2 Items in the Local Fish Wrap This Morning…

…caught my eye. At first glance they seem markedly dissimilar but, paired with a piece of paper found on our doorstep, therein lies one single recurring theme. The first is about a young lady whose sweet, radiant, 16 year old face beams alongside the soulless print noting the circumstances of her tragic death.

The second was an opinion piece by David Broder mentioning the “discussion about the shortcomings in American high schools that had occupied the nation’s governors” in Washington the previous weekend. That gathering addressed the alarming drop-out rate and functional illiteracy that is becoming the product of a high school education. The third piece of the pie was a cheerful blue piece of paper schmushed into the space ‘twixt our door and it’s jamb. From the principal and curriculum coordinator of our local elementary school (all emphasis her’s ~ names changed, etc.):
Dear Parents,

We really need your help! Our tardy list is getting bigger each day. Your child’s day begins at 8:00. Students should begin arriivng at school by 7:45 in order to prepare for the day. Our teachers are ready to begin teaching at 8:05. We cannot teach your children if they are not here. When your child comes in late, all activities have to stop until your child is oriented to the day’s activities.
It is important for your child to be in class on time each day. You can help your child by getting them to school on time. We are an A+ school because our parents do their part and send their children to school on time ready to learn.
Be part of our A+ team. Children and learning come first at Hogwarts Elementary.

Mrs. Hogwarts

Not one thing to do with the other, at first glance, right? But I’m clairvoyant, an all knowing horse whisperer and animal pyschic, who sees a pervasive social evil casting it’s ugly tentacles. It’s called ‘adults who can’t be bothered or just don’t give a shit‘ syndrome. (Insert collective gasp! from riveted audience members. Then an anguished ‘say it ain’t so!!) Oh yeah, it is.
The first; that sweet, now dead, young thing. 16 years old. Sounds like your typical H.S. tragedy until you play connect the dots. I asked Major Dad ‘she died on I-10 in Lake City! Isn’t that, like, a gazillion miles away from here?’ The long and short of it? She, at 16, could have only had that precious little piece of paper goods from the DMV for a few short months and yet was allowed by her caregivers, the people in charge of her life, to drive BY HERSELF to Melbourne FL to pick up her now deceased boyfriend. As the crow flies, from Pensacola, a round trip of over 1050 miles, on some of the most dangerous interstate in the country. Jesus. What a waste.
Now you see how it all comes together? Parents have to have a note sent home reminding them it’s important to get their child to school and, God forbid, on time? When I first read it, in all it’s infantile simplicity of tone, I thought ‘damn! That’s pretty freakin’ insulting!’ Actually though, it’s pretty freakin’ insulting to the taxpayers who fund school systems. And the educators who, bless their little pointy heads, sit there every day. Slogging through mess that a little discipline at home would cure and constantly under fire because they can’t be pyschologists, EMTs, authority figures, Miss Manners and Dr. Rosemond and still teach to the test that decides if they’re worthy at all.
I am sick to death of all the moaning and groaning about he’s out of control, she don’t listen to me, how do you handle a 7 year old…It starts young and it starts with limits and it starts with realizing that your responsibility as a parent, whether you like it or not, is to produce the best educated, well mannered citizen you can. Giving your 16 yr old the keys for a thousand mile solo trip isn’t love. Letting your six year old dictate his bedtime and eating habits isn’t love. Allowing your 10th grader to read ‘Little Miss Spider’ for his English book report isn’t love. Giving the rest of the world excuses for your laziness isn’t love. And when that over indulged, under-educated child attempts to make change when the Hardee’s computerized cash register sh*ts out, or he/she’s so out of control behaviour-wise that people flee at his/her coming, we all pay. ‘Just say no’ isn’t just for drugs anymore.

11 Responses to “2 Items in the Local Fish Wrap This Morning…”

  1. Mr. Bingley says:

    Dang, lemme guess…you just had a burfday, you’re feeling old and cranky. Am I warm?

  2. The Real JeffS says:

    Amen, THS.

  3. JeffS, I tank you (in the Irish, not the Sgrena, sense.)

  4. JimSpot says:

    Parental (GASP!) Responsibility?

    Just READ. No comments from me.. it doesn’t need any….

  5. NJ Sue says:

    Yes, parental discipline and judgment are the missing ingredients. However, I also feel that as a society we allow teenagers too much freedom and safety and not enough responsibility. I wish our economy had jobs for 16-year-olds who didn’t want to sit in school and ruin it for those who do want to be there. I’ d like to return to the idea of “a basic eighth-grade education” that really meant something (i.e. basic literacy). We treat our high-school-age kids like pets. We pamper them, yet they have no role to play in society. And we allow them to do stupid things like drive 1000 miles to pick up boyfriends.

  6. Mr. Bingley says:

    Well, I can think of a certain set of parents that ain’t allowing their 16-year-old to go pick up no steenkin’ botfriend.
    Besides, she’s not allowed to have one until she’s 30.

  7. Well, aren’t you two enlightened and modern examples of parenting fascists at their finest. Free the Bunny! Free the Bunny!

  8. Mr. Bingley says:

    Hmmm, I sense another t-shirt…

  9. Nightfly says:

    That’s a good connection, Ms. Sister. Reminds me of my brief time as an office flack in a Jersey HS. The school policy was strict – automatic detention for being late to homeroom. If the bell rang before you were sitting you had to go immediately to the attendance office, where yours truly filled out a naughty slip for you.
    Now, why couldn’t the homeroom teachers be allowed to handle this on a case-by-case basis? Beats me. The only way to be excused for lateness was either from On High (an administrator could call, for example, and tell me that a bus was late or something), or if you got signed in by a parent.
    To sum up – the admin. doesn’t trust the teachers to make decisions, doesn’t trust the kids to act like adults, and forces Mommy and Daddy to shepherd the child to and from the school. And the office flack? Eh. Heaven forbid that he make any judgement calls.
    I quit by February.

  10. Mr. Bingley says:

    Hmmm, Nightfly…why do I keep hearing Sting singing “Don’t stand so close to me…”

  11. And you, Bingster, are starting to hmmm more than a Skeksis

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