I don’t often get ranty on this site (although I am told that I should), but there is something on my mind and I can’t believe that I am the only one fed up with the situation.
A little background…..
We decided to take our children out of school 1 day early for Thanksgiving break this year in order to go visit family in Connecticut. We don’t often get together with Brads entire side of the family so to us, this was important enough to take a day off of school (especially since Brads father had passed away recently).
Of course, this being the digital age, I got an email from both the middle and elementary school letting me know that my children were absent (I forgot to call them in as absent – no biggie) and that I could reply to the emails and that would serve as an excuse. I replied to both of the emails before Thanksgiving break was over saying that we were in CT visiting family and that is why my children were absent.
On Monday, when school was back in session, I got an email from Thomas’ school letting me know that a family trip was not an acceptable absence and that I would need to fill out a form justifying that us hanging out with family was an “educational trip” in order for it to be an excused absence. (Interestingly, I got no such email from my younger children’s school)
Now – I will admit to stretching the truth every once in a while, but there is just no way that I can say that my daughter teaching my nephews how to make a Triple Single on a Rainbow Loom or my boys playing GTA 5 with their cousins is an “educational trip”.
And so I emailed back to the school that I wasn’t going to lie – the trip was what it was and I was willing to have my son have an unexcused absence instead of me lying about the reason for the trip.
I immediately got back an email saying that I didn’t need to lie – I just needed to rephrase it.
Let me say right now that I absolutely ADORE every teacher my children have ever had at their school (I seriously mean that – we have amazingly committed teachers and it is a fabulous school district)…and every administrator that I have dealt with has been wonderful. It’s not the PEOPLE – It’s the SYSTEM.
And so, to not make too many waves, I filled out a 2-page form saying that my son was taken out of school in order to have a “multi-generational experience in which family history was discussed and evaluated” (I don’t remember if that was the exact words, but that was the sentiment.. I specifically remember the “multi-generational experience BS”). NOW it was an excused absence.
Are you kidding me?
Fast forward to the present time. Brad and I want to take our 3 children to Washington DC for the weekend. I have already contacted our U.S. Senator for passes for a Capital tour as well as a White House Tour (we probably won’t get the White House Tour as we made the request “late”, but I am hoping…).
But the other day I realized that the school may not count it as an excused absence.
Why? Because despite the fact that a guided tour of our Legislative Branch AND Executive Branch of government should be considered the ultimate “educational trip”, our plans coincide with state-mandated testing.
Our school district has said on their website and in emails “Please note that educational trips during the testing windows will not be approved.”
Well – too bad. I may or may not be taking my children out of school on a Friday that includes PSSA testing and that is MY choice. If that means that they get an unexcused absence, that is fine with me. (I am also considering sending the kids to school in the morning and picking them up as soon as the testing it done – as long as we can pick them up by 11:00am… or I might just choose to opt my children out of the testing. Just trying to decide if this is the hill on which I wish to die)
These are tests that have no affect on the grades of my children. These are tests that are only important to school funding. As much as I am an advocate for teachers (the ONLY reason that I renew Thomas’ Medical Assistance each year is because it allows the school district to bill the state for his Autism Support program), I am the one who gets to decide if my child should be out of school.
And so, on a soon-to-be Friday, my children might be walking around the Mall in Washington DC, getting a guided tour of the Capital (and hopefully of the White House), visiting all the museums in the Smithsonian and taking in the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms.
But because of timing, it won’t be an excused absence.
And I don’t care.
Because if you put the 3 hours that morning up against each other, my children will learn FAR more at the National Air & Space Museum or touring the Capital or the White House than they will sitting at a desk stressing out over standardized tests.
And isn’t learning more important than test scores?