Monday, March 20, 2017

Gagging Over Gaggle & Other High School Hells

Maybe I am being rather unkind, but, the new principal at the Guppies' high school is completely reminding me of the evil Miss Trunchbull from Matilda!

I'm sure everyone isn't going to agree with me here.  And, that's okay. Be prepared for a rant however because I just really need to "get this out".....

But first, a quick history..
When we were house hunting back in the early 2000's and decided to spread our search farther out into Connecticut, we used a LOT of criteria for helping us make the decision as to where to settle down. Schools were one of the top three things that helped our ultimate decision....
Our town's schools were ranked behind only one other town (Madison) for the "best" school system for our town's size when we purchased our home in 2003.  And, for the elementary school years, I couldn't agree more!  With the exception of two elementary school teachers (one for each Guppy), we were thrilled with what we saw.
Middle school was horrific for G1 on so many different levels - especially seventh grade!  Her seventh grade teachers were of absolutely NO help during her depression/anorexia.  And, even said straight to Papa and my faces that 1. she couldn't wear certain clothes other kids could because of her "figure" (ie big boobs even during the anorexia) and 2. when she wanted to promote a benefit concert for a teen outreach program that she was having in lieu of a 13th birthday party, we were told that her teachers imagined her down in some basement with these musicians smoking pot and having sex. YUP!  That really happened!  And we were offended on a THOUSAND different levels trust me!  And those "musicians" were our friends who were good honest guys who never did a thing untoward to her! Oh AND, the day after we met with them to discuss G1's depression/anorexia, they searched her locker for DRUGS!  Didn't find any but no surprise to us there.  (Sorry, first rant over!  LOL)
G2's middle school years were okay.  Definitely nothing special.  But, we did love her eight grade teaching team to be honest.

Onto high school....

There have been many issues here since G1 entered four years ago...
However, one that made us very angry was when her sophomore literature teacher gave her a pretty unfair grade on a creative writing project.  The teacher told her class that nothing was off the table besides pornography.  Well, G1 stayed within her parameters and still got the lesser grade AND a trip to guidance and administration for her disturbing story.  G1 writes a LOT of horror and loves Clive Barker so you can imagine what she wrote.  LOL  In the end, I was okay with the fact that the school wanted to make sure she was "Okay" and brought us in about it. And, the way guidance handled it was an improvement from how we were all treated by her seventh grade teachers.  But, I still won't get over the fact that the sophomore lit teacher gave her a piss poor grade because she didn't like the subject matter.  (Teacher is extremely Christian and story had satanic undertones.  And, yes, G1 did do this on purpose.  I'm not going to sugar coat that!)  We have had this story viewed by other teachers who agree with us that the grading is not fair and the work was actually quite good.

Okay, now to present time....

G1 FINALLY got the teacher I have been wishing for the entire four freaking years!  Starting in January G1 is in a half year AP Creative Writing class with the best English teacher they have. I was probably almost as excited as G1 because I figured she would be able to really blossom and rediscover the love of writing that other teachers had squashed.  And, it worked!  This teacher teaches the class like an actual college course - all things are open for discussion during class and they can write about anything they chose that can fit the parameters of each assignment...

Until now....

There's a new principal this year who I have nicknamed Miss Trunchbull.

And, she has started a new lovely agenda including the use of  "Gaggle".

I had no idea what "Gaggle" was until a week ago.  Gaggle is software than sifts through anything students write on Google Docs - which is how the students turn in assignments.  It looks for "swear" words - hell and damn are even offenders - and "trigger" words.  It then alerts the administration and students can be spoken with, given detention, or even expelled for what is found!
Can Gaggle have some usefulness?  Possibly.  But, IMO, it has no place in a senior AP Creative Writing class!
So, G1 turns in some poetry for this class last week which explores the mind of a murderer.  (This was before we knew about Gaggle)  I read it and it's a great piece that is actually not gory.  But, G1's teacher apologized because, while the teacher knows G1 and her style, Gaggle doesn't.  We are waiting for her call down to administration about it.  (((sigh)))   Papa and I are both very passionate about the subject of creative censorship so, if anything happens to G1 regarding this piece,  we will be down there having a lively debate!
To the creative writing teacher's credit, she announced to the class that she will no longer be having them turn their work in through Google Docs so their creative integrity can stay intact.   So, kudos to her!
But, I have another creative writer (although not nearly as edgy) coming through the high school for three more years so this should be fun....

Also last week...

I'm driving G2, her boyfriend, and her friend home from school.  And, they are all abuzz with  the news they got from their Advisory teachers.  Apparently, students were told that the school could watch everything they did on their chromebooks, personal phones, and personal computers.  They were told that the school has a right to monitor every single song, text, social media picture/post, Netflix movie, website, etc they go to- even while at home!  SAY WHAT?!?  And, if students went on anything/did anything administration disagreed with, the students would be punished accordingly.  I spent the entire ride home explaining to everyone that not even the POLICE could do anything like that without a subpoena and "just cause" so the school had no right to look into anything they did during their own time.  Could they monitor what kids did during school on their school issued chromebooks?  Possibly...if they had a reason to do it.
I'm completely for stopping bullying at school and I know it can extend into social media and texts etc.  BUT, I also think that these cases should be examined on an individual basis.  NOT the school essentially bullying every single student with this kind of scare tactic bullshit!

Also, Miss Trunchbull wants to end "Senior Privilege" - where seniors can leave school up to 90 minutes early if their schedule permits and all required classes need for graduation are completed.  A LOT of these seniors go to an afterschool job or pursue their passions with the extra time.  Whelp, not if Miss T can help it!  She wants seniors in school taking extra classes! 

And, she wants teachers to start actively "checking" that students are completing homework/schoolwork during free period study halls.  Well, when the Guppies don't have any work to complete, they always carry a book to read or listen to Spotify on their phones and draw/doodle to relax.  Again, I don't think it's fair that they dictate how the students use or don't use their study hall time - especially if they aren't being disruptive to others and their grades are fine.

It's not freaking prison for crying out loud!

Bottom line is our high school already places an incredible amount of stress on its students for the almighty "good review/standing" in the state of Connecticut.  Does this principal really need to make it any worse?

Okay, ranting over.  I wish I could say it was out of my system though!  =)

I'll be back later with a Positively Monday post to counteract this one!  LOL


  1. I think the new AP teacher made a great call about no longer using Google docs

    1. I have so much respect for this particular teacher and have for a long time. She's head of the English department and I am fairly sure going against the principal is not going to be seen very favorably.
      But, she is one of the few teacher left at our high school who seems in education for the right reasons. I am going to try my hardest to make sure G2 gets her once she's a senior as well because I have no doubt G2 will be in the AP Creative Writing class. That's how we roll....Math? Well, that is another story and definitely not AP! haha!

  2. All I can say is that I'm glad my kids are out of high school. I have many, many stories to tell. Good luck as you move forward.

    1. Thanks! They do make good stories, don't they? It's going to be a bumpy next three years I think. But, like Papa said, it keeps things interesting and he likes going into school when necessary.

  3. If the school owns the chrome books then they have every right to monitor them. If they do not own them there is a problem for sure. At work, our company emails can be monitored which seems legit to me seeing as it ultimately belongs to the company.

    Being a Christian myself, I find it unfair of a teacher to grade your daughter poorly because of the content however intentionally writing stuff to offend someone because they are a Christian seems sketchy. Would she have done the same to a Muslim or Jewish teacher? Our motives speak volumes.

    1. Yes, the school officially owns the chromebooks. But, if they don't want them being used over the summer then students should have to return them. But, it's not just the chromebooks. Administration is telling students they can monitor personal computers and cellphone usage as well. Which is completely UNTRUE since the school would need warrants to access those kinds of records for everyone.
      As for G1's story.....I completely stand behind what she wrote. She writes horror and didn't shy away from it....She threw in a satanic element because it fit the story and in the end would bother the teacher. The teacher gave an "anything goes" for the content and G1 double checked....going as far as asking exactly what the parameters of the writing assignment was. G1 also felt the need to prove she was a good writer since this teacher told her she wasn't "good enough" to be put into Junior AP. (which other teachers disagreed with) To be clear,this was not an issue of Christian persecution whatsoever. On top of what I just stated, the teacher was also attempting to teach her religion in a public classroom which is not the place. I would say exactly the same thing if it was a Muslim or Jewish teacher who was trying to do the same.