Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What's Wrong With America

Lunch started out with a certain someone asking where my lunch came from. Like I didn't see that one coming. I told her it was left-over Casey's Pizza, and that, in fact, I would be having more of the same on Thursday. Then I corrected myself. Thursday is soup and grilled cheese day. My favorite school lunch. I told her, "I hope those grilled cheese sandwiches are as hard as the tater tots we get every day. I hope I can crack the table with them, and I hope they are so greasy you can squeeze them and extract a gallon." She didn't have much to say to that.

The principal said that he didn't know if we could ever have peanut butter sandwiches again. The Lunch Inquisitor said that Elementia has outlawed peanut butter all year. They have a student who is severely allergic to peanuts. The principal concurred. He said that even an airborne particle could set off a reaction. I told them that The Pony said he won't take peanut butter and jelly because he sometimes has to sit too close to the non-peanut table, and people there can't have peanut butter. "This calls for The Bubble," I said. Of course I was not serious. Everyone knows that a Bubble Boy could be in dire straits if George Costanza were to wander in and argue over a game of Trivial Pursuit. Especially if 'Moors' is spelled as 'Moops' on the answer card.

The Lunch Inquisitor said, "How about they just put the No-Peanut Person in a separate room for lunch. Then they can serve peanut butter sandwiches and kids can bring it." Which made a whole lot of sense to me. A young sub spoke up. "But that wouldn't be fair to the No-Peanut Person, to be excluded from lunch." I had to voice my opinion, since we can't have subs thinking they can make the rules. "Oh, so the rest of the students should be punished with no peanut butter so one person can fit in at lunch?" He said, "Well, I feel sorry for the No-Peanut Person." Excuse me. I did not say that I don't have sympathy for the No-Peanut Person. Just that it seems we bend over backwards to accommodate one, when in fact we are disadvantaging 500.

If The Pony was No-Peanut, you can bet that I would beg that school to put him away for safe-keeping at lunch. I would ask if he could sit in the vault in the office until the lunch shifts were over and kids had cleaned up and washed hands. Then he could rejoin the fray. He could have a guest or two join him for his vault lunch, as long as they agreed to no peanuts.

Here is what is wrong with America. We are catering to the lone wolf. The rest of society adapts to the individual. Gone are the good ol' days of survival of the fittest. You fit in, or you perish. America was stronger then. The people were of hardier stock. Now, we are watering down our populace. We mainstream kids who are serious disruptions so as to 'socialize' one kid at the expense of the education of the other 25 kids in the classroom. And believe me, I've served some time in the classroom. The idea behind 'least restrictive environment' is the word LEAST. It is not 'NON-restrictive environment'. Call me a bitter old beast, but I just can not see sacrificing the needs of the many for the needs of one.

We cater to the lowest common denominator. Johnny can't read? Let's set the pace so Johnny can keep up. Let's put Johnny in some Title I programs, start a two-hour afterschool tutoring program, and adjust the grading scale so that 68% is a C- . Never mind about Janey. She can learn on her own. She can do other homework, or read a library book if she gets done early because the work is too easy for her. We want all kids to have success. We're not leaving anybody behind.

My kid is a Janey. A Janey who scored 47 of his Academic Team's points in their 61-37 victory yesterday. Nobody is pushing him. Nobody is setting the bar higher. He must coast along with the crowd. No enrichment. No gifted program. They are trying to make him average. Next year, he will be in my class, and I will be the one trying to make him average. I could give him special work, but that would be favoritism. I could set higher standards for him, but that would not be fair. Same as it is this year. I can't challenge the Janeys because they will complain, "Why do WE have to do extra? Why do THEY get something easier?" They are conditioned to think that way. Everybody must be equal. Same size slice of the educational pie for all, never considering that some people may be diabetic, some may have a high metabolism, some may be training for a life as a marathoner, some may be in a coma and fed intravenously, and some may be taking their pie home to share with the other 13 kids in the family. The only thing for certain is that we can't serve up peanut butter pie.

THAT, my friends, is what's wrong with America.

I need my LunchBuddy back. Her sub set me off. I looked around the table, and mentally started planning a GreenPeace Expedition for this group of namby-pamby, don't-eat-the-sea-kittens, tree-hugging, everyone-gets-a-trophy, save-the-world, Do-Gooders.

Who do you want building our nuclear reactors, the Johnnies or the Janeys?


Cricky said...

I agree with you whole-heartedly.

When I was in school the kids that couldn't keep up went to ESE classes. The kids that kept up and excelled went to gifted programs. The kids in the middle strived to be the kids that excelled. It created a creative and competitive learning environment.

It seems that now those kids are parents and still feel inferior. They want their little ones to feel like they can take over the world too. Well you know what, not everyone is a freaking rocket scientist. Someone's got to be the retard in the group. Know your role and play it right.

DeadpanAnn said...

You know I'm so with you on this. I attended a private school until 8th grade, and had a totally different experience than the one I had in public schools.

Nobody adapted jack crap for me at the private school. My final average was 69.9 in 7th grade math. There was no rounding up, and there was no summer school. I would've repeated 7th grade over one tenth of a point if I hadn't transferred to a public school. My parents pulled me out for financial reasons, but I was relieved to learn that the DeSoto County Schools would let me go on to 8th grade because my test scores were so high. (Mine was a problem of motivation, not ability-- not that I think it should matter. Maybe repeating a grade would've motivated my lazy ass.) Anyway, I went on to get lots of easy A's that year because what the public schools were doing in 8th grade was what I had done in 6th at the private school. I was putting in zero effort and getting patted on the back for being a star student.

We also had to take punishment when we didn't conform to the rules at that private school. In 7th grade I got locked in a closet for a full school day with nothing but a desk and three days' worth of work for being late to class three times. A 10th grade office worker brought me a cafeteria pizza and a box of milk at lunch, and I wasn't allowed to leave that little closet all day except to pee. It was the longest day of my life. They were not sweet to me about it. Nobody cared about my troubled home life, or that my mom had a broken back and I was pretty much the adult at home, or about any of the other circumstances that might've played a role in making me less than focused on school.

Today they would call it child abuse if you put a kid in a book closet for 8 hours. They would take your job and maybe your teaching license, and you'd be on the 10:00 news.

We're really doing the kids a disservice with this make-the-world-work-with-you bull. Nothing is going to change in this country until we re-introduce personal responsibility. Nothing will change in our schools, in Washington, on Wall Street, or anywhere else, because it all boils down to people not being held accountable for their actions.

I'm sorry for writing a novel in your comments section.

MrsCoach said...

Had to get a goodle thingy just to comment!
Our school went peanut free this year to the point they asked teachers to not eat it at home, lest they not wash good and touch a surface NPB touched. When parents started asking questions it was brought to light NPB has never had an episode requiring his Epi pen and the worst that's ever happened was his eyes got watery! 600 people can't have Reeses Peanuts because one kid gets watery eyes?!!? Welcome to no child left behind!lol

MrsCoach said...

Oh, and I've been stopping by and reading daily but too lazy to make me a new id since I stopped blogging. Now I can comment with all my scathingly brilliant ideas!

Hillbilly Mom said...

How times have changed. Now we have those Millennials who expect the job market to be run like the schools. Everybody should get equal pay, no matter who does the most work.

Miss Ann,
You are OH SO RIGHT about how we are doing the kids a disservice. They don't know how to function in the real world.

You are welcome to write your novels here. Rest assured that I will write mine in your comments whenever the urge strikes me.

Mrs. Coach,
Welcome back to Hillmomba's Minister of Cheese! Your No-Peanut tale certainly beats mine.

What will happen to this child in the real world? He might walk down the street and pass somebody who just ate a Reese's. He won't be vigilant about his own safety, because all his life other people have adapted to HIM.

Chickadee said...

Ohhhhh this entry started that involuntary tic as soon as I started reading it.

I have a teenager volunteer who's dad does everything for him. My boss called the dad and told him the boy's schedule, what he should wear etc because the boy couldn't follow the directions I gave him the week before. What's this kid going to be like if he ever gets a real job? He's got this easy volunteer job that he screws up. Don't even get me started on how I got in trouble recently for the boy's actions, or lack thereof.

When I was his age I had a job, had a uniform, was paying my own bills.

Sigh. What are these kids going to be like when they're "adults"???

Hillbilly Mom said...

As I used to tell my students when I taught At-Risk, "You are the people who will be taking care of me in the nursing home. Sometimes, I worry."