“This is only the fourth day of school,” said the Badger Bus Dispatcher when I called I this morning long after Julia was supposed to be picked up for school. Bob, the Dispatcher, who seems like a nice enough guy, called the driver who told Bob that he had been outside our house and waited for minutes before taking off at 7:51; however, we were outside sitting on our steps at 7:48 and no one stopped from the time until just after 8:00. Give or take a few minutes and the possibility that clocks differ, the upshot was that I drove Julia to school and she got there at 8:20. First period begin at 8:10.
A few biggish things:
First, I fought this battle last year; I thought I had won the war. Julia was late to school every day in ninth grade until November 13. All the players are the same: we have not moved, school begins at the same time, Badger Bus is still responsible for the ride, even the dispatcher is the same. Last week’s excuse,“there was traffic on Park Street” echos in my ears. Okay, I must ask, when is there not traffic on Park Street?
Yes, I am angry.
Without truly thinking about it, I imagined that the hard won victory of November 13, 2017 was a final victory. On November 13, 2017, there was a time put in place when Julia was picked up and made it to school on time. Last year, I understood “working it out” through September and October . . . well, not really that long but at least in the beginning I was patient. This year, I am without such patience.
Which bring me to . . .
Second, Julia’s transition to adulthood is occupying my in mind these days. One adult skill that she needs to learn to succeed is to learn to be on time for employment. How many employers will be patient with it’s “only the fourth day of” this new job? None that I ever had! Julia needs years of practice to be on time and West High is not modeling that behavior. And I haven’t even mentioned missed class time.
Third, last week, Principal Karen Boran sent a strong letter about the excessive tardies that students collect at West and the lack of consequences for that behavior. She is attaching consequences to the behavior. I applaud this policy. I am sure there are folks (possibly Badger Bus) who say, being on time is such a small thing . . . so what, a few minutes? I cannot agree. Showing up, on time and ready to work shows basic respect to teachers, employers and friends. It shows self-respect as well—we all need to value our contribution to the organizations to which we belong and the contract we make to learn or work with others. Being on time is part of that social contract. Julia needs to be held to that same standard if she is going to be a contributing member of the community. If she can be late for first period every day, what about second or third . . . ?
Finally, and here I am be sticking my nose where it does not belong: When I dropped Julia off at 8:20, ten minutes after first period began, there were three Badger Bus vehicles dropping off special ed kids. I saw another one driving up as I pulled away. Perhaps none of the occupants of those vehicles will ever hold a job or be expected to navigate the typical world. Really? Really? These are the kids who need extra time to prepare for and reach their classrooms; these are the kids (like Julia) who need time to settle down in a classroom and who need regularity in their days to have successful days. Why are their rides late to school? These are the rides that should be early!
And another finally, if the typical kids who drive themselves or whose parents drive them arrived at 8:20 could they offer the excuse, “this is only the fourth day of school.” If the city buses that transport many of the typical students to school arrived 10 minutes after first period began, would Badger Bus’ excuse hold?