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New High School Phone System

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By John Rosemond

North Carolina family psychologist John Rosemond, whose weekly column appears in approximately 200 newspapers nationwide, is a nationally recognized expert on parenting. He has written nine best-selling books on the subject and has appeared on such TV programs as 20/20, Good Morning America, The View and The Today Show. Rosemond's columns, including "New High School Phone System," his January 11, 2001, column, can be read online at John Rosemond's Affirmative Parenting.

A teacher somewhere in the United States sent me a message one of her colleagues proposed for the new phone system being installed in their high school. She wrote, "It's a joke, of course, but it speaks volumes about the problems plaguing education today." Based on my experience and numerous conversations with educators around the country, I've added a few options of my own. If the shoe fits, wear it!

"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of (name of school). To properly connect your call, please listen to all the following options before making a selection:

To lie about why your child is absent, press 1.

To tell us that your child was too tired to come to school today because of his soccer game last night, press 2.

To make lame excuses for why your child did not do his or her work,
press 3.

To complain that a teacher is not treating your child fairly, press 4.

To complain that a teacher is having a personality conflict with your child, press 5.

To complain that you did not understand your child's homework assignment, press 6.

To complain that a teacher is not teaching to your child's learning style,
press 7.

To demand that a grade be changed, for the better of course, press 8.

To inform us that your child has never told a lie or done anything wrong in his or her life, press 9.

To leave a threatening message for a teacher, press 10.

To ask why you have not received messages that we sent home with your child, press 11.

To threaten us with a lawsuit, press 12.

To demand that your child be admitted to the gifted and talented program, press 13.

To request that we take over raising your child, press 14.

If you want to reach out and slap someone on staff, press 15.

To request another teacher for your child, press 16.

To demand that your child be reinstated on the football team despite bad grades and/or atrocious behavior because being kicked off the team ruins his chances for a football scholarship, press 17.

To complain that the bus driver has it in for your child, press 18.

To complain that school lunches are either too expensive or that your child doesn't like them, press 19.

To tell us that your child simply must be given a higher grade than he or she earned so that he or she can get into the college of his or her choice,
press 20.

If you want to ask us to hold your child completely accountable for his or her work and behavior, hang up and have a nice day!"

"New High School Phone System," by John Rosemond, is reprinted here with the permission of the author.