Sunday, September 18, 2005

Letter to the School Board: 10th Grade English

This letter was never sent.  It was simply an English assignment to practice writing a formal letter of complaint.  We were instructed to choose a school policy we disliked, and write to the school board about getting it changed.

October 8, 1993

The School board
2300 Plymouth Road
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Dear school board members,

Greetings.  I appreciate the time you have committed to this school and the positive results there-of.  I am a student at the school and am always amazed by your refusal to get discouraged.

However, there are several rules which I think are bureaucratic and do more harm to the education received than good.  Foremost among them is the tardy policy.  I realize you can not put up with late students, but some revising would defiantly be in order.  The first problem of the policy is that it is too legalistic.  If your fingers are sticking through the door your safe, but if you are one foot away you are tardy.  What the message you are sending to the kids is that flexibility is bad, and brittleness is good.  Secondly, the rule leaves no room for human error.  If someone forgets to bring a book, notebook, paper, or any other materials to class, they must take a tardy to get them.  These kinds of mistakes are neither intentional nor avoidable.  How could you stop yourself from forgetting something?  Thirdly, the policy often makes people later then they all ready are.  For instance, several times last year my bus arrived at school two minutes before classes started.  To get to my locker, put my stuff away, and then get to my class in two minutes was impossible.  I instead had to go to the attendance office, wait in line, get an excuse, and then put my stuff away and  then get to class.  Instead of being one minute late, I ended up being about five.  Fourthly the policy underestimates the time it takes to get from one end of the school where your last class was, to your locker, and then back to the same end where your next class is.  The five minutes allotted may be adequate, except for the crowded halls.  It is in many cases impossible.  The halls are full of many people standing around talking, or walking slowly.  They do not have as far to walk as others.  And what if a student needed to make a stop along the way.  The policy also encourages, sometimes forces, running in the hall.  Now I realize that you need some sort of tardy policy to keep students from arriving ten minutes late everyday, but the existing one could use some changes.  First of all, be flexible, if a student is thirty seconds late, so what?  Second, increase the allotted time between classes to 7 minutes.  Third, allow a student one trip back to his locker per week, without a tardy.

Thank you for taking the time to hear me out. Together, we can make Christian High a better educational facility. The tardy policy is good, but I think my corrections could go a long ways.

Sincerely Yours

Joel Swagman

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