If I Were Queen Of The Schools

On Wednesday, parents all around the county were pissed off angry. First, they were mad because Harry Gill et al up at the Rutherford County Schools didn’t cancel school. Then they were mad because they DID call school. Then Harry Gill called and apologized, and everyone was pissed off extremely upset again. It just goes to show that folks will be mad, no matter what you do. My inner armchair quarterback says they probably should have called school when Murfreesboro City Schools called it, but hey, I’m not the superintendent.

But in honor of the Royal Wedding, I figured I’d imagine I was the Queen of the Schools and tell y’all what I would do if I was in charge. Feel free to imagine what **you** would do if you were Queen or King of the schools and tell me in the comments. Or, tell me what you would be mad about. Whatever floats your boat.

So, here’s what I would do to fix the schools, if I was the benevolent dictator.

First, here’s what school is, and what it is not. Or, at least what I think it ought to be and not be. It is not a place to store your kids while you work. It is a place for kids to learn the stuff they will need to know when they’re adults. I think there are an awful lot of parents who send their kids to school so someone else will raise them while they’re off at work or doing whatever else it is they do. The fact is, it’s not the school’s job to raise your child, it is their job to educate your child. School shouldn’t be the ONLY place your kid is educated, either.

And no, I’m not talking about you, personally. We all  know you’re a fabulous person who does an awesome job of parenting. I’m talking about all those other people who don’t. Naturally.

Parents need to take charge of their children and their education. That’s why in my schools, the first thing we would have is an IEP (individual education plan) for every student. I think every kid should be tested at the beginning of the school year to see where they’re at, educationally. Then we’ll teach each kid on their level, regardless of age. If little ten-year-old Jane Smith is reading on a 9th grade level, yet doing math on a 2nd grade level, then we’ll teach her appropriately. And not just lackadaisically teach on their level, either. I’m talking aggressively pushing each kid to do their  very best, regardless of their skill level.

See, I don’t think this “teaching to the middle” or, what it really seems to be, “teaching to the lowest common denominator” is working. I have kids who are all on various levels from gifted to the lower end of normal, and my brightest kid is seriously bored at school while my lower end of normal kid isn’t getting the kind of attention he needs, either. This does not help with behavior problems at all, either.

Which brings me to my second point. Parents need to make their kids behave at school or if the kid simply won’t behave, they can go to my alternative school, which is extremely strict (and scary, too.). If parents don’t like that, they can feel free to homeschool their kids. Kids who are sent to alternative school can eventually go back to regular school, depending on what they did to get there. It would partly work on a merit and demerit school. 10 demerits = a strike and 3 strikes and you’re off to alternative school. Certain things, of course, would be immediate grounds for alternative school, like bringing weapons or drugs to school, or sexual assault or certain kinds of fighting.

See, the thing is, teachers are spending too much time dealing with behavior problems. There are, I believe, a few ways to curb this. The threat of scary alternative school is one, but here’s another thing. Students are divided into teams and through a demerit and merit system, they can win prizes and privileges. Sometimes, peer pressure can be a good thing. Ever watch anime? It appears that kids in Japanese schools are appalled by things like bad grades and misbehavior. Why can’t it be like that here? Probably because we don’t encourage it enough.

I would also increase funds for things like art, music, and physical education. We want our kids to be healthy and well-rounded. Music teaches kids far more than just music, when kids are learning to read music, they learn math and fractions. I would start giving kids the chance to be in orchestra or band in about 4th grade.

Now, let’s talk about high school. Remember up there when I said I’d be testing to see where kids are learning every year? Starting in about 6th grade, I’d also test kids’ aptitudes for job-related stuff as well. By the time kids were about to enter high school, we should have a good read on whether or not the kid would be better served in an academic high school or a vocational high school. A high school diploma used to mean something. It doesn’t anymore, and I think a lot of that has to do with the stuff that’s being taught, or not being taught in high school.

Kids with vocational aptitudes should be able to graduate straight out of high school and go into the workforce. My vocational students would have the option to learn how to be LPNs, plumbers, mechanics, hairdressers, manage a hotel or restaurant, and all sorts of other vocations. I’d achieve this partly through having actual working shops right in the school, and partly through sending them out to work with local businesses who are vetted through the high school. The shops should be able to bring in a little money for the schools, also. I would additionally offer night classes for adult learners at these vocational schools, for a fee.

Academic high school would be hard. It would be a true college preparation school. And sorry, academic kids, you all have to take a year of Latin, because I think it’s important. I’m the Queen, after all. Academic high school would be heavy on the subjects that will eventually be required in college, so every student would be truly prepared for college. Don’t worry, there’s tons of homework as well. Arts students would go to this school as well- all the film, theater, music, arty folks could focus on the stuff they love. I would allow people to really focus on the subjects they want to get into when they’re in college.

I’d still require a basic education for people in both high schools. Reading, math, science and history would still be taught to everyone, but I’d give enough time for kids to focus on what they love. I would also require a “math for the real world” class to be taken by every single student in all schools. They’d learn stuff like how to balance their bank account, and set up a budget. I’d teach them about interest rates and how to figure percentages on the fly. I’d teach them about how to read contracts so they don’t get screwed over.

That’s about how schools would run if I were in charge of them. There are other, more minor ideas I’ve rolled around in my head like requiring community service for students on every level and fining parents for kids who are excessively absent or excessively misbehave. Oh, and making students do a big spring and fall cleaning every year so they’re invested in how their school looks. But, yeah, that’s the basic plan. Sounds expensive, you say? It would be. But is there really any investment in our country’s future that is more important than putting forth an educated public? Personally, I don’t think so.

So, let’s hear from you now. What would you do if you were in charge of how schools run?

47 comments for “If I Were Queen Of The Schools

  1. LV2LV
    April 29, 2011 at 7:33 am

    all I can truely say is Hail Queen Ivy!!!

  2. Sherry
    April 29, 2011 at 8:48 am

    So, Ivy . . . you’re officially nominated to replace Harry Gill. My daughter and I just had a conversation last night about how LHS has (or has not) prepared her for college. Not gonna get into details or name names (my post would probably get yanked), but let’s just say that she and I are both really concerned. She’s taken all advanced honors and AP classes, too, so what does that say about the kids in the standard classes?

    I’m beyond thrilled that my one and only graduates this year. If I had another kid, I’d either be moving or putting a second mortgage on my house to get him/her into private school. 🙁

    • Ivy
      April 29, 2011 at 8:53 am

      My son is in advanced honors classes as well, and I agree with you, I don’t think he’s truly prepared for college. Unless college has changed and has dumbed down seriously, which might be possible, I don’t know. :/

      • Sherry
        April 29, 2011 at 9:29 am

        I hear ya . . . one guess as to what the Advanced Honors English IV class is watching on TV today. Don’t get me started. 🙁

  3. Tracey Harpe
    April 29, 2011 at 9:02 am

    For all those who are interested………this PAGE IS NOT RELATED IN ANY WAY TO THE CITY OF LAVERGNE…..
    I just called City Hall to express my concern about the bad words that were used in this paper.
    And that was what I was told.

    I think I would change the heading of this page. I felt it was related to LaVergne but it is not. It should not be allowed to use the city LOGO’S or anything related to the city if the page is not related.

    • Sherry
      April 29, 2011 at 9:23 am

      Seriously? All you have to do is read the Terms and Conditions and it’s stated quite clearly that this blog is not sponsored or endorsed by the City. It’s written by and for the City’s residents to discuss whatever they choose. I’ve lived here since 1989 and have learned more about LaVergne from this blog than any newspaper or TV station.

      I’m not trying to be rude, but if you’re not comfortable with the opinions and viewpoints expressed here (and I’ll admit that things get a bit heated sometimes), then don’t read it.

    • Theresa
      April 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

      Wow, so, you called the city to complain about a website (which you erroneously call a “paper”) when you yourself, have been whining and moaning and compaining here in the last several days? Hmmm…I have some opinions about that but I will not go there out of respect to the wonderful women and men who have brought this site to us.

    • Chip
      April 29, 2011 at 11:30 am

      Honestly? Get a grip on reality. Opinions are like A##holes, everyone has one. Have a great day!

    • Ivy
      April 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      We don’t use the city’s logo. As a matter of fact, we don’t use any logo at all. As far as using the name of the city, what do you suggest I call it? “This is the city directly south of Antioch”? A little long for a website name, methinks.

      Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in weeks though.

      • Theresa
        April 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm

        HRH Ivy…love the new tagline!

        • Ivy
          April 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm

          Haha, I wondered if anybody would notice that I didn’t point it out to. 😀 She said we needed to change it… 😉

    • April 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Grow up, Tracey. Shit.

      • Sherry
        April 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm

        Somebody’s gonna report you to the profanity police!! 🙂

  4. mark
    April 29, 2011 at 9:09 am

    oh please…..the words used weren’t that bad. i HEAR THEM ALL DAY LONG ON tv AND SOME OTHER WORDS ARE EVEN USED IN THE BIBLE. IT’S 2011 people. The F word is used all the time in England and other countries. I am glad I am not sheltered like some. pee pee pee

  5. Carrie
    April 29, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Love this question…I still need to think on it some, but I like your ideas, especially on community service, math for real life and vocational/academic paths.

    Related thoughts: I feel like it is MY job to educate my children, and public school is one of the tools that we will likely use to help us do that. I don’t feel like the learning should stop when my children exit school doors.

    • Ivy
      April 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks, Carrie! I agree, it is our job to educate our children. I am constantly throwing out little educational tidbits to my kids. We play car games like, “Name the capital for this state” or we see how many US Presidents we can name. We always forget Millard Fillmore. Always.

  6. Theresa
    April 29, 2011 at 10:15 am

    HRH Queen Ivy,

    My son is currently in the third grade and I am already scared about his future high school experience. I would love to homeschool him but can’t for reasons of logistics, right now. However, when he reaches high school age I would be happy to let you help me educate my son. I appreciate your values!!

    As LV2LV said above “Hail Queen Ivy!”

    • Sherry
      April 29, 2011 at 10:45 am

      Hopefully things will have turned the corner by then. LHS only went south in about the last four years. I think that after all the issues came to light and ensuing negative publicity, more parents are finally getting involved and changes will be made. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on things myself, even if I no longer have a kid in the system. I’ve lost two wonderful neighbors because they didn’t want their kids attending LHS. 🙁

      • Ivy
        April 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

        I agree, I do think LHS has a good future ahead of it. The music department, especially, is a shining star in our county schools. Hopefully we’ll be able to get hold of the rest of the issues and make LHS a crown jewel. 🙂

    • Ivy
      April 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      I love the idea of homeschooling, but for me, once they get to advanced math, the kids are far better served going to actual school.

      And my values include swearing a lot, so maybe not, huh? 😉

      • Sherry
        April 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm

        Me, too . . . I was in over my head after about 7th grade math. Thank God for some of the older kids in the neighborhood! 🙂

      • Theresa
        April 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm

        They have to learn the “good” words at some point!

  7. Veronica
    April 29, 2011 at 10:29 am

    My major response to the whole situation is that these are our children, not the schools or the county. If you don’t think your children will be safe going to school on any given day, then DON’T SEND THEM! You are the parent, they are your responsibility and your choice. Don’t yell because someone else said you should do something and you went along with it.

    • Ivy
      April 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Right, exactly. We’re the parents here, if we didn’t feel comfortable sending our kids to school, don’t send them. Even if it had ended up being unexcused, in theory the kids get a certain amount of unexcused absences before they get in any kind of trouble anyway.

      So while I think it was handled badly, I’m not calling for anyone’s head or anything, because the fact is, it was really the parents’ call anyway.

    • Sherry
      April 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. If they deem it “safe” and you don’t send your kid to school, they nail you with an unexcused absence. After five of those, you get a nice little truant letter. I’ve already gone down that road. Then again, maybe that’s only at the high school level? I’m really not sure, but it was certainly a mess to get straightened out.

      • Ivy
        April 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

        That’s at any level, don’t ask me how I know that, haha.

      • Sherry
        April 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm

        Meant to add this – if the absence is unexcused, teachers aren’t obligated to let you make up any work (which is completely their choice, and I understand that). With minimal homework being assigned at LHS, there’s alot more work done in class and it’s pretty tough to offset a zero. And God forbid you miss a test – that’s enough to completely hose your grade for the six weeks.

        Okay, I really need to get off my soapbox (and probably this thread, altogether)! 🙂

        • Ivy
          April 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm

          Oh, I had totally not thought about that. I’m glad they did deem it “unsafe”! Here it wasn’t too bad, but kids in Siegel and Riverdale, it was really unsafe for them!

      • Thomas
        April 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

        At my daughter’s school it didn’t matter whether it was excused or not, we still got slapped with a truancy letter. Why? They misfiled every single one of the excuses we had sent (doctor and parent). The teacher even remembered handling the last one we sent, but the office had no record of it. We had to resort to hand delivering it to the office and getting a “receipt”.

        • Ivy
          April 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm

          Yikes! Sounds like that school had some serious office problems!!

        • Sherry
          April 29, 2011 at 10:52 pm

          Exactly the same problem I had. Took me forever to get cleared up, but luckily I had copies of my letters on my computer and just had to go back to the doctor to get confirmations. (And this is why I never just hand-write a quick note to the school – I keep records of everything I do.)

  8. Cee Dee
    April 29, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Queen Ivy, I applaud you & your suggestions — except the Latin for everyone since it’s not actually used as a language of choice. The English language uses the derivatives of the Latin words. We’d be much better off if the kids today could use those derivatives CORRECTLY in the English language — a real sore point with me. I had a great English teacher & the kids today certainly do murder the language. 🙂 Teachers should not be babysitters for parents. They should have the opportunity to teach & prepare our children for the real world upon graduation, whether it be to go on to college or into some type of vocational job.

    • Sherry
      April 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

      I definitely agree with you on the babysitting part. It’s just as big an issue at LHS, where too many teachers are content to pop in a movie (and half the kids nap). If it’s a movie that truly relates to the class, fine, but at least give them a dang quiz on it or something. The kids love it, but it infuriates me to no end!

    • Ivy
      April 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      My thinking on Latin (other than, I’m just hateful like that and I like to see kids struggle with declensions) is that it teaches lots of stuff like spelling (if you understand the Latin base words, you can spell nearly anything) and science (like, everything has a Latin root) and it throws in some culture and history, too.

      But really, the biggest reason I’d require Latin is because I like seeing people cry about how hard it is, haha.

  9. Chip
    April 29, 2011 at 11:29 am

    and I’ll be your secretary IVY! Seriously some good points. Going from High School to college is a HUGE jump. I wonder if any of our high schools actually do a good job at preparing these kids. I know I was very shocked at the difference in atmosphere between the two.

    Hail Queen IVY!

    • Ivy
      April 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks! I need a personal assistant, wanna be that? Think, “The Devil Wears Prada.” I’ll throw my purse on your assistant’s desk every day, haha.

      • Sherry
        April 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm

        I want that job! I worked for an attorney for eight years that made Meryl Streep look like a pussycat. He went thru six secretaries in nine months after I left. At that point, he gave up and retired – LOL.

        • Ivy
          April 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm

          Can I throw my purse on your desk every morning??

  10. April 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    On another note (I agree with you completely Ivy) The principal at LLE did an AMAZING job on Wednesday getting everything as organized as he could on the fly. He and the rest of the staff looked stressed, but they were calm and got the kids out of the school safely. I dropped him an email to tell him that he and everyone else rocked. I’m sure they didn’t anticipate that chaos.

    • Ivy
      April 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      That’s really cool! I was in Murfreesboro when I got the call so by the time I got back in LaV, I couldn’t get to the school in time. I figured it would have been complete chaos there.

  11. Jennifer
    April 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    LOVE IT!!! 🙂

  12. Liberty
    May 2, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Love the idea!! My kids would so go to your schools! Latin is a great tool for a student wanting to become a lawyer and I want my kids to be multi lingual since my son wants to be a pilot in the Navy and my daughter wants to work for the UN…She’s 4…lol…We watch alot of CNN at home. We plan on moving out of La Vergne before our kids start middle school because of how terrible LHS is. I haven’t heard any bad things about LMS yet, but my son starts LLES this fall for kindergarten and I’m worried about the things I have heard about that school.

    • Ivy
      May 2, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      LMS is an excellent school, actually. There are some really amazing teachers there. I don’t know anything about La Vergne Lake, since my kids go to school elsewhere. And LHS is not really as bad as people say. It has a great music department there and several really amazing, caring teachers.

    • May 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

      Liberty, let me tell you right now. LLE is AWESOME. I don’t know who is spreading the “bad school” rumors, but it pisses me off to no end. Most of the rumors are started by people that have never stepped foot in the place (in my case anyway)

      My suggestion to you is to have a meeting with the principal and express your concerns. He can give you a tour. His name is Mr. McCann and has been outstanding with me. There is also a STRONG PTO that I have worked with and they couldn’t be nicer.

      School is what you make of it. I beg you to go inside the school before jumping to any conclusions.

      • Liberty
        May 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm

        I’m just going by what my neighbors are telling me. I have met with Mr. McCann and seen the school. I’ve also met with a few of the teachers and I know one of the teacher at LMS. I just know that a few of my neighbors kids have been beaten up at school or on the bus, but she assured me that Mr. McCann took care of the issue right away. I look forward to the PTO meetings and I know that the fights on the buses will stop since my Hubby was just hired by RCSB to maintanence the cameras and finish putting in the cameras on the buses that don’t have them yet along with other things for the schools! But as a mom with a little boy about to start school and seeing my neighbors son come home with a black eye you can understand how one could become worried 🙂

    • May 3, 2011 at 8:06 am

      (because I wouldn’t send my 6-year-old anywhere I thought was unsafe or not capable of teaching her 😉

      • Sherry
        May 3, 2011 at 10:14 am

        I agree with you Adrianne. We live on the other side of the interstate and went thru the Rock Springs schools when they were both brand new. Never had the first issue with either of them. All the trouble seemed to start at the high school level, but I truly believe they’ll get things turned around in the next several years. Too bad the current students are paying the price, but on the bright side . . . only a couple of weeks until graduation! 🙂

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