A Couple of Updates

Not just a dash— now it’s a mad dash

Remember my September post about the passing period between high school classes, about how at our kids’ school it’s so quick, kids don’t have time to use the restroom or go to their lockers any more?  Well, I did bring up the subject to the Director of Health for our school district, who chairs a committee of which I am a member.  He told me he would bring it up to his supervisor and get back to me. In the meantime, our high school initiated a new tardy policy in early October called Bell-Lock-Sweep, and if female students weren’t “holding it” before, their bladders surely must be busting by the time school lets out nowadays (and they’re no doubt stocking up on Super Plus Plus tampons as well).  The new policy is so strict that kids are literally running scared (well, more like walking VERY fast) to class.  If they stop to catch up with a friend or (worse!) pause for a drink of water, the time lost could be devastating. Now, there is no way they can use the restroom (and wash their hands) unless it just happens to be next to their classes– and even then it’s iffy.

Basically, with Bell-Lock-Sweep, when the bell rings after the five-minute passing period, all the classroom doors lock. Anyone who doesn’t make it into their class is then “swept” (herded) by a hall monitor or assistant principal toward a computer located in the hall, where a tardy slip is printed out and an email and computer-generated phone call are immediately made to a tardy student’s home.  The classroom doors are not unlocked until seven minutes have passed.  After three tardies (total, not per class), detention is given.  First a three-hour after-school detention, then two three-hour detentions (one on a Saturday morning), and after that, one, two, and three days of in-school suspension, which is basically all-day detention where a student is not allowed to attend any of their classes.  

Since this policy is so different than at her school in France, our exchange student, Cleo, has had a tough time with it. She recently hit the 6-hour detention mark after being required to shut down a computer after one class ended, and then she rushed to the restroom before another class started. As she headed to class with the bell about to ring, she saw her teacher in the hall, also walking to the same classroom, and thought she might be safe.  “I’m sorry, but you’re going to be swept,” the teacher said.  “There’s nothing I can do.”  An obvious question is, “Can’t students use the restroom after the bell rings?” And the answer is, some teachers allow it, and some don’t. With only 50 minutes per class period, some get pretty stingy. (Our 16-year-old, Allison, has one teacher who gives students only two restroom passes for the entire semester!) 


The school district Health Dept. chair recently got back to me on the issue.  He’d gotten feedback from several people, including a principal (from another high school) and the district director of school nurses, and basically they said that if the short passing period was a problem, they weren’t aware of it, that they’d received no complaints about it.  And the head of district security said that if passing periods were lengthened, it could cause security issues, that kids were more likely to get in trouble. The principal said that kids could at least use their 30-minute lunch break to use the restroom. But Allison says most of that time can be easily taken up by waiting in the long lunch line, and that ever since the new tardy policy’s been in place, she’s seen some students go through the line and frantically stuff food in their mouths as they rush to class…

Maybe things have to get worse before any other parents complain…maybe parents are just ignoring how much influence troubled kids have on some schools, and how the schools adopt ridiculous prison-like rules as a result, for all students.  Maybe Depends should start marketing to teens…

My eyes were opened even more to the idiocracy of it all when I recently took a tour of Dallas ISD’s Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts. There, classes last 90 minutes, a block schedule much like at college, where M-W-F classes are different from Tues-Thursday. The passing periods were generous and their lunch break was a breath of fresh air. Literally.  A jazz combo was setting up on an outdoor patio and my friend and tour guide explained that students could each lunch outside if they wanted, while listening to music. The whole atmosphere at the school felt like the students were treated with more respect, and given more freedom.

What a concept, huh, for kids who are about to be on their own?


More Fundraising Fun

Remember the post about how kids need to get more involved in their fundraisers? In late October we told Allison we would require her to sell at least 15 poinsettias in order to go on a planned spring choir trip. I didn’t think she’d try to sell even one, but she ended up selling 30.  Wow, huh?! Only I never thought about who would have to deliver those 30 poinsettias!  Since she doesn’t drive yet…the delivery van driver is me! And she can’t go with me, ‘cause she’s been involved in mandatory after-school activities until 10 p.m. every night this week, and the flowers will die if I don’t get them all delivered pronto…

3 thoughts on “A Couple of Updates”

  1. As far as I know, at RHS, there is much more leeway regarding being late to class. So I question how helpful input from another principal would be, if the rules about tardies were more flexible at his/her school. At RHS, kids can eat outside as the school is constructed with secure outdoor atriums. The attitude is so much cooler at RHS. If my kid were having bathroom issues–well, I have a good relationship with my pediatrician, and I’d get a doctor’s note saying “let the kid go to the bathroom when nature calls.” Schools can’t argue with a doctor’s note. But that isn’t a school wide solution. Good luck!

  2. I think it should be recommended that a teacher/administrator/BOE member spend the day in school following a typical students schedule. I bet all those dehumanizing regulations would be changed in a heartbeat.

  3. I agree! What a great idea. And a newspaper or TV reporter, preferably a female one, should be allowed to do that, too!

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