Thursday, November 08, 2007


Kids make stupid choices while at school. One of the consequences for seriously stupid choices is Out of School Suspension, though the current trends are moving away from this form of punishment.
While a student is assigned to O.S.S., the school is still responsible for providing an education. This means that the teacher has to provide the work to the student to work on at home. Last Wednesday, my e-mail's In-Box filled with four requests for work. I had four students, two from one of my 10th grade classes and two from my other 10th grade class, placed on O.S.S..
I wasn't sure what to do.
Because we don't have enough money to buy books, I don't have enough books for each student to take home. The solution--read the book in class. But, if all of my students show up, I still don't have enough books.
I e-mailed the secretary explaining the situation: no books to send home for these four students. "Figure it out." Okay, "have them return to our transition room when they return from O.S.S. and they'll be able to use the books during the periods I am not teaching. Or, better yet, have mom go the library and check the book out or go to the book store and buy it."
Not good enough. I got a little talking to about how it is my responsibility to provide the students with the work. I asked if the school would prefer that I give the students pointless busy work that doesn't relate to what is happening in class. Yes, apparently they would.


At 12:46 PM , Blogger CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

This is nonsense. The school needs to provide the books. Period.

At 6:05 AM , Blogger Joe said...

When it comes to books, schools are insane!

A few years ago, in NYC there was a big deal made in the news about students not having books to take home, for months or not at all. Since there is a lot of moving around in many schools, there was a reluctance to give out expensive texts to students who would take them away with them. Never mind, books must be given. Solution? Dig up old, outdated, books from the storage room and give them out. Sometimes I’d be giving out as many as twelve different textbooks in one class. Didn’t matter, they’d never use them.

Then three years ago they decided to close down my 3400 student school and have the building occupied by six “small” high schools. As each grade disappeared, the books for that grade were brought to a basement room and thrown on the floor! After a while there was just a mountain of books, with foothills just past the sweep of the door. It was heartwrenching.

Now, in most of the small schools where I consult, there is little money for books. In one senior class, the students were told to get their own copies of King Lear. The first five minutes of each class is spent figuring out where the target text is in each version of the play. Madness.

There is more to the story. Books are so expensive that unreturned copies across the disciplines run to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in every school. Money for books often appears at the last moment with departments scrambling for titles, some of which are never used. And finally, spending valuable class time reading the book together, a widespread practice, is a significant factor in the slow progress students make. The fact that we do not focus the full powers of our collective intellects on finding ways to make it possible and necessary for students to read at home and work at school, is a travesty.

At 8:21 PM , Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

What if you photocopied the relevant parts of the text and violated copyright? I bet they'd LOVE that.

At 4:55 AM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Ms. C--I don't think they would have an issue with that. And my issue with it would be photocopying 45+ pages of text.


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