School redux

So, um, I guess yesterday’s post hit a nerve…?

I want to reply to a few comments.  First, as I wrote yesterday, there are certain situations in which we feel we do need to pull our kids from school, even if they aren’t sick.  Thus far, unsafe driving conditions tops the list.  However, of course major religious holidays or giant family reunions would qualify.  Pulling our kid for Great-Grandma’s 97th birthday party is a far cry from booking a cruise during January because we could get cheaper rates.

And, of course, every family has to decide what constitutes a good reason for itself.

The most interesting comments to me, however, were those who said that they felt people had gotten more, not less, diligent about keeping kids in school.  Those who commented said that our generation was pulled for all sorts of halfassed reasons, while we as parents are now much less likely to pull our own kids.  What I find fascinating is that people assumed I was comparing now to one generation ago.

I was actually trying to say that our grandparents were much less likely to keep their kids home from school for flimsy excuses than we are.  I am betting mine sent their kids unless they were oozing green puss from their hair follicles.  All my grandparents were immigrants.  School was their kids’ ticket into mainstream America.  I suspect that they would have pulled their kids if they needed them to work and bring in an income, but they sure as hell weren’t keeping them home from third grade just for the hell of it.

That said, our district is scheduling early dismissals for the two makeup days during school break.  Given that we have half-day kindergarten, each day will consist of less than two hours of school.  Although I hate to send the message that school is unimportant, the district seems to be sending the message to us that it’s cool if we don’t send them those two days.

So, I’m not sure what we’ll do.  If we have another snow day and end up with three days of school that week, we’ll definitely stay here and send him.  If not, we’ll weigh the pros and cons.

But, I think our district really oughta think about building another couple of snow days into the calendar.  We live in NEW JERSEY, for heaven’s sake.

17 responses to “School redux

  1. That was actually the part of your first post that made me raise me eyebrows. My school system would never, ever change the break schedule in the middle of the year. They play with when the school year will end based on snow days, but they can’t stay open past June 30th.

    If my children were still enrolled in school, I’d still pull them out in the fall for a week to visit Asia to see family. The difference between going in October versus April or June was incredible (maybe just that year) and I couldn’t have afforded it otherwise. Yes, I probably could have gotten a good deal for January or February as well, but when I mentioned that every relative of mine forbade me from coming for the cold Korean winter.

  2. We weren’t here at the beginning of the year, but apparently they did warn parents this might happen in case folks were going to book trips.
    Again, big difference between a trip to Asia to see family and some of the other reasons people pull kids. It’s not so much the pulling as the “who cares?” attitude that I see as the problem.

    • I was responding to the cost part in your hypothetical cruise example. For some families like mine, a huge factor.

      I haven’t see the nonchalance you describe. It makes me wonder. How do those kids do in school in the long-run? Timely topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/education/03ravitch.html?sudsredirect=true One of this critic’s complaints is how dumbed down so much of the curriculum has gotten as a result of the testing, standardization, blah blah blah. But she also talks about how she was/is an advocate of the public education system as a means of mobility- similar to the perspective your grandparents might have had.

      Oh, I could go on, but it’s a little early to hog a blog 🙂

  3. Ah, see we can’t afford a cruise during December break, either. So we’re not going on a cruise. If we can swing a short one during February break, we might do that. But we will only take the vacations we can afford during school breaks.

  4. That’s okay- I never understood cruises, no matter the time of year.

  5. I think it’s all about the buffets.

  6. That they buy all those pretty dresses for… (Sorry I couldn’t resist.)

    Back to your regularly scheduled topic.

  7. Last year, my kids school system had so many snow days, they made up a day on a Saturday to keep H.S. grad. on track. The 1/2 a day? maybe only half the parents sent their kids on a Sat. and I am pretty sure they just played games. I was worthless, but satisfied the state. Seems pretty silly to me.

  8. Honestly, I’m not sure the attitude in our new town. I did hear one of The Snake’s classmates was out for a week for a trip (might actually have been Disney). But I will say that the attitude was pretty blase in California. Kids were out to go to ski trips in Colorado and any old thing. Of course the area we lived in was very privileged, and it was kindergarten. I agree that it really shouldn’t matter the grade, but for some that seemed relevant.

    I’m not sure I get the cruise thing either. But then we’ve never done one … or any other real vacation in over a decade, so what do I know? 😉

  9. I live farther north than you, and we’ve never yet run out of snow days (at in the five years we’ve been here). This has been an unusual winter.

    I want to amend what I said yesterday – while taking kids out of school for frivolous shite like cruises should be verboten – I have fond memories of my mother taking me out of 6th grade a couple of times to go to open dress rehearsals at the NYCB. This was thoroughly condoned by my teacher, and I still remember those rehearsals of Robbins’ Goldberg Variations and Balanchine’s Cortege Hongrois – and way more than I’d have remember a trip to Disney. It was a special event.

  10. Cheeky Monkey

    See, as soon as you say, a trip to Asia is okay for *you* but a cruise is not okay for *you* you’re allowing the possibility that head and fast rules can’t truly be applied. And then it seems like all that’s left is to make decisions for your own family, for your own good reasons, and assume that other families have made their decisions in the same good faith, even if the end result is different.

    As a teacher, I appreciate how disruptive absences can be to the educational experience. But as a parent, I also appreciate that life is complex.

  11. I wish I had the balls to take my kids out of school for anything other than illness. Seriously, it would be awesome to go to Disney for, like, half the price. Or just randomly go to the beach on an uncrowded weekday. I mean, I can blow off work, so why not blow off school. Maybe they’ll be a good reason one day (family reunion, sick relative) but in our world the only reasons we can come up with is our convenience and cash.

    RESPONSIBILITY. Such a buzz-kill.

  12. My parents are probably about the age of the grandparents you speak of and my grandparents raised children who attended school in the 20s and 30s. Yes. We went to school, pretty much no matter what, although my parents would occasionally take us out for a day or two to travel to visit relatives and see the sights of a large city.

    My grandparents’ view of the schools was that you did what the teachers told you to do and it was pretty much okay with them if you were paddled or whatever, which was common at that time and even when I went to junior high in the late 60s. My grandparents were not poor or immigrants — exactly, they were Scots from Canada. They did not ever take exotic vacations. But life was different then…

    Note: I do NOT agree with corporal punishment in the schools and don’t think we should go back to that time in our history.

  13. None of my grandparents finished school. They lived on the Canadian prairies in farming families, and school was less important for them than the family farm. I think that the priorities that people place on education vary under a lot of conditions, and it’s difficult to make a generalization.

    As I said earlier, I don’t think I would be flip about pulling my kids out of school. If for no other reason than it’s the only time I get any peace. But I recognize that my values and goals are different than others, and that’s OK.

  14. See, we only pull our kids out of school if it is for something that simply cannot happen at another time. After all, it’s not like kids are in school that much, what with vacations and weekends and snow days and in-services. But, if there is something that MUST happen and it MUST happen during school time, well, then so be it.
    Visiting a rehearsal for the ballet? Well, a lot of people (myself included) would see this as a MUST because of high educational value, and it only happens at a certain time.
    A cruise? You have a hard time selling that as a MUST, and we all know cruises go throughout the year. Now, if the cruise was a family reunion with relatives my kids would otherwise not get to see, well then I might rethink.
    However, my issue is with the blithe comment of, “Oh, just pull him for a few days,” as though that’s not a serious matter and as though that should be done for any which thing.
    Our trip is to DC to see grandparents, which is very important. But, we are driving, and we can go for the other half of the break that still exists. There is a birthday brunch we had planned for my husband, but it is super casual, and it could be rescheduled. (He doesn’t like birthday parties, so he has no problem with this.) So, while seeing grandparents (and great-grandmother) is a MUST, it doesn’t meet the other condition. It can happen earlier in the week.
    Anyway, my point is that I think people are way too casual about pulling kids, and — more to the point — I’m sick of being judged for not being willing to pull them.

  15. And, yes, I know I sound judgy, which is my point. It can go both ways.

  16. I didn’t get that you were being judged for pulling your children. People will judge you over anything, especially if you have children. One of the hardest things you learn as a parent is learning when to tell people to screw, out loud or not.

    But I come from a long line of people who never had perfect attendance, so what the Hell do I know?