Friday, February 19, 2016

Dead Kids Don't Take Tests

If you are one of my regular readers, please excuse this post.  It is not intended for you, chances are, the people that it is intended for will never read it, but I have to unburden myself.  Now people that know me well know I can be a snarky a-hole.  My ability to piss off and offend people is pretty damn good, I usually take that approach when I am frustrated with something or some one.  This is one of those times.

A while back I wrote a blog entry entitled An Open Letter to School Boards Everywhere. I wrote it in reaction to two suicides locally.  I presented a reasonable, logical argument as to why suicide recognition and prevention training, as well as mental health awareness training, would be a good thing.  I even presented data (modern education lives and breathes data) for their perusal.  It performed better than any of my other posts.  It was even published in a newspaper and an enews letter.  I was actually pretty darn proud of myself.  Silly me actually hoped that our local school board would change their long time stance of saying nothing, pretending nothing happened, and hope it goes away quietly.  But alas, nothing has changed.  I figured that I would keep plugging away.

Then about two weeks ago, two students at Plano East High School completed suicide on the same night.  For those that are not familiar with Plano, it is a suburb of Dallas, and Plano East has a student population of over 5,000 students.  Now East went through the standard protocol of bringing in counselors for the students, saying and doing all the right things.  However, East went a step beyond and reached out to the community and held an open forum at the school.   According to Susan Modisette, an assistant superintendent for the Plano school district. “We wanted to equip our campus administrators, teachers, families and students as best we could and give them the opportunity to share their experiences and listen to experts who could help them heal in a way that works best for them.”

What a remarkable concept!!!  A school actually educating and helping the community in the wake of a devastating tragedy!!!  Who knew???

That brings me to the snarky, a-hole part of this entry.  To all the other districts out there that have experienced similar tragedies, but have done nothing, I ask you, Why the Hell Not!?!?!?!  What are you waiting for!?!?!?  When are you going to realize that this problem will not go away on its own no matter how much you ignore it!?!?!?!?  How many more young people have to die by their own hand before you actually quit worrying about test scores and the status quo and do something!?!?!?!  I know that there are districts that wish this problem would go away, but as the old saying goes, "Wish in one hand and sh*t in the other and sees which one fills up faster. " The lives of the children that you are elected to represent are far more important than any test score.

I know some of you are reluctant to act because you are afraid of offending you broad base of voters, or you don't want to make them uncomfortable with such a taboo topic.  I'll let you in on a little secret, talking about suicide is a hell of a lot easier than dealing with it, and trust me, you don't want to try it out just to make sure.  In my humble opinion, it is better to have a few pissed off parents than one dead kid.  I know this is a moral decision, as pissed off parents vote, and kids, dead or not, don't, but hey, you go with your gut.  If your gut tells you that one or two dead kids is acceptable, then go with it.  If not, then do something about it.  While it is true that you might lose your job as a school board member, but at least your conscience will be clean.

I find it funny that there are so many people within school districts that are dedicated to improving test scores, but so few dedicated to keep those students alive long enough to take those tests.  But I can see the dilemma here.  After all, school districts are judged by how well they do on those state mandated tests, but what if some of those kids that could really help the over all average aren't around come test time?  How wold that reflect on your scores.  After all, dead kids don't take tests.