Other Issues

From graduation gifts to preventing teen suicide, this section provides information on a variety of topics affecting high school students. Learn what to do when your child is expelled, you need financial aid or you’re looking for a teaching job. Get expert advice on protecting your teen from substance abuse, finding the right high school and handling personal technology on campus.
View the most popular articles in Other Issues:
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Dealing With The Pandemic: Parents' Concerns About School Reopening
The COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. Sending your children back to school raises all sorts of concerns for their safety and education. We answer some of your questions here.

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. I am a concerned parent and grandparent. This article draws attention to some of the questions I have about sending my grandchildren to school. ~Rob Kennedy


Getting your child ready for school in the summer of 2020 is a nerve-wracking experience for parents. We have always been concerned about our children's safety both at school and at home. We have taught safe behaviors since they were tiny tots. Suddenly, all those familiar scenarios seem so benign and distant. This COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything you and I have seen in our lifetimes. The virus seems to attack people of all ages. It seems to lurk in hosts and find new hosts via droplets that hang in the air. It lives on common surfaces such as doorknobs and stair railings. It spreads to its new host when he touches his face. Worst of all, there's no vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. Scientists are scrambling to create vaccines, but it doesn't look as though anything will be available before early 2021.


I have listened to 

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School Safety
Seemingly never-ending school shootings prompted me to find out whether private schools were safer than public schools. Some answers and opinions on the matter here.

Wikipedia has a list of shootings which have occurred in our schools dating back to the 1840s. Sadly, most of the shootings in the past several decades since the mass shooting at Columbine High School have taken place in public schools.  That led me to ask why private schools seem to have been spared these senseless killings. 

Before we look at some of the reasons why shootings occur, let's find out what percentage of shootings occur in private vs. public schools. In Are Shootings More Likely to Occur in Public Schools? Corey A. Deangelis notes the following research:

"Hyewon Kim—a Cato Center for Educational Freedom Intern—compiled information on school shootings in the United States from 2000 to 2018 using the Tribune-Review database. The database is limited to legitimate school shootings; that is, shootings that occurred on or near a K-12 school campus while classes were in session or when students were present. The list also excluded suicide-only incidents."

"Hyewon found 134 school shootings from 2000 to 2018. Only eight of these occurred in private schools while 122 occurred in public schools. The type of school could not be definitively classified for 4 of the shootings. As shown in the figure below, about 94 percent of the shootings that could be classified occurred in public schools while only about 6 percent occurred in private schools."

This TEDTalk discusses how school shootings can be prevented.

Are private school buildings and campuses physically safer?

I don't think

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Helicopter, Velcro And Snowplow Parents
Helicopter, velcro and snowplow parents can't stand the thought of their children having difficulty with anything. Over-protective parents come in several flavors. More here.

Snowplow, velcro, and helicopter really are synonyms describing parents who try very hard to manage their children's lives. While I have written about velcro parents, I was amused and, at the same time, disheartened to discover this new, pejorative term for parents who won't let their kids be stand-alone adults, namely, snowplow parents.  

Helicopter parents are real. They exist. You probably even know a couple of them. I encountered a helicopter parent years ago when I was managing a call center in Raleigh, North Carolina. We were interviewing candidates for account manager positions. The candidate in question made it through the screening interview but failed the interview with the sales managers. The next day the candidate's mother showed up in our lobby demanding to know why we would not employ her son. He was 24 years old! Needless to say, she was not successful in getting her son a job with us. I was appalled that a parent would act that way.

As a school teacher, I also encountered my share of what I would describe charitably as concerned parents. At least they kept their distance. My late wife and I acted in the same way with our children's teachers and other adults they dealt with in their daily lives. Yes, we heard tales of woe about Miss So-and-So or heard how mean Mr. S. the soccer coach was. But we kept our distance. We gave advice and guidance. But our kids had to sort things out on their own. Against

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5 Metrics For Choosing A College
Choosing a college is one of the rituals every family with a junior in private school needs to cope with. These five metrics will give you an overview of the process.

As a young person, I can remember being told that I had to go to college. My mother had finished high school. Dad flunked out of first year engineering. World War II was raging. They signed up in the Royal Canadian Air Force. That experience shaped their adult lives in profound ways. That's really what a college education should be about. It can shape lives in profound ways. To make sure that happens you must consider five metrics when choosing a college. Yes, there are more than five metrics involved in selecting the right college, however, let's keep it simple for the moment. Choosing a college can be an overwhelming process.

I am assuming that your child is in a private school with grades 9-12 or 13. That being the case, you will have the advantage of a professional guidance counselor to help you choose the best college for your child. Instead of dealing with hundreds of seniors as a public school guidance counselor does, your school's guidance counselor will be able to allocate enough time to help you with the process of choosing the right college. You can enhance the process further by hiring an education consultant. We did that for one of our daughters and it was worth every dollar we spent.

These are the metrics which I recommend that you discuss and explore thoroughly as you search for the right college for your child. Please include your child in the discussions. She will not appreciate being told that

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School Choice: Vouchers, Scholarships And More

According to Wikipedia.org, "School choice is a term for K–12 public education options in the United States, describing a wide array of programs offering students and their families alternatives to publicly provided schools, to which students are generally assigned by the location of their family residence." Vouchers have been in the headlines for almost thirty years. So this is not a new issue, although the media attention sometimes implies that vouchers are a new idea. A timeline is helpful when dealing with a controversial issue such as school vouchers. But before we do that, what are vouchers?

EdChoice describes vouchers as: 

"School vouchers give parents the freedom to choose a private school for their children, using all or part of the public funding set aside for their children’s education. Under such a program, funds typically spent by a school district would be allocated to a participating family in the form of a voucher to pay partial or full tuition for their child’s private school, including both religious and non-religious options." 

You will hear vouchers called a variety of names such as parental choice, education grants, scholarships, tuition grants, to list but a few of the names you will encounter for vouchers. 15 states and the District of Columbia currently offer 26 voucher programs. School Voucher Laws State-by-State Comparison offers a useful table comparing the voucher programs offered in states which have them. 

Why are vouchers controversial? 

Now that you have access to the data which will inform your

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The COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. Sending your children back to school raises all sorts of concerns for their safety and education. We answer some of your questions here.