Monday, November 25, 2013

I Can't Make This Up

All my students in both my schools have been told on numerous occasions, "The book you check out under your name is YOUR responsibility, not your teacher's, or parents', or friend's.  YOURS."  All students have also been told if they owe a book or a fine to the library there will be no new books checked out until the book or fine is returned or paid.  I am also quite specific that students not swap books after they have been checked out because it's a problem if books are swapped and one person returns but the person swapped with does not.  These are not mysterious or fluid standards.

Here then in a conversation I recently had with a principal.

Principal: (showing me an overdue notice I had printed out for a student)  This student's family member was quite upset because it is claimed the student was not permitted to touch any books and had to sit with head down on the table.

Me: That's not the case.  Students with overdues may not check books out but they may look at books or magazines while classmates check out new books.  There were no behavior issues in any of my classes yesterday that would have led me to tell a student to sit with head down.

Principal:  Ok, I didn't think the story I was told was accurate but I wanted to check.  So at what point can the student check out a new book?

Me: When the last book is returned or, if it is lost, the fine is paid.

Principal: You won't just make the overdue or fine go away so the student can have a book?

Me: No.  Borrow a book, bring it back.  Lose a book, pay for it.  I don't publicize this but as long as something is paid I accept it as the full fine, on the recommendation of the former librarians.  Also, for those students and their families who have no means to pay I allow them to work off the fines by rendering service to the library.  Students must take responsibility for the materials they borrow.

Principal:  (unhappy with my "inflexibility" on the issue) Hhmph.  Well, fine.  (pausing)  You know, I have a $60 fine at the public library.  It's not fair.  I lent my card to a friend who borrowed a bunch of books and never returned any of them  They won't let me check out books until I pay the fine but I shouldn't have to because she borrowed them not me.  I'm boycotting the public library.

Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I would like it noted for the record that I did not immediately offer my unvarnished opinion of the complete and utter stupidity I was hearing.  I'm not sure if I was more shocked that my principal felt justified in refusing to pay her fine (accrued because she stupidly let someone else use her card) or the lack of shame in relating her opinion insofar as she thought I might be a sympathetic audience.  Either way, the shock served to protect my job as it rendered me momentarily speechless.

To be clear, when the Limelets were small our rule was no library books go outside the house.  Diana was six when she decided to sneak her new library book outside.  It wound up spending the night in a mud puddle.  The fine was $20.  I paid it because Diana did not have $20 but she dried dishes after dinner for months to earn the money to pay me back.....because I am not the one who broke the rule and left the book in a puddle overnight.  It took months because she often complained bitterly about the oppressive task she was assigned.  The complaining was so persistent I told her if she spent too much time griping she'd still dry the dishes and pay me to do so instead of being paid.  Her account balance fluctuated wildly at times depending upon her attitude.

So yeah, I'm all about the responsibility, though I now have a better idea of why so many folks (not all) at that school just don't seem to give a damn.

15 comments:

Kat said...

And the last two paragraphs are also the reason why you have responsible, respectful children who are turning into productive members of society, while so many children in this country grow up self entitled, whiny, irresponsible, obnoxious adults who think the world revolves around them.
I'm just saying.

It all seems like such common sense to me. Kind of baffling, actually.

Way to stick to your guns, Lime! Someone has to show these people a bit of common sense!

haphazardlife said...

I have no words. But you can see me rolling my eyes at the principal can't you?

Sailor said...

I'm rolling my eyes, right along with haphazardlife. Too often seen similar, sometimes even sillier attitudes from people in our school too. Is it any wonder at all, I'm so cynical about public education? (No, not individual teachers, and some of our counseling staff have been awesome- but those folks are often eye-rolling right with me!)

Logophile said...

Your shock is justified. This is a principal talking... unbefrickinglievable.

Secret Agent Woman said...

And the principal is supposed to be a role model for students. Nice.

Hilary said...

Wow.. when the principal doesn't even get it, how are the kids supposed to? Hopefully, those who need to, will learn from your example.. without being bailed out.

joeh said...

Gee those rules seem sooo complicated! Let me see if I get it...if you take out a book you are responsible for it?

What if I took out a book and then there was an earth quake and the a big fault opened up and I dropped the book...it's not my fault is it, it's the earthquake's fault...sooo complicated...dang.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I get it. Principal's fault for letting our her card and not making the responsibility clear. Also, agree with you carrying that responsibility over to the kids at school.

I, too, taught mine to respect the library books. It was a treat to go there and they received a great feeling of power picking out the books they wanted to bring home. However, you are tough with your own. Not certain I would have held out that long. Glad I didn't have to test it. My children were perfect. (Ha!)

Bijoux said...

I find it hilarious that the principal told you she's "boycotting the public library" due to her own stupidity. How did you not laugh at that? There is no way I could have controlled myself over a comment like that!

It's always someone else's fault! Didn't you know that?

Craver Vii said...

Hear hear! I couldn't agree with you more. There is a lot that I want to say, but you have already stated it well.

On a similar note, I think how our debts before an almighty God have been "forgiven." It is not simply a matter of wiping the slate clean, but our Lord "atoned" for my sins on the cross. The debt was paid--not erased. I'm thankful today that He paid a debt He did not owe, for a sinner who owed a debt he could not pay.

Plus today, I wish to express thanks for you, Lime. Thank you for sharing your wit and experiences with us. I've been blessed to walk along side of you and I find so much to laugh or think about through these exchanges.

Stephen Hayes said...

I truly believe that one of our greatest societal problems is that we're raising kids with no accountability. Libraries are a privilege and should be respected. I salute your stand. Happy Thanksgiving.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Imagine...
Consequences for irresponsible actions
Who'd o' thought that could be taught at a school, of all places

Craig said...

It's things like this, millions of them, taken in aggregate, that will end in the fall of civilization as we know it. . .

Good freakin' grief, Ms. Principal. . .

Anvilcloud said...

I think you are doing a good thing, and I think your principal should be sent to the office.

Jocelyn said...

Oh. my. God.

I was appalled that the principal wanted you to waive a logical consequence, but then the personal story of stupidity? Holy hell.