14 October, 2008

My son, the politician

My son's adventures at school these past few months have amazed me. He's in seventh grade, which places him in Junior High School. He joined the student newspaper* of his own initiative (!) and has been assigned to write a piece called Meet the 7th graders. He's been nominated for one of those national enrichment programs that require him to take a standardized test, and his averages at the end of the first nine weeks are eye-popping.**

On the down side, he got into a kicking match with another kid at school. Each was using the other's legs as target practice.***

In the "I'm-not-sure-I'm-actually-proud-of-this" category, my son won an election to student government**** the old fashioned way: by promising all sorts of things he couldn't possibly deliver. You think that's funny, and so did I, until he actually delivered on one of the promises within the first few weeks of his election: an additional microwave oven in the school cafeteria, mitigating the wait in line to use it. He then lobbied the school administration successfully to thank the parent who donated the microwave in the weekly bulletin.

He still has to deliver on a change to the school regulations on girls' shoes, and a change to the school regulation on who goes to lunch first. Apparently the shoes that the school requires can be uncomfortable, and my son proposes a completely reasonable change to the requirements that I can't remember off the top of my head. (It's 4am—bad dream—and I won't wake him up to ask.) As for the school lunch, the way he tells it the upper grades of the high school have a habit of shouldering the younger kids out of the way, and cutting in the lunch line, so he's asking for a change to the seniority rule, or whatever it is that sends the upper grades out first.

Even if he doesn't achieve the other two, I'll wager that 1 out of 3 is better than most politicians achieve. And he made sure that credit went to the right person. His political career is probably doomed, but it's been glorious so far. Never thought one of my children would be a politician, let alone a politician that I could be proud of!

*To understand the irony in its fullness, this is a kid who complains that I listen to too much news in the car.

**Although I'm proud of my son's hard work, it's hard to take seriously an English average of 102, given some of the shenanigans in that class lately. My son's score on the 9-weeks' test test was 121. I expressed faux disappointment that he missed the one problem, but he ignored that in order to explain to me the teacher decided to give a 22-point bonus on that test because, if she didn't, three quarters of the class would have failed it. I find that appalling myself. Admittedly, the teacher is a replacement, since the original teacher fell ill with a debilitating illness, but there are much better ways to remedy low scores on a test than giving a blanket 22-point bonus.

This appears to be the preferred American approach to education today:
  • Are you incompetent? Fret not; we award bonus points merely for your inestimable presence in the classroom. Wouldn't want to damage your self-esteem or anything.
  • Are you competent? Tsk tsk! The report card will not distinguish your accomplishments from the mediocrity of others; you'll get the same A as a student who rightly should have had a C. Why? it's so much easier to hand out bonus points like Halloween candy than, like, teach.
Did I mention that this private school has been an improvement over his former public school in most every way?

***It was my son who started it, and aside from the discipline handed out at school, he received an earful at home, along with the suspension of numerous privileges. What was worse, from his point of view, I called the assistant principal, pledged to her my complete support, and asked her to haul him into her office so he could apologize, admit responsibility, and promise not to do it again. Like any very, very smart person, he hates to admit he's wrong. It's harder when you're young and constantly reminded when you're wrong.

****I was never elected to student government. So I'm a little envious of his people skills.


Clemens said...

The dream didn't have anything to do with your son calling out Obama on You Tube, getting mentioned 19 times in a speech by McCain, and having 10,000 reporters descending on your front lawn did it?

jack perry said...

No, it was a rather routine bad dream.