EMinNM

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 18 2012

Please send your kid to school!

Between my 19 students, we have missed 11 days of instructional time this week. And it’s only Thursday.

2 of those days are In-School Suspension for messing around on the bus and hitting another kid in the head with a jacket (which I don’t think merits 2 days ISS, especially when another kid got in a fistfight and got 1 day of ISS, but there you go). This is my second-lowest student, who CANNOT afford to miss any of our review week this week. I also tried my darndest to get her to be able to stay afterschool today. Despite the fact that her parents manage to come pick up her brother from basketball 3 days a week at 5:15, they tell me she can’t stay afterschool the other two days a week because they can’t come pick her up until 6, since they work.(My translation: we can come get him on time, because brother’s basketball is more important than sister’s education. Is this oversimplifying and unfair? Probably. But it still makes me mad.) I asked her stepmom about staying after today, said it didn’t matter when they came to get her, since she has a unit test tomorrow. I texted her dad, I emailed again today when I didn’t get a response, I even offered to drive her home (because I was already doing that for another kid and her house is on the way). Nothing.

3 of those days are one kid whose brother has a medical appointment in ABQ. 1 is from a kid whose sister had a doctor’s appointment all day. OK, fair enough, this I totally understand.

2 of those days are one girl being sick. Another day is that same girl forgetting to wake up in the morning and showing up at lunchtime. I’d be a lot more sympathetic about her being sick if she hadn’t already missed 10 days of school this year (out of 45), and if I didn’t know she was playing the fact that she can come back after 2 sick days without proof but if she misses 3 she needs a doctor’s note.

1 day is a kid who went pinon picking with her grandma instead of coming to school.

1 day is a kid who had a 15-minute doctor’s appointment to get a flu shot at 8:30 in the morning, so he missed the whole day of school. Again, I’d be more sympathetic if he hadn’t already missed 9 days of school this year. (Side note: his mom told me they “travel a lot as a family,” which means they leave on Fridays for Albuquerque and, according to my student, spend the weekend in a motel near a casino, missing either Friday, Monday, or both. They travel so much that she was thinking of homeschooling him starting in January. Five minutes later she told me he seems to be doing so well in math, which is great because she tries to help him with his homework but she doesn’t remember how to do division anymore. I’m hoping maybe we can hold off on homeschooling for now.)

And so on. At this point, as a class, we have missed 15% of our instructional time off the bat. Without factoring in time for confusion, wasted unfocused time, time we lost for the fire drill, transition time, and so on, we can only possibly master 85%. Let’s be honest, we weren’t going to master all of what I had planned anyway, but if the highest we can possibly do is a B, we are so much less likely to even scrape a C.

The last kid I mentioned is proof of this: he’s so incredibly smart, and learns so quickly, but he missed 39 days of school last year so he has giant holes in his knowledge. Plus he only comes to school 80% of the time now. The best he can do is 80%, and he does darn well considering (I think his math average is a 75) but he could possibly get 95%, be in my advanced group, learn 5th grade math this year as a fourth grader, get proficient grades on NMSBA, get into an honors track, graduate from high school, go to college and have vastly different life opportunities, if only he came to school 100% of the time. Plus, having so many kids out hurts my kids who are there because I end up having to spend half my time reviewing for the kids who weren’t there yesterday when we covered this topic they don’t know how to do, so I have less time for the kids who were there every day.

Parents: for the love of all that makes sense, please, please send your kid to school!

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