The other day, my son got in trouble over a snowball. 🙄  This is on the back of a teacher overstepping her boundaries on how families spend their time after school, as well as unnecessary and unwarranted probing.

Kinda’ running out of patience with school politics.  Wrote this letter to them.

Hi X,
I’d like to preface that this is written from a position of mutual respect and hopes to solve this struggle.

I’m a regular donor, anonymous and otherwise; including paying off all of Davis County’s Title I past due lunch balances a few years ago.

My son has always been an A student with consistent enthusiasm behind school. This year he hates it and is developing anxiety over it.

Him and other classmates that are regulars at our house often comment about the level of stress and vocal tension in this classroom.

The comment of “I’m not a homework giver” has become an inside joke, one of which I can appreciate myself. I’ve never seen these kids with so much.

That is also part of my comment last month about the added commitment of what’s asked of them to do after school, as if they don’t already have enough.

“But they’ll have more next year, so get them used to it.”

Since when did “yeah, but” ever make something justified or validate the thing being compared to as being right either?

This year feels like a systematic destruction of the kids creativity, confidence, and a drive towards conformity.

They’ve had privileges removed from recess time because one bad apple ruined it for everyone. No balls in this scenario, little red flags of invisible barriers that they can’t cross in that scenario. A broken playground bridge that kids had no means to fix, but were punished when they played on it at the school’s lack of ability to fix.

The full story behind this week’s snowball is hysterical. They’re kids.

My son did not start a snowball fight. And the one “snowball” he did throw was an underhanded lump of powder that he considerately chose instead of the iceball that his friend threw at him, a friend that welcomed the powder in fun, and threw first. Two kids that would have never known anything happened had adults not made up the problem.

There’s a big difference between teaching kids and punishing them. One they can learn from, the other makes them spiteful.

He came home today, desolate. He said you asked what his dad had to say about the snowball. He replied something like, “he said, ‘don’t do it again.'”

That is the opposite of what I said. I told him that it was silly and to keep being a kid. I even posted about it, and it was received with a wave of support regarding parent’s exhaustion of school politics.

These kids malleable minds are shut down and talked over until they comply. A simple “please don’t throw snow” would have been more than sufficient. Instead, they’re:

  • punished with a reprimanding
  • punished with a second teacher reprimanding
  • punished with a write-up
  • punished having recess withheld
  • punished with a follow-up

Risk of litigation has destroyed schools from being a haven for kids.

My kids, their grandfather a Native American tribal leader buried on protected grounds after passing this year, can’t even dress up for Halloween out of respect for their heritage.

Fear now runs schools. Fear runs policies.

I asked why he didn’t say the truth about my reply about the snowball. He said he felt overwhelmed and intimidated. This is a constant this school year, and has never happened in years prior.

He voices stress over the new and regular probing of “is there anything wrong at home?” that has followed after I disagreed about requiring parents to read after school hours. I don’t disagree with reading with kids. And if my son asked me to read more, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

The problem is that we already do it + homework + extracurricular sports + travel + I help them learn entrepreneurship and am helping him pursue his passions… starting his own t-shirt business.

Even if I were to, theoretically, disagree with reading after school, still doesn’t matter… it’s no place for the school to dictate how families spend their time after school.

I will put our household’s love up against anyone’s. I said something not because there’s anything wrong at home, but the total opposite. Because of the amount of pride I have for my kids. Because I’m teaching them to be the most independent versions of themselves.

After he’s been sick off and on for nearly two weeks, including his brother and sister, “is there a problem at home?” revisited. They’ve all rotated staying home. Thought that was the responsible thing to do to prevent other kids getting sick, as I wish other parents would have done to protect my kids.

He was so worried about being judged for his absences and probed for “at home problems” again that he chose to go yesterday instead of staying home one more day. On the toilet with diarrhea, he feared school more. That speaks volumes.

After he came home distraught, I asked if he’d like me to say anything, or not.

We talked about the pros and cons of both options, and what HE wanted to be said on his behalf. He knows you would likely talk to him after. Despite him feeling vulnerable over the unnecessary probing, the stress of school weighed on him enough that he asked me to stand up for him, knowing that discussions would follow.

If you want him to come to class next time with diarrhea, that’s on you.

No, nothing is wrong at home.

Yes, something is wrong at school.

These are kids. They deserve play time, independence, and to learn life’s lessons.

He will no longer be doing after-school homework. If there’s something he needs to do for school, then it can be completed in school.

If you truly care for my son, pause and reset judgement. It’s that there’s independence taught in this house, and I care more for them than what others think of me for voicing my protection over them, and actually stand up when I know someone is making them uncomfortable.

Revisit that view from a lens of his parent’s compassion and love for him. The school is the source of his weight, and his home is his protection.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Damon Burton

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