Yet Another School Update

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I claimed I was going to back off from writing about my life so much, but this is another update to the posts School Limbo and School Update.

In the last school posts, my daughter’s on-campus housing was canceled and we scrambled to find her a place to live near campus. Campus is within commuting distance, but she really didn’t want to keep doing online school at home with her parents. It turns out the scrambling on the day housing was canceled was not that necessary. Her school announced that most classes would remain online for the fall semester. Only around 20% would be in person. My daughter is the only one in her friend group that had one class scheduled to be in person. Once people found out their classes would be online plenty of options came along for living near or on campus as students were now trying to get rid of leases to stay at home.  Many students are mad that they are not being let out of leases for on-campus apartments. There are plenty of housing options now.

Today’s update is that any in-person instruction will be delayed at least 2 weeks. Classes will start at the end of this month as scheduled, but they will all be online. They are requiring students have proof of a negative test before moving to campus and then requiring another test once they are there. They are supposed to quarantine until they get the on-campus test back. They are also being asked to stay in their rooms as much as possible for the first two weeks so they can assess the status after all of the test results. Not exactly a fun way to start college. I have suspected that the big reason they had not already done this was football. It is easier to justify football if the rest of the students are on campus. Now that football is likely not happening it is easier to delay everything.

Not much will change for my daughter. She still moves into her apartment next week. She will get tested as we expected. Her one in-person class will start online and might remain there. She will possibly spend more time with her new roommates vs her friends on campus for the first two weeks.

I really miss normal.

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School Update

It seems these days I’m doing more of an online journal thing like I did on LiveJournal. I don’t plan to continue this, but since I have an update from yesterday’s post I guess I will do it.

Yesterday I wrote about the School Limbo we were in where the university emailed about a hybrid version of in-person and online classes. Students will be allowed to live on campus but the number of students living on campus would be smaller than planned.  We then had to wait for an email from resident life to know the status of my daughter’s dorm room.

Early this morning I saw online that they had emailed all students if they had canceled their housing. I woke my daughter up so she would check her email. As we feared, her housing was canceled. Also as suspected, all of her friends who had leases on the campus owned apartments kept their housing. It was possible that she would be stuck at home while all of her friends were on campus.

Luckily, because we woke her up early she saw a couple of posts from people looking for someone to take over their lease on nearby apartments. We are 99% sure that she now has a place next to campus. I guess until we sign papers it could always fall through, but right now we think she has a place to live. If it does fall through she will be out of luck because now everyone is awake and posting in the Facebook housing group asking if anyone has a place open. I guess a last resort would be begging her brother to let her live with him.

So, that was our exciting morning. Hopefully, everything is settled and we can move on with life.

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance

I’ve shifted back to trying to write at night but Mrs. Tater is home and I always have trouble writing with others around. So, enjoy this post from almost six years ago(yes, I’ve been boring people for over six years) on zero tolerance policies. I read it, fixed some typos and I still agree with myself

The World's Common Tater

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you have probably seen the “stupid school” articles I share.  Many of the stupid school decisions are based on a zero-tolerance policy. The most recent one that really made me mad was this one:

where a high school athlete was suspended after she went to a party to drive a drunk friend home. She did not attend the party and did not drink. She was only there to get a friend who called to ask for a ride. Instead of thinking and applauding the teen for making sure a friend didn’t drive home drunk, the school used “zero tolerance” to make a really stupid decision. I could post article after article of other schools doing the same thing.

Zero tolerance is supposed to be about “making kids safer”. What zero tolerance does is take common sense and any thought out of…

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Tuesday Tater Hot Take: Maryland Gets Hot

We are entering another stretch of extreme heat. Temperatures in the 90’s with a heat index above 100. This is not unusual for Maryland. Maryland gets hot and humid in the summer. This summer heat can start as early as May and can extend in to September. The heat is not a shock. This is Maryland weather.

Even though this heat is not unusual, there are several schools in the area without air conditioning. Every year, either at the beginning or the end of the school year, there are closings and delays alerts for schools being closed or closing early due to heat. Every year. For some reason, even though this is an every year thing, the local school systems don’t think putting AC in the schools is a priority. I guess they don’t think school disruptions matter enough to spend money on AC. It seems like a small investment to make sure students and teachers have a comfortable space for learning.

My daughter just moved in to her dorm at the University of Maryland. She, like her brother his freshman year, does not have AC in her dorm. Multiple emails have gone out with advice on how to “beat the heat” and now emails telling them they are putting mattresses in air-conditioned common areas and opening them for people to sleep if necessary. My daughter spent her first weekend at college at home because she couldn’t sleep in her room with temps at 90 degrees. She went back this morning just in time for her first class. We toured a lot of colleges last year. Maryland seems to be the last hold out in updating their dorms. I guess they think other things are more important. I’m not asking them to build luxury dorms. The traditional dorm is still fine, just add AC. We aren’t north enough to not have AC.

I know there are people who think “I didn’t have AC when I was in school and I was fine” but I disagree with that thinking for a coupe of reasons. First, I don’t think “it was good enough for me” is a good argument against advancement or updates. Shouldn’t we be working to make the world a better place? Even if that just means giving our kids a place where they can learn comfortably? Second, the world is getting hotter. These extreme temperatures are going to become more common. We have to be prepared for this. This is not the same world we lived in 30 years ago. Also – I had AC in my small town school in Kentucky 30 years ago and AC in my dorm in Kentucky. You’re way behind Maryland.

College…Or Not

I recently read this article in the Washington Post –

Elitists, crybabies and junky degrees

A Trump supporter explains rising conservative anger at American universities.

I don’t agree with the people quoted that colleges are brainwashing young adults and turning them into liberal elites, but I do agree with the premise that college is not for everyone. Some people should not go to college and that’s OK. Some people should go to college and that is also OK.

I am the only one of my siblings to graduate from college. It doesn’t make me better than them. It doesn’t make me smarter than them(that happened naturally). I am better looking than them, but college had nothing to do with that. I needed to go to college to get where I needed to be in life.  They didn’t need to go to college to get where they needed to be in life. Both situations are fine. We did what was best for us. That’s what everyone should do.

Both of my kids will attend college. I hope they will both graduate. They have aspirations for careers that require a college education and the aptitude to be successful in college. Some kids have aspire to careers where a degree is not necessary. Some kids are not in a place where they would be successful in college. This is all OK.  I think everyone deserves a chance to go to college. I think we should continue funding for grants to help those in need attend college. I just don’t think everyone should go to college.

We need people to become tradesmen. We still need plumbers, carpenters, welders, auto mechanics, etc. These are good jobs. These are good jobs that do not require a college degree. Unfortunately, these are becoming jobs that are considered “lesser” and parents try to push kids away from them and into college. There is no shame in these jobs. We should stop trying to force kids into college just because we have all decided that everyone needs a college education.

We should let kids go in the direction that will allow them the most success. Why pressure a kid into college if that is not where they will be successful? Why not guide kids toward the path in life that is best for them instead of the path that makes the parents feel good about themselves?


The First of the Last

Today is the first day of my daughter’s last year of high school. Technically, tomorrow is the real first day of school for seniors, but she is there today as part of the school’s mentor program to help the freshmen acclimate.  So, since she’s there, I’m counting this as the first of the last.

Only 8 months left of the public school system. There are plenty of good things about this. Seniors graduate the same day no matter what, so snow days mean nothing this year except a day off. No worries about the school year extending too far in to the summer. No more dealing with the parents who complain about everything the school system does. No more caring what the public school system does. My life will no longer revolve around the public school calendar. We can go on vacation when everyone else is still in school.

The good is countered by the sad. Only 8 months until our youngest graduates from high school and then only a couple of more months before she leaves for college. Less than a year from an empty nest and a lot of alone time for me. Less than a year until I only see my kids occasionally.

It is a bittersweet year for me.

Back to School Advice

Schools are now back in session. I’ve decided to make a list of things I think kids should do to make the school year better.

  1. Be Nice – Smile at people when you pass them in the halls. Say hello, good morning or another pleasant greeting when possible. Help people who need help. Talk to people who seem to be alone. Invite them to eat lunch with you and your friends. Making someone else’s day better will make yours better as well.
  2. Be Yourself – Or Batman, but I think the school would frown on that, so be yourself. It might seem easier to pretend to be something you’re not in order to fit in, but it’s not. If you need to change to be someone’s friend then they are not a friend worth having. Spend time with people who like you for who you are. You need to like you for who you are as well.
  3. Stand up to bullies – You might not be bullied yourself, but you probably know people who are being bullied. If you see it, say something. Tell a teacher, tell a counselor, tell the bully to back off. Do something. Don’t just let it go and hope someone else will take care of it.
  4. Work hard – Studying and doing the best you can on assignments will not only improve your grades and your chances of getting into college but also help you develop good habits for the future. College will be harder and the more you get in the habit of doing the work now the easier it will be to adjust later. Also, good work habits now will make you a good employee in the future.
  5. Have fun – Work hard, but also find time to enjoy the high school years. Join a club that interests you. Go to football games. Go to dances, with or without a date. Hang out with your friends as much as possible.
  6. Make the best of this time while you are in it. Don’t be someone who looks back with regret on the things you did or the things you didn’t. This is your only life. Live it well.

More school rants

I have once again made the mistake of engaging in discussions on Facebook about school calendars. I will try to be more coherent than normal by ranting in a numerical, topical order.

1. “You can’t make X change to the school calendar because I can’t/don’t want to find child care” – It is not the school system’s responsibility to worry about your child care issues. It is the school system’s responsibility to educate your children and to adjust the calendar in the way they feel best accomplishes this. It is YOUR responsibility to deal with YOUR child care issues. Be prepared. Have arrangements in place at the beginning of the school year so you know what you will do if there is a 2 hour delay or 2 hour early dismissal. If these are built into the calendar, it is even easier. Talk to your friends and neighbors. I’m sure you can find someone who will help you. Don’t tell the school system it’s not fair that you have to do this.

2. “I’m mad that you are extending the school year due to bad weather even though the calendar clearly stated that is what would happen. I ignored this and planned a vacation for the day after school was supposed to end” – You are not very smart. Read the calendar. Make your plans accordingly. If school will be extended because of winter closings, don’t make plans too close to the last day of school. You are asking for trouble. It’s not the school systems fault that you can’t/won’t read or just don’t care.

3. “If the school year is extended I will just not send my kids the last week. Nothing happens anyway” – Maybe nothing happens in elementary school, but that all changes toward the end of middle school and especially in high school. You should prepare your children now to expect to stay in school until school is actually over. Also, what kind of lesson are you teaching them if you pull them out of school early because you weren’t smart enough to plan your vacation properly?

4. “We should not even consider school start times because they will have to get up early when they are adults” – Adult and teen sleep needs are totally different.  When they are adults, their sleep cycle will change and they will be better able to deal with this. Why don’t you be honest and admit that you don’t want to mess with school schedules because of #1 above? Many people who argue against late arrival for high schoolers are just afraid they will lose their free babysitting.

I’m sure there were more, but this is all I can remember right now. Now I need to stop reading comments.

No more lazy summer days?

Last weekend, The Washington Post ran an op/ed piece extolling the virtues of year around school. Today there was a small piece in the same paper about what activities to do with your kids to keep them from falling behind or apparently being “lazy” over the summer. I guess the summer days of riding bikes, playing baseball or just hanging out with your friends like I had as a kid are now a bad thing that will prevent our kids from getting a good education and will lead to them being stupid, lazy and poor. I guess me and my friends were just lucky that we survived these horrible summers, made it to college and have good jobs.

What we are creating is a generation of kids who will not know relax or have fun. We will have a new generation of Type A, stressed out people and then we will wonder why road rage is getting worse, the suicide rate is up and people are snapping and lashing out at each other. Lazy summer days are not a waste of time. Lazy summer days are a time for kids to use their imagination, explore their world and learn how to relax. That’s just as important as what they learn in school.

There is also a push for year round school as a way to alleviate the daycare costs for people. When did school become free daycare? Why are we expecting the schools to raise our children? Free daycare is not a good reason to take away summer vacation.