Assess this you dumb fuckers.
Yes, I have an attitude problem today. Good time for you to close the page and move on to other, more acceptable sites. There are clowns on bicycles on YouTube. Of course, living as I do in Fairfax, Marin County, there are clowns on bicycles right down the hill from me.
It’s other sorts of clowns who elicit feelings of homicide in me today.
The local high school has sent warning letters to parents this week. If your child has missed any classes, or been “tardy” more than once to any class, or to all classes combined, since the school year began in August, you, the parent, may be reported for possible prosecution under section of the
I am not making this up. Not only that, your child’s problem absenteeism or habitual ‘tardiness’ may be used to delay him or her from obtaining a driver’s license, presumably under the theory that a child who is late to class may be late going through an intersection.
The second item, in the Chronicle: “State’s math scores near bottom.” Must be the ‘tardiness’ problem. More on this hilarious circumstance in a minute; I haven’t finished the tirade I’ve been working up to.
The letter from Drake High, allegedly written by an assistant principal, is a stunner. It is written in the classic edu-speak style, the use of words to conceal and manipulate. Just reading it was sort of an exercise in nostalgia for me, because I once served a three-year sentence on the board of trustees of the very Tamalpais Union High School District in which Drake is located –– the original term was four years but I busted out, and because the nausea it induced had that too-familiar quality.
God, those people were assholes.
Back to the letter. Here it is, with translation for humans:
“The...high school staff wants to foster communication between families and the school. This letter represents one of the ways we can communicate with you about *’s attendance.” [We want to let you know that we can cause trouble for you and your child].
“This letter has been sent to you because our records indicate that * has at least two unexcused absences or tardies in one or more classes this semester, as shown below, and that he has been identified as truant according to Education Code 48260.” [We are not kidding. There’s a law that we can use against you].
Thereupon, the ‘record’ is printed. In *’s case, he is said to have ZERO absences or ‘tardies’ in the following periods: 0, 1st, 2nd, AT, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, AFT, IS, and N. No, I do not know what the acronyms mean and am sure I don’t wish to know.
* apparently has TWO such absences or ‘tardies’ in 3rd period. That’s it. Two, since August.
Now comes more specific threats:
“In addition, it is important for you to know that the state’s education policy (Education Code 48260.5) requires the parent/guardian to compel the student to attend school. Parents/guardians who fail to meet this obligation may be guilty of an infraction and subject to prosecution pursuant to Article 6 of Chapter 2 of part 27. Your truant student may also be subject to arrest under Education Code 48264, and can be subject to suspension, restriction, or delay of his driving privilege pursuant to Vehicle Code 13202.7.” [If your child is late to class more than once, we can have you arrrested, and the kid, too].
Now, that’s how to “foster communication.”
There follows a couple of paragraphs about how you have no chance of changing what “the records show” and that you had better read the school’s voluminous Parent/Student Handbook for details on how absences or ‘tardies’ automatically reduce a student’s grade, just in case the other threats haven’t scared the shit out of you.
The parent/guardian is then advised to “Contact his assistant principal to discuss strategies to improve his attendance and/or alternative educational programs... We want to work with you to make sure your child attends regularly and benefits from the rich and educational (sic) opportunities at Sir Francis Drake High School.” [I think we already know the nature of such a “discussion.” We may push your child out of Drake].
Most parents are not conversant with the California Education Code. Perhaps their child has been late to a single class twice in the first six weeks. They are suddenly at risk of arrest, and their child is at risk of suspension.
You may well ask yourself, what the fuck is going on here?
I’ll tell you what’s going on. Under the blantant falsehoods of “communication” and “rich educational opportunities” the educrats of the Tam District are throwing a grenade through your front door and pretending it’s a bouquet. I suppose it’s a matter of taste, but I find this form of fascism to be the worst, the guy smiling as he sticks in the knife.
I’ll tell you what’s going on. For at least forty years, the schools have been filling up with students who are quite at home in the electric age. They/we are emphatically post-industrial people. But the education system has –– after a brief flirtation with reality in the 1960s and 1970s –– has become more and more industrial in design and function. It should surprise no one that the system doesn’t work anymore. But that has not prevented its increasingly harsh imposition.
Back East, a six-year-old was suspended for bringing a ‘spork’ to school. Another child was expelled for bringing a serrated knife along with a birthday cake. Childhood is over. The education system does not want students to have them.
The “rich opportunities” students enjoy, in grades one through twelve, include more than an entire month of standardized testing. There are ordinary tests, of course, and AP tests in high school, and federal tests for the “National Assessment” program, the ‘STAR’ tests in California, and numerous others, including an ‘Exit Exam’ which by definition prevents some students who otherwise passed every high school class from graduating.
All of these tests are “snapshots” in the words of the idiot who ran the curriculum in the Tam District when I was there. The more, the merrier. We have embraced a mania for measurement as a substitute for real learning. One cannot measure learning; one can instead measure memorization. And because the public (and the real estate lobby) are demanding “results,” those void of imagination have built a system which punishes it.
The Chron story on California’s math scores is, like all such stories, loaded with comments from bewildered educrats and utterly bereft of even a pass at explanation. Across every race and ethnicity, English-language-speakers and non-speakers, low income and high, California’s fourth and eighth graders –– the groups tested –– scored below the national average. In fact, California’s scores exceed those of only two states: Alabama and Mississippi.
Yea! We’re number forty-eight!
High school students in the Tam District are routinely facing four hours of homework every night. That’s about eleven hours of compulsory work a day. Including weekends and most holidays –– when students ‘catch up’ with their work –– people between the ages of eight and eighteen (although you can legally leave school at 16) spend around seventy hours each week performing school-related tasks.
It’s easy to see where this is going. When I was on the Tam board, one counselor told me that she believed half of the students were ‘clinically depressed.’ There was widespread incidence of self-destructive behavior, including cutting, eating disorders, and attempted suicides. The district didn’t want to deal with it; the board refused to hold a hearing. When perhaps seventy-five students sacrificed their homework time in order to attend a board meeting to ‘testify’ about conditions in their schools, the board used a two-minute egg timer to cut people off in mid-sentence.
At least two of those creeps are still on the board, having nothing else to do with their lives and deeply dependent upon the interconnection between self worth and being introduced at basketball games.
The language of the threatening letter to the Drake parent brought back the crippling reality of edu-speak. With a smile, they will say they wish to ‘communicate’ with you when clearly this ‘communication’ consists of their orders and your obedience to same. We are working hard for your kids, and in the event that they are late to class a few times, we can suspend them and arrest you.
It would surprise me greatly if American high school campuses don;t become, within a relatively short period of time, staging areas for massive civil disobedience. Even though many teenagers are being kept relatively docile by way of moronic mass media, constant academic pressure, and pharmaceuticals for their depression and anger, that kind of shit won’t work forever. Kids have a desire to learn, and it’s an ignorant system which thinks it can stifle that. And they have iPhones and PDAs galore.
And not only that. Because what is being done now to children, elementary school through high school, is not only antithetical to learning but antithetical to the sensory reality of an electric age generation. It is therefore historically doomed. The only real question is how much crockery will be broken in the process.