We’ve flipped the lightswitch on. A brief review of what’s what in the world of Education in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri:
It’s been a LONG uphill battle these past few years dealing with the Public Education System. This year alone, in the Rockwood School District we dealt with the “Run for Recess”, where Kellison Elementary School *requires* students to run a lap around the playground before they could part-take in recess activities, then we had the whole fingerprinting debacle. . .to which the District still has yet to answer to, and we NOW have private citizens being told they need to cease and desist on publishing any negative feedback about the schools on social networking sites. (One parent was even called into the Principal’s office for a scolding on this and was told that they could face charges under cyber-bullying laws. . .forget the First Amendment!!!)
So first, I’d like to give credit where credit is due. This week, one brave teacher stood up and announced to her class (under the unrelenting passion of a very vocal student on the issue) that they were not “required to run for recess” and that they actually had a choice in the matter– something that the Principal was absolutely unwilling to do. **This “program” was implemented by the school as a result of the loss of one PE day per week due to funding issues
So kudos to teachers who actually are advocating for the students and reaffirming student rights. Any other brave souls out there? PLEASE let us see a show of hands, because I want to have your back.
Next, we turn our eyes to the Rockwood NEA website, which for the first time since 2002 is undergoing their first “Annual Spring Update”. I guess after running a general information page riddled with at least 27 grammar and spelling errors for as long as they had. . .and facing widespread ridicule for it. . .some maintenance is long overdue.
Now, we turn our eyes to the whole digital finger printing thing. I’m sorry, but who the heck on earth thinks they have the right to take any child and scan their fingerprints without expressed written consent of the parent or legal guardian, or a judge’s court order? Really? Talk about violation of Constitutional rights!
Here’s the backstory on this: A student comes home from school one day crying because the school forced him to eat a tuna fish sandwich for lunch. When asked why he was forced to eat the sandwich, the child replied “because there is no money in my lunch account”. As the parents looked into this puzzling matter, they received a phone-call from the district stating that other children had been eating off of their child’s lunch account because “their fingerprints were matching up with” the student’s. And the rest of the story unraveled:
When the parent questioned the school on this practice, the school pointed it’s finger at the District. The District’s Statement:
To answer your questions about the biometrics system for accessing meal accounts. The system was first implemented in January 2009. I have attached a copy of the biometrics opt-out letter which was sent to all parents in December 2008. It explains the enrollment process and that no finger scans are stored in the system. This information is currently posted on the Rockwood Child Nutrition web page and has been since December of 2008, below is a link to the page. http://www.rockwood.k12.mo.us/childnutrition/Documents/Read%20the%20NutriKids%20parent%20letter%20to%20opt-out%20of%20the%20system.pdf . Kellison does not include the opt-out letter in the packets given to new students.
[Your student's] student ID numbers are no longer in the biometrics system. Their lunch accounts can only be accessed by entering the student ID number or the manager can look them up by name.
So, the parent went back to the school and asked if the forms had indeed gone out to the students (after the District confirmed that only ONE school in the entire District in fact had sent the letter out, and it was not the school in question). The response from the Principal:
As I shared with you over the phone last week when we spoke, the answer to your question is that Kellison (like the other schools) includes the paperwork/forms sent to us by the child nutrition department to include in our new student enrollment packets. This letter informs parents of the department’s website where one can find a comprehensive list of information about the district’s food service, including the opt-out letter.
Which is very interesting. . .as it is QUITE different from the phone call between the parent and the Principal just days before the above response. To the Principal: No, we don’t don’t “see what you’re saying”.
**Note: The opt-out form was added to the website after we caught on to them.