A view from my side.
The Great Glue Stick Fiasco. That’s what it has come to be called in our house. I have told this story to many teachers and administrators in the years since it happened. Every time I tell it, I get the same reaction. The teachers and administrators shake their heads and confess that they, too, can tell such stories. Some at their schools involving their staff. Others involving their own children in their respective schools.
Years ago, I had to call a school Administrator to discuss a note home that Kid#3‘s teacher had sent. He was in 5th grade and was being assigned a detention. His crime…not having a glue stick in class. Today’s post will be the background for the call. The follow-up post will cover the discussion with the Administrator. This all started on a Wednesday and was finished mid morning the following Tuesday.
So, Part 1 of the Great Glue Stick Fiasco.
First, the story. On the Wednesday night prior to the Thursday morning infraction for which the detention was assigned, Kid#3 told me he needed a glue stick for class. I had been on fields most of that night, as I my team had practiced from 6:00-7:30 p.m. and Kid#2’s team had practiced from 7:30-9:00 pm. By the time I got home for him to tell me about it, it was his bedtime. I asked him if he needed it right away. His reply was that he did not have one in class that day and that the teacher instructed him to get one. I asked if he had been unable to do his work as a result and he said that no, she let him use one from her desk. I asked if he had a note from her about it. He said no. I told him we would wait until the weekend when we could go to the store and get any other supplies he needed as well.
Thursday evening, Kid#3 comes home with a pre-printed note from his teacher. She has checked the “Detention” box and explained she has assigned him a detention for not having his school supplies when he needed them. He was a little upset about it. I told him I will call her in the morning to talk about it and not to get upset about it.
Friday morning, I call the teacher to talk to her. She explained that she had told him he needed a glue stick the day before and that when they were working that morning, he did not have one. He had been fairly warned, was unprepared and was therefore assigned a detention. I told her about the discussion he/I had had the night before and if she had told him he needed to go out that night to get his glue stick or else he would be assigned a detention the next morning. She said she had not, but that she had told him he needed one. I asked if she in any way communicated to him the urgency of getting the glue stick. She repeated herself, now a bit wary.
I explained to her the conversation he and I had the night before it was unfair to punish a 5th grade child for a decision his father made. I apologized to her for not running out the night before to get the glue stick, but that it was close to 10:00 p.m. before I even found out. I told her we planned on going that weekend to get whatever he needed and if she would let me know if she knew of anything else he was missing, I would be sure to load up on his supplies. She told me she would let me know what else he might need, but that did not change the fact that he was to serve a detention for not having his glue stick. Shocked, I asked her if she had not been listening to what I had just said about the situation. She acknowledged that while she was sympathetic, I still needed to sign the form she sent home and return it to school. She was simply following her “team’s” discipline plan and there was nothing more to discuss about it.
I asked her why she had not chosen to communicate with me directly the importance of having the glue stick right away. That had she done so, I would have been certain to have gone out that night to get it. I reiterated that she was actually punishing my child for a decision that I had made and asked again why she had not communicated directly with me. She said that the children need to learn to be responsible for themselves and that she told him he needed one. Since he did not have one after being told to get one, he was being assigned a detention. She was now dug in.
I told her I thought that a detention under the circumstances was a bit extreme and that I would not be signing the form. And, since detention at his school was to be served before school on Wednesday mornings (as opposed to the student being kept after school), I would not be bringing him to school early the next Wednesday. She then told me that if I failed to 1) sign/acknowledge the form she sent home and 2) failed to bring him in Wednesday morning for his detention, he would be assigned a Saturday School session. She then asked me which I would prefer for my son: a 45 minute Wednesday morning detention, or a 4 hour Saturday School.
I told her he would serve neither and asked her who in the front office I should call to discuss the matter further. She gave me the name of the Assistant Principal. I thanked her, hung up and made the call. That call will be the subject of the Great Glue Stick Fiasco, Part 2.