Thursday, January 30, 2014

High School Drama Department

Ah, don't you just love small town politics? In a town like ours, fairly affluent, fairly educated, they are particularly ____________. (Insert adjective of your choice: entertaining, frustrating, bewildering, or my recommendation: frrrrrrrkin' mind-blowing.) 

Right now, there's a major storm brewing at my daughter's high school. The relatively new principal (it's January; he started in September) is proposing to take away science labs, increase class length, decrease "passing time" in between classes, and change the tech and arts graduation requirements.

Many parents and faculty have issues with all this. How will our children compete in college admissions for science-related courses of study? Can a student who doesn't test well but shines in practical exercises still succeed? Don't AP science students have a minimum lab requirement or else they can't take the test? (News to me.) And, perhaps most important ...

When (oh when) will our children go to the bathroom?

Seriously, most teachers won't let kids leave during class. They (the kids — teachers too, maybe) are expected to use the facilities during passing time. But, with about 1,080 students and 89 faculty and 15 bathrooms and 3 minutes ... well, you do the math.

It isn't funny. 

Well, not really anyway. 

But it is really, really the most exciting, contentious, dramatic thing that my daughter and her peers have dealt with this year. (Except, of course, for the infamous sports bra incident in November.)

Yesterday, the principal met with all the students, divided into four separate sessions throughout the day. This morning, he presented his plans to about 120 parents, including my husband. Tonight, there will be even more (I'll be there myself with my daughter).

Did I use the word "dramatic?" This is drama. And, the kids are jumping right in.

When my daughter got home yesterday afternoon, we were treated to a line-by-line reenactment of the meeting she had been to. Supposedly the principal didn't treat the kids with much respect. In his defense, they apparently didn't treat him with much either. I don't agree with his plans (or his approach to communicating them; from what I've heard there's a bit of a "my way or the highway" attitude). But, I do think that children, even teenagers — wait, especially teenagers, need to be polite and respectful of their elders, educators and authority figures. As you can imagine, the hashtags, Instagrams and memes circulating this morning are pretty brutal.

On the flipside, I'm proud of my daughter for standing up for her beliefs (hopefully in a respectful manner). In fact, I'm rather floored that a girl who finds it difficult to sit at a cafeteria table with kids she doesn't know, was willing to ask some tough and informed questions of her principal. I want her to take an active role in her education. I want her to push back. I want her to demand her rights. Yes, at times I even want her to "stick it to the man." 

Just not in those words, okay?

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at  

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