Monday, October 6, 2008

on three day suspensions.

There are many different, disparate threads running in here, so have some patience until the end.

Via CNN, I saw this story about 30 students getting suspended in one day for wearing hoodies. They changed the dress code so that hoodies are banned. In Ohio. Where it gets cold. Like, really cold. So, while we could stand here and argue the merits or changing the dress code to a a standard dress idea, like Capshaw had and as I understand the idea at Akron North High was to encapsulate, I've already started that a while ago and this is not that place where I'll do it again.

So, here we have article one on what gets a three day suspension.

Article two comes a little closer to home (literally) where a student has been suspended from Harrison Middle School for not tucking in her shirt. I remember learning when I started at my school that they required the kids to tuck in their shirts the year before I got there and thinking to myself, at that time, "Wow. This is what they're focusing on." It's sad for me to see that there are still places that think this is a battle worth fighting. It's also worth noting that, to date, 18 students have been suspended from this school (for three days apiece) for this infraction.


When I thought a student of mine had come to class stoned last year, I held a grudge against her that still gets brought up when we talk. She saw how disappointed I was, and it strengthened our relationship. She knew that it was a sign that I truly cared about her, not just some bullshit teacher-talk that says, "I say I don't want you to do drugs, but if you do, I won't mind. Or notice."

Why do I bring this up?

I recently had a student come to class so messed up that they (it's time to play the pronoun game again! I'm not sure of how much I really should be talking about this, so it'll remain gender-neutral for now) passed out, first in the bathroom, then on the floor, but not before vomiting extensively. This all occurred over the space of about thirty minutes, scaring the security officer of the school so badly that the school called an ambulance. They subsequently carted the kid away to the hospital and I got told that the kid was kept overnight, and that they were worried the kid has alcohol poisoning. (I'm not sure if it turned out they did?) The period that this kid is in was (obviously) completely ruined because many of the kids were perfectly aware of what was going on and I was kinda sorta busy trying to maintain the innocence of those who didn't, while also trying to keep up some faux-semblance of order in a classroom.

The punishment for this student for disrupting my class, breaking the law, and generally making me feel like an asshole for having this happen?

3 days out of school suspension. The same as the other juvenile vigilantes in the above cases. Yep.

This is exactly the reason why our public school system is failing. (And I'm of the firm belief that it is.) We're fighting all the wrong battles. There are seriously brilliant teachers wasting away in the public school system (and don't get it twisted, I'm not talking about myself), drowning under the mountains of paperwork they have to fill out, hollowed out by the endless meetings, etc. Their good ideas and fighting against the system only get them so far. It's frustrating for me to see this extreme double standard and the effects that it has upon our schools and, to be honest, our culture as a whole. Let's fix it.

As a bonus ending note, I'd like to add that this experience came but a couple days after we had our state-mandated training on what constitutes an inappropriate relationship with students. I'm fairly certain that by asking this student who just went through this, "Is everything's all right at home?" I'm violating those rules.

1 comment:

Mindy said...

Holy hell. I don't have much other legitimate and worthwhile commentary to add. It's just - it boggles my mind how backwards ass our education system is on these kinds of issues.

I've worked a lil bit in the ed system, and now in an educational services building for three years. So, I kinda feel you on the arbitrary 1940's rules that get passed down by the administration.

We have to wear panty hose. Seriously.

And trying to institute change in these institutions? INSANELY frustrating. Maximum effort to gain an inch of ground.


Our education system (along with every other system propping up this dying nation) needs a serious reboot. Education System 2.0.

Much Love, Mindy C