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Public Boarding Schools

The Chicago Public School system is proposing having boarding schools.  See article at
My first thought after reading about this was that the public schools are trying to steal kids away from parents even more than they already have.  But then I remembered a couple of experiences I had when I was teaching in a public school.

About 10 years ago I was teaching choir at a junior high in Texas.  It was a lower income school, and the administration gave me no support in the enormous amount of discipline problems I had.  I just had to do my best to try to teach the kids something everyday. 

One of the techniques we were taught to use was to call the kid’s parents to enlist their help in solving a discipline issue.  I was rarely able to reach the parents.  Many didn’t even have a phone (although they all had TV, VCRs and cable).  Sometimes when I’d reach the mom or dad and explain the problem, they would start yelling at their child while I was still on the phone! 

One time, my vice principal came to tell me not to call one particular father anymore because he would beat up his son every time a teacher called him.  This poor child was fighting all kinds of odds.  Both his older brothers were deep into gangs.  This boy loved singing in choir, but even that brought ridicule from others.  I’ll never forget how proud he looked every time he put on his tux shirt and bowtie for a concert!  His parents never came to see him, but he was always the first student to show up.  Believe me, I never called his father again!

Another time I had a boy in my first class of the day who fell asleep every day.  I went to talk to an administrator about it.  She explained that his father was a custodian at an office building and worked nights.  He made his son come with him and work with him all night long.  (Maybe his father slept while the son did all the work!)

I think in these cases, these boys might have had a better chance at making it if there was some supportive boarding school for them.  However, I’m not sure that the government public school system is the right vehicle for it.  They are failing so  miserably in all other areas that I don’t think they could handle the 24/7 care any better than these failing parents could.

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