Sonny Daze

Okay, I know that is the squirreliest title possible, but it has been the squirreliest situation you can imagine.  At the beginning of the year, the Texas school-rule system of shoot-from-the-hip-and-let-somebody-else-take-the-blame educational decisions pinched us into a small ball and tossed us into a basket where we didn’t deserve to be.  My middle child was forced to repeat his eighth grade year of schooling because of last Spring’s hospital stay and missing the sacred State test that you must pass or forever after be shamed and classed as an ugly duckling in a world full of swans.  He was dying of sheer boredom at having to re-take those classes.  He is a gifted student with above-average intelligence and a super-power of asking his father questions so difficult and numerous that it makes his father’s head explode.  (The exploded head is mine if my third-person-ness is confusing you).  So, at the half year, we tried to get him into Creekview High School.  We had a counselor on our side who had told my wife that Henry belonged in high school.  Except, at enrollment time, we never got to talk to her.  An assistant principal looked at the fact that he had not taken the sacred State test (tests, actually… you have to pass Reading, Math, Writing, Science, and History… all made harder by the State with every passing year) and told us to go back to middle school, do not pass Go, and do not collect 200 dollars.  That cruelty was not unexpected.  It is the way education works in Texas.


So, today we went to re-enroll him in the middle school.  But the counselor from there, the very excellent counselor who was responsible for Henry last year, knew all the reasons that school was a bust for Henry last spring and also knew how wonderfully, intensely smart he really is.  She insisted that the high school was the only right place for him.  She contacted the higher administration on our behalf, and Henry’s former 6th grade principal, now assistant superintendent for the district, agreed.  The decree was given and several good people who were in our corner were vindicated.  And here’s the part that made me tear up.  Henry got his wish to be in high school with the kids that were his friends in middle school last year.  Miraculously… unexpectedly… the gods of Texas education decided to smile on my family for a change.


Filed under autobiography, humor, Paffooney

6 responses to “Sonny Daze

  1. I’m confused with a “system of education” that is legally allowed to “punish/hold back” a child due to illness!!! Why wasn’t he granted some form of “home/hospital schooling” to keep up with his studies? Michael, this sounds “illegal” to me, but I’m not a Texas resident…..My goodness, I’m glad for everyone’s sake that he was allowed into high school!!!! 🙂

    • The home schooling law in Texas requires parents to take full responsibility for schooling. I had to retire from teaching for health reasons, so I was available to be his home “learning coach”, and I was able to get him into the online K-12 free State education program, but they would not let him be a ninth grader because he missed their sacred test. And it would’ve been entirely different if he had cancer or heart-related issues, but depression-related illness is treated as our own fault and not a “real” health issue. I had to go to truancy court and pay a fine right along with at least one other little boy and his parents whose issue was schooling missed due to dialysis. That poor child was Hispanic, which apparently illegitimatized his life-threatening health issue. I am not going to win future battles either, but I lucked into a victory this one time because there are educators who do care about what’s right, whether it is technically “legal” or not.

      • Omg…..I don’t even know where to begin! I can’t type all that I have to say ! As a retired educator, I find it appalling that you even had to go through with this and don’t even know where to begin with the other Hispanic youngster. I have been sorely disappointed in CA ‘ S education system, but (with all due respect to where you live) am glad that I never taught in Texas!

      • I regret what Texas education has become. Test mania nationwide started here. The push for privatizing schools for profit started here. The cuts in the State education budget didn’t happen here first, but we were one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. Conservatives from other States will argue with me, but I blame the Tea Party Republicans and rich @#$% whatevers that control our state and don’t particularly like the idea of an educated population. The conservatives here are proud of what they have accomplished. And have you seen how often politicians like Louie Gohmert and Ted Cruz of Texas look like clowns on TV? The very rich and the very stupid love them. It tells you what Texas has become.

      • I have friends that are still teaching and are totally overwhelmed with the testing requirements that are being mandated…..I once asked a local Superintendent how I (a teacher of learning disabled children) was supposed to “get my children up to GRADE LEVEL standards” (per the new regulations) and he told me that “he’d get back to me”-the state hadn’t figured out that little “exception, ” yet…..Anyway, I am so, so sorry for what you and your family has had to under-go because of the bureaucratic ignorance of the
        select few”…….I pray that you all have much better experiences in his high school years…..

      • Thank you so much for the encouragement and good wishes. It takes another teacher to really understand what my family has been through. I ended my career as an ESL teacher, advocating for some very wonderful and intelligent kids who couldn’t pass the State test because of language barriers. The politics in this country are increasingly going against teachers and learners. People like us have to speak up and make others aware what the people they are electing actually do.

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