ok, so here's the story: 11 yo dd goes to public school this year, first time after hs'ing and trying other various routes. she is an excellent student, respects authority, never acts up (although being an 11 yo girl she has her moments! ) but all around she is a great kid. she goes to a small school in a small town, everyone seems nice, things have been just fine - until last friday.
there was a choir visiting from an all girls school. they performed during school hours during an assembly with the honor choir from dd's school. dd didn't think the local choir sounded as good as the visiting choir because there are some boys in it whose voices are changing. she discussed this with her friend A, they concurred and then made the mistake of telling that to their friend L, who is a part of the honors choir. what they said was that the choir "sucked". so this hurt L's feelings and she immediately ran off and told their teacher.
now i know that dd didn't mean to hurt her friend's feelings, this has been a lesson on when to keep your opinion to yourself and to phrase things more delicately. it should have been handled in about 5 minutes. the girls should have been made to understand what they did wrong, apologies should have been made and that should have been the end of it. but here's where it gets sticky.
the teacher took it to the principal, the girls were yanked out of class and made to go to his office. he then yelled at them (dd said he turned all red and looked like a giant angry red balloon with a mustache) until he made both of them cry. he told them that he wanted them both to go write a letter apologizing to the choir for saying that they "suck" and that they might have to read it in front of the whole choir sometime this week (being a small school about half of the students are in the choir). at this point in the story i'm really angry.
so all weekend i hope that maybe they won't be called on to read these letters, the principal will realize that he overreacted and it will be forgotten. um, guess not. i told dd that if she were told to read the letter in front of the choir that she should refuse and have him call me if he wanted to discuss it further. he did call the girls out, they were headed for the music room but dd told him to wait and told him what i told her to say. he tried to call me but i didn't get the message until late this afternoon.
here are my problems with this whole thing; don't humiliate my child for having an opinion. she understands what she said was inappropriate, she apologized and it is done. i think there is a freedom of speech issue here... i also think that this was blown waaaay out of proportion to the point that it is just ridiculous. if it was that big of a deal i should have been contacted immediately. it was handled in a way that i would call bad at the very least.
so i'm going in tomorrow morning to ask for the letter and explain my feelings about this. i'm so mad i don't know whether to cry or kick a hole in the wall. i guess this is what i get for sending her to public school.
thanks for reading this - it got long. if anyone has anything else to point out here please do so. why do i feel like *i'm* the one in trouble and tomorrow i have to 'go to the principal's office'? i think this is my weird authority issue... :
Amy - Blessed wife to Jesse (the best dad in the world), mother of 10 on earth plus 8 in heaven. PROUD to be a Catholic! :
the principal needs to be repirmanded (sp?) for his actions!
I think you are doing the right thing to stand up with your child against this abuse of authority. Clearly your daughter owes apologies but she does deserve a public humilation.
I'm in complete agreement with your initial reaction to this situation. I could see apologizing to the whole choir if she had insulted them as a whole, but she didn't.
I would be so ticked at this point that I would more than likely go over the principals head to the school district superintendent. This principal sounds like he has some serious issues with discipline. No child should be humiliated in this way by anyone in a position of authority. I might even keep my child home to make sure she isn't forced into this so called apology until you can resolve this issue with all parties concerned. The handling of this situation is unreasonable!
The other post-er is right, dd will remember you sticking up for her for years to come. My mom stuck up for me in grandiose style once when I was 9. I'm 37 now and remember it fondly. You go, sister!!!
It's not appropriate for a principal to yell at children or humiliate them. Honestly I can't believe this man doesn't fear being sued for his behavior in this day and age.
They generally say something about this school does not use humiliation as a punishment. Could you find something from the school to back up your position? I think you are right about this even if the discipline statement does not say that, it just might be an easier thing to stand up for something already a school policy then to "create" one.
How are her friend's parents dealing with this?
I am sure this won't be much of a consolation, but this kind of thing happens in private schools as well. I can vouch for that from my own experience (and I went to a Waldorf school!). Any chance you can take her out of school altogether?
To me I think he has an authority issue and he won't back down after
he has made a decision. So be ready for him to not back down to you
either and he might show his "authority" to you too. KWIM
Just remember YOU are the parent and you have the last word!
Moving this to the preteen years forum now!
|Originally posted by kama'aina mama
He will roll his eyes at this question, but if a teacher said something belittling to a child would there be a similar formal, public apology made? .
I would go in and simply tell the principal that dd won't be making the public apology. If you feel so inclined, you can also tell him that you feel it is highly inappropriate of him to scream at dd, no matter what the offense. And let him take it from there. I would keep it simple, and not launch into explaining your reasoning, unless you particularly feel like it. He is the one that needs to explain himself, not you. I have always felt it is more powerful to state yourself simply and let the other person blather on explaining themselves.
My parents also stuck up for me like this one time in 7th grade, and I've always remembered it. The teacher was being unfair, and they stuck by me. I was suspended for refusing to follow through on the punishment, and my parents asked me if I wanted them to fight the suspension. Heck no, I just layed around the house for a few days. And this was a Waldorf school.
I think it shows your dd that you listen to and respect her, and that while respect for authority can be important, it is more important to make fair decisions and stand up for right and wrong.
|I would go in and simply tell the principal that dd won't be making the public apology. If you feel so inclined, you can also tell him that you feel it is highly inappropriate of him to scream at dd, no matter what the offense. And let him take it from there. I would keep it simple, and not launch into explaining your reasoning, unless you particularly feel like it. He is the one that needs to explain himself, not you. I have always felt it is more powerful to state yourself simply and let the other person blather on explaining themselves.|
Someone moved my effing cheese.
My .02 is that anyone treating a child like this; yelling until red in the face and causing the girls to cry is being emotionally abusive and bullying. not to mention the "discipline of humiliation" track he's insisting on.
Take this little tin tyrant on; he has no business being in a school!
it gets even better. this morning in music the teacher singled the girls out and made a remark about how maybe they could show the rest of the class that *they* could do better. sheesh! are the teachers just sitting around talking about this in the lounge??? i mean this is just getting adolescent to the point that i would rather talk with the superintendent than the principal. :
went in this morning and took care of the whole thing. apparently there was a misunderstanding and they thought that the girls had walked into the classroom and announced to everyone that the choir and everything about it sucks. now this would be totally uncharacteristic of both of them and the punishment would have been inappropriate anyway but i can see the direction from which the school was coming.
i think what happened was that they didn't get out their whole story because they were both so afraid and upset, i mean they immediately knew that they had done something wrong and i know they were sad that they had hurt their friend. when asked "did you say this?" all they said was yes and the rest was for some reason taken for granted. which still annoys me but i put both of them (teacher and principal) on the spot and asked if the girls got in trouble a lot and is this something that they would do based on prior experience with them. maybe they realized at that point that they were way off base. i mentioned the music teacher's comment and that caused some embarassment on the part of the principal. he was very accommodating and said that he would take care of it.
in all, i'm mostly satisfied with the outcome but if they screw with her again i'll burn them at the stake. nothing like a protective mama bear. dd is in awe that i would challenge the mean old principal, i'm her hero and i love it. and thanks again everyone for listening to the rant and making me feel better.
|i guess this is what i get for sending her to public school.|
ITA that the principal's and music teacher's reactions were inappropriate and that humilation should not be a discipline strategy no matter what the infraction. But in the real world, we sometimes encounter people who behave less than perfectly.
I appreciate that my parents listened sympathetically when I came home with stories of other adults' inappropriate behavior and that they took action when that behavior was seriously over the top and affected me directly. But I also appreciate that they conveyed to me that some people just don't think the same ways we do and are accustomed to different standards of behavior, and that meeting people like that from time to time is a fact of life. That doesn't mean we don't have the right to speak up for ourselves and explain how we would prefer to be treated. It just means that we shouldn't freak out at the fact that such people are allowed to exist and even to hold positions of power--that's life.
I think it's great that your daughter is attending public school. I hope that seeing you resolve this situation thru appropriate channels, and learning that the principal's over-reaction was based on a misunderstanding, will be a valuable lesson that she'll remember next time she's caught in a situation like this.
Mama to a boy EnviroKid 9 years old and a new little girl EnviroBaby !
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.
envirobecca, she has had plenty of situations where she has been exposed to things like this and will encounter many more i'm sure. my remark was more in regard to *my* issue with public school in general. just had very bad experiences in them. the one she attends is particularly institutional. for instance, they have exactly 1.5 minutes to go to the restroom. no exceptions. personally, i consider this to be boot campish but she only has about 30 days left at that school and she is getting straight A's so i'm not going to gripe.
this has actually turned into a lesson in defending herself also. the kids were so scared that they didn't speak up for themselves to explain exactly what happened. i just hope she isn't going to be intimidated by authority. we discussed it and i think she sees my point. so we'll chalk this up as a learning experience and be done with it.