Dad Mike Rossi Pens Viral Letter To His Daughters' School, Because A Family Trip To The Boston Marathon Is Definitely Educational
There is more to learning that books — and certainly more than standardized testing. And that's the message of one dad's letter to his daughters' principal about their family trip to see him run the Boston marathon, a trip the school refused to count as an excused absence for the girls. And while he says he understands that the principal is just doing her job, he's also definitely right that schools could stand to be a lot more flexible.
Mike Rossi says that although his daughters' teachers knew about the scheduled trip early in the year, and that although he also notified them officially shortly before the trip, he still received a letter from the school principal letting him know that the district did not consider family trips to be a valid reason for an absence. Furthermore, the letter stated, the absences would therefore be considered unexcused — and that too many unexcused absences could result in disciplinary action.
Rossi was understandably not that thrilled with this response, especially since his daughters had only missed three days of school. The irate dad posted the principal's letter to Facebook, along with his own response — and perhaps unsurprisingly, the posts have both gone viral. Here's the letter:
And according to Rossi's post, here is how he chose to respond:
Dear Madam Principal,While I appreciate your concern for our children's education, I can promise you they learned as much in the five days we were in Boston as they would in an entire year in school. Our children had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that can't be duplicated in a classroom or read in a book. In the 3 days of school they missed (which consisted of standardized testing that they could take any time) they learned about dedication, commitment, love, perseverance, overcoming adversity, civic pride, patriotism, American history culinary arts and physical education. They watched their father overcome, injury, bad weather, the death of a loved one and many other obstacles to achieve an important personal goal. They also experienced first-hand the love and support of thousands of others cheering on people with a common goal. At the marathon, they watched blind runners, runners with prosthetic limbs and debilitating diseases and people running to raise money for great causes run in the most prestigious and historic marathon in the world. They also paid tribute to the victims of a senseless act of terrorism and learned that no matter what evil may occur, terrorists can not deter the American spirit.These are things they won't ever truly learn in the classroom. In addition our children walked the Freedom Trail, visited the site of the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre and the graves of several signers of the Declaration of Independence. These are things they WILL learn in school a year or more from now. So in actuality our children are ahead of the game. They also visited an aquarium, sampled great cuisine and spent many hours of physical activity walking and swimming. We appreciate the efforts of the wonderful teachers and staff and cherish the education they are receiving at Rydal Elementary School. We truly love our school.But I wouldn't hesitate to pull them out of school again for an experience like the one they had this past week. Thank you for your time. Sincerely,Michael RossiFather
It should be pointed out that Rossi is not claiming he didn't violate the district policy, but rather that he thinks the policy should be more flexible. He's also made clear in interviews that overall he loves his daughters' school, and that he isn't angry at anyone for doing their job.
Still, it is true that there are a lot of things wrong with the American approach to education; indeed, this kind of rigid policy on absences is part of that overall issue. Kids learn in any number of ways, and enriching children's education with trips and hands-on experiences is a great way to not just provide them with knowledge, but also make them engaged citizens of the world. Treating students like they are only in school in order to get filled up with necessary information does no one any favors, most especially students.
Also? That trip sounds awesome.
Image: Mike Rossi/Facebook