The ACLU is in process of suing the RI public school system. We're with it- this place has failed us miserably as concerns our eldest daughter. In fact that failure has not only affected our household and the flow of life here, but is a widespread issue for families of all stripes, all over the state.
Our own situation is represented by several major episodes in our child's education career, hi-lit by a couple I'll reiterate here...
In the 2nd grade she was "kept in for recess" to complete a "paper" on Christopher Columbus. This situation endured for an entire half of the school year. Her desk was found filled with rumpled sheets of written-on paper which had apparently not 'passed muster' for the presentation. The teacher explained these were attempts at "a paper she owed me", for which she'd been held during recess. Our kid was generally the only one in the room for that period- so she wasn't always the only one... This situation was discovered at a 1-on-1 parent/teacher meeting between wife and our child's teacher during a school open house. As she was leaving the meeting and was in the hallway, my wife overheard a piece of a conversation between said teacher and the school principal who had entered the room. There was shouting... it seems that holding a child from recess, for any reason, is against the law. And this went on for an entire semester...
At the local middle school our daughter was taken from a table of new friends she was in the midst of getting acquainted with during lunch-time. The guidance counselor approached her table, leaned toward her and said "Oh no, take your tray and follow me". Our daughter was led to a lone desk and chair at the front of the cafeteria before the other 200 children in attendance, and told to take a seat. She would be eating her lunch there instead of with her friends. Our daughter had done nothing to actually have lined herself up for this unusual psychological punishment... it was in fact done to enforce an after-school detention for tardiness, that we had asked to have a meeting about before it was implemented. She was not in fact "tardy"... and we had reason to believe that this was not an appropriate route to take for our daughter (or anyone's child for that matter). The "detention" was implemented, without our knowledge, during regular school hours- a violation of policy as written in the school's own Student Handbook. It was also a violation of good faith on the part of the school administration. Our daughter said later that during this strange and unexpected lunch room event, she looked up at a photograph of some fish on a reef underwater on the wall overhead. She said she felt like she was drowning... if you're hip to psychology you'll see that this represents the onset of anxiety. Later that evening, at home, Andrea experienced an anxiety episode at bed time. We got her through it, and then removed her from the school.
There is more, but that gives you the idea.
We had a meeting with the principal the next day, which we shortly came to see as fruitless and pulled her from school, partly on recommendation from our daughter's pediatrician. "Truancy Court" letters followed, of which we saved one- in case it were ever relevant... it now appears to be. But we have come to terms with what this is here: What we have available in the way of publicly-funded education is a system that does not serve the child. It serves other interests, but does so with the false premise of offering the service of providing enlightening education and preparation for entrance into society. Talk about your disappointing crocks of shit.
I have to give them kudos though, for tenacity- for walking on doggedly after a method for getting a thing done. But that's where it stops- unfortunately they're doing everything wrong! They have in fact done everything that it takes to destroy a child's zeal for learning. Their evidently purposefully blind and obdurate attitude, neglecting any consideration for the fact that these are fledgling people in a free society who need guidance, respect and freedom to think creatively, is in practice a bludgeon and a paralyzing agent to the sensitive processes of growth and awakening perception; for those who cow to the system they are surrounded by it's a crusher of self-confidence, and a strange hurdle to the development of personal or practical skills. For those who rebel against it, it presents other, more socially innovative possibilities as they find themselves assuming the posture of an outsider... if you can't win, play another game...you can "do your own math" on that one.
If these people are willing to put the parents in prison for the sake of the child's education, then perhaps they should rather be willing to foot the bill for an alternative education solution- one where the child will actually be educated... and have their parents too.
As for our daughter, she's been enrolled in a local private school and is now thriving happily. We would be interested in a little of that bill-footing action if it were to become available.