Tag Archives: school

Abuse in the Yeshiva System

This story Surviving Bais Mikroh happened in a yeshiva in Monsey, where I live. I personally cannot vouch for the veracity of this story, but having heard many similar stories about this and other yeshivot – nothing in it surprised me. None of my children attend or have attended Bais Mikroh.

When my children were younger it was brought to my attention that one of the Kindergarden rebbeim was hitting the kids at the yeshiva my boys attended. One of my kids had made an offhand remark “Chaim Yankel didn’t sing the tune right so Rebbe hit him, and then he cried, and then the bell rang for recess….”

I stopped him, and asked if Rebbe often hit the kids. He told me yes, that’s what happens in big boy school. I was floored. I tried to explain to my 6 year old that NO REBBE has the right to hit a child – and he hit these kids across the face!!

I knew what I had to do, and I suffered for doing the right thing. I called the school social worker, letting him know what was going on, and telling him I was headed up to the school to take them to task. The social worker did not work for the school, but answered to a local agency. Getting them involved was paramount – if it had been just me, one parent, lodging a complaint at the school, the problem would have been swept under the rug.

Oh did I forget to tell you? NONE of the other parents in the class, including the parents of the boys that had been hit, were willing to stand with me. No one was willing to stand up for their kids. My kid had not been hit, and I was willing to stand up. I was disgusted. I had parents calling me, thanking me for doing this, because their kid had been hit too – but when I asked to put their name forward, for them to make a phonecall to the social worker, they refused.

I spoke with the principal and the social worker at length. I was not willing to be brushed off. Soon after I received threatening phonecalls, that I need to stop my personal vendetta (!!) against the rebbe and drop my complaint. He has mouths to feed, responsibilities – how dare I try to take that away from him?

How dare he hit our kids? How dare they blame ME for complaining?

“We’ll chase you out of town, your name will be mud here” – if it saves one kid, it would have been worth it. They were full of BS anyway – push came to shove they had to shut up because it was all TRUE.

Because it wasn’t MY kid that was hit, and none of the other parents came forward, there was little that I could push to be done. It was frustrating. They got the teacher into anger management classes, and upon my insistence, never left the rebbe alone with the kids. There was always another adult present. They never, not for one moment, denied that he hit the kids.

My kid was transferred to a parallel class, and my younger kid(s) were not assigned to his kindergarten class.

What horrified me the most were the parents. Your child was hit. Across the face. Some more than once. And you are willing to sit there and take it? And you are willing to allow him to continue to hit other children? Because you are afraid of making waves?

Our children are worth everything – if we do not protect them, who will?


Uniforms vs Dress Code

Which do you prefer for your kids?

Growing up in the UK, we had school uniforms. In junior school it was a navy blue gymslip – I think you call that a “jumper” over here, and a light blue shirt underneath. In high school, ugh, the Hasmonean colours were grey and maroon. Grey pleated skirt, white shirt, grey sweater and maroon jacket.  I hated wearing a uniform but I didn’t waste any time in the morning deciding what to wear.

My boys have always had a dress code rather than a uniform. Shirts without pictures or logos, no jeans, pants without too many pockets. The older boys have to wear button down shirts and dress pants, and the shirts must be in muted colours. No trendy sneakers.

Is it easier for boys to have a dress code than for girls? The girls’ schools all seem to have a uniform. What’s your preference? Did you have a uniform in school?

Heinous or Harmless

Sixth grader is to be sent home from school due to an act of perceived disobedience. The principal makes the child call home to tell his / her mother / father that s/he is being sent home and why. The principal makes no effort whatsoever to communicate with the parents.

Is the principal wrong in not being the one to call the parents? Or is the principal right in making the child make the call and “fess up” to what happened?

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WWYD – School

A friend of mine has her kids in a Jewish day school. One of her children has had some issues with a particular class, and after discussions with that teacher, it was decided that every Friday after school is over, the teacher would call to give a progress report. The teacher is not Jewish.

Apparently, the teacher called her last Friday evening, 45 minutes after candle-lighting, to leave a message about the child’s progress that week. My friend is incensed. How could this teacher call her on Shabbat even if it was just to leave a message? Don’t they explain the laws of Shabbat to the secular teachers? She hated the fact that her telephone rang on Shabbat, and many people worry that its bad news when the phone rings on Shabbat. The message indicator was blinking all of Shabbat and made her nervous.

She wants to call the principal and make a to-do. I told her it isn’t really worth it. It’s possible that the teacher was aware, but temporarily forgot. If anything, she should speak to the teacher involved, and gently let him/her know that in future s/he should please call before Shabbat starts. My friend wants heads to roll.

What would you do? What would you advise her to do?

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Interesting addition to the lunch box

What interesting item did your child ask you to pack in his/her school bag today? Mine asked permission to take along a space heater and extension cord to school as there was no heat in his class.

If everyone in his class did the same thing, perhaps the electrical circuits would get overwhelmed. Maybe they would blow power to the whole school? Maybe that was the intent?

Le Sigh.

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School Survey – Haiti Tragedy

Our school has done exactly nothing (that I am aware of) to raise money for Haiti. For shame. My boys have each made donations from their own money at our local kosher grocery store. Just because the school is doing nothing, it doesn’t mean my children should not be aware of the tragedy.

What have your kid’s schools done to raise money and awareness of the situation in Haiti? And what type of school is it?

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Antidote to the last post?

Ahem…So the biggest prince got sent home today because he had a bad stomach ache in class. Came in looking like a wet weekend. Hasn’t interfered at all in his killing mercenaries on the Wii but when I pass by he gives me the obligatory kvetch.

The school secretary just called. (One of these days I shall have to tell her what my name really is, politely). Wanted to see how he was doing, which I thought was quite sweet. I told her he still has some tummy discomfort. And here is where I got some interesting unsolicited advice. I need to take a spoon of hot water and a spoon of oregano, mix them together and make him drink it. It will cure him in no time. I thanked her kindly, hung up the phone and dissolved into fits of giggles.

It was just surreal. Oregano? Hot water? For the tummy? At least she cares???

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OPEN LETTER to schools and educators

Please, when you call up a parent, know the correct name of the person to whom you wish to speak. Do not use this opportunity to pass judgment on the amount of times the person has been married and your inability to keep track of the name changes.

Please identify yourself, the educational establishment you represent, and what subject you teach. If you do not have this information you shouldn’t be allowed to make this phone call.

Please also identify exactly which child you would like to speak to the parent about. “Your son” or “Your daughter” doesn’t help much when you have several in the same school. Again, if you don’t know about which child you are calling don’t make the call. Parents cannot be expected to remember which of their kids is in what grade. Most of the time we can’t even remember their names when they are in front of us.

Please also check your facts before making the call just in case you might be wrong. This can avoid many hassles for YOU such as having to look for a child, that has been exempted from a certain class, because you called the parent to say the child was missing from school. Additionally please remember perhaps there is a good reason. Perhaps one should check with the authority figures at the school whether permission was granted for said child to be absent / present elsewhere at a certain time. Perhaps the parent is aware the child isn’t there. Checking your facts would prevent you having to make a follow up call to said parent to apologize and to assuage their fears and put their mind at ease that the child is indeed present in their scholastic institution and hasn’t been kidnapped by rabid wild dingoes.

Please also remember, when talking to the parents, to have an easy conciliatory tone. Most parents don’t take kindly to accusations and bullying. You need to be on the same page – the best interests of the child. Making character assassinations is not helpful, but it does give the parents plenty of fodder for venting at a later date.

Hanging up the phone after muttering expletives does not endear you to the parent body.

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Parent – Teacher Interviews

Today is the day I get to hear about my little darlings and how well (I hope) they are doing in school. Tell me, why can the children themselves not be there to listen to the teacher’s criticism? Why do they have to sit at home waiting to find out their fate?

What’s also ridiculous to me is that they send the kids home early so they can do the Parent Teacher Interviews. Who the heck is supposed to watch the kids when their parents come to the school to squeeze their backsides into tiny little chairs? We don’t all have built in babysitters with our apartments and houses. Today I have to shlepp my little darlings with me. My built-in-babysitter ™ will still be in class in High School.

Today, I guess the kids can wait outside in the foyer while we talk about them behind their back. It just seems wrong. Why can the kid not hear directly from the teacher what he is / is not doing right? By the time I get home and talk to them, the discussion is all mixed up with pride or sadness which totally changes the trajectory of the conversation.

Or alternatively, seeing as they don’t want the kids there, but they want the parents there, why don’t they have some kind of activity to keep the kids occupied while their parents get the low down?

Oh yeah, this is parent teacher for just the secular studies teachers. We get to do this all over again on Sunday for the Rebbeim. Why can we not kill two birds with one stone? Because that would be convenient…and we don’t want that.

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Less than a week to go

And then school is out for the summer. Yes! What am I looking forward to the most? Not having to wake them up at the crack of dawn and hustle them through showers and breakfast. I am looking forward to a much more relaxed pace through the day, no pressing need to be anywhere. To be able to have a lie-in myself and perhaps once or twice not get out of bed till 10 am. I rise daily at 5 am so that I can be coffeed and exercised before having to wake up the kidlets. It does make me less cranky (I know, how can you tell? Haha) – but once school is out I can sleep till 7. No having to nag to get homework done, no last minute morning rush to get schoolbags packed.

What are you looking forward to?