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Posts Tagged ‘after-school programs

Parents told: Go to anti-drug meeting, or your kids don’t play school sports

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Swampscott, Mass., is an affluent community of 15,000 in Boston’s North Shore suburbs. It has had a notable drug problem, with 17 overdose deaths in the last few years among those in their teens and 20s, and numerous others not dead but apparently carrying on the message Swampscott natives Fran Sheehan and Barry Goudreau endorsed on the Boston song “Smokin’.”

Bad influences. Bad!

A new principal, Layne Millington, came to Swampscott High, and he decided, after seeing a “huge number of incidents landing on my desk involving drugs and alcohol,” that it was time to frog-march parents in for a meaning to shake them by their collective lapels and slap them upside their collective heads to make them aware of the problem. He did this with the superintendent’s support. From the Salem News:

Asked about reports that drugs are “all over the high school,” Superintendent Lynne Celli replied simply, “They are.”

But…

Recently, Millington’s approach included a surprise appearance by search dogs at the high school — he was heartened by how little contraband they found.

Ah, hell, let’s just go with the superintendent.

So Millington scheduled a meeting for Jan. 10, then browbeat parents into showing up by telling them their children that they (the kids) could not participate in any after-school activities, including sports, if they (the parents) didn’t show up.

Now, he hopes to form “a partnership with the parents, who are really the kids’ first teachers.” To do that, he sees the need for a meeting that carefully spells out the entire effort and the parents’ role in it.

In the past, Millington said, the announcement of such a meeting would draw only a handful of people. His decision to call a “mandatory meeting” won unanimous approval from the superintendent and the School Committee.

There are a lot of parents upset over this. Actually, the only one who appears to be speaking — or being asked — is Judith Brooks, the mother of a ninth-grader, who appeared in the Salem News and on local Boston television as a “concerned parent.” Because in the news, a parent “speaking out” is always a “concerned parent.” From the Salem News:

“The school has no legal right to compel parents to do anything,” said Judith Brooks, the mother of a ninth-grader [dang it, I mentioned that already]. Acknowledging the concerns of school officials, she expressed the need to be “treated like adults” and added, “We’re not under their thumb.”

As the hippie basketball player in Greensburg, Ind., may well learn, schools get to do all sorts of dastardly things, like make you cut your hair or send your parents to an anti-drug meeting, to let you play sports. So the parents of Swampscott, who either don’t give a shit or feel like it’s not their problem, are stuck.

Except that Millington might not have needed to be so drastic. From a 2009 article in the Swampscott Reporter:

The Swampscott Drug and Alcohol Task Force was pleasantly surprised when the Little Theater at the Middle School filled with parents that night in the first of two sessions planned to educate parents about the real problems in Swampscott.

So maybe they DO give a shit — even if their children’s sports are at stake! Maybe not enough to actually solve Swampscott’s drug problem, but maybe enough that they don’t have to be frog-marched to school on a single night during which they might have a legitimate conflict.

Alas, in his zeal, Layne Millington might have done more harm than good in his relations with the parents at large. Next time, he should propose a webinar. It is an affluent community after all; presumably they have computers.

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Written by rkcookjr

January 5, 2011 at 12:48 am

Tim Tebow has not been kidnapped and murdered…

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…nor has he ever inspired Nancy Grace to harangue one of her guests.

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However, like a cute, doomed little girl, Tebow is getting his name attached to state legislation. “The Tim Tebow Bill” is shorthand for measures that would allow home-schooled children to participate in their public school’s extracurricular activities — such as Tebow was allowed to do in Nease, Fla., before he became a Heisman Trophy-, championship-winning quarterback. Here is one example of usage from the Bowling Green (Ky.) Daily News:

A house bill would allow home-schooled students to participate in public school sports, music events and other extracurricular activities.

And while 24 other states have adopted similar bills and more are considering the legislation, local school authorities said they still have a lot of questions about the “Tim Tebow Bill,” HB 179, that need answers.

According to the bill proposed by Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, home-schooled students would not be “discriminated against” from participating in interscholastic extracurricular activities after guidelines are determined for student enrollment and a waiting period is specified for when a student transfers from a public school to a home school.

Montell said in a news release that the bill was inspired by Tim Tebow, a Florida football quarterback who went on to become the first sophomore to win the Heisman trophy at the University of Florida after a similar law allowed the home-schooled student to participate in public high school athletics.

“While most everyone knows who Tim Tebow is and of his many accomplishments in football at the University of Florida, they do not know that Tim Tebow never attended public school for academics because he was home schooled,” Montell said. “But thanks to a Florida law that allows home-schooled students to compete in high school sporting events, Tebow was able to excel in a sport … shouldn’t we provide our home-schooled children that same opportunity?”

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The bill also promises home-schoolers the right and opportunity to grow or motorboat extremely large breasts.

The Home School Legal Defense Association, which does not seem Creepy Christian in the least, says Kentucky is one of nine states trying to pass Tebow bills (the use of the name is especially popular in states featuring teams Tebow beats the crap out of). Alabama’s backers, which have been trying for three years, already have registered timtebowbill.com, although with how things usually go in college sports, it should only be a matter of time before someone puts up a site called firetimtebowbill.com.

Twenty-four states already have such laws, including Tebow’s native Florida, which was a pioneer of these laws with the original, the Craig Dickinson Act of 1996. (The late Dickinson was a father who home-schooled his children.)

I’ll say first that I have known the pain and discrimination of having my children barred from participating in a school’s athletic program just because I chose not to send them there. After pulling my kids out of Catholic school, but keeping them in CCD, I was told my sons would be allowed to play football — but that no other kids could play no other sports, even though other area Catholic schools allowed their CCD kids to do the same. Perhaps I should sue, or get the Illinois legislature to pass a Bob Cook Act!

Or I could do what I did, and what so many homeschool parents are loathe to do — realize that when you pull your child out of a school, you no longer have a god-given right to cherry-pick activities for them from that school. Of course, I was dealing with a private school. But I’m amazed that home-schooling parents would find the local public schools too evil or just not good enough for everyday use, yet go running to them when they realize they can’t replicate a cheerleading program at home.

Homeschool parents’ argument is that they should be able to use the school because their tax money goes there. True, except that by not sending their child there, they are depriving schools state and other funding based on enrollment and daily attendance. Also, there is a question of whether home-schoolers are included in schools’ after-school activity insurance policies. Anyway, if their kids are on their way to being the Tebow of their activity, the parents might be better off paying for camps and private, elite programs, the kind college coaches watch more closely than high school games.

If the home-schoolers are going to be allowed in — and take the place of someone who goes to that school every day — they should meet strict academic requirements (which many Tebow laws dictate), and they should have to pay not only any fees charged to other kids (also a part of many of these laws), but some sort of premium to make up for the tax money not collected on their behalf and any premium for extra insurance the school requires.  Otherwise, start a homeschooler football team.

2295217857_459422e848_mOr a homeschooler band. From Flickr, a scene from a concert put on by the Minnesota Homeschool Chamber Orchestra.