Thursday, April 29, 2010

Community Service

My middle school wants our 8th graders to be "well rounded citizens". Well, duh- it's a nice idea in theory but the approach is a pain in butt.

Here's the deal: the kids get "points" for their grades, attendance, behavior, standardized test scores, and extra curricular activities. For a kid who makes good grades, plays a sport or joins a club, doesn't miss much school and passes the standardized tests, this is no big deal. For about 95% of the 8th grade population, this is no big deal. BUT!!!! (yes, there is always a BUT!!!!)

Well, I guess before the "but" I should also say the 8th grade teachers claim that they have the nerve/ the right/ the guts/ the whatever to tell kids who have passing grades, good attendance, who are NOT behavior problems and who pass their standardized tests that they will not allow these kids to PASS to the 9th grade because they don't have any community service hours or because they aren't participating in an extra curricular. You read that right- no passing because of that lack. I think that's one of the stupidest things in the world. And I am pissed.

Now remember what I do? I work with mild special ed kids, and LD and ED kids. These kids, for the most part, HATE school with a passion, usually are discipline problems, fail their standardized tests, and never have any extra curriculars because they hate school and want to be as far away from the place as they can be, once that bell rings. (Or their parents don't have money to pay for them to join anything, they don't have transportation home from something after school!) So MY kids are the ones who are in danger of passing because they have a low amount of points to begin with. So last week, the 8th grade teachers had individual conferences with these kids, and told them they needed 20 community service hours by May 14 or they would not be able to go to 9th grade. Outrageous!

Where are MY kids going to get community service hours? Really? Most people would take one look at them and say they weren't interested in their help. Most don't have parents who can help guide them; obviously, or they wouldn't be in this situation to begin with. Most of my kids don't have a way to GET to a place to work. Who thought of this whole stupid idea?!?

So, I decided since this is stupidest thing I've heard this year, and I teach special ed so I hear a lot of stupid shit, I'm going to make sure the kids get their hours. I called Curley, who works at our local senior citizen rec. centre here in town and tell her about the BS at school and can she help me get 5-12 kids some hours. With her help and with the help of her boss, I have time slots for my kids to go in to volunteer every day, beginning today, until next Friday.

I arranged transportation from the school to the centre, and I'll be taking them home. And I'm staying to oversee this huge bunch of kids for the two hours they're spending working. The kids will be doing anything from yard work to "house cleaning" to stocking the food pantry to moving furniture. The won't really be interacting with senior citizens because we get there so late in the day that most of the 'senior' activities are over.

Tonight, after school, I took the first load of kids over; I had five. These are kids who hate school, really don't have typically good adult interactions, most have criminal records, and in general, aren't kids most adults like nor approve of. WELL!!! My kids totally ROCKED!

They were polite and worked so very hard. They did everything they were asked with very little screwing around, and NO bad attitudes. They stocked the food pantry today and they did as they were told: lugged and hauled food, stocked shelves, cleaned, organized, cut up card board to recycle... I am so proud of them. They used manners (and I didn't even have to give them the manners pep talk) and were very respectful. I am so proud of them. I couldn't be more pleased.

We have five more days to go of this and if each day goes this well, it will be more than worth it. They were phenomenal. I think they deserve monstrous kudos.

And they deserve to be freshmen next year. Hands down. Today reminded me why I like teenagers, and why I don't like school policies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that is completely

RE- Donkulous!

come by and enter my giveaway on yesterday's post if you are so inclined!!!!

ciao bella
creative carmelina