Another teacher's rant

Inspired by this thread, I’d like to rant about one of my students.

This girl, B (not her real initial :smiley: ), has always been a talker in class. Incessantly talking. I-tell-her-to-be-quiet-and-she-rolls-her-eyes-because-I’m-intruding-on-her-space kind of talker. I’ve called her parents numerous times, but it never helps.

Just after Thanksgiving, she was gone for the week after. Not unusual; I’ve had several kids with week-long. But when it went into a second week, I was concerned. I checked with our attendance office to see if the parents had called in, and found out she’d been in school all those days; she was just skipping my class. I wrote up an unlawful absence notice, called her mother, and lo-and-behold, she returned. She was somewhat abashed, and actually behaved (mostly) for about a month.

(If a student has two unlawful absences in our school district, they cannot be given more than a 59%; i.e., they flunk. Three class tardies also equal one unlawful absence.)

I had generously offered to let her make up the tests she’d missed. She took one, but hadn’t taken the second by the last day of the quarter, a Friday. That day, she was out. I submitted my grades with a zero for that test.

Then on Monday, she was back. She gave me an admit slip which was given an “02” code: sick leave. I thought (briefly) that I’d have to give her the test and amend the grades I’d submitted. But then I heard her talking about going to a coastal town on Friday. I asked her, “You were sick in Seaside City [not its real name :smiley: ]?”

“Oh, my mother wrote me a sick note so that it’d be excused,” she replied to me. Stupid girl! I’m not your buddy; don’t tell any school official about your misdeeds. I, of course, was obligated to report to the attendance office the nature of the “sick” note, which unlawful-ized her absence. And not just for my class, but for all her classes. I imaging that caused her not to just flunk my class, but maybe another one or two.

She came up to me steamed a few days later, stating that it wasn’t my business to tell the attendance office that information. I told her that it was exactly my duty. Then she tried to dismiss what I’d heard, saying that I’d misheard it, and that I’d been listening in on her “private” conversation. I reminded her that I’d asked her directly, and she responded.

(more later)

You just couldn’t pay me enough to be a teacher in this day and age.

Back in the day, I would never have dreamed of sassing one of my teachers.


It’s still the most amusing job in the world. And it’s like Amway–legitimate or not, there are hundreds of people out there that I get to feel proud of whatever good they do. That’s more good than I could ever get done myself. And you really meet as many extraordinary ones as you do incorrigible ones (and, in fact, they are sometimes the same kid.)

On the other hand, if this turns into a general teachers-rant-about-your-students thing, I have some stories I could tell. But I don’t want to jump in what appears to be the middle of a story.

Can’t a parent/guardian write an excuse for a child for whatever reason they deem appropriate? Or do they actually have to be “sick”?

What do you do for kids who have turned 18? It was my understanding that an 18 year old could write their own passes any time they wanted - at least that’s what we did.

Yeah-I know lots of kids who would miss a day here and there because their families were going on vacation. In fact, every fall my family and I would attend Fort Ligonier Days and I’d always have to miss a Friday so we could go. My teachers knew and they never said it wasn’t allowed.

Of course, it could just be the lying about being sick…

Just like at a job, students are allowed a certain number of sick and vacation days per year. If they run out of the latter, anything more is an unlawful absence; i.e., they are required by law to attend 175 of the 180 days scheduled. Being sick doesn’t count against them. That’s why poor unfortunate kids that get long-lerm sicknesses are allowed to get full credit.

So if a child goes for 6 vacation days, the last one is unlawful; it’s illegal for them to be out of school.

Unless a students is emancipated completely from their parents, they must have any absences excused by their parents. I asked this exact question of our attendance secretary. This comes up quite a bit; seniors try this excuse all the time.

Things have changed ALOT regarding attendence. Most states have mandatory attendance laws. If schools are going to be held responsible via “no child left behind” we need to do something to actually make sure the kids are in school the vast majority of the time.

(You can usually pull them “unexcused” for five days or so before any trouble starts - depends on the state and district - and even at six or seven, good students with good parents probably won’t get anything more than a phone call telling them the importance of being in school and the policy - CPS has more important things to do than follow up with parents who go to PTO meetings and whose kids get As who went to visit Grandma for a week.)

Do I understand this correctly? A child who has missed a mere 7 classes cannot pass, even if he or she has mastered the material?

Since an 18 year-old is legally an adult, they do not need to be emancipated.

No, but they also don’t have the right to a free education, either, and the school district can (and does) insist that if you are going to use the facility, you play by their rules–including getting notes from your parents, whatever your legal relationship.

Missing 7 classes in high school seems rather excessive (athough I never attended high school in the States; perhaps there’s a cultural difference). It’s not like college, where you’re paying for your own education and it’s possible for a student to miss classes all quarter and still manage to master the material. It seems reasonable for a high school to have this kind of policy as long as it’s not writ in stone (I missed three weeks worth of class in my last year of high school, but that was for attending competitions and participating in student conferences and the like, which the school was happy to excuse).

On the set number of absences – isn’t there some sort of exception for a legitimate long-term medical reason, testified to by a doctor? I mean, if somebody has an appendectomy, or is hospitalized for some other reason, they can’t automatically flunk all classes?

In my own experience, an otherwise good student can get some slack. About 15 years ago, my husband and I took a 2 week vacation in French Polynesia. We managed our 16-year old as follows: I left first and spent a week by myself. Then hubby & kiddo joined me. We 3 spent a week together. She missed 4 days of school – the other was President’s day and school was closed. Then kiddo & I went home and hubby continued vacationing for another couple of weeks. I openly discussed our plans with the school principal, with whom I was on very good terms, having hired him when I was previously on the school board. “Sure,” he said. "We understand that sometimes parents have to be out of town, and for the child’s safety, she cannot be left home alone. "

“Uh, yeah, that’s it. Safety.”

“It would be a shame to deny her such an educational experience. And she can get homework from her teachers in advance.”

So all during the trip, I’d point out each & every “education experience.” Look – there are people speaking French all around you! Foreign language! Foreign culture. Look – those are islands! Geography! See that dancer? Biology! Music!

So kids trying to find excuses to skip school is something new? Having them lie, without realising that these lies might be followed up and found out, is something no other generation has done?

I used to help in a museum, and still do when I can, which has a number of exhibits from the school in which it’s based. School parties in particular find the copies of pages from the 1939 Punishment Book fascinating: kids are amazed that they could be hit as a punishment, teachers love to see that the misdemeanours are unchanged - “biting and kicking teacher - three strokes” (not made up).

And as Manda JO said, even on my shittiest days (like today), there’s still moments where you’ll end up laughing.

I know what you’re saying, but I expect you know teaching’s not about the money.
Good teachers have a vocation, not a job. A child’s mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be set alight.

At least part of the problem in the OP is the parent. :rolleyes:

My school district didn’t have a special policy on 18+ year old students. Even if you were over 18 you were still subject to the same rules on parental consent/notification unless your parents notified the school in writing that it was no longer their wish to be involved with your education. However there were a few students who moved out on their own before they graduated, I think they may’ve been allowed to write their own notes. And we were allowed to miss up to 20 days out of 180 without a doctor’s note. If you were absent, but had a doctor’s note that day didn’t count for the 20. If you missed more than 3 days you needed a doctor’s note. Tardies didn’t count for an absence unless you arrived after 11 (school started at 8).

First of all, nothing in a public school system should ever be directly compared to anything in a realistic adult environment (with the exception of the adult environment within the public school system), especially jobs. And if you must compare them to something, then minimum security prisons, the DMV, methadone clinics, or maybe even inpatient psychiatric facilities make much better analogies. Laws differ place to place, but if the law does not allow a parent to pull a student out for any length of time for any reason and have that still reasonably accommodated within the general principles of the system, then the law is stupid and should be changed.

I daresay a goodly part of the problem is the parent. And the sense of entitlement held by the student.

No, not quite correct. They can miss days, as long as they are lawful absences.

But if they are tardy (not to class on time) 3 times in a given quarter, that counts as one unexcused absence. If they have 3 more tardies after being given notice for the first three (again in the same quarter), then that is their 2[sup]nd[/sup] unlawful absence, and they cannot get more than 59% in that class. For example, if they were earning a 75%, but garnered 2 unlawful absences, then they would recieve 59% of 75%, or 44.25%. This quarter average is averaged with the other quarter of that semester for their semester grade.

I’m actually not going to continue about this student. My wife advised me that if her parent read this and recognized their daughter, I could get in hot water.