Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My Country

People come to this country in search of a better life for themselves and their children. They give up a lot, but I guess they figure it is worth the sacrifice. Yet, term after term I have students who disappear for weeks or even months at a time to go back to their "countries" for things like weddings and engagement parties. Family is important. I really believe in family, but when you make the decision to start a new life in a new country you have to be willing to make changes. What kind of message are these people sending to their children when they tell them it is all right to miss that much school? One of my students returned today from Columbia. She has been missing since a week before Winter break. No note from her parents, nothing. She walked into the final. A girl who was running a solid 85 in the class got a 24 on the exam. Can I pass her? Do I even want to pass her? I don't think so. Another kid is on a religious retreat in India with his grandmother. He is gone six weeks. At least he got permission from the school before he left. He is an AP calculus kid who works very hard and has been keeping up with the work on his own. I got a new student last week. He was going to the school, and then left in October to go to a wedding in Pakistan. He returned in the middle of January. What kind of wedding celebration lasts over three months?

How can we teach these kids when they are not here?


mrc said...

I have a student who went to Mexico for Christmas. He's been gone six weeks now. I just hope he's okay.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

The answer to your question is, of course: We can't. Sad.

Maybe there's at least a tiny kernel of truth in that jingoistic slogan "America, love it or leave it," after all.

Nic said...

I worked at a middle school that went "year round" partly for this reason: it allowed us to take 5 weeks at Xmas instead of 2, because so many kids did, anyway (and went to Mexico). It kept them from missing as much school.

They eventually went back to a traditional calendar, with tons of kids just not showing up in January.