Observations by Key Monroe~~Home of Right Opinions, Cynical Viewpoints, and TMI in Hefty Doses
|E-mail: keymonroe [at] alltel [dot] net

January 07, 2005

The No Child Left Behind Act

...still has a few kinks to iron out. It is good. The goals are good. The intent is good.

Still. Let's let some of the schools make a judgment call or two.

For example, this morning, 9AM, the phone rang at my house, and the caller ID said GYM:

GYM: Mrs. Monroe?

ME: Yes?

GYM: This is Mr. so-and-so, your daughter's gym teacher. We are dividing up names of parents to call regarding tardies.

ME: Uh-huh...

GYM: According to The No Child Left Behind Act, we must call parents when I child has more than 5 tardies in one academic year.

ME: Yes, I was so informed when she hit nine tardies back in November.

GYM: Well, now she has thirteen, and well [sheepishly], we have to call. We also have to tell you that excessive tardies can seriously hamper the educational progress of your child....

ME: Yeah, okay, thanks.

She can have twenty absences a year, she can't have more than five tardies? She's had less than three per month, and it's been a matter of her getting there at 8 instead of 7:50, unless she's had an appointment.

Not a bad idea, not at all, but it needs some tweaking. I have my shit together, as do most of the parents at my daughter's school, and the teachers realize this. They wasted their day, and I don't enjoy being scolded.

And make no mistake, that WAS the intent of the phone call. Had it been an eighth grader, it would have been a heads up. Third grade? It's a scolding, and it's ridiculous, particularly given that I am a parent of an advanced, straight A student, who has missed maybe two days of school this academic year.

Maybe I have no basis for my agitation, but given my knowledge of unpunished sorriness, I seriously feel the effort misdirected. The teachers should be allowed to selectively call parents, rather than being forced into an across the board sweep.

(I moved the "Update" into the extended entry. It is an angry, reactive rant that lacks cohesion with the point of the story. That point being -for those who missed it- that although I do not encourage allowing tardiness to go unpunished at any age, I disagree with federal legislature that mandates local policy changes across the board rather than where needed. In many areas, as mine as well as the town in the linked article, it's not only fixing something that ain't broke, it's generating more bureaucratic bullshit. I'm also guessing that this program is almost as expensive as it is annoying.)

Update: The link people. Consider that. The conversation was merely an ongoing irritant. One that I will continue to rant about, by the way, because it still fucking irritates me. And I really don't give a shit whether or not it's substantiated. (Although I think it is.)

I've never issued debate suggestions before because I've never felt it necessary. Likewise, I've never felt it necessary to post a sign on my front porch that reads, "Please don't defecate on my doormat."

But here is a friendly suggestion. If you would like to debate, say, this post for example, here are a few examples of how to do it without pissing me off:

1. I stand by the No Child Left Behind Act. I do not think it unreasonable to expect an 8 year old to have 5 or less tardies within a ten month period. Furthermore, I think it makes total and complete sense that the parent be held exclusively accountable. In fact, the school shouldn't even mention it to the kid. They are too young to be taught personal responsibility and/or consequences.

2. I stand by the No Child Left Behind Act. I do not think that this 19 year old should be allowed into that high school anyway. It's his own fault that he's a year behind, so he should pay the price. He can go get his GED with all the other kids not admitted in due to their "drop out" risk.

3. I stand by the No Child Left Behind Act. Why does everybody want to pick apart this Administration anyway? It really gets on my nerves, so no matter what, I won't do it.

Those are not personal attacks, and therefore do not piss me off. Of course if you don't mind me thinking you a small-minded, illbred asswipe, feel free to lodge a personal attack any time you please.

posted by Key on 05:57 PM | Comments (29)
» Gut Rumbles links with: late is late
» RedNeck Ramblings links with: The terrible "T" word

i come down on the side of "there is no basis for your agitation".

just say thank you, hang up the phone, dont give it another thought and go about your business of being the best mom you can be....

Posted by: mr. helpful at January 7, 2005 06:44 PM

I did.

I only vented here. And while I'd be saying the same thing perhaps as you had I just read this rant elsewhere, I will continue to resent the scolding if ya don't mind. ; )


And that's particularly since last time it was a face to face scolding at a PTM meeting. This is a 5 minute "canned scold" that they are required to deliver. And it's embarrassing for both teacher and parent, particularly if they are FRIENDS, and said teacher just spent 15 minutes raving about your model child. This never happened before THIS year.

I want to support everything the man I voted for has a hand in, and I'm sure most of my readers are in that boat as well. I'm not dogging the program. I just think it needs tweaking.

Maybe 10 tardies per semester before freaking out, which is a more reasonable number to separate the serious from the slack, as the slack-ass parents will have earned their child 10 tardies, if not absences, month one.

And why not allow that kid who is 19 [article I linked] back in school to repeat his senior year? Sure he's 19 and still in HS, but I can't blame him for opting against a GED if at all possible.

Trust me, I want it to work. But it needs to be tweaked. And yes, I will give you that the story I link provides a more compelling argument! ; )

Posted by: Key at January 7, 2005 07:15 PM

i gave up trying to figure out the logic behind the school system a long time ago...heh heh heh

Posted by: mr. helpful at January 7, 2005 08:10 PM

There is no commons sense in education today. Everything is chiseled in stone and parents and kids alike are expected to toe the line.

Posted by: Circa Bellum at January 7, 2005 09:52 PM

Sorry, Key, but I disagree. Tardiness is a symptom of a pure, lazy-assed lack of discipline and it has chapped my ass all my life. In 24 years of work, I was late ONCE, when I overslept after having my shift rotation changed.

You ain't teaching Miss Priss a good lesson by showing her that chronic tardiness ( and YES!!! THIRTEEN TARDIES ARE A PROBLEM) is something narrow-minded pucker-butts become upset about, but not "normal" people.

If you can be there at 8:00, you can be there at 7:50. I FIRED people for the kind of behavior you're attempting to excuse.

That's MY humble opinion.

Posted by: Acidman at January 7, 2005 09:53 PM

I agree with Acidman. I just think it is disgusting and aggravating when some asshole cannot make it to work on time and I have to sit there and wait, regardless of what I have planned when I leave work. That, and not coming in at all are on equal levels. You are teaching your child to be totally irresponsible to obligations to other people. I don't give a damn what her age is.

Posted by: Valerie at January 7, 2005 11:10 PM

Late for class? When you go the same route every day, you know how long it takes you to get to school, by the minute.

The kid is late for class, and does not care. It's not rocket science to fix, even a child understands that if you're late, you need to leave earlier.

Posted by: ErikZ at January 8, 2005 05:43 AM

Ahhh Key, when I first read your post I knew you were in for a problem.

Don't let it get to you, your a great mother and a great blog friend, you know that. I knew what you meant because I actually read your post, not just skimmed it looking for something to be critical about.

I enjoyed the post by the way, and agree with you on the No Child Left Behind Act.

Sorry I didn't comment sooner.

Posted by: BeeBee at January 8, 2005 09:07 AM

I feel for ya, Key. My kids are never late for school, but my youngest was absent a number of times last year, for legitimately being sick. The school nurse gave me shit for his 'excessive absences' and I gave her shit right back. Out of one side of their mouth, they beg you not to send sick children to school but out of the other side, you're hampering your child's educational progress by keeping them home.

You're an intelligent woman...I'm sure you can find a way to talk to them in such a way as to leave no doubt that you've just told them to bite your ass (my standard reply when crossing swords with school admins usually runs along the lines of, "While I appreciate your concern, *I* am this child's mother and *I* alone know what's best". It usually shuts people up pretty quick and saves me from having to resort to "Your sillyassed, unimportant opinion is duly noted" hehe).

Posted by: Chablis at January 8, 2005 09:34 AM

Thanks BeeBee Chablis, and I could have been more specific had I felt the urge. I could have separated the number of legitimate tardies from her wardrobe difficulties had I felt it pertinent, but I really didn't care to share that.

I also could have gone on to say that I think it's ridiculous that children are now, due to a serious overcorrection, coddled within the school system. I think it safe to say that most of US were disciplined by the school for our tardies directly.

If it was our fault, we learned from it. It was the fault of our parents, we went home and gave them hell. I'll admit that during my upbringing it was rarely the fault of my parents, and this case is no different. But if discipline is handed from school to parent to child, it simply isn't as effective. (I can't dock 5 minutes of her recess.)

And I could have updated to that effect, but defending myself really wasn't the topic, so I thought it irrelevent.

Besides, when it went south due to unresearched, personal and over the line attack, I decided to go another direction with the update. It was more cathartic anyway.

Posted by: Key at January 8, 2005 09:45 AM

This post was about the NCLB act, and how Key stands by it, but how it contains some bureaucratic nonsense that should be addressed. How the hell did it turn into a symposium on tardiness, and why do commenters and bloggers feel the right/need to attack her parenting abilities? What the fuck is the matter with you people?

Posted by: Velociman at January 8, 2005 12:22 PM

Feelgood legislation ALWAYS overreaches. That is why those who value individual freedom usually oppose any new law. We don't usually need it. Once passed, it's nearly impossible to repeal. AND it allows little asswipes like the gym teacher to harrass you, which is the only accomplishment of most social reformers. Quit supporting this crap,folks, no matter how much it tickles your pride in your goodness.

Posted by: Brett at January 8, 2005 12:42 PM

I think it's great that your daughter has a mother who cares enough to drive her to school, and getting there at 8:00 rather than 7:50 could simply be the result of having to wait in line to drop off your child, couldn't it? It takes several minutes to drop off children at my nephew's school.

Posted by: Renee at January 8, 2005 01:17 PM

Velociman, the reason the topic got transformed was because your little buddy Rob needs some attention. Like a child, when he gets to feeling sorry for himself he likes to start tossing rocks. I figure he's about 48 hours from something racially charged.

Posted by: Robert H. at January 8, 2005 01:34 PM

The problem, as I see it, is that a kid would get kicked to the curb permanently by his school for carrying a pocketknife. It ain't an automatic weapon, people - when I was in high school, lo these many years ago now, a boy who didn't have a pocketknife on 'im was a big old pansy wussy-boy. In-school knifings were virtually unheard-of, too.

Did the kid STAB someone with his Swiss Army or whatever? No. Did he threaten someone? No. He was just carrying one, just in case he needed to, oh, open a box or clip his fingernails, or help that cute girl across the aisle in Math Class cut the tag on her new angora sweater...mrrow...and he gets thrown out on his ear? That's where I call bullshit in this story.

I have WAY more of a problem with the PC-bullshit "zero tolerance" mentality in this story than I do the fact that a kid his age can't get back in school. We didn't get "zero tolerance" from No Child, people. We got that shit from Mr. Clinton's ideology. If the kid is an A/B student with no record of problems in school, WTF is up with EVICTING the poor bastard because he carries a tool?

On another note: Key, my Momma, you know this isn't about you. We all know Rob gets PMS every month or so, writes mean shit, and has a pity-party. Most of us love him in spite of this, not because of it, a distinction that I'm not sure he appreciates. Anyway...I'm sorry you got caught in the crosshairs, and I'm sure that when Rob reads this comment, it'll be me next month. So - look on the bright side! You get a month off! ;)

Sorry for the book. This whole thing - including the personal attack stuff - has me a little riled up.

Posted by: Queenie at January 8, 2005 01:34 PM

Acidman was a little rough there, but he's right on point. We are judged by the smallet of things...if I can't trust you to be where you should be on time, then with what CAN I trust you? Little things, but they do make a big difference in the way others perceive.

As to the NCLB bullshit...at best it's as described, just "warm-fuzzy feel good" legislation. At worst...well, you got caught in it. It was designed to force fat-assed welfare minorities to get their whelp to school, not that that would change anything. You can't teach perpetual predators anything other than how to be smarter perpetual predators. I digress...

You got called because you fit within the guidelines, i.e. habit of tardiness. Feel good about NCLB now?

Still...13 TIMES??? That just begs the question...

Posted by: Wayne at January 8, 2005 02:03 PM

To be honest, I had half a mind to dispute the number. I was just told nine before the break. It doesn't seem possible. I may have to start scheduling dentist and doctor in the afternoon, which accounts for at least five of the ones she's accrued thus far.

But the number doesn't matter, and certainly doesn't justify a personal attack. The point is the teacher knew me, knew that there was no grievance with me, but was FORCED to pick up the phone and deliver a sermon. It's just friggin stupid.

It's also stupid that I'm going to have to start yanking her out of school in the afternoons for appointments because there is no longer a distinction drawn between "excused" and "unexcused" tardies as there was when I was a kid.

As for Acidman, he missed the point on purpose. He likes to lecture me, and his fan club likes to watch. (Perhaps he could be employed to make phonecalls on behalf of the NCLB Act.)

Posted by: Key at January 8, 2005 02:58 PM

As an educator (whose particular position doesn't directly need to deal with tardies and absences) (and who doesn't necessarily agree with the NCLB Act), I think part of the reason the school calls the parents to deal with the tardies is because of how society in general acts these days.

Would you not be upset if your daughter had been directly disciplined (which may have only been a stern talking-to) at school? In my experience, many parents get bent out of shape if an educator even thinks of admonishing a student for not following the rules. We live in a time where many parents subscribe to the "Not MY child" or "Someone Has to Be Responsible, But It Certainly Isn't Me or My Child" trains of thought. In short, people no longer take responsibility for things they should be taking responsibility for.

Further, when a student is late to a class and the teacher has already given directions or gone through a number of actions that directly affect the tardy student (such as collecting or passing back papers, taking roll call, etc.), the teacher then has to stop what he or she is doing and restate directions or redo certain tasks to accomodate the tardy student, thereby doing a disservice to those students who arrived on time and wasting their time and the teacher's time. All of those minutes add up to lost instructional time in the long run. Ultimately, the tardy student is learning that it doesn't matter if they're on time or not, because they will be accomodated and move on. They'll learn that promptness isn't necessary in life. That, in turn, will not bode well for them in life.

Rather than get upset over the phone calls and the fact that certain tardies fall into certain categories (wardrobe issues, doctor/dentist appointments, traffic issues, etc.), now is the time to work on this issue with your daughter. I don't think it's necessary to tell you how to stop these annoying phone calls in the future. Aside from that, you'll be helping your daughter prepare for her future in the corporate world and life in general by learning how to get herself together and to appointed places on time.

Posted by: Just A Reader at January 8, 2005 06:37 PM

After I thought about it, and wrote about it, I don't think the head buttin' is needed. I agree with the point of too PC. That is for sure. I just think, that bein' late for school is something that you can't single out blame on parent or child, but rather both. Key, I'm not assaultin' you parenting skils. I would never do that. But when you look at a problem, you gotta find an answer. Yes, government has their heads too far up our dark places some times, but damn, to call you out on it for YOUR child bein' late, that's wrong. Don't they have something better to do? Find Osama. He's been absent for about 20 minutes too long. But, when adolescents grow older and become part of the workforce, repeated tardiness is not tolerated. It can't be. The LNCB deal, I must admit, to my knowledge, I've not been touched much by it. But from what you're saying, they didn't need to call you up, or out, on it. It's YOUR child. Damn... I think that a lot of this exists for folks that might not be facin' the issue you're speakin' of. What I don't like about the whole thing is the fact that some teacher is made to play guard dog, and guard dog is trained that the (all)parent(s) is the perp for these kinds of things. If all parents were "perps", then they(teachers) may be forced into executing as a train of thought, an action they may not agree with, but must do as part of "their" job. Our children are people we love. You don't do things to cause them harm, or pain. They, most times, are of our loins. They are your blood. I agree with the fact that I/you don't need somebody callin' me tellin' me my child was late, because, when/if they are, I'm the one carryin' 'em to school. That act, in my cirucmstances is a pain in the ass, and I don't like it any better then the teacher havin' to call me does. But they have to. That's wrong. It's mandated. Why NOT put the "common sense factor" back into the equation? Are there really that many people that lack it nowadays?

Posted by: RedNeck at January 8, 2005 07:06 PM

I am floored.

I had NO idea there were so many opinions on tardiness. Seriously.

Had I known perhaps I would have seen this severe tangent from the point coming.

Regarding the tardies, half a dozen I can't account for, chances are one Miss Priss having a bad morning. The other half was due to my scheduling a series of dental visits plus a couple of Dr. visits first thing. It just made more sense to do it in the morning...I thought.

But apparently there is no longer a distinction drawn between excused and unexcused tardies.

As I said before, guess I'll have to start checking her out early for appointments. Course she's missing the same amount of school.

Yet if it pleases the NCLB Act, I guess I'll oblige.

Posted by: Key at January 8, 2005 07:39 PM

Why oblige bad law? You'll never get rid of it that way.

Posted by: Brett at January 8, 2005 10:11 PM

I believe this issue has been put to bed. Praise Jaysus. But may I mention a little something about being late to work?

Posted by: Velociman at January 8, 2005 11:05 PM

Go for it Vman. Take your pick, comments or keys. I must warn you, people might give you hell. ; )

Posted by: Key at January 8, 2005 11:15 PM

There are good parts and bad parts to the No Child Left Behind Act (personally, I think the name of the act is one of the bad parts...). I have a good friend who is an elementary school teacher, and through her I have directly seen much of the fallout from the act.

Teaching is complex, and there are many reasons why the educational system in the US is not performing as well as we would like it to, but not ALL of those reasons are related to the teachers and administration of the schools. Unfortunately, the teachers and administration have to try to make up for things that are not under their control and will not be changed by laws.

As you said, Key, some of the effects of the act waste teacher time by forcing them to make phone calls regarding the number of tardies to parents without distinguishing between "excused" and "unexcused" tardies. That is the problem with using federal laws to "fix" a complex issue such as education. It is too blunt a method, like using a sledgehammer to put in a finishing nail, or using a blowtorch to light a birthday cake candle.

So, as I said, there are good parts and bad parts to the NCLB Act, but I wish parents (not you, Key, but what I perceive as the average parents) would remember it is THEY who are ultimately responsible for the education of their children, NOT the government. THAT is the ultimate solution to the "education issue".

Posted by: Jack at January 9, 2005 03:10 AM

If I made a "personal" attack on you, I regret my actions deeply. I am, after all..."about 48 hours from something racially charged." I would call Mr. Sensitive Robert H. a fucking prick, but I don't want to get personal.

I really hate that nobody ever says anything personal about ME on a blog. I'm just dying to get my twat in a knot about it.

Posted by: Acidman at January 9, 2005 09:32 PM

I appreciate that, Rob.

I didn't make the claim that NOBODY has ever launched a public, personal attack against you. But I haven't...

Posted by: Key at January 10, 2005 08:00 AM

Hot Damn that was fun reading. I tried reading The No Child Left Behind Act but I am easily confused, was this written as a comedy or does someone actually think it will work.

Posted by: James Old Guy at January 10, 2005 08:33 AM

Key, I am a senior in high school (it may seem a little young to be replying to this kind of subject), but i agree with you on behalf of the no child left behind act. I have been researching the act and I have been trying to find a few kinks in it that need to be straightened out. I know about the problems people go through getting to school. No matter WHAT time you leave for school every morning, you still have the minor problems of traffic, weather, suprise gas shortage, clothing problems, and many other difficulties. At my school, they have what you call "tardy sweeps". The administration runs these sweeps about once every two weeks and do nothing to inform the students that there will be one on any certain day. As a matter of fact, we just had one this morning. I understand where you're coming from. The schools can't expect every single student to clear out of the traffic of the hallways and be into class every single day, on time. Also at my school, if you get TWO tardies, they call your parents, and if you get THREE, they send you to detention after school. It's getting a little ridiculous, if you ask me. Allthough I do agree with you on behalf of the tardy issue, I do think that a certain number of tardies is unexceptable. Maybe 20 in an entire school year is too much, but 13 in an entire school year shouldn't be that bad. And bothering the parents about it does nothing, seeing as to how ya'll have your own things to do in the morning, not to mention trying to get your child ready for school. Maybe there should be some kind of "bending" of the rules. Perhaps they could enforce that students be on time, but also allow the few that are late to be late about 5 minutes. There really is no way to fix the no child left behind act, but I just wanted to let you know that, as a student myself, I agree with you.
Or, as teenagers would say, "Right on Key".

Posted by: Megan at March 15, 2005 08:58 AM

While 3rd grade isn't exactly relevant to my point I'll make it anyway. My biggest beef with the NCLBA is its affect at discouraging excellence. There are other reasons but this is one specifically I had not thought of. Look, I was an excelling student when I was in school, at most levels. And with that excelling came a certain flexibility with the rules.

The teachers at one point taught all the students and really worked with those few that showed a special knack for whatever subject. This simply sounds like a way to remove yet another incentive to excel and earn your stripes as it were.

But that's just my opinion.

Posted by: Jesse at June 7, 2005 10:16 PM
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