Loose ends
Axe wielding maniacs

Enough of this joy-filled optomism, let's get to complaining

Okay, so you public school veterans probably knew this was coming, right? And I'm sorry, because what follows is a blow-by-blow account of people being obdurate, and who needs more of that in their lives? And yet, I am a giver, and today this is what I have to give.

Let's look back a few weeks, to back-to-school night. As...much fun as that was, we discovered that evening that Tre had not been assigned to a homeroom. Indeed, although he was clearly enrolled SOMEWHERE in the school, he had not been assigned to any classes. "But don't worry! We're having this problem with a few students! We'll get him in a homeroom and his teacher will call you next week and you can set up an appointment to meet then." Fine. And so we waited.

One week and one day later, I called the school to point out that classes would be starting in less than a week and lo, still Tre had no homeroom. "But that's okay!" I was assured, "Because we still have some students like that [at this point it occurred to me that they were speaking about this registration process as though it were being inflicted upon them by some outside, whimsical force. The Coyote Registrar, or something], and so when your son arrives next week, he will go into the gym, and his name will be on a list on the wall, and someone will help him find where he needs to go."

Oh, I thought. Oh good. I have complete confidence in that plan and may I just say how pleased I am to have finally handed over my son's education to professionals such as yourselves? It is a pleasure to watch such efficiency in action.

What I said was, "Great, thanks, bye."

And then the first day came, and I shoved my son out of the car and into the dog-eat-dog world of public education, and drove away, praying that the whimsy of the Coyote Registrar would be kind.

When I picked him up, I found that yes, he had a homeroom, and a full schedule. The only hitch in said schedule was that he was in Algebra I. And how could they possibly know that he'd already finished Algebra I, when we'd only had two specific conversations with the principal about it, and garnered several promises that he wouldn't have to re-take it, and he'd gone in for a specific math placement test and it was on his transcripts? Silly me. Hahaha!

I started fussing about calling and getting that changed, and Tre assured me that it was fine, he had handled it and talked to his teacher, and his teacher was going to talk to the principal, and all would be right soon.

(Are you enjoying this story as much as I am? Are you wishing for those halcyon days when I tediously described Sophia's sleep habits?)

After a few days of THAT, Tre reported that his teacher now was saying that if he wanted to be transferred into Geometry then he should be in all honors classes. This was something of a cold-knife-in-my-heart moment, because I wanted him to avoid honors classes until he was used to the work load and style of this school, but Tre was completely thrilled at the idea, insisting that his current classes were pretty boring.

Fine. FINE. I don't suppose there's any way to say NO HONORS CLASSES FOR YOU, YOUNG MAN and retain any "I want the best for you" cred. So FINE. Not that, I might point out here, anyone was ASKING ME.

But then things kept dragging along in this limbo for days. His classes weren't being changed, and his teacher kept saying they would be. I was okay with either - he could stay where he was (except for Algebra), or he could switch to the new classes, but if he was going, he needed to go. School had been in session for over a week, and it's not like he can afford to get behind in his classes. They're serious about things around there. There is no D grade. Anything below 70% is FAILING.

Finally, on Friday, I called the principal. I gave myself many kudos for staying out of their way as long as was possibly reasonable. When I spoke to him, I was understanding and courteous. All I wanted to know was what the plan was.

"Yes, well," he said, sounding VERY STERN, "I was taking care of that. I was just waiting to hear back from all his teachers to see if he would be appropriate for honors. I will be calling him into the office this afternoon to give him his new schedule."

And um. Okay. That's fine, and thank you. But do you know what makes me crazy about that? His teachers? The authorities whose word was needed to authorize this jump? They have had him in their classes for ONE WEEK AND TWO DAYS. I, on the other hand, have taught this child for TEN YEARS. And not only does it not seem to MATTER what my opinion might be, it's sort of ANNOYING that I should question them and their seven days of wisdom and insight on my child.

I do not want to have an adversarial relationship with the school. I don't see any reason we should. But after one week and two days of dealing with them, I sort of want to scream at people. And I'm pretty sure that's not helpful.

When I picked Tre up Friday afternoon, he was delighted to show me his NEW SCHEDULE! Geometry! Honors English! The whole thing, just as promised! He'd spent the last two periods in his new classes, and he could not have been happier. Hearty congratulations were passed all around, and we went directly to the pool.

When we got home that night, there was a message on the phone. Clay listened to it while I played kitchen pin-ball with several tired and hungry children who smelled like chlorine. Clay punched the button to turn off the phone and gave me a look.

"Hey, that was Tre's school. Guess what? Apparently he was absent today, and we need to call them."


Something tells me this might be a very long year.




Just remember your Julian of Norwich: All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

(And if not, you'll probably get a phone call about it.)


Wow. This is probably because, what, the attendance schedule is liked to his OLD schedule?

That's awe-inspiring, really.


You want to talk about starting out with an adversarial relationship? On my daughter's first day of school in kindergarten, they lost her. LOST HER. Now, I don't really speak up much. In fact, if my own hair were on fire I might possibly ask, if you looked completely satiated, if maybe you weren't going to finish that last sip of water, would you consider maybe possibly using part of it to douse my flaming head? No? That's ok. But they misplaced my baby so adversarial it got.

The point is, in theory they want what is best for all of the children but no doubt not as badly as each parent does. And their jobs consist of a lot more than just educating unfortunately. So I say be a squeaky wheel. Make them want you to go away.


*Ring*Ring* "Hi, this is Sam S's mom. She will not be at school today because she is throwing up stuff. It's pink. Bye."

Two hours later my phone would ring, I would answer, and the voice on the other end would say, "We noticed your daughter is absent today. Would you like to tell us why?"

Wash. Rinse. Repeat about 17 more times through the course of your child's education.

Wait, was I supposed to say something to make you feel better? My bad.


This kind of thing makes me so crazy. And I hate the stern "I was JUST doing that!" voice, especially when one suspects that if one hadn't called, it would NOT have been done.

Amma Always

When something is really wrong, like he accidentally broke his arm and can't write, they WON'T call you. They'll make him feel bad for not cooperating.

I agree with the above comment. Be the squeaky wheel. Make sure, in a nice way, of course, that they don't want to see you. And bring Sophia. She is a great help in everything. Never assume they are doing the right thing, but always assume that, with encouragement, they can.

These people work at this job for a living, and many of them are living for the paycheck. You will quickly know which ones are there because they love teaching lively hearts and minds. Tre will tell you. And he will be right.

Oh dear. I sound like an enraged Amma.


Or, you can show up at Abigail's first day of a non-charter school middle school, asking gently why, if we're already paying 9K per child in Colorado for public school, they needed an extra $200 from me? Then you get to watch a bunch of IQs-no-greater than-a-toaster-type women (who, I am sorry to write, could never make it in a non-tenure job) get enraged that you would dare ask why the Emperor had no clothes! They only get 7K per kid for crying out loud! Impossible to educate anybody on that chintzy budget! And for goodness sake, DO NOT LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN at all the school admin types making 3X what they could ever make in the private sector. I'll say it again- the minute we started putting Teachers on a pedestal we were doomed. These can’t-be-questioned-because-we-are-the-professionals/union-protected “Teachers” largely did not have to take anything more demanding in college than “educational theory”- for most of them, it was the only job they could get.

*jumps off soap box for the moment*


Oh you just described my experience with my oldest at public school. Except it was kindergarten. So that's when I decided to homeschool! Good luck!!

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