Sunday, March 25, 2007

Good, cancel all of it

In my full five years as a teacher, I've come to the realization that schools are way too focused on the social aspects of a child's development. After dealing with Ukiah's Homecoming for five years, a totally invasive event that takes over a week away from academics, I'm almost ready to off every dance, homecoming style event, and social meeting that is sponsored by the school. Take the month of May, which includes STAR testing, Prom, MORP, the Senior Trip (yes, it is during school), Senior Cut Day, and another multi-fauceted event that I'm not supposed to discuss that will turn the school into a two-day wreck. Oh yeah, and Seniors have to graduate a little later.

Dances at our school are an interesting phenomenon that causes stress amongst many of the staff who have to watch kids bump-n-grind to the point of looking like a huge, dry-humping orgy in the cafeteria. Of course there are the usual busts of alcohol and drugs, with the occasional blitzed student that hurls all over the place because they drank for three hours before the dance. Of course, the Breathalyzer is used, and kids are caught, but the come back and try again at a different dance, or some other event. At home time, the administration put limits on music type and dancing, but the student uproar found it's way to the parents, who then complained that the students had "nothing else to do on a Friday night", and blamed the school for their own lack of parental supervision.

Finally, Windsor High School stepped up and starting showing the rest of the local high schools that the dance is a privilege, not a right. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat ran the story about the school having problems finding enough people to attend the dance, and the student complaints that are rampant because students and parents have to sign a contract regarding dance behavior. The strict dance guidelines came about after an October dance became a drunken Lambada scene that had the school rethinking the idea of dances.

I used to be one of those people who really liked Homecoming, really like Prom, really liked the idea of social activities that bring kids together, until I realized that a couple of things:
1) The school is held liable for all the crap that goes on while a student is on campus. It is totally not worth it.
2) The school is no longer about academics and needs to move back in the academic direction.
3) Parents and students now feel like they run the school, thus being able to dictate policy (including dances). Eliminate that.
4) And most important, the government seems to want to hold us accountable for academics, then let's start making dances a reward and not the focal points. Allow Prom and Winter Ball as starters, and only if the campus has behaved enough to earn that reward.

God, I sound like an old curmudgeon. But understand, I didn't feel like this until about two years ago, when I realized that all this social crap is just another wave in the ocean of things that go against us when dealing with academic education. Change our focus back to the preparing students for life and I might start caring about things as petty as dances.
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