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Schools forget ignorance is bliss for some

April 12, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

In its never-ending War on Children, the Washington County Board of Education has added a hideous new weapon to its arsenal.

It centers on this little thing I like to call the Internet.

Starting with the upcoming school year, parents will be able to go online to inspect their kids' grades and test scores in real time.

Kids, gather 'round and listen to your Uncle Tim, because this is a serious development that you need to be aware of in order to develop counter-measures.

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Since I am no longer in the school-student parenting business, you can trust me. Honest. I confess, if I did have a kid in school, I might buy into this snake-oil that the school system is euphemistically calling a "tool."

Well, you know what else is a "tool." That's right, a dentist's drill. So beware.

But without kids in school, I find that I have automatically defaulted back to my certifiable emotional age, which is about that of a 14-year-old. So I'm on your side.

First, you need to be aware that this "grades and test scores" stuff is no-doubt just the beginning. Other, more insidious information - such as homework status and behavior write-ups - can't be far behind.

Mark my words, this will ...

Hey all you busybody parents, what are you doing still reading this? This is between me and little Chauncy here. So get out. Now.

... this will severely alter the dynamic of the daily, "Have you done your homework?" dance. You know how it works.

"Hi Mom, hi Dad, gonna go to the mall. My friend is having a, uh, a birthday, and I need to get her a ... No, I mean we have this school project coming up in my, uh, my Human Existence class and I need to buy some poster board so I can make a library book to show the study of, uh, of things."

And then you get slammed with those six words that are pretty much all you ever hear from the folks from August through June.

Have. You. Done. Your. Home. Work?

And you say, "Oh come on, have I done my homework?"

And with any luck, by this time your friend has her car pulled up to the curb with the motor running and you can flash out the door.

But this online thing has frightening implications.

You understand, don't you, that eventually they're not even going to have to ask anymore. They're just going to log on to snooponyourkids.com, and it will take them about three seconds to discover that you haven't turned in anything since second grade.

This makes me glad I was born back in the Stone Age, because I never would have survived. Well, I might have, but only because my dad thought computers were invented by the Trilateral Commission in conjunction with Satan for the purpose of world domination. (I am not kidding. How do you think I got this way?)

But grades and test scores? Whew. When I think of all the standard dodges in response to how the test went - "we haven't gotten them back yet;" "depending on what I make on the next test, my overall average will be a C;" "I got the sixth highest score in the class." Hey, if they don't know there are only seven people in the class and one of them was sick, can you help it?

Now these will all be as useless as fuel injection on a box turtle.

So will all those report-card shell games. Like stuffing your report card into your jeans pocket and then throwing them into the wash. Or offering a silent prayer to whoever invented the alphabet, and making sure an F could be so easily turned into a B. Ah, the memories.

Matter of fact, I'm not sure I'd like this even as a parent. It's an added layer of responsibility, and for a lot of us, ignorance was - well, it was just easier.

"How was school today?"

"Fine."

"Great. You going to finish that pork chop?"

Now that was my idea of some excellent parenting.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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