Father Admonished by Principal For Unexcused Absence of His Children From School — and Here is Why…
M ichael Rossi finally realized his lifelong dream to run in the Boston Marathon; and he wanted his children — twins who are nine years old — to be there to witness that special moment in his life. Because his family resides in Pennsylvania approximately 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia and approximately 300 miles southeast of Boston, this called for an extended weekend trip which meant missing three days of school.
Rochelle Marbury — the principal of the school in which the children of Michael Rossi attend — had a different viewpoint, basically calling the trip an unexcused absence of his children from school in this note which she sent to him:
This is how Michael Rossi replied to the principal:
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.
I have long espoused and clearly stated the following sentiment in multiple articles which I have written in the past — such as in this one where I discuss indulging in passion…
For me, travel offers more of an experience and an education than anything else of which I can think — documentaries, books, classrooms — and there are an endless number of places around the world from which one can never truly experience or learn in the United States.
…so it should be no surprise that I completely concur with Michael Rossi and his logic pertaining to this issue. He indulged in a passion and wanted his family to be there when he did so. What was he supposed to do — wait until his children were adults? Leave his children at home with a babysitter? Hope that the Boston Marathon was scheduled on a weekend where schools would be officially closed during the weekdays surrounding that weekend?
This is not a father who irresponsibly took his children out of school for two weeks so that they may lie in the sun out on a beach somewhere. This is a man who wanted to live a dream…
…and while I respect school teachers — my aunt is a retired school teacher who taught classes in schools in some of the worst neighborhoods in Brooklyn before she moved to Long Island to continue her career as a public school educator — the current classroom environment has not been perfected to the point where missing three days of school is a calamity.
I get it that missing days of school can cause problems for teachers, which I certainly do not want to happen. I get it that the principal was following the policy of the school district. However, schools exist primarily for the benefit of the children. They are there for children to learn; but they are far from the educational utopia that they are the only venue in which children can be educated…
…and while I believe that children can learn far more about certain aspects of the world by traveling rather than by sitting in a classroom, I also believe that parents should not pull children out of school unless there is a good reason to do so…
…and I believe that Michael Rossi should not have to justify this particular trip — not that three days of unexcused absences are going to profoundly affect his children for the rest of their lives.
Congratulations to you on running in the Boston Marathon, Michael Rossi. You gave your children a memory which they will cherish for the rest of their lives; and I am certain that they and your wife are proud of you.
What are your thoughts? Should Michael Rossi have foregone having his children travel to Boston to attend the marathon in which he was running; or was he justified in taking them out of school for three days?
All photographs ©2015 by Michael Rossi. Additional information and photographs can be accessed from the official Facebook Internet web site of Michael Rossi by clicking here.