NO SCHOOL FOR MY KIDS
© 2009 Nan E. Fagan
Twenty minutes later, after finishing breakfast on a warm and sunny Friday morning in mid-April, Kathy DiScala was getting her kids ready for homeschool, when she suddenly heard a knock on her door. “I wonda who that is this early in the mornin!” Kathy asked in her heavy Brooklyn accent as she went to answer the door. She was wearing a bright yellow bathrobe with a matching towel over her head, as she called out to her two kids, “Jake, Kelly, get started on your schoolwork right now!”
“Mrs. DiScala?” a huge burly bald man had asked.
“Yeah! Whatta ya want!” Kathy responded sarcastically.
““I’m Joseph Green, the attendance officer for the Santa Monica School District. I’d like to come in and talk to you.”
“What about? I’m busy right now!” Kathy once again responded sarcastically.”
“I want to talk to you a bout your kids. They’ve not been in school for the last month. Why aren’t you sending them to school?”
“Because me and my husband don’t wanna. We’re homeschoolin our kids. We did it in Noo Yawk and now we’re doin here in California. Here, why doncha come in and I’ll tell ya!” Kathy responded as she let Mr. Green in to her modest Spanish-style house.
Sitting on the bright yellow living room sofa, putting his attendance records down on the cobalt blue coffee table, Mr. Green then asked, “Mrs DiScala, what are your teaching credentials? Are you a licensed and certified to teach here in the state of California?
Kathy then angrily replied. “Why? What difference does it make?’
“A recent court decision here in California says any parent who homeschools their child has to either get the proper teaching credentials or else end them to school. It is my job enforce the state laws and the school district’s attendance policies! You cannot keep these kids sheltered forever. They need to interact with other children. They need professional guidance. They need to be inside of a classroom learning from a professionally-trained and qualified teacher. If you don’t get your kids back into school, you can be charged with truancy.”
“Listen, mistah!” Kathy continued. “Qualified teachers, my foot! My husband Don and I pulled our kids out of St. Margaret’s in Brooklyn because the nuns were smackin them around; especially Sister Jane. Yeah my son was misbehavin, so instead of calling me, Sister Jane popped him across the mouth with a yardstick. His mouth was bleeding so bad that he had to go to the hospital to get stitches. Well anyway, I marched right up to that school and told her that if she ever ever laid a hand on any of my kids again, I was gonna knock her old yellow rotten teeth out; and I don’t care if they send me to jail. Nobody puts their hands on my kids, and I mean nobody! And the principal there, Sister Mary, didn’t do a thing; she took Sister Jane’s side! But anyway, when my son came home that day, my husband and I really laid it on him Nobody touches my kids except me and my husband!”
Mr. Green was astonished! “I too went to the Catholic schools here in Los Angeles, and yes, I got cracked by a few of the nuns there, but I also had some good nuns there as well. Of course, this was back in the 60′s. But you just can’t blame one bad experience for keeping kids out of school, Mrs. DiScala.”
“Oh there’s more!” Kathy continued excitedly. “After we took them out of St. Margaret’s, we sent them to P.S. 29 in Brooklyn, and it didn’t get any better. The kids there were runnin around, fightin, cursin, nobody there to watch them. Some of them came to school with guns and knives. For Pete’s sake here we’re talking about young kids; first, second, third, fourth, and fifth graders; One day there was this big fight in the lunchroom. A whole bunch of black kids ganged up on this one white kid. When the teacher tried to break it up, this one black kid popped him in the mouth so hard that his gums bled My son Jake also got hit in the face with a chair. Me and another group of parents marched right down to that school and demanded to see the principal, but he was too busy to see us, and boy did I really freak out! He cares more about that No Child Left Behind act then about the safety and concerns our children”
Mr. Green, picking up his briefcase, interrupted, “Is it just the violence, Mrs. DiScala, or the academics that’s keeping your kids out of school?”
“Both.” Kathy responded. “My daughter has ADD, she reads at a first grade level, and the kids keep pickin on her. One day, during math class, she freaked out because she couldn’t do double-digit multiplication, and do you know what the teacher did? She locked her in the bathroom for two hours! Two full hours! She was screamin and cryin at the top of her lungs, but the teacher really didn’t care! My husband and I then marched up to the school and gave her a piece of my mind. And do you know what? She said and I quote ‘I don’t have time to deal with dummy students like your daughter! Put her in the looney bin!’ I told her that she had no right to do that to my daughter, and that I would be going to the principal’s office. He gave me the brush-off again, but this time I had enough. I screamed into his face ‘I’m takin my kids out of here and homeschoolin them. I don’t need this aggravation anymore! And I don’t care if you haul me and my husband off to jail; my kids will never ever set foot inside of a classroom again for as long as they’re living under my roof! You can take your federal and state regulations and shove them up your you-know-what! Me and my husband know my kids better than some stranger with a fancy-schmancy teaching degree!”
Mr. Green then interrupted, “Mrs. DiScala, how long have you lived here in California?”
“Five years.” Kathy responded. “My husband’s a big-shot entertainment lawyah! His law firm opened up an office right here in Beverly Hills. He wanted the big-time Hollywood clients and that’s why we came here.”
“How are you homeschooling your children, Mrs. Di’Scala?” Mr. Green asked.
“I got them in an online charter school up in San Francisco.” Kathy replied. They send me the books and videos that I need. I can play the video over and over until my kids get it right. They don’t pressure them to study: they study at their own pace. I don’t want them to be forced to learn anything. I send the lessons in; they grade them and they send them back. The only thing that I want my kids to know is English, reading, and math and that’s it.
Mr. Green then intervened. “Mrs. DiScala, I don’t know what the education laws are there in New York, but out here in California, these kids need to be in school. You know, I don’t make the laws here; I just follow them. They need to know every subject, not just English, reading, and math.”
“Mr. Green” Kathy responded. “Come look at my kids. Jake, Kelly, come over here for a minute.”
“What is it, Mom?” twelve-year-old Jake and ten-year-old Kelly asked as he came rushing over with his English book in his hand.
“This is Mr. Green from the school district.” Kathy continued. “Jake, show Mr. Green where Sister Jane popped you in the mouth.”
“She popped me right here.” responded Jake, as he showed Mr. Green the permanent scar that she left on his upper lip. And you see this scar on my left arm, this was from the pizza that hit my arm the day we were in the lunchroom when the fight broke out. I’ll never go back to school again!”
Then it was Kelly’s turn. “Mrs. Johnson locked me in the bathroom because I was cryin.”
“Who’s Mrs. Johnson, Kelly?” Mr. Green asked. “Was she your teacher back in New York?”
“Yes she was and she was a real meanie.” Kelly answered. “And she was a real meanie to my mom. She said to my mom that I was stupid. I’m so glad that I don’t have Mrs. Johnson. My mom is my real teacher and she doesn’t call me names like Mrs. Johnson. I like going to school at home./”
“OK kids, go back and do your schoolwork, and I’ll talk to you later.” Kathy commanded. She paused for a moment and then continued, “Did you see my kids there, Mr. Green? This is why I don’t want to send them to school. I don’t want them anymore messed up than they are now. They don’t have to worry about guns, drugs, knives, bullies, teachers and principals that don’t even care. My kids are precious to both me and my husband, and if anything ever happened to them, I would never forgive myself. My poor Kelly now has nightmares and I’ve been taking her to a psychiatrist. I just can’t let my kids suffer like this anymore.”
Picking up his brown briefcase, filled with attendance forms, Mr. Green gave informed Kathy, “I’m sorry, Mrs. DiScala, but you’ve got to get your kids back into school! This is California, and New York! I want you and your husband to fill out these forms and get them back into my office by Monday morning. And here’s my card. ‘
“I told ya me and my husband have already made our decision.” responded Kathy Our kids are not going to school and that’s final. Tell your boss to come over here and take me to jail. I’ll even give them medical proof of what the schools did to my kids!”
“Mrs. DiScala, you’re leaving me no other choice but to have a truant officer come out here. I’ve got to get back to the office now. Have a good day, ma’am.”
As Mr. Green left, Kathy then fumed, “The noive of that guy! Telling me that I need to send my kids to school Ya know what? I’m gonna run for office and do away with school taxes and forced schooling! Yeah! I’ll show these rotten politicians a thing or two! Why should I be forced to send my kids to school and pay school taxes in the first place? Education should be a privilege and not a right! And what a better time to do it than right now!”