Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Old Golden Rule Days

We have been trying to get Little Girl in a specific public school program, and it's been like pulling teeth.

Gone are the days when you could, as in Dorothy Canfield Fisher's Understood Betsy, send your child down the road to the school for the first day and the one teacher who sees her from the window goes out and brings her in to introduce her to the other dozen or so students, with no paperwork required.

This system is so complicated even the people who work in the system don't know all of the rules.

Last school year, i began to make inquiries.  These included calling friends who know the system better than i do.  They gave me names to call, but not one of those names panned out.

Every person i spoke to essentially said, "Not my job." when i actually called.  No one could test her for going into the 10th grade.  No one could get her registered in the system to the required IEP could be done.  Everyone i spoke to gave me the name and phone number of the previous person i had spoken to, who in turn said that was wrong.

Finally i realized there was only one way, and that's the hard way.  So on the first day for registration, we went in to the district school, which is not the one she wants to end up in, but we had no other choice.

We were greeted with a laundry list of requirements, and i ran around all morning meeting them.  Then we were told that on her first day or two of school, she would have to undergo a battery of tests for placement.  No, all of the previous exit exams taken at a private school and the Iowa test don't count.

The first day of school, we showed up early and were told to go home, they couldn't do the tests, they would call us.  We went home to wait, and Little Girl decided to "improve each shining hour" by reading Shakespeare's Hamlet, just because she had always wanted to.

Finally, after the whole week had passed, i called back and begged to please talk to someone who could tell me something, as she was worrying about how much work she would be required to make up if she missed more school.

That's when i learned that the Accountability Office had moved over the summer and the computer that held all the tests that needed to be given wasn't accessible.  How in the world does an entire school system lose access to a computer that has all their placement tests on it?

During that conversation i also found out that we don't need to worry about her missing a week, the teachers know the first two weeks of school are hectic and kids register all through that time and they don't do much work those first couple of weeks and cut incoming students a lot of slack.

Huh?  The first couple of weeks don't matter so much?  No wonder education is in the state it's in.

Anyway, i was told to bring her in for the second week, she would be put in 10th Grade classes and tested later to make sure she could stay in them.  Not my favorite solution, but better than nothing.

We walked into a madhouse, of course.  The guidance office was locked, but someone opened the door for us and within moments the room was packed, and it continued to repack for as soon as they could move one person through, another one or two came in to take that spot.  Students who had lost their schedules and needed a reprint.  Students who had never received a schedule.  Parents who, like me, had business to attend.

The particular counselor who is supposed to handle this for us is not assigned to that school on Mondays, but another counselor knew the deal and handed the paperwork to the nice lady at the central desk in that office so she could enter it in the computer.

That's right.  They'd had all of our information for almost 10 days, and hadn't bothered to enter it into the computer yet.  As the lady sat there and did so, i learned two things.  First, the Good Lord's name is not totally absent of mention in public schools, it is taken in vain regularly.  Second, they don't do anything ahead of time that they aren't required to do, but leave it until the last minute.

We stood there for over an hour as she entered everything in while also printing out schedules for other students and answering phones.  Then we waited a good while longer as students and parents skipped the wait and filed right past us to go in and demand what they needed right away.

At that point, i wasn't sure whether to feel sorry for the ladies in the office or not.

The upshot was that Little Girl got to attend 3 1/2 of her classes that day.  When i came to get her, she seemed very emotionless, or maybe overwhelmed.  She was eager to get home, and on the way home she said, "And I have to do this every single day now!"

Well, it's not like she wasn't in school before, but it was not quite the same setting.

She also said, "And at least now I know where not to sit outside for lunch, the ants got most of mine! Oh, and here are some of the things I will need for the classes I got to attend."

Some things don't change much.

Today is:

Bad Hair Day -- birth anniversary of Don King

Birth of the White Buffalo -- Lakota Native American rituals honoring the birth of the White Buffalo in 1994, signaling the return of the White Buffalo Woman (manifestation of the Star Goddess Wohpe), who gave them the sacred peace pipe

Boil Over Thursday -- Fairy Calendar (sometimes on Thursday, most often not)

Dial the Phone Day -- the first rotary dial phone patent was applied for by A. E. Keith, John Erickson, and Charles Erickson on this day in 1896

Feast of Asma -- Baha'i

Full Sturgeon Moon a/k/a Full Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, or Grain Moon*
     Nikini Full Moon Poya Day -- Sri Lanka
     Wahgaung Full Moon -- Myanmar 

Independence From USSR Day -- Estonia

Lemonade Day

Moon's Birthday -- Aztec Calendar (according to some websites, but i haven't confirmed it; if you want something to celebrate, this is as good as anything else)

National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

National Radio Day -- internet generated toast to the power of radio

Nikini Full Moon Poya Day -- Sri Lanka (begins at sundown)

Revolution Day -- Western Sahara

Revolution of the King and People -- Morocco

South Mountain Fair -- Arendtsville, PA, US (celebrating agriculture, arts, crafts, and industry; through Saturday)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Day (Patron of bees and beekeepers, candle makers, wax refiners; Burgundy, France; Cistercians; Gibralter; Queens College, Cambridge, England; Speyer Cathedral)

Stop and Smell Your Dog Day -- and, depending on the results, maybe even Give Your Dog a Bath Day

St. Stephen's Festival --  Budapest, Hungary (National Day for all of Hungary)

Thoth orders the healing of the Eye of Horus -- Ancient Egyptian Calendar (date approximate)

Virtual Worlds Day -- internet generated, as well it should be

World Mosquito Day -- commemorates the day Dr. Ronald Ross discovered the link between mosquitoes and malaria in 1897

Birthdays Today:

Al Roker, 1954
Connie Chung, 1946
Jacqueline Susann, 1921
Edgar Guest, 1881
H.P. Lovecraft, 1880
Benjamin Harrison, 1833
Bernardo O'Higgins, 1776

Today in History:

Hungary is established as a kingdom by Stephen I, 1000
The Dutch bring the first African slaves to the colony of Jamestown, VA, 1619
The Spanish establish the presidio that will be the town of Tuscon, Arizona, 1775
The Lewis and Clark "Corps of Discovery", exploring the Louisiana Purchase, suffers its only death when sergeant Charles Floyd dies, apparently from acute appendicitis 1804
Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" debuts in Moscow, 1882
Rotary Dial telephone is patented, 1896
The Big Blowup, a huge fire in the Northwestern US, burns 3 million acres, 1910
Adolphe Pegoud makes the first parachute jump from an airplane, 1913
Stainless steel is first cast, 1913
WJM,8Mk, Detroit, becomes the first commercial radio station to start daily broadcasting, 1920
UK becomes the first to use radar, 1940
Plutonium's weight determined, 1942
Launch of Voyager 2, 1977
George and Joy Adamson, the Born Free conservationists, are gunned down by poachers, 1989
The Oslo Peace Accords are signed in Norway, 1993
The Supreme Court of Canada rules that Quebec may not secede from Canada without federal government approval, 1998

• Full Sturgeon Moon – August The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.


  1. What a mess. I think part of this is cuts to school funding that reduce staff size and demoralize staff that are left. Part of this is parents who are not involved in their children's live and leave the chaos up to schools to manage I also think part of this is very poor school administration. You probably will watch school board elections more closely in the future. Your little gal has an excellent foundation and will survive although this first month she needs lots of quiet and ice cream.

  2. Makes you wonder about the folks in the office. If you know you're going to be swamped the first couple of weeks at school you'd think you'd input all the things that need to be available rather than doing it the day of. I'm not impressed either.

    I'm sure your daughter will find it easier in a few days. It always takes time to figure out the ropes. Well if she can even find the ropes.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

  3. Good grief- I would be having a Bad Hair Day if I had to deal with those "public servants" MAKES ONE WONDER WHO IS RUNNING THE ASYLUM! You and your daughter should get gold stars for patience and persistence! Enjoy your day!

  4. So much paperwork and unnecessary red tape. Glad this is now behind you.

  5. Tabor, i've watched them, and they are a joke. More of a popularity contest, and since the governor appoints a lot of people who run the system, that makes it even harder to bring change. Yes, she needs ice cream.

    Sandee, she will figure it out, but they make it unnecessarily difficult for everyone, i think.

    Kathe, public service, well, Sandee once compared it to the idea that we use a bull to "service" the cows. That's the kind of service we really get.

    Stephen, thank you.

  6. Ouch. That was one heck of a time. I hope telling us about it has helped to get it off your chest a bit and you can now concentrate on the next step - getting her all the things she needs... Hopefully that won't be as painful (except on the purse). (That's an English purse - the thing that ladies keep money in within their handbag - does it have an American equivalent because I know a purse in American is the handbag itself?)