Failed policy


“It’s not right to make my son carry the burden of your dissatisfaction of the failed policies of this school”.

That’s how my parent/teacher conference went today. Sound like fun? Oh, yea – – just a hoot, let me tell ya.

They called a conference today because of some trouble that Ben got into yesterday. Ben is in “ED” because he’s argumentative and has ADD. He’s a relatively bright kid – – sharp as a tack, but feels the need to debate everything into the ground and doesn’t know when to stop kicking a dead horse. Also, he has difficulties concentrating and multitasking. Hardly a disability, in my eyes – and they way they roped us into ED is a whole other story altogether.

Be that as it may – – he’s ED. They use the Dubuque Management System to help keep him on task. In short, he has a point sheet that he is required to carry from class to class and have each of his teachers score him in different areas of behavior and academics, on a daily basis. Then, at the end of the day – he has to go to the ED room and ‘bank out’. Meaning – he shows his point sheet to his ED Program Director and he then is allowed to ‘shop’ from the “Point Bank” where each item costs a certain amount of points.

Following me here?

Ben is inconsistent with his point sheet. Sometimes he remembers, sometimes he doesn’t. He’s been using this point sheet system since he was in 6th grade – and frankly, it’s not doing him a bit of good. Ben knows how to manipulate the system in order to get what he wants. The first week they gave him this point sheet and explained it to him — back in the sixth grade — they explained the banking out concept and the “Point Shop” – – and Ben put the point sheet down and looked at his teacher and said:

“Basically what you’re doing here is telling me if I do A, you’ll give me B – – and you’re assuming I’m at all interested in having B.”

That was three years ago. I just told Ben to fill out the damn sheet and motivate himself to follow the rules because it’s the right thing to do and it will make his life at home much easier if he does. That, he could appreciate.

Still, he’s inconsistent with the point sheet. His behaviors haven’t been bad – – his grades are improving all over the place . . . and yet, there’s this damn point sheet.

So, yesterday – he took his point sheet to Mr. Ebben. Mr. Ebben noticed that only one other teacher signed it – out of eight. He looked at Ben and said, “I’m not signing this because no one else did. Why should I sign it if no one else did? It’s not giving anyone a clear picture of how you spent your day and I don’t agree with this whole Dubuque Management thing anyway – it’s ineffective.”

Ben says, “But you’re required to sign it.”

Mr Ebben, “I’m not required to do anything just because you say so. Now go sit down, Ben”

Ben argues, “But you have to sign it. I’m in ED. I have an IEP program that my mom says the school gets federal money for that requires the teachers to abide by a certain program. You have to sign it. Want to see my IEP?”

Mr. Ebben, “No, I’m not interested in seeing your IEP – – and if you’re going to be inconsistent with the point sheet, there’s really no point in it, is there.?”

Well, Ben argued. Mr Ebben gave him a detention for arguing the point. Ben got upset and said, “Well, it’s 3:10 – I have to go bank out in ED anyways and I’ll let them know you refused to sign it.”

The teacher told him that he couldn’t go and he needed to stay there, in his class. Ben explained that if he didn’t bank out – he’d get a detention from ED. Mr. Ebben told him if he did leave – he’d get a detention from him.

So, Ben – faced with two options that would get him into trouble anyways, chose the lesser of two evils and left the class and got the detention from Mr. Ebben instead of his ED Coordinator.

I don’t make excuses for my argumentative son. He can be a handful, to say the least.

We came together for a meeting today where Mr. Ebben described this whole scenario. Everything about his body language told me that this guy was incredibly upset and agitated over the whole situation – – and the whole conversation revolved around why he has to sign Ben’s point sheet to begin with?

I promised to work with Ben on the whole arguing issue — made him apologize to Mr. Ebben and told him that Ben would fulfill his detention requirements after school today — however, I wanted Mr Ebben to do a few things for me:

1. If you don’t want Ben to argue with you – don’t’ engage him in debate.

2. If you have an issue with the policies set forth by the school – then you need to take it up with administration. My son should not bear the burden of your dissatisfaction with the policies put in place by the school.

3. Now, Ben is given a set of rules to abide by within the ED program – allow him to abide by them, even if it is inconsistent. If he does it 1 out of 4 times, then at least that’s something which is better than nothing. Allow the ED program to deal with the fact that he’s inconsistent in the requirements set forth by the program. By telling Ben that you’re not in agreement with the policy isn’t helping Ben whatsoever – – and only shows him that it’s ok to defy the rules as long as you disagree with them.

4. Communicate with me. It’s impossible to get ahold of a teacher throughout the day because they are in classes – – and the school’s phone system shuts down and goes into voice mail at 3:30. I made sure every single teacher has my home, work and cell phone number as well as my email. Before things escalate into such an issue that my son is serving an impossible amount of detentions – – involve the family so that the consequences for Ben’s behaviors can extend from school to home to allow for some consistency. One thing I know about my son — if he knows I’m involved, he shapes up in a big way. He sees teachers as easily manipulatable – – but he knows I’m not. Just call me before it reaches full tilt boogie.

Mr. Ebben’s face turned bright red, and looked as if he was about to explode.

It was amusing, actually, to see an adult man become so easily agitated over a small incident with a 14 year old kid. And with a parent who is asking for communication and consistency from the school.

The slogan on the school’s website? “Improving communication between schools and parents in order to create a worthwhile educational experience for the children”

Yea – and cows fly.

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8 thoughts on “Failed policy”

  1. But Lisa… Don’t you know that the whole problem, the only problem is that Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” doesn’t work and that it will all get better if we throw more tax money at it? Geezus K. Riste on a pogo stick. Nothing can make a level headed, sane person more thoroughly disgusted than dealing with the public school system. I feel your pain sweetie.

  2. Federal money isn’t going to make the education experience any better.

    Neither are politicians – – Republican or Democrat or Green or Purple.

    I’m convinced that parents need to take their kids education in their own hands — either with homeschooling or by being as involved as possible with what goes on in the public schools.

    They really hate seeing me walk through their front doors.

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