Want to Help Out at a Class Party? All You Need to do is Get Fingerprinted!

Hi Folks! Here’s a school memo one of you sent in from the Brave New World that thinks somehow every time any adult encounters a child — even in a classroom filled with other adults and a gaggle of kids — the kids are in grave danger:

Wiggle aidbftnika
those digits

If you attended volunteer training last spring in order to be able to help out at school (in the classroom, on field trips, at parties, etc.), there’s one more step you need to take.

The school board recently added a fingerprinting requirement for all volunteers to accompany the existing background check. New volunteer training this year will include fingerprinting opportunities.

If you completed the training last school year, you need to get in touch with volunteer coordinator. The district is paying for the fingerprinting.

How kind. Is the district using money that is not coming from anything else, like books or field trips? – L

80 Responses to Want to Help Out at a Class Party? All You Need to do is Get Fingerprinted!

  1. Wilson September 6, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    How much does it cost to fingerprint and process it per person? Are they having a problem with adults inappropriately “encountering” a child? Do the teachers and administrators have to be fingerprinted, too?

    I think a simple and free background check from the state’s DHS is enough, but I suppose we need to “think of the children.” I wonder when the TSA pat down will come.

  2. Outdoors dad September 6, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    I think you missed it. This is the unions way to keep non union folks iut if the classroom. Expect even tougher requirements if this doesn’t reduce volunteerism to zero.

    Love your blog. Keep it up!

  3. Lollipoplover September 6, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    “fingerprinting opportunities”?
    Why not just get DNA tests and handcuff all parents who are willing to jump through all these hoops to “help”.
    This district would be better served if they just invested in tin foil hats.

  4. curiositykt (@curiositykt) September 6, 2012 at 2:58 am #

    Just fingerprint all of us when we get our government IDs. It would make it all so much easier…. and creepier…

  5. Yan Seiner September 6, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    @Outdoors dad, somehow I don’t think the school board is unionized….

    Anyway, I’m always curious what these requirements are supposed to do. Ever been asked “marital status” on a service work order for your car?

    Here we have to go through a sheriff’s background check, which at least makes some sort of sense; as some of the schools here have highly valuable and portable electronics and such, and petty theft is very common.

    I am always amazed at how in our “land of the free” we are so eager to throw away our freedom for the sake of some illusory (and often undefined) goal.

  6. Kate September 6, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    Our district requires an annual background check ($16.50) or a one time fingerprinting ($39.50) which lasts forever. Problem is a four month lag time on the fingerprinting. Oh and the fees are paid for by the volunteer. Yes, you have to pay to volunteer.

    Seems like if you’re going to mandate this garbage, you need to hire someone to process it.

    I was so red hot fired up on this last year (it was new) and now I’m just another lap dog. There’s no way around it, other than to stay away.

    Wilson: I questioned this with “how much of this unwanted creepy stuff is going on in the classroom with a teacher present?” I was told it’s about the fear of creating relationships in the classroom with students who you then prey on outside of the school.

    Just another thing to add to the worst first list.

  7. Paula September 6, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    Maybe the parents who jump through all the hoops are the ones we should really worry about–obviously they’ll stop at nothing to gain access to our children!

  8. Rich Wilson September 6, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    My wife just paid about $50 to get fingerprinted so she can volunteer in our son’s class. She also had to get a chest x-ray to rule out TB. The skin test won’t work for her because of an inoculation that’s common in Europe, she’ll always show ‘positive’ even though she doesn’t have TB.

    There are cheaper places to get finger printed, but the school will only accept ‘local’ ones, and they’re all $50+.

    Not sure what the chest x-ray is going to cost.

  9. Chris September 6, 2012 at 3:08 am #

    Georgia just passed a rule that requires parent volunteers to be “mandated reporters of suspected child abuse.” The letter we just got from school basically said that we’d have to go through training and that if suspected abuse wasn’t reported we’re now liable. There’s an oped in the AJC about it: http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/08/26/georgia-makes-parent-volunteers-mandatory-child-abuse-reporters-is-that-a-mistake/

    This on the heels of moving from rural SC, where parent volunteers had to pay $25 (because the district can’t afford it) to get a state mandated background check that only covered the state database – for an extra amount they could expand it to federal, but it costs too much now. Needless to say, a system with over 80% free lunch no longer has enough people to volunteer for field trips or anything else that they need extra hands for. Glad we’re safe, though.

  10. Chloe September 6, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    Not only do I need to Dept. of Justice certified fingerprint and background check, I need a TB test and a class on classroom conduct before I can volunteer in class. If I want to go on a fieldtrip (and there are no more school buses here, so they need parent drivers) then I need all of the above plus a copy of my 10 year driving record, copies of my license and registration, and proof of $100k liability insurance. What is all of this going to prevent? Is it just for the sake of peace of mind?

  11. Kate September 6, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    TB test? WTH?

  12. CJ September 6, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    @Rich Wilson,
    may I suggest the Tb blood test (estimated cost $60).
    Here is some info:
    TB blood tests (also called interferon-gamma release assays or IGRAs) measure how the immune system reacts to the bacteria that cause TB. An IGRA measures how strong a person’s immune system reacts to TB bacteria by testing the person’s blood in a laboratory.

    Two IGRAs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are available in the United States:
    1.QuantiFERON®–TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT)
    2.T-SPOT®.TB test (T-Spot)
    IGRAs are the preferred method of TB infection testing for the following:
    •People who have received bacille Calmette–Guérin (BCG). BCG is a vaccine for TB disease.
    • People who have a difficult time returning for a second appointment to look for a reaction to the TST.

    I work in healthcare and most hospitals require a criminal and financial background check along with fingerprinting.

  13. Amanda Matthews September 6, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    So what are they going to do with this information, dust all the children for fingerprints after the party to ensure no helpers touched them?

    The TB test makes even less sense, if a parent has TB then the child has already been exposed and therefore all the classmates, busmates etc. have probably already been exposed!

    I don’t understand why people continue to send their children to schools where they must jump though all these hoops to be involved in their own child’s education.

  14. pentamom September 6, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    Wilson, in my state, there’s no such thing as a free check. Every level of background check has a fee, including the state child abuse registry.

    Amanda, the purpose of the fingerprint is to run a match to see if the person has any criminal background under aliases.

    Yes, it’s still stupid for the purpose, but that’s what it’s for, not for the purposes of future investigation.

    CJ, handing out napkins and cupcakes in a classroom is not comparable to working healthcare, where you have unsupervised or minimally supervised access to vulnerable people every day.

    “I don’t understand why people continue to send their children to schools where they must jump though all these hoops to be involved in their own child’s education.”

    Not everyone has viable alternatives to a free local education.

  15. sbh September 6, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    I’m waiting for top level security clearance. 🙂 Just think, it’s so easy to sell! Two for the price of one, you can volunteer with your child’s school and you can work for the NSA or Department of Defense! Sweet! We had an FBI agent visit us once to ask about the neighbor -who was applying for a job. I’m waiting for them to start making the rounds asking about my habits, routines and social groups because I volunteer in the middle school : P

  16. Elaine September 6, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    We don’t have background checks to volunteer in my kids’ school, though I am prevented from serving as a field trip chauffeur because you can’t be a chauffeur if you’ve ever lost your license or had it suspended. And mine was suspended for 14 days when I was 16 and still insanely stupid, THIRTY years ago. Completely clean record ever since, never even a parking or speeding ticket.

  17. Pam September 6, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    I HAVE a high level government security clearance, and I still needed a police records check to volunteer in our kids’ school (where I’m not even allowed to be alone with the children, without a teacher present).

  18. Jen Connelly September 6, 2012 at 3:55 am #

    All the hoops was one of the reason I refused to volunteer at my kids’ old school. There was a mandatory THREE hour class that was only at night when my husband worked so I had no one to watch the kids. Then there was the mandatory background checks and I wouldn’t be surprised if they added fingerprinting since we left. All so I could read a book to a class of 1st graders while the teacher was sitting 5 feet away. That went for volunteering for anything in the school or church. Even if I wanted to stuff envelopes in the office I had to have the background check.

    They started BINGO in the church basement which was at night (after school hours) and you needed the full background check to volunteer to set up, take down or call numbers. Even though there weren’t any kids around. Oy.

    At their school here there’s just a sheet you fill out to consent to the background check which the school pays for. You have to do it 2 weeks before you want to volunteer and the check is good for 2 years. It’s still a background check but at least it’s simple and relatively quick.

  19. Amanda Matthews September 6, 2012 at 3:59 am #

    “Amanda, the purpose of the fingerprint is to run a match to see if the person has any criminal background under aliases.”

    No duh, that part was a joke. No one that has bothered to change their name, have kids and raise them to school age successfully is going to throw everything away to molest a kid in the middle of a party, steal pencils or whatever the fear is. If you’re going to fear, fear the molesters that HAVEN’T been caught.

    “Not everyone has viable alternatives to a free local education.”

    Not true in the US. Many people have been convinced the other options aren’t viable for them, and many people don’t want to change their lifestyles to make it viable, but everyone in the US has alternatives to a free local education.

  20. SecondofSeven September 6, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    Why is there volunteer training? Do you need special training to attend a field trip? Or even to help the teacher out during art class, whatever. I volunteer at my kids’ school all the time and have never undergone training. The rest of it is equally ridiculous.

  21. Lollipoplover September 6, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    We also don’t have background checks at our school (or fingerprinting,TB, cooties) and there are so many parents who volunteer.
    School field trip volunteers are picked in a lottery because there are so many parents willing to help. My son’s last field trip was to the Constitution center in Philly and he was told to bring money to go out to lunch. The dad that was his chaperone treated him and friends to lunch at a nice restaurant. The kids made several remarks about the homeless people they saw and the dad suggested they send the money they were given for lunch that day to one of the soup kitchens that feed the homeless.

  22. LivinginVA September 6, 2012 at 4:44 am #

    Amanda said: Not true in the US. Many people have been convinced the other options aren’t viable for them, and many people don’t want to change their lifestyles to make it viable, but everyone in the US has alternatives to a free local education.

    Really? Everyone can an alternative to free local education viable for themselves if they want it? I suggest you go a school like the one I work in where 50% of the families are on free/reduced lunch and another 20% are “working poor” – not qualifying for any aid, but not able to afford anything beyond the bare necessities.

  23. hineata September 6, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    Wow, so over the top! We too don’t have background checks just for volunteering at school, where it’s assumed that the teachers being around will be enough protection for the kids, I guess – that and the fact that if we started in for all this nonsense, we’d never get volunteers.

    And the TB thing seems very OTT, Rich. Do you live in an area with a high immigrant population? Our kids had TB jabs when they were babies because of their Maori and Asian heritage, both lots being considered high risk for TB, but I wouldn’t have thought most Americans would be vulnerable to TB these days. And are other diseases not an issue?

  24. Marion September 6, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    Well, with no volunteers, kids will miss all those dangerous events like field trips (where they could get kidnapped or lost), trips to the park (where they could trip and fall), and class parties (where some kid’s mom could molest the other kids in the middle of the party).


  25. Jess September 6, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    Wow. One of my fondest memories is of volunteering to chaparone on my younger brother’s field trip to the zoo when I was barely 18 and he was in second grade. No background check, no stink eye; all the teachers and moms seemed perfectly fine giving a teenager sole responsibility of five seven year-olds for a day. And wouldn’t you know it? No one got lost or hurt, and everyone had a great time. If I had had to jump through those kinds of hoops, I never would have gone. I wish people could understand just how much of life they’re keeping their kids from living by playing safety police to such an absurd level.

  26. Warren September 6, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    And schools and other organizations wonder why there are so few volunteers, coaches and such. To go on my daughters field trip, I needed a background check, done by my local OPP. I couldn’t be by the OPP detachment two blocks from work, no it had to be by the one closest to my home. So an afternoon of lost wages to go submit for one, and an afternoon of lost wages, to go pick it up two weeks later. Then they wanted a driver’s abstract, another afternoon of lost wages. Then the field trip itself, a day of lost wages. All in all, with the costs of the required documents, yes I had to pay, and the lost wages, and the fuel, and the field trip fee, i was out near $800.00.

    Won’t do it again. As these checks are good for only one year. This year, I will just meet them at the museum or wherever, and there isn’t a damn thing they can do about it.

    And before anyone says yes they can…….no they cannot. I have the right to visit any public place, and interact with my own child. This coming from a police officer friend that I play hockey with.

  27. mollie September 6, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    “the fear of creating relationships in the classroom with students who you then prey on outside of the school.”

    Okay. Let’s trot out all the big-name boogeymen who have “groomed” kids and then abused, raped, molested, and / or murdered them and find out how many of them encountered the kids while volunteering on a school field trip or helping out with reading aloud in the classroom.

    Wait. None? Really? None. Boy. That’s amazing. Lots of trouble for a “what if” someone dreamed up out of nowhere.

    Now let’s figure out how many CONVICTED child molesters would have been “caught” in a fingerprinting or background check, i.e., these people were KNOWN offenders who PREY on KIDS specifically and were REGISTERED with the police and had a CRIMINAL RECORD.

    Wow. Again. None? None. All righty then. So there’s really no utility whatsoever to ferreting out people who are supposedly known to the authorities… so who can know which one of the parents, relatives, siblings, aunties, uncles or community members is a “kid-toucher”? You’d be better off holding a divining rod over their head and seeing which way it tilts.

    Ah, but that leads me to the REAL way to ferret out the boogeymen… those tests where they measure sexual arousal levels in people who are viewing images of children in various situations and states of undress. C’mon, let’s just cut to the chase, here. Forget about background checks, fingerprinting, or “does this person give me the creeps” kinds of failsafes, let’s just go right to the facts: is this person aroused sexually by kids? There’s only one way to know… either they offend, or they fail the “sexual stimulus test.”

    Can you imagine all the mommies getting a test like that? Have you finished laughing, or crying, or crapping yourself?

    Glad that in my community, at least, the schools don’t require anything but proof of insurance for those of us who drive someone else’s kids somewhere during school hours. I was asked to get a background check to volunteer as a helper in the youth area of my church, though, and was required to get a background check in order to teach a communication course to adults at the local rec centre as well.

  28. Suzanne September 6, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    From the point of view of Can we band together and do something about htis, not really. I emailed over a dozen schools asking for information about their background check policies. Of the few schools that replied they all have a different process. I learned that there are schools that are still reasonable enough that they only background check coaches/people who will be alone with the kids. I think that would be the best policy. We might be able to get some news media involved in pointing out what a waste of funds from school budgets these checks are but in the end I think it would only push the cost onto parents by the school who aren’t currently charging parents. I think it’s insane that schools are asking for this from volunteers.

  29. Warren September 6, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Lenore has a link to a story, about how some cities and states are now requiring background checks on men who drive ice cream trucks. So let’s take this to where we all know it is going. Fingerprint, dna samples and psyche evaluations on all men. Also gps chips implanted, that way if any man lingers near a playground, toy store or school can be arrested immediately, for being the male of our species.

  30. Ben September 6, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    This really is a shame. In short this note means that any parent who did volunteer training (obviously they’re not smart enough to look after kids or sell cupcakes without training) and does not want to be fingerprinted because of their attitude towards their privacy, have just been given a bait and switch.

    If they’re going to introduce new rules, only have them apply to new applicants. But stop the madness. From the money it costs to take and process fingerprints for all your volunteers you could improve the school cafeteria food for at least 6 months. That’s a gross underestimation by the way…

  31. Warren September 6, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    Isn’t this wonderful. All this money going for background checks and fingerprinting, yet how many schools lack funds for paper, pencils, textbooks and the like.

  32. Leslie September 6, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    Oh so glad that we homeschool our younger kids and our daughter goes to a small, private (and sane) high school. So sick of this stuff. Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.

  33. Montana Jim September 6, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    This is an invasion of privacy and tells people you are guilty until proven innocent. That is one of the many reasons why we want to home school. The system is severely messed up.

  34. Beth September 6, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    “I was told it’s about the fear of creating relationships in the classroom with students who you then prey on outside of the school.”

    BUT. No one cares if this parent-volunteer-predator spends evenings, weekends, and summers with a child with whom they have the closest relationship, their own! Goodness sakes, they might even spend time with nieces and nephews. What are we doing, allowing them to have relationships? Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?

  35. Vicki September 6, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    My 7 year old daughter took part in a community theater production this summer. She was the youngest member of a large diverse cast…college kids, married couples, grandparents, a doctor, a banker, a minister, a grocery store bag boy, teachers, a couple of men who I think were gay. The women and girls shared one large dressing room, the green room was co-ed. My daughter was everyone’s darling. They gave her a pet name, ran lines with her, and shared snacks with her. One of the college girls taught her to put on lipstick. Another lady helped her change costumes. In one scene a gentleman was supposed to pick her up and carry her on his shoulder. In another scene she sat on a grandmother’s lap. She developed a huge crush on the leading man and one night her kissed her on the cheek. She spent three hours a night with these people for six weeks, and NONE OF THEM HAD A BACKGROUND CHECK! I was thrilled that she got to know so many interesting people. She has very few male role models in her life, so I think this was an enriching experience for her.

  36. Donna September 6, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    “Not true in the US. Many people have been convinced the other options aren’t viable for them, and many people don’t want to change their lifestyles to make it viable, but everyone in the US has alternatives to a free local education.”

    Ah to think that the entire country is privileged and middle class. My daughter’s school is at least 50% free/reduced lunch and 25% non-English speakers. Then there are those are not sufficiently educated to teach others. Or those who don’t have the right temperment. Or single parents who must work. Or two-parent families that must both work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Or those who are sick or disabled and can’t provide consistent education to their children. The list is really endless of people for whom public education is the only option.

    Private school is rarely better as far as these regulations. And many of us have absolutely, positively no desire whatsoever to have homeschooled children. Even if I could arrange my life to homeschool, homeschooling is the complete and total antithesis of the childhood that I want for my child. I don’t knock it for people who want that lifestyle, but it is not gonna happen in my family.

    However, if fingerprints become required for volunteering at my child’s school, my volunteering days are over. I would also object to the policy being put in place and any school funds being used for it.

  37. Nic September 6, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Sounds like they’re not really that interested in genuine volunteers. A police check is one thing, but fingerprinting is over the top.

  38. Deborah Caldwell September 6, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Oh, what next? ! ? I couldn’t invest time in reading all of these but Paula’s was very funny. Obviously it is cheaper, easier, less stressful, and time saving to Home School. Only 12% of the children’s time each year is spent in the classroom anyway (50% of the days of the year, 50% of that time sleeping, 50% of time-left spent traveling to and fro and watching parents lose their time and sanity in these expensive investments into nothing). So. For ‘sports’ and ‘art’ and ‘music’ we get to use the VERY expensive buildings for half of the year? Let’s just go away. Pentamom, they’re not learning anything from our schools. We are teaching them. They come away with our accents and our food habits anyway. Of course, if we subject them to the public school mentality, at home, then that is what they will grow up with. Pfffft.

  39. Anna September 6, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    Interesting. New York State requires anyone who works in a school system to be fingerprinted and have a background check. It is not paid for my school funds, but by the individual being fingerprinted. I’m not sure if this applies to volunteers. Since Lenore lives in NYS, I’m surprised she hasn’t mentioned this.

  40. JLee September 6, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    from my local new station today http://www.cfnews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2012/9/5/school_district_bus_.html?cmpid=facebook

    School district: Bus safer than walking to school

    Volusia School administrators say that of the 44,000 students eligible to ride the bus, 18,000 chose not to ride the big yellow bus to school.

    By Saul Saenz, Reporter
    Last Updated: Wednesday, September 05, 2012

    DELAND —
    The Volusia County school district is trying to get more kids to ride the bus.

    Two of the 27 students struck by cars last year were eligible to ride the school bus and did not ride the bus to school.

    In fact, Volusia School administrators say that of the 44,000 students eligible to ride the bus, 18,000 chose not to ride the big yellow bus to school.

    Administrators say that’s a safety issue.

    School transportation director, Greg Akin says school buses are eight times safer to ride on than any other vehicle on the road.

    Akin says statistics show the bus is 20 times safer than a parent driving their child to school, and 50 times safer than the student driving or taking a fellow student to school.

    District administrators are now pushing to try to get students to ride the bus.

    The district acknowledges parents who don’t permit their children to ride the bus have their reasons.

    “Most of the parents feel that riding the school bus their children could be subjected to bullying or some of those other issues that are on the bus or teasing on the bus.” said Akins.

    The transportation director says Volusia School bus drivers are trained to deal with those situations.

  41. Ann in L.A. September 6, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    A friend reports that her kids school requires fingerprint scan at both pickup and drop-off. Crazy.

  42. Uly September 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    I never pretended to have great manners or social skills, so I’ll just go ahead and not pretend. (Sometimes I think I ought to try a little, but then when I do it generally doesn’t work anyway.) Amanda: That was one of the most ill-thought-out comments I’ve ever read here. And considering that just a few weeks ago we were all treated to Ms. “OMG MOLESTERS TOTES TARGET KIDS ON PLANES!!!!” that is definitely saying something.

    Homeschooling takes resources, time, education of your own, and at least one steady income. In a society where it’s hard to get by without two incomes, that’s asking a lot, even of people who want to homeschool which – newsflash! – not everybody does.

    Private school is no better than public once you adjust for parental income, and is less stringently regulated. And, of course, they don’t accept everybody nor hand out scholarships to everybody they accept.

  43. Sarah September 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    It is interesting that this district is willing (and apparently able) to pay for this fingerprinting. Covering their asses seems to be worth a lot to them, perhaps worth more than providing basic supplies for students.

    If something were to happen with a volunteer, it would be all over the news and there would be parents screaming, “WHY didn’t they know about this person’s history before they let them be around kids??!!” Everybody seemingly wants the school to take the blame for not knowing everything. So, the schools take preemptive measures, to the point of ridiculousness.

    When I was a student teacher, I did think it was a little strange that I had to pay for my finger-printing as well as for my internship (that is, I had to pay the school for essentially volunteering there). Now they’re doing this to parents! It makes me wonder if teachers are eventually going to have to pay to work in schools rather than actually earn money doing it!

  44. Stephen September 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    After reading through the comments on this page you have to wonder how long it will be before governments and legislators take the next logical step in their let’s-protect-children-at-all-cost policies: require all would-be parents to undergo fingerprinting, DNA profiling, background criminality checks, etc before they are allowed to (pro)create any potential abuse victims?

    Those who fail to comply would be presumed to be guilty of predator inclinations and be required to have CC cameras and microphones placed in their home and car(s) to prevent any “incidents”.

    Not that worse consequences cannot be imagined–such as a non-compliant mother being required to have an abortion (to save the child from future abuse). Or if a child does get born, have that child removed from the parents’ custody and either placed in a foster home or put up for adoption (by a couple judged to be more suitable).

  45. Lisa September 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    In Pasadena, CA they also make you get a TB test. Provided free of charge by the district of course.

  46. Deborah Caldwell September 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Uly, in my mind, Amanda Matthews’ comments were not ill thought out, but obviously your thoughts do not agree with her thoughts. In my experience (I’ve practiced home, public, and private), Homeschooling takes fewer resources, less time, and less stress than Schooling… children’s minds, bodies, and souls are safer (and I am not religiously affiliated), and local resources are available to help the so-called uneducated parent. School resources are still available if you are Homeschooling, but suddenly the family is in charge, not the overpaid Administrators. That’s all. It’s true. And, Uly, your social skills WILL improve if you pretend. Pretending is akin to trying. Good practice yields good results.

    Vicki, I liked your comments, too. They come from the less-insulated part of the world of experiences (learning).

  47. AW13 September 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    Re: Amanda’s comment: Home schooling does still use the resources of the public school district, though. The district I taught in was required to provide all resources for anyone who wished to home school. Thus, to say that home schooling is an alternative that is completely separate from the free public school system is incorrect.

    Also, I’d never heard of the TB blood test. My husband, who works in health care, always has a false positive on TB tests, and whenever his job requires a new test, he has to get an X-ray, which is kind of a pain. It’s good to know he has options.

    My thought on reading this – I don’t know what our school district requires for their volunteers. My husband and I both work in fields that require background checks, fingerprinting, mandatory reporter training, and continuing education to maintain our licenses. Heck, I AM a teacher. I wonder if we’ll have to go through the same scrutiny when our little guy reaches school age.

  48. Filioque September 6, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    And the kicker on all this? If some volunteer did end up molesting a child in a school, all the fingerprinting, background checks, etc. would count for exactly nothing in court. These “safety” efforts would not mitigate damages against a school at all.

  49. Captain America September 6, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    My son goes to parochial school, and this kind of stuff is the norm. PLUS three sessions or talks, for all school parent volunteers.

    This is fine with me as a parent, although I’m far less likely to volunteer. But the Catholic priest scandal made this an important issue for such schools.

  50. Dirge. September 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    When I was in high school, we had to complete a certain amount of hours of community service for some classes. I opted to volunteer at the religious ed program at my church after school. Do only adults have to get these checks, or do minor volunteers have to get checked as well. Because I doubt my parents or myself would have wanted to pay for that.

  51. Yan Seiner September 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Here in Oregon, if you work with kids you are a mandatory reporter, even as a volunteer. I consider this a good thing, and it requires some training. However, being a mandatory reporter does not imply having to pass any sort of background check or submit fingerprints.

    The funny thing is that I am a dual citizen of the US and a former communist nation; if anyone tried to get me to submit my fingerprints in my other country I’d tell them to stuff it, as would every other citizen there.

    It’s a sad thing that in the land of the free we are rushing headlong to shred our constitution while in former dictatorships the citizens there know their freedoms and refuse to surrender them. Maybe familiarity breeds contempt, I don’t know.

  52. Emily September 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    I’m going to tell a story that I’ve told before, but nevertheless, it’s a sign of the times. When I was in grade one, in late 1990 and early 1991, my class attended swimming lessons every week, for about ten weeks, at the rec centre a few blocks away from the school. One day in class, my teacher, who was female, told the class, “We need more male chaperones to supervise/help in the boys’ locker room, so could you please go home and ask your fathers, grandfathers, uncles, or older brothers if they could come?” That night, at dinner, I relayed my teacher’s request to my dad. The next day, he called the school, signed up to help, and accompanied us on the next swimming excursion, with no red tape involved.

  53. facie September 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    Captain America, that is my issue. Thanks to some priests molesting kids, we, the parents, who pay $$ to educate our kids (on top of the taxes we already pay) have to jump through hoops to volunteer. And without parent volunteers at my kid’s school, the kids would not have recess (among many other things) since no teachers do recess.

    My kid’s first year in her school, they asked parents to pay for the background checks. My husband refused and consequently he never volunteers and has not set foot in her classroom. (I taught Bible school at a different church, which paid for my checks). I *think* the school now covers the cost (we don’t do fingerprinting), but not sure. I also think these checks are “good” for five years, but if the schools are that worried about the checks, shouldn’t they be concerned that someone could commit a crime in the 4.99 years in between and then be around the kids?

    I would love to see some stats regarding how many background-check-cleared coaches, teachers, volunteers, etc., have molested kids. My guess is that there are way more cleared individuals hurting kids, than parents and grandparents who just want to help out at a kid’s school for a couple of hours.

  54. Jenny Islander September 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    @Amanda: I am a homeschool mom and a strong advocate of homeschooling, but I know that it is not feasible for everyone. To begin with, you have to have one parent able to stay home. You can cut your homeschool budget to hundreds of dollars a year if you do extensive online research; you can use community resources, such as your library or museum; if you’re lucky you might live in a school district that registers homeschool students as students who happen to be off campus so that you can use school district resources to educate your child. But if one parent is stuck in a job that pays peanuts, or too sick to work, or dead, or just plain not in the household–then there is no homeschool teacher and there is no homeschool.

    Back on the main topic: Background checks have gone too far. I think they should be restricted to volunteers who might conceivably be with children without another adult present and to volunteers who might be handling portable items with high resale value and/or money–because, let’s not forget, petty thieves are much more common than child molesters. And even so, a background check will only catch people with a previous conviction. Most child molesters, AFAIK, restrict their crimes to family members . . . and never go to court for it.

  55. Sarah September 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Actually, Jenny Islander, I also homeschool and one of my good friends is a single working mother – and she homeschools. She works hard and she gets tired but it’s important to her and so she makes it work. Her kids are great kids and very intelligent and great independent learners – probably because they can’t always be spoonfed everything. So it CAN work if you really want it to. 🙂

  56. Emma September 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    I take issue with those who proclaim the working poor cannot homeschool. I work 8-10 hours a day and I am considered the “working poor” according to national guidelines. However, I know how to budget and live frugally and so we do not accept assistance – even though it would make life easier. I am a single mother with 4 children and I homeschool. There is an EXCELLENT curriculum out there called the Robinson curriculum. It was developed by Dr. Robinson, who became a single father after his wife passed away unexpectantly. It costs $175 for ALL 12 years of instruction. It comes with 22 CDs and the only thing you need is a printer and to purchase a math book each year. That’s it. And it’s an academically excellent program. All I have is a high school education and ALL of my kids have surpassed me – though I do study on the side to try to keep up. 😉 We’ve been using it since the beginning and my children are now 13, 15, and 17. The 17 year old got a 2140 on his SATs and has been attending college for a year now with a 4.0 GPA. The other two are set to follow in his footsteps. The secret to a single working mother with a high school education being able to do this? The Robinson curriculum is SELF TAUGHT. Once the child can read they teach themselves – creating independent, responsible, self motivated learners. I find public school very anti free range and I didn’t want that for my kids. I wanted them to be responsible and take charge of their own education. They work hard, study hard, do apprenticeships, get themselves where they need/want to be, and have plenty of time to just be kids. They don’t need me or a teacher hovering over them spoon feeding them and imposing ridiculous rules. I spend about 15 minutes a day in teaching/reviewing what they have done. That’s it. And they are going to have a better life than me because they are highly educated thanks to this curriculum.

  57. Jeff September 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Good for you, Emma! Too many people in this world, (and even on this forum), claim that something can’t be done because you’re too poor, don’y have enough time, not educated enough, blah blah blah. The fact is you can do ANYTHING if you put your mind to it. In a world that likes to makes excuses, I make certain I teach this to my kids daily. I also agree that homeschooling is the most free range choice out there IF done correctly. (It can also be the opposite, when not.) Kudos to you for showing others the old saying, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

  58. Charles September 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Are we having more posts deleted? I’m sensing another gap….who is Emma?

  59. Jeff September 9, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    There was a great post on here from a single working mom named Emma who has nothing more than a high school degree and is low income and is still successfully homeschooling her kids using this program called Robinson curriculum, which is incredibly cheap and is designed for kids to become independent learners and teach themselves. Her kids are scoring high on SATs and getting 4.0 at college. They are hard workers and independent and she pointed out they didn’t need to spoonfed by her or any other teacher because they could be entrusted to learn independently and they are better off for it than most kids. For some reason – probably site glitches it isn’t showing up anymore. My post was complimenting her determination to give her kids a better life because there’s nothing you can’t do, no matter who tells you it is impossible.

  60. Buffy September 9, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    I think it’s too bad that this comment section has now started dissing parents who don’t/can’t/don’t want to homeschool. I am determined to give my kids a great life (not sure about “a better life”…better than what, exactly?), but that doesn’t necessarily mean I shouldn’t send them to public school. And I don’t think that parents who use public schools need to be villified, and I don’t think that’s what free range is all about.

  61. Donna September 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    Homeschooling children as a single parent absolutely can work if you work from home or have (a) kids old enough to be unsupervised while you are at work, (b) have some sort of free childcare for while you are at work or (c) make a lot of money and can afford a nanny to care for your children while you are at work. Many single.parents don’t fit the criteria.

    Nobody said that some people can’t homeschool or even that some single parents can’t. The issue was a couple people stating that every single person in the US has the option to homeschool. That is not only a ridiculous statement but is completely ignorant of reality.

  62. Jeff September 10, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    @Donna, And I still say that every person who WANTS to homeschool has the option. Nothing in this life is impossible. If you want something bad enough, you work hard and get it. Ir’s what this country was founded on. There are always a few exceptions to this philosophy, but for the most part anyone can work hard and get anything. And many single working mothers have to pay for childcare – not many places you can find to watch a 2 year old for free. Just because the child turns 5 and now qualifies for free care, doesn’t mean you HAVE to use it.

    @Buffy, Of course many parents who don’t want to homeschool. That is fine and their choice. I don’t think I’ve read any comments that state that ALL parents should homeschhool. Simply that if you want to, and are willing to work hard and make sacrifices, you CAN.

  63. Buffy September 10, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    @Jeff, your last sentence proves exactly my point; that apparently anyone who doesn’t home school doesn’t want to, isn’t willing to work hard, and isn’t willing to make sacrifices.

    You saying “that is fine and their choice” doesn’t line up AT ALL with your assessment of their work ethic and willingness to sacrifice. You know nothing about anyone else’s work ethic or sacrifices and have no right to make assumptions about them.

  64. SaraLu September 10, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    Good for you Jeff! You work hard. You make sacrifices. You want to give your children a better life.

    We get it. The rest of us are just big fat lazy losers who don’t love their children enough to keep them out of public school.

  65. Donna September 10, 2012 at 3:39 am #

    I love self-righteous middle class people without a clue that there is a world outside that very narrow parameter. Often when I read this blog, I feel that society is becoming more and more hopeless. Sometimes it is from the articles Lenore posts. And sometimes it is from the oh so enlightened commenters.

  66. Donna September 10, 2012 at 4:28 am #

    And who is making the sacrifice? Sure as a single parent, I CAN home school my kid. What a lonely existence for the kid. Hanging out alone or going places by himself all day. Because I still have to work every day. I’m not going to be an intricate part of the homeschooling network since I’m at work when they meet. I’m not available to take him places and do things from 7:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday. I’m sure there are some kids who enjoy this but being homeschooled by working parents sounds very lonely to me.

  67. Jeff September 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Ha! For your information Buffy and Donna, I don’t even homeschool! My kids go to the local neighborhood school! LOL You two obviously missed the point of my statement. I happen to be an open minded parent who thinks homeschooling is great. I have friends who homeschool and they have great kids. It’s not for our family but we’re happy with our current school, that happens to be more free range than most. I that should change, we’d be open to it. The point of my post – I’ll say it again- is that NOBODY should limit themselves! If you want something bad enough, you should go for it! Don’t let anyone tell you that any particular goal is out of reach because of any reason. And yes, we are friends with a low income working single mother who homeschools! She found a great network of homeschoolers in our area and her kids are far from lonely and very happy and successful in their education and very well socialized with all age groups. I see it work and I know it can. But she WANTS to. Buffy and Donna, you two obviously don;t want to and like I said, THAT’s OK. It’s not a high priority for your family and you are happy in your situation, just like we are in ours. But I know it CAN work and it does! You need to understand that the statement that everyone CAN homeschool if they really WANT to do does not equal everybody SHOULD homeschool. I never said that and it’s obviously coming from your own insecurities. You two need to do what YOU feel is best in your lives and for your own kids. And please don’t let society or anyone else ever set limits on what you can do. Have a lovely day, ladies. 🙂

  68. Sarah September 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Great post, Jeff. I never understood why a couple of people were jumping to the conclusion that because you said everyone should have the option of homeschool you meant everyone should homeschool. I was wondering how they were getting that. Glad you clarified for them. 😉 We choose to homeschool because our school is very anti free range. They have excessive rules like kids can’t leave the school unless accompanied by a registered adult, background checks and fingerprinting for parent volunteers, limits on what is acceptable on the playground, etc. We didn’t want that for our kids so we homeschool and they live a very happy free range, independent life. My sister, however, lives in a school district that is still very free range and so she’s happy with her kids being there. We can choose something without feeling that everybody needs to make the same choice. But everyone who wants the option should be able to figure out a way to get it and we should support them and not tell them, “Well you’re a low income single parent so of course your only option is public school, even if it’s a lousy anti free range one.”

  69. Lauren September 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    I had to be fingerprinted (for free, at least) at the venerable age of 19, along with several parents, to help out with my mother’s (the teacher’s) weekend trip with about 50 middle schoolers, and I thought THAT was a bit ridiculous. 7th graders are hardly helpless – I’d like to see any unscrupulous character try and make off with any of the kids I was supervising; that would be quite entertaining and probably end in a hospital visit (and not for the kid).

    As Mollie said above – what a waste of time and money, with the benefit ONLY existing if they do happen to catch someone of questionable character attempting to volunteer! I do want to know, has that ever actually happened? Has an ACTUAL predator ever been caught this way?

  70. Sandra September 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    I’m a single working mom and I homeschool. I make a little over 3o thousand a year, as well, so definitely not wealthy. I was unhappy with the local public school. They were very anti free range and I wanted something different for my kids. So I joined the local homeschool group and got know some families. It turns out many homeschooling families are making financial sacrifices so that one parent can stay home. So when I explained my situation and that I would have to find a homeschool/free range friendly sitter during working hours for my then 6 and 8 year olds, I got several offers from families that homeschool! I chose a great family that had similar values and parenting philosophies as me. Now she helps me out and I help her family out with a little extra financial assistance. My kids understood from day one that their education was their responsibility and they are great little independent workers. They also participate in any group learning this mother does with her kids. They go on field trips, have group activities, and participate in a weekly coop. I participate and help them get to where they need to be whenever I can and I spend time each evening/weekend teaching them new concepts, helping them with anything they need help with, reading aloud to them, and just enjoying family time fun. We are so much happier now and I definitely don’t consider my kids lonely. We just had to think outside the box and look for a nontraditional approach.

  71. Buffy September 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    @Jeff, I don’t have any issues, I just resent being told I’m not a hard worker and don’t sacrifice for my children if I don’t make the choices you would have me make.
    I’m glad your choices work for you, and you should respect that everyone else’s work for them, instead of making passive-aggressive digs like ” .. if you want to, and are willing to work hard and make sacrifices, you CAN.”

  72. Jeff September 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    BUFFY – READ MY POST. I really could not have been clearer and you are making up stuff to be upset and argue about. But I will try to be clear ONE MORE TIME. Again:


    ONLY IF YOU WANT TO HOMESCHOOL SHOULD YOU DO IT AND YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO MAKE THAT CHOICE IF YOU WANT TO. YOU SHOULD NOT LET ANYONE OR ANYTHING STAND IN YOUR WAY OF WHATEVER GOAL YOU SET FOR YOURSELF. THIS GOES FOR ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE. How is that passive aggressive and saying you aren’t choosing my way? (If I’m correct, both of our kids attend public school which = the SAME choice.) Are you even reading my posts? IT’S YOUR CHOICE. No one is telling you what choice to make. You make whatever choice you want to make for your own family in whatever aspect of your life. When did anyone say you should homeschool? I don’t even homeschool myself! I made that perfectly clear. Maybe you skimmed my remark and didn’t read the whole thing? But since when is saying that if a person works hard they can accomplish anything a bad thing? I was brought up on that as were most people of past generations. If you want to be a scientist, you work and study hard. If you want to own your own home, you save and make sacrifices and work hard. Is this really what you consider to be bad advice?

  73. David September 10, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Buffy – ??????

    Did you even read Jeff’s post? (The one right before the one you posted last.) If you did you’d see your argument makes NO sense. I also happen to be a believer in the mentality of, “If there’s a will there’s a way.” I wish more people believed this way.

  74. Donna September 11, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Jeff –

    I never said anything negative about homeschooling. Nor do I believe that anyone said that everyone should homeschool (actually one person did which is why the homeschooling topic started).

    I have a real problem with this insistence by several on this site that EVERYONE can homeschool (or do anything) if they just try hard enough. I don’t doubt that SOME people in every walk of life can make it happen. But I also understand that MANY people who would like to simply cannot.

    I deal with people daily who have few options in life. Some made choices years ago that took away their options, but until time travel is possible, they are still out of options now. Others had no options to start with. That doesn’t mean that these people don’t have the same dreams and wants as the rest of us.

    I get very annoyed with the lack of realization that, for millions of people in the US, options that we take for granted simply don’t exist. It is not a matter of just working hard enough or just wanting hard enough. It is a matter of people who have never really had to struggle much for anything in life not understanding that for some daily life is a struggle.

    Not everyone who wants to homeschool is going to be able to find affordable childcare to make it possible. Not everyone who wants to homeschool is going to be able to squeeze it into their day successfully for everyone. Not everyone who wants to homeschool is going to be mentally or temperamentally suited for doing so. Repeatedly insisting that they are simply not working hard enough or not sacrificing enough is counterproductive and cruel.

  75. Jeff September 11, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    ” It is a matter of people who have never really had to struggle much for anything in life not understanding that for some daily life is a struggle.”

    I do understand. My father dies when I was four, leaving my mother with three small children (4, 2, and an infant) to care for alone. She had no high school degree and could barely read on a 1st grade level. We became homeless when I was 5. But she is a very determined woman and a hard worker. She always remained cheerful and positive and told us daily that we an do anything we put our minds to. Her dream was to have a nice little home in a nice little neighborhood with a white picket fence. She worked HARD and struggled and sacrificed for the next few years. She worked from home the majority of the time because she felt a mother should be with her small children and we only had assistance the first year after becoming homeless. She got off as soon as it was possibly feasible because she was against handouts. She saved her pennies, was always looking for odd jobs to help make ends meet outside of her regular job, searched and found someone she could do sewing for who would in exchange teach her to read, and got her GED. All the while she kept telling us – there’s nothing you can’t do in life if you’re willing to work hard. By the time I turned 10, we bought our first home – in a nice little neighborhood with a green picket fence which she promptly had us paint white. 🙂 At that point she began taking online classes and got her degree. So I do feel feel passionately about following your dreams because it’s how I was raised and I saw first hand how you can go from nothing to achieving your dream. My mother had a lot going against her and she still was able to achieve her dream. I’m certainly not trying to be cruel to anyone and sorry if I came across that way. I just feel passionately about this particular topic because I lived it first hand.

  76. Jeff September 11, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    Oh, I should probably add in that I am mostly speaking of law abiding citizens. If a man went out and molested a small girl and was arrested he certainly could not realize his dream of one day being a second grade teacher. So yes, there are some choices we can make that will prohibit us from realizing our dreams. But for the majority of the population, I would say nothing is completely impossible.

  77. Donna September 11, 2012 at 2:58 am #

    Certainly, some people can pull themselves up from the worst positions imaginable. There is a reason we find those people notable. Assuming that those who don’t don’t because they didn’t work hard enough or sacrifice enough is wrong.

    The vast majority of the people that I work with every day have mental abilities ranging from average to an adult with the mind of a 6 year old. And most of them are further brought down by environments that don’t even allow them to reach their somewhat limited full potential. Some make decent livings (although that number is decreasing), but they are not going to be doctors and engineers no matter how much they dream and how hard they work (and do any of us want brain surgery performed by or drive over a bridge designed by someone with below average intelligence?). They are not going to get stellar grades in school or scholarships to go to college. Very few are able to successfully run their own businesses. Decision-making and high-level critical thinking is not common. Basic things that are simple to understand to me take much time and several attempts to fully explain to them.

    And this doesn’t include those with mental illness or physical limitations. And this is only people who have run ins with the criminal justice system and not the millions of others who don’t.

    The fact is that anyone can dream anything. Succeeding requires a certain amount of intelligence that many simply don’t have. Average really isn’t that smart. My guess is, based on the content of the writing, most here are well above average, though we tend to think of ourselves as average because like mixes with like and we are average among our peers.

    Succeeding also requires a certain amount of drive. Some drive is innate but it can certainly be beaten out of you living in subpar environments. The people that succeed generally have strong mentors to support them or have beyond normal internal motivation.

  78. pentamom September 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Yes, I never meant to say that no poor people or single parents could homeschool.

    My point was that there are people too poor, or single and without the necessary time, energy, support, education, emotional endurance, and/or intelligence, to do so.

    It is fantasy to think it is all a matter of will.

    I absolutely DO believe there are people in all kinds of circumstances who could homeschool if they made choices they are unwilling, but not unable, to make. However, that does not work for everyone. Not everyone has the same opportunities as others in similar circumstances. And making those choices might, in some cases, enable the person to homeschool, but at some other cost to the child and/or family that makes it unwise.

  79. Beth September 12, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Well, I know that I for one could not home school…no matter how hard I worked or how many sacrifices I made. I don’t have the “patience” gene…at all! Nor am I intelligent in certain subject areas, such as history.

    Plus, I have a job that energizes and fulfills me, and provides me an outlet that actually makes me a better parent. I would rather have my kids educated by someone who feels that way about teaching, than a mom who would hate and resent it every second.

  80. Tsu Dho Nimh September 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I was fingerprinted years ago – to work in a county hospital with lots of drugs around – but that isn’t good enough for the local schools. They need a fresh set.

    They apparently think fingerprints change over time.