To the Editor,
As a Waxahachie alumna myself, I am super proud to see the fancy new building we have built for our students. I am also very excited about the opportunities for them with such fantastic new facilities in various areas of study. However, I can no longer wait for someone else to address the lack of basic standards of behavior allowed to continue from the previous building to the new school. I have a high school student who is hesitant to tell me about the things he/she has to see on a daily basis. He/she has learned certain behaviors are “just normal.” I am saddened that my child does not feel comfortable going to the bathroom because other children are in there doing drugs “every time I go to the bathroom.” The children who choose not to use or sell drugs can: not go in the bathroom, go in and risk walking into something potentially dangerous or deal with someone thinking they told on them and beating them up later. What good is our shiny new building if our children are not safe to go to the bathroom?
Let’s talk about the fights that are happening at our lovely new high school. My child does not even tell me about all of them because “they happen all the time, sometimes a couple a day.” We have a great new open courtyard where our children should be able to talk with friends or take a short cut to classes. Instead, they have to worry about fights breaking out and the kids throwing rocks in the courtyard. If we stand strong on zero tolerance for fighting then it should not take long before the kids learn school is not the place for fighting or the consequence is greater than the reward.
When did we give up the fight on cell phones? My child informed me the teachers now let them stay on their phones during class. Who needs to think when they can Google the answer to any problem or just have a friend send them a pic of the test in advance? Youth are taking naked pictures and these pics shared between students in the classrooms. Our children do not have to go looking for porn, they have free access to it right there in the classroom. What good is our new building full of technology if we are not teaching our children the acceptable behaviors that should go with such technology? I personally cannot stay on my phone all day at work and I worry we are teaching the next generation this is acceptable behavior.
I hear people saying that we have to let our children grow up and that high school is preparing them for life. I am sorry, but this makes no sense to me. I have worked for many years now and have yet to have to deal with walking in to someone doing drugs in the bathroom or a fight breaking out. Are we preparing our children for productive lives or lives in prison? I mean, where else are these behaviors as common besides the prison system and our schools? If we cannot control the drugs at our school, what can we say about the possibility of someone bringing something else to school? If they are vaping in the bathrooms, how do we know they are not in there preparing something worse? I have personally seen kids walking in and out of various entrances around the school. What is keeping anyone from off the street from walking in one of these doors? What good is our beautiful new building if our children are not safe?
I do my part. I teach my child to respect others and consequences for certain behaviors. I monitor my child’s activities and hold my child accountable if he/she does not follow home or school rules. Then I send my child to school hoping to be a partner for the staff and raise a productive member of society. I know many of the staff members and appreciate their hard work for our kids. I realize they cannot be everywhere and prevent everything. I also realize they need our support to make changes and I am letting them know, they have mine. I found it interesting to listen to some of my child’s friends discussing the dress code at the high school. They talked about how it is not enforced and people where hats, athletic shorts and shirts that show their bellies. One child commented that if they are going to enforce it, he/she wished they would just change the code so that the rest of the kids who do what they are supposed to could wear those clothes too.
We do not live in some inner city neighborhood in Chicago. This is Waxahachie, OUR town. Why are we turning our heads to this behavior? If we can afford the best school, then we should be able to afford bathroom monitors, more staff for the hallways, and video surveillance for the parking lot or whatever else needed to make sure our kids are safe. I did not even cover the vandalism and fights in the parking lot, sex on school grounds and many other activities that are happening. I personally would trade the new building to know my child is safe and not dealing with drugs while at school. WAKE UP WAXAHACHIE! These are our children and we cannot afford to be passive. Let’s make our schools match the standards that we value in our town. I realize the technology and times have worn everyone down on trying to enforce rules but we cannot continue to go down this path. We cannot afford to be tired. And we cannot wait until something really terrible happens to say what we should have done. Our children are worth our time and effort. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Concerned Waxahachie Resident & Parent
(Editor's note: The name of author of this letter was withheld to protect the identity of the student)