I yelled at J's Assistant Principal today. I know, I know, there will be no 'Best Parent' trophy for me as a result. Definitely not my proudest moment, but I have seriously had it up to my eyeballs with this school.
J was getting yet another suspension today, J said it was because he called detention stupid, AP said it was because J didn't attend his detention. I went down to the school to pick J up and promptly lost my noodle at AP because I am so damn sick of J being in detention, tutorial, or suspension. The only answer I'm given as to why he has another in-school suspension (where he spends the whole day in a cubicle beside the office) is that it's because he didn't attend his detention. The detention was because he didn't attend the tutorial. The tutorial was because he didn't do his homework. This happens every single time he has homework. He has homework with almost every math class.
It took the better part of an hour with the Principal (AP and I had been reduced to yelling like 5 year olds so Principal took over) to finally get some basic information. J is doing fine in class. He is not disruptive, he completes his assignments, he attends class, he is not rude or cruel to the teachers. This is with all classes, not just one or two. So, if he's doing ok in class then what's with all the detentions and whatnot? I found out it's because he refuses to do homework, mostly math. The school will not accept assigning a student a zero for not handing work in. J won't do homework. His reasoning is that his home time is his time and he won't spend his time doing anything for the school. I turned to J and asked him if he eventually does the work during class time, and he said he did. He just will not do it at home. I asked if he would complete assigned homework during class instead of home, he said he would if that was allowed, but the math teacher assigns it so there is no time to do it in class. I turned to Principal and she agreed that this is how the math teacher operates. Work is expected to be done at home.
Sigh. I see J's point of view, I don't do anything for work outside of work, ever. I see the teacher's point of view, there is not a lot of time in class so work is expected to be completed at home. And not much work, it's not like J is being loaded down with it and other teachers don't assign homework (that I know of).
So I asked Principal to clarify: J is doing fine in class, no complaints from teachers, all in-class assignments are completed on time; the problem is with J attending after school detentions to reprimand him for not attending tutorial, which is a reprimand for not doing work at home. Yes, she said, that's it. So then, I said, do you see that your discipline system is not working for J? If he's completing his work with the exception of a bit of homework in one subject, and he's attending class, and he's not defiant, rude, cruel, or disruptive, then why are you persisting in pulling him out of class almost every day to serve detention time? This method is not working, he's missing too much class time to keep up with the work, which can create more homework, which he will not do, so he's assigned tutorial, then detention, then suspension, then he's behind in class, creating more homework...you see? She said she won't change the system to suit J as other students will then be expected to be treated like J.
Sigh. Ok, I see her point. What was left unsaid was that I could force J to do his homework and that would solve the problem. Except that J has not once ever done homework. Not ever. I have tried keeping in contact with the teachers, picking him up from school and making sure he brings home the appropriate materials to complete the work, I have stood over him with the work spread out in front of him, I have read the work out loud to him to help him understand, I've rephrased the work to use smaller words, I've grounded him for not doing the work, I have taken away privileges for incomplete work, and I have given up. J's grades are not fantastic but he's not failing either. He understands the material presented and is able to communicate his understanding to the teachers. When he has time during class (any class) he finishes the assigned homework. So I figured that homework done at home was not a hill I'd like to die on.
And I suspect homework is just the topic, the issue is J's principles involving time usage. He believes that his time is his to manage. He accepts that he must go to school (although slowly he's been saying he'd like to drop out as he doesn't see the point in school) and will do the required work - during their time not his. I can fully understand why J is so stubborn on his principles, he gets it from me. And thank you, I don't want to argue with me either on principles.
So J is generally a good student with a decent understanding of the courses but he won't do homework. He has been placed in a school that puts a prime focus on completing all assigned work. To me, the Big Picture is for J to get his diploma. The world has changed so that a diploma is a requirement to get a decent job. To me, one of the details to that Big Picture is homework. While I understand the need to encourage students to study and complete the work, as long as J has a working knowledge of the material taught I don't see the point in battling him over doing the work at home.
At this point, I'm on The Countdown. There are 30 school days left in the year. Next year J will be going to a new school. I may set up a meeting with all of J's teachers at the new school to discuss J. I don't know if it will help them to understand J's attitudes or perceptions, but at least I can set the groundwork for communication with the teachers.