Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Josh Takes Responsibility for His Daughter's Education

Every year since I've been teaching the High Ability class at Mayflower Mill, I've had to deal with students who take extended vacations during the school year.  I've had students who've jetted off to Costa Rica for two weeks, students who've gone on cruises that didn't even begin until school had already started after Christmas break, and students who simply couldn't take their annual week-long trip to Orlando any time except smack in the middle of October. 

Our school system has a policy that allows this as long as the parents are willing to write a letter stating that during the time that the students will be missing school, the parents will take responsibility for their child's education.  Of course, the child is expected to make up any missed work, but that's pretty much all it takes to get a week or two off of school, scot-free.

It's always a real pain for me when my students miss class since so much of what we do can't be replicated at home or made up with extra homework.  It's hard to have a class discussion about whether or not Sal in the novel Walk Two Moons is a reliable narrator while on the airplane with your family on the way to Disney World.  So I end up having either to decide that the student can skip the missed assignments altogether or having to write new assignments that can be done by the student without my instruction or their classmates' input to use as a sounding board.

And then, of course, I have to grade it all.  Yuck.

I've always thought of parents who exercise their right to take their kids on mid-school-year vacations as just a teensy bit irresponsible. Just what kind of message are these people sending to their kids about the importance of school attendance?

Well, this year, I became one of those parents.

Josh was given the opportunity to teach in Purdue's study abroad program in London, England, this summer, and our whole family decided to tag along.  Since the program in London started on May 18 and our school wasn't over until May 27 for students, we had initially planned for Josh to go over without us.  Kinley, Knox, and I would follow on June 1.

But then Josh and I (with some encouragement from my assistant principal) decided to give Kinley an early tenth birthday gift – a ticket to fly over with her daddy instead of waiting until the end of the school year.

We wrote the requisite I-take-responsibility-for-my-child's-education letter, which is kind of ironically redundant since she was already being taught every day in a public school by her mother.  Now that I think of it, maybe our letter should have been more of a I-hereby-relinquish-the-responsibility-for-my-daughter's-education-and-pass-the-baton-on-to-my-husband type letter.

At any rate, Kinley was heading to London.  She'd miss field day, the traditional 5th grade walk, and our end-of-year pizza party and auction.  But she would trade those activities for learning to deal with a new currency, visiting two Welsh UNESCO World Heritage Sites, straddling the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, watching Wicked from the front row of the Victoria Palace Theater in London's famous West End, and getting a new stamp in her already impressively-decorated passport two weeks early. 

It was a good trade.  Even if it was a little bit irresponsible.

And besides, it wasn't a mid-school-year trip to Disney.


Josh Boyd said...

It was definitely a good trade! Kinley and I had a blast, and she got to meet a whole new class (my students in London) to boot.

Dave B said...

As a former homeschooling parent, I can attest that the level of enjoyment of activities with the kids during the off season is pretty good incentive to take a little time off now and then from school during the year. Museums and Aquariums are virtually empty during the school year. You can actually linger and enjoy the exhibits, instead of battling lines on holidays and weekends.

Although, two week stints seems a bit much to catch up on. I'd be hard pressed to attempt more than a week myself.

Honestly, I don't even think I've been to Disney during the summer and wouldn't even waste the money waiting in those lines with that heat. An overseas trip- that's a no brainer for me- it's an opportunity of a lifetime. Hope you all had fun.

Irresponsibility isn't always horrible ;) Although this is coming from a guy who used to ditch high school occasionally (with parental permission) to go to downtown Chicago and just explore.