, the options, that you have. Keep her where she is. Ask the school to let her do some stuff on her own if she finishes early. Get some books, do some extra work at home when she is done with school.

    Move her up. Personally, this is probably a good option if you will be coming back to the US or where ever you are from in her elementary years. Honestly, there is NOTHING that a kid learns in kinder or 1st grade that if they do a placement test and test the level, that they can’t pick up quickly and easily. Most everything is repeated every year, slightly more difficult, but within the range of understanding.

    If/when you come back to US/where ever you are from, I suggest that you get a placement test done before you let them place her in a grade. There is a wide variety of standards from country to country and even state to state. When I moved from NY to MD in 7th grade, the books were the same ones I had had 2 years before. It took a month to convince the schools that all my siblings needed to be tested. Then, it got awkward because I already knew my way around.

  413. LRH January 30, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Jenn No, not at all. That’s different. Teacher to parent is adult to adult. Teacher to child is adult to child. Adult = adult, but adult > child. The child is to be subject to the teacher’s authority not only because they’re the teacher, but also because they are an adult, and thus OVER them. That dynamic does not exist teacher to parent. They’re to be EQUALS in the child’s eyes in terms of that whatever the teacher tells the child to do at school, they will be in as much trouble upon returning home as if they had disobeyed their very parents.

  414. SKL January 30, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    For my daughter, I started “homeschooling” her in the evenings when it became apparent that she was going into pre-K with acadmic skills at the grade 1-2+ level. We spent a couple of hours each evening, plus part of each weekend, working on her actual level; and she spent the day in pre-K. This was fun but sometimes stressful, especially considering that my other child also needed help (at a lower level) due to her vision issues. I dialed it way back once she started KG at school. We still read together every night and do stimulating things like mental math, museum visits, instrumental music, foreign languages, and other stuff. There isn’t much else to try at this point.

    I know that some parents do work and homeschool, but logistically, you’d have to have an unusual setup to keep a 1st grader out of “school” during the work day. I guess if we were desperate enough I’d make it work, but for now, I’m hoping that being accelerated 1 year plus “afterschooling” will be enough. Plenty of kids have survived worse.

    My nephew is a really brilliant kid, but his parents were unable to get him accelerated (February birthday, poorly rated public school) other than to have him visit the older grades for reading and math class. It was very frustrating.

  415. T-Dawg January 30, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Larry, let me remind you of something you seem to have overlooked about the original posting.

    The pecking order of the legal system is this:
    The woman in the article broke the law, and her arrest was a consequence of such.

    I can understand that you are teaching your children to respect authority, but it seems that you fail to understand that adults have authority that they must respect, too. That authority is the law and the people who uphold it.

  416. LRH January 30, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    T-Dawg I know what you’re saying, but I think what we have been saying is that the law is WRONG and that this is a misapplication of it. That is an okay thing to do.

    I realize it’s a tough line to balance, but my attitude is this: I want my children to be obedient & respectful, but I ALSO want them to be able to think for themselves and, frankly, I want them to be the kinds who, as adults, question stupid laws like this and, frankly, even rebel against them if need be (although, of course, the best way is to work to have them changed). But the time to do that isn’t when you’re a child, you’re not ready for it yet. You are ready when you’re grown.

    If someone says “that doesn’t work, you can’t teach a child ‘do as you’re told’ all through childhood & then all of a sudden at age 18 say ‘now, you can think for yourself,’ ” I can understand how they would have that viewpoint.

    Obviously you can’t have anarchy, I understand that, but I hear people tell of how they want to raise their children to question the world around them & to be able to think for themselves rather than just do as they’re told, and in fact I not only respect that, I AGREE with it. (Do I sound inconsistent? I can understand if I do.) That is how I want my children to be as well.

    The thing is, though, there’s a difference between critical thinking & questioning what’s around you versus just being a brat. I want them to be good citizens vs troublemakers, but not in a way that translates to them just going along with something that is wrong when they are now grown adults.


  417. Rebecca January 30, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Larry, I would like to add to T-Dawg’s commemt:

  418. T-Dawg January 30, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Oh, Rebecca, we should be friends.

    But really, Larry, I’m glad you responded in a well-though out manner instead of telling me that you could flick me like a booger. I see your point, but I think you misrepresent yourself.

    When you ignore your infant baby is crying in a stroller so you can play basketball, I don’t feel that that is encouraging critical thinking. Telling your children, “I’m the boss, and that’s that,” also, does not encourage critical thinking. I’m no expert on parenting, but I know what worked for me as a kid. I like to think of myself as a well-adjusted adult and my parents encouraged me to ask questions, once I had finished doing whatever they had asked me to do. They never said, “Because I’m the grown-up!”

    Based on what I have read from you (and since you seem to comment over and over on each post, I’d say I’ve read quite a lot from you), I don’t think you are the kind of adult I want my children to grow into. So, that being said, I will continue to raise my children my own way and be grateful that for the most part, we live in a country where we can do just that.

    That being said, I know you think that your opinions are the best ones out there (which is pretty much why we have opinions. If we didn’t think they were the best, we’d change them), but I wish you would speak more civilly to us adults that you seem to think are your equals. Your last two comments are a great start.

  419. Donna January 30, 2012 at 10:20 am #


    You may believe the way you do about kids being below you and knowing their place, but many of us here don’t and don’t appreciate you speaking to a child who has joined the fold, and is actually for the most part being respectful, in the manner in which you have simply because she is a child. This has nothing to do with free range but does have to do with the pleasantness of the blog.

    You raise your children in a far different fashion than me and many others here do. That’s your perogative and I’ll leave you to it. You can talk to your children in your own life any way you want. You can disregard any opinion on here that you choose for whatever reason you choose. But I certainly hope that disrespectful, condescending, insulting and dismissive behavior towards children for no reason other than they are children is not considered acceptable on this blog.

    Personally, I’m skeptical that TJB is who she says she is but whatever. Whether it’s a child or an adult pretending to be a child, I’d like to see children treated with respect here. We can learn things from kids if we open our minds and listen. I don’t expect you to ever do that but some of the rest of us might want to. If you can’t talk to young people on the blog in anything other than a condescending and dismissive fashion, just don’t engage them in a dialogue.

    By the way, “she started it” shouldn’t be in your vocabulary as an adult. If you’re going to act like a kid, TJB as a right to take you on as one.

  420. Jenn January 30, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    LRH- The teachers and parents may be equals but the best way to get children to follow an adult’s rules (your own, school’s or society’s) is as the adult model this. If I blatantly break the rules in front of my children, it sends them the message that it’s okay to break rules so why should they follow my rules. My kids have asked if they can have Facebook accounts. The rules do state that you need to be 13 and I think that it’s a pretty silly rule (hard to enforce and why is 13 that magic age? etc,) but I respect that rule. I don’t want my children thinking that if I let them on Facebook underage that it’s okay for them to ignore curfews, take money from my wallet or treat me or other adults with disrespect. It sounds like whenever someone catches you on one of you (many) inconsistencies you just seem to contradict yourself with yet another.

  421. David January 30, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    I don’t think many people on here believe TJR is a child, but there isn’t a way to prove it either way. Both TJR and LRH said things that were disrespectful of others. Both were in the wrong. However, in LRH’s defense, I do believe kids should show a certain amount of respect towards adults. I think most helicopter parents I know tend to have the philosophy that we should baby kids to the point that we allow them to have tantrums and talk to whomever, however they please so that they are not “inhibited”. They coddle and allow them to say what they want, when they want. However, in my experience most free range parents insist their kids show respect for adults as was common in previous generations. It only makes sense because if they don’t show respect, there’s going to be trouble as they are out roaming the neighborhoods. I came across an image today one of my friends posted on facebook that sums it up pretty good. It won’t let me post the image here, but here’s the link to it:


    I personally think it’s good that kids are respectful. Adults should also be respectful – unless the kid gets out of line, and then the child should be corrected. If you go back and read TJR’s first post on this issue, you will find that she was speaking in what I consider to be a disrespectful way for a 12 year old to speak to a group of adults. (calling people “idiots”) Then a few more comments down she REALLY starts being disrespectful before anyone here has said anything back to her. Back in the “free range” days if a kid smart mouthed an adult they would have their mouth washed out with soap. Nowadays if a kid smart mouths an adult, not only are we not supposed to do anything, but we are to smile sweetly and pat them on the head and brush it off as “just being a child.” And then we should actually applaud them for having their own thoughts and expressing them so eloquently? sigh……. Seems a bit like coddling to me and a good way to be raising a very rude generation of selfish people who put “me” first. I don’t condone everything LRH said and I realize there are some folks on here who don’t like his opinions, but, in my opinion, if this really is a child, then, yeah – she should be in her place. Maybe even (gasp) get yelled at by the adult she offended. And I really hope more free rangers believe this, or I fear for this coming generation….

  422. LRH January 30, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    David Bingo, bingo, bingo.

    And by the way, that image nails it. That is EXACTLY correct.

    Yes, “back in my day,” if a child had talked to an adult with the smack that TJR had done (TJR later apologized, that’s coming), you darn right–you as the child would’ve been in for it big-time. But now, if you dare correct an unruly child, the masses come to the child’s defense, either (a) you’re not the child’s parent, you have no right to correct or (b) they’re just a child, what do you expect. Heck sometimes even if you are the parent, other people will often-times criticize you for correcting it when it’s your own child.

    In the case of (a) I have known people to take their child to another’s house and the child will proceed to be loud or break things in the homeowner’s house, and the parent will become absolutely irate if the homeowner corrects the child to “stay out that room” or whatever. Don’t tell me children don’t pick up on this & learn real quickly–when my parents are away, I can act up, because they will take my side.

    I like Donna, I don’t always agree with her but I OFTEN do, and regardless she strikes me as an intelligent woman with a lot of well-earned life experiences to back up what she states. My only thing is that, Donna, you are right–an adult shouldn’t be a jerk to a child just because they are a child. That is not what I’m saying. You perhaps didn’t notice certain posts (easy to do, this thread has become LONG) where the child in question was in fact quite ugly and insulting, not just to me, but to SKL as well (saying things like “two bit junior college you probably went to” etc).

    I was taking said child to task for doing that, basically “how dare you come in here & talk to us adults that way when you’re but a child,” which was not wrong in & of itself, but as I later alluded to, in doing so it’s easy to end up as looking as foolish as what you were defending yourself against to start with, & I may have done that. To the child’s credit, they later apologized for it, and that was good, I’m not holding onto the offense vs moving on, just clarifying for history.

    And TDawg, as I acknowledged, it is potentially tricky, but the thing is, while I want my children to grow up and to as adults question what is around them, with me the parent & them the children at a young age, the reason for them to have to conform to me & my wife’s rules is, to quote John Rosemond, “because I said so.” Yes it’s a good thing to help a child understand why a rule is what it is, but I don’t have to explain myself to them either, that I am their father is reason enough. I didn’t need to explain to my 4-month old why I felt it was okay for her to cry for a few minutes in the stroller while I got my necessary work-out in while I had a chance. She is now almost 5, and when I say it’s bed-time, I don’t have to explain why. I said it, and that’s it. No arguing, or else you will be in for it even just for ARGUING. It is SUPPOSED to be that way.

    On the other hand, adults SHOULD be accountable to other adults whom they are authority figures over. That something is the law isn’t good enough, I want to know WHY the law is what it is. Obeying it may not be optional (at least without potential consequences anyway), but neither should they just be making laws & pounding us adults into submission without explaining why. Why do you think that when people are asked to do whatever without being told why or other sorts of things they will reply “I’m not a child?” Exactly. A child is supposed to do as their parents say, period, but an adult deserves an explanation, if for no other reason than to UNDERSTAND it, and if they don’t agree with it, they can choose not to obey it (but with the possibility of a punitive response) or, ideally, make a strong commotion amongst their peers to have it changed. A child doesn’t have that


  423. Jenn January 30, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    I’ve read every one of TJR’s posts and he/she never calls anyone an idiot. Some swearing was involved but other from that one incident, I would say TJR spoke very respectfully and with restraint after numerous attempts by LRH to insult him/her. TJR came back and apologized, something LRH has not expressed in anyway, but continues to insult. The website is called, “Free Range Kids” so perhaps TJR assumed that there would be other kids on here too and insulted someone perceived to be acting at a similar maturity level.

    PS Like the link. I posted a similar comic a couple of months ago (during report card time).

  424. LRH January 30, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Oops, I clicked “post” too quickly.

    I meant to say a child doesn’t have that option.

    And yes, even in the adult-realm, there are variances. In the military, for example, you are to just do as you’re told. You don’t argue, you don’t say “tell me why,” you just do it for else. That, actually, is somewhat how I see the parent-child relationship, only not quite THAT strong, and with plenty of love & play thrown in as well. And as the child gets older, in certain moments, you should have “heart to heart” talks where you explain the whys & whats to your children to help them understand WHY the rules are what they are. The difference is that, when 2 adults do that sort of thing, there may be a bit of bargaining going on, a “give & take,” but parent to child, it should be much more the parent talks, the child listens and asks questions and the parent answers the questions with a loving tone to it. You certainly also want to make sure your child knows that, even though you don’t approve of disobedience, you love them and approve of them always.

    Other adult-to-adult relationships have a less strict atmosphere to it. Many jobs I’ve had, the boss was respectful to me, I knew I was to do what they said it wasn’t optional but they did help me at least understand SOME of the reasons for SOME of the rules etc & they showed respect towards my needs as an employee also. Other ones acted like they were God smiting me from the sky like I was in Sodom & Gomorrah. Needless to say, I liked the former better.

    And as your children become older, I think you apply less of the “military-esque” tone to it (and again, even early on, it isn’t quite THAT strong) and more of the type I mentioned I enjoyed in the workplace. Sort of like what you allow them to do free-range, it has the element of “age appropriate” to it.


  425. LRH January 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    PS, Jenn I guess you didn’t read the part about “what two-bit junior college did you go to.” I think most of us understand TJR was out-of-line with that, but again they’ve apologized and it’s done and over with. My insults were meant to put them in their place as a child, but again I owned up that MAYBE that was wrong, and I think we’ve moved on from all that, if not, I would say I think it’s time we did so.


  426. David January 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Well, Jenn, these are just a few statements I consider to be rude for a 12 year old child to say to an adult. Each of these statements were made BEFORE anyone said anything back to her. After these statements, then some comments were rightfully made back to her:

    “Don’t let these idiots get you, because you are one of the only sane voices I have heard here.” – this was the reference I was referring to in calling adults on this site “idiots”

    “@Jenny Islander – can you read?”

    “@SKL and LRH – you two are some pieces of work. Doing a little search on various comment threads here and you both come off as judgemental, uneducated, and ignorant.”

    “Perhaps if you attended school regularly, you would have refined or polished how to present effectively an issue without having to attack a person. You both come across as intelligent but obviously you were so close minded to your teachers that you did not allow them to help you realize your potential.”

    Jenn, you say you are a teacher. Imagine one of your students standing in front of you and talking this way. I would hope you would agree that it would be disrespectful. She, of course, got a LOT worse after people started getting angry at the way she was speaking, which was disrespectful for an adult, as well. (SKL and LRH both made angry comments back to her.)

  427. T-Dawg January 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    “I owned up that MAYBE that was wrong”

    If you admit that you were wrong, I think you should apologise. If you don’t think you were wrong, then don’t. This “maybe I’m sorry, maybe I’m not” is really getting on my nerves.

    Larry, I think you would benefit from an article called “Argumentation in a Culture of Discord” by Frank L. Cioffi.
    Here’s a link to the article, so you can’t get after for me for not citing sources to your liking.


  428. Sera January 30, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Hrm. Well. I’m just going to go ahead and take a few direct quotes from LRH’s posts in this thread, and collect them up down here. He is a very quotable man!

    “so much as that a bunch of damn idiots and judgmental witches here AGREE with it.”

    “and those of you advocating it are STUPID YOURSELVES for advocating it.”

    “You are the very essence of EVIL, yes EVIL, corrupting our society, because in supporting this you effectively guarantee its continued existence. You are every bit as awful a person as there is, short of the molesters and pedophiles and rapists, I won’t put you quite in that class of pond scum, but you’re not far behind it in my book.”

    “but I don’t know if even [Lenore] has what it takes to overcome this tidal wave of stupidity.”

    “someone ought to sock you right smack in said nose for doing just that.”

    “So Christi, where it regards that sort of thing, I am on your side. May I humbly say, in that regard, you’d LOVE having me as a parent in your school.”

    “Take your self-righteous holier-than-thou and judgmental tone with you and just shut up.”

    “A lot of you need to learn some serious humility & could do with a lot less judgementalism and “holier than thou” nonsense.”

    “your attitude–”the law’s the law”–is part of what’s wrong with this whole deal”

    “Get that through your thick skull of yours.,”

    “a bunch of damn idiots are all too eager to applaud it.”

    “it’s not my job to fix your stupidity, that’s YOUR problem, so there.”

    “I’m sure he’s probably off somewhere sucking on a candy pacifier & listening to Justin Bieber tunes on his Fisher Price MP3 player. Maybe in 6 more years he’ll be grown enough to have an opinion that’s relevant.”

    “I’m sure there are some Veggie Tales sites his MOMMY would let him post in.”

    “I could flick you like a bugger.”

    (This one is my favourite:)
    “what are YOU bringing to the discussion going off on insulting rants like that? ”

    That is all.

  429. SKL January 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I agree with David. I also feel that certain of TJR’s comments were inappropriate regardles if his/her age. If one wants one’s opinion to be heard, one states it in a manner that people on both sides of the issue will be open to hearing. That said, TJR is not the only person here who fails to do that at times.

    Jenn, I’m surprised that you consider TJR’s comments to be respectful. Perhaps it’s because s/he agrees with you on this particular issue. After all, his first post started with “Well said Jenn. Wish my kids could be in your classroom. … Don’t let these idiots get you, because you are one of the only sane voices I have heard here.” Obviously anything he said after that must have been correct. (“Can you read?” / [paraphrasing]: you are a piece of work / you come off as uneducated, ignorant / your brain is up your ass / etc, etc. . . .])

    I did start to believe s/he might be a kid once s/he started saying “would you rather I go back to watching YouTube?” Like it’s any skin off our rear if someone we don’t know decides to do something that might not be good for him/her. So who knows, and who cares? Far as I’m concerned TJR is a troll, but Jenn, I was starting to think you had some credibility.

  430. SKL January 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Just wanted to note that my last comment was posted before I saw David’s most recent one. Seems we are on the same wavelength. (No, I do not know David in person and I’m not his alter-ego.)

  431. T-Dawg January 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    @SKL and David, I am changing my mind. Kids, even internet kids who may or may not be actual kids, shouldn’t say mean things to adults, regardless of whether they’re really funny and I agree with them. Thank you for using logic and a reasonable tone to get your point across.

    Also, I wish I had an alter-ego.

  432. Kimberly January 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Donna – I agree you need to check with the school about the test being given and if there is a small gap on one side or the other.

    I have a 2nd grade ESL student who can read fluently – based on that I could give her a 3rd grade reading level – but she doesn’t know what pain or ruin mean in context. (show her the sentence in the story ask what it means she has no idea).

    I have another 2nd grade student English primary language. Based on her fluency I should rank her at a low 2nd grade level about 3 months behind – Her comprehension is sky high. She gets it she just stumbles reading aloud.

    I have a 3rd student who Mom pushes for her to read 4th and 5th grade books. She can read them fluently, comprehends a good deal of them – and has screaming nightmares about them. At which point mom tells me to restrict her to 2nd – 3rd grade books. The kid has had some trauma and isn’t ready emotionally for the YA lit that is out there. Even Nancy Drew has her waking the whole house screaming.

  433. sue January 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    jenn if you think that example is always the best wayto teach children do you folow it 24/7? after all you are a teacher and a parent,that makes you a role model. so i assume you never, anywhere or any time, drink, smoke gossip, bad mouth, talk or text while driving, obey all traffic laws and speed limits to the letter, follow all dress codes to the max with out complaint[and if your school has a uniform do you wear one?], keep your weight with in healthy government guideline, get exercise everyday etc? if you’re that perfect throw stones at others at will, but if you’re not why not try SOME tolerance and understanding of others’ view points. no body is perfect, we all make mistakes[except maybe you] and we learn from them[i hope]

  434. Jenn January 30, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    So TRJ’s four insults (cited by David) to LRH’s 16 (cited by Sera-thanks to both of you for your work) and TRJ is the problem, the one who is disrespectful? TJR’s insults stopped right after the apology yet LRH keeps dishing them out. Maybe TJR is being censored by mom, or just came to realize that there is a better way to communicate. Maybe LRH needs mom to censor him since he doesn’t have a filter of his own? I do have to agree somewhat about the comment about some people coming off as ignorant and judgemental, which many others have stated as well, partially because I was accused of being judgemental. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

    I do not think it is going to teach children anything to hold ourselves to one standard and them to another. It’s that “do as I say but but not what I do” thinking that confuses kids. No wonder they don’t respect their elders if we send them mixed messages like this. By no means am I perfect but I do try to live by a standard that I would want my children and students to follow. When I mess up, I fess up. Much to my student’s delight, I tripped in the classroom and ended up tearing a ligament in my ankle and cursed. Not a shining moment, but I took ownership for my words and luckily my parents thought it was funny as their kids (after asking if I was okay). Not cool to swear in school and I would normally not throw words like that around in front of kids but I’m human, it happened, apologized and moved on.

  435. SKL January 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Jenn, I don’t agree that we have to act the way we want our kids to act if they are to grow up well. Rather, I attempt to act like the adults I hope my kids grow up into. For example, I have enough maturity and experience to know how to question a teacher’s actions / words / plans without appearing to question her value, dignity, or authority over my kids during school. My kids are not ready for that yet, but someday they will be, and at that time they will have my model to guide them (up to a point).

    Kids are very capable of understanding “do as I say, not as I do.” That is, assuming the adult follows basic principles that most humans agree on. For example, I was spanked occasionally as a child, but I never had any trouble understanding that I was not allowed to strike any person or animal (except if I was officially in the role of disciplinarian myself). My kids also have no problem understanding child/adult boundaries. It’s the way things have been from time immemorial; even in the animal kingdom. It’s instinctive and logical.

    I did not say anything about the volume of TJR’s rude comments (admittedly David and I were not as meticulous as Sera at picking out every one), but his/her entire tone is not something to be proud of in my opinion. You are free to disagree, but something tells me that if s/he were attacking you in that tone instead of supporting you, you would not be so impressed. It really does call into question your objectivity.

    Never said I was perfect; I’ve been called on the carpet myself a couple of times here, for comments that were taken differently from what I intended. Bottom line, we’re all entitled to our opinions, but if we are nasty about it, we should expect to be told off.

  436. David January 30, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Jenn, please go back through TJR’s comments and read from an objective point of view. The 4 insults I sited were BEFORE anyone started talking back to her. I didn’t even bother to list all the disrespectful things this little girl said AFTER people began getting after her. If you need me to point them out, then I can certainly do that for you. I understand that it’s difficult to object to someone who takes your side on an issue. That’s a human quality and understandable. But you really have to try and look at what she said objectively. The free range issue at hand at the moment is whether or not a child should be talking to a group of adults like she did. I think most people on here agree that she went out of line. I’m sure as an educator of children, if you go back over them and read objectively, picturing one of your students standing in front of you talking that way, you’ll see what we do.

  437. David January 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Just to make your search easier, here are a few comments made AFTER the apology, when you claim she stopped being disrespectful.

    “You’re just sore that you got bested by a kid and other people have recognized it. You call me a child (which I am!) and comment on how juvenile I am but yet you use the argument of “it’s a free country”. I mean six year old use that argument!!! Using that phrase in your argument makes you sound even more unintelligent. ”

    ” Telling me to go play with kids my own age? Really? Maturity at it’s finest…”

    “As for Mommy revoking my privileges, that’s what good parenting is. Something you obviously know nothing about.”

    “No wonder you’re so out of touch with society that you haven’t had the rich experiences that I (and most of my cohorts) have had. And I don’t need to list them because unlike you, I don’t have to yammer on about how `superior` I am because I have pre-schoolers that are accelerated, etc, etc, etc,. Sucks to be beat by a kid, doesn’t it?”

    Again, what we are looking at and discussing here at the moment is whether or not it is acceptable for a child to speak to and adult in such a manner. Not whether some adults on here have been equally rude – they certainly have.

  438. LRH January 30, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    I certainly appreciate the support. especially from David and SKL, I most certainly do.

    Let’s not let it get us off-topic too much, though, if I can say that. Yet still, again, I very much appreciate the support.

    Yes David where I come from, children have no business talking to an adult like that, period. You just don’t do it. If an adult is out-of-line then it’s a good thing when another adult calls them on the carpet, but children, yes, should know their place. Like you said, 30-40 years ago, if a child had smart-mouthed an adult like that, they’d been knocked silly. I say we need to return to those days, I certainly teach that in my house.

    I used that analogy before about the 1992 Dream Team, and it’s true–when one of the players would start trying to brag about how there all this & that or critique another player, especially if that other player was one who had won a championship or two (or had “rings”) and the “mouthy” player was one who had not, then no matter what the player with “rings” had said about anything (if they had been saying anything), the “mouthy” player heard it real quickly–come talk to me when you have a ring or two. Otherwise, you just don’t measure up in this conversation.

    Same thing here.

    But I’ve made that point numerous times, I’ve moved on to other threads at this point. I’m not keeping count or a tally at this point in terms of how many times x person said something kind of cute vs how many times y person said something back in return, or said likewise of their own tendencies. Meh.

    (But again SKL and David I do appreciate the support, and I welcome the dialogue.)


  439. Vanyali January 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    This is a warning to you, and I mean it in all sincerity:

    Watch your back.