Thursday, May 31, 2012

If Not Now, When?

My school's intrepid guidance counselor and I spent yesterday making phone calls to parents--about attendance, Regents tutoring, and classes that students are still failing.  As you can imagine, there's a pretty strong link between that first item and the last one.  And while I'm sorry to keep harping on this subject, I can't deny that trying to cajole parents into doing their legal duty to educate their children is starting to wear on me and my guidance counselor partner in all this.

One young lady whose guardian was just here last week has already missed two more days of school.  Two other sets of parents have respectively broken nearly half a dozen appointments to come to the school.  And I teach high school, and it's May...and if not now, when?  When will these kids start showing up regularly, if not now, when their courses terminate in Regents exams?  Or when will these kids, who are most certainly not stupid, realize that they personally must bear at least some of the responsibility?

Having paused in the middle of writing this, I can take a moment to add that many, maybe even most, of my students are working hard, showing up, and gearing up to show those exams who's boss and pull out all their credits for the semester.  I know I don't teach in a school with 60% attendance or a 70% graduation rate and many teachers have it much worse than I do.  I guess, then, in some ways, the fact that there are just these few kids who are really not on board makes it that much tougher, because if there were 50 of them, it would be easier to acknowledge that we're not going to save them all.  If there are only maybe 5 or 10, you think, "Gosh, just these last few!  I can get 'em!"  But whether there's 1 or 100, it's still true that we won't save them all, no matter what we do.

So maybe I'll ring a few more phones today before calling it a week tomorrow.  I'd always like to get a couple more, even if I won't get them all.

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