Mike Rossi of Pennsylvania is a runner. Â A marathon runner. Â This year, he took his kids out of school and spent some quality vacation time with them around his running in the Boston Marathon. Â (Since it happened to be standardized testing week, it wasn’t like they were missing anything.)
Naturally, that didn’t sit right with the powers that be at school, and they sent this letter to Mike Rossi and his wife.
Report the parents to the attendance officer? Â Seriously? Â (Okay, this happened in this writer’s life once when the family took a week to go to a wedding out of town. Â Happened to hit a family funeral at the same time.) Â Missing standardized test week must be a really big deal.
It seems that the tone of the note rubbed Mr. Rossi the wrong way. Â (His words.) Â In one of the best parental “go viral” events of the year, Mr. Rossi responded publicly to this arrogant, condescending missive, and has received a lot of support for objecting to a rule that just seems outdated and meant for a different sort of parent. Â (The ones that are not aware of what their kids are up to and would never take kids to Boston to see Revolutionary War memorials.)
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.
Having visited the same places during my school years thanks to having parents who are history buffs, Mr. Rossi is absolutely correct. Â The kids will retain it better for having been there. Â Far from not being serious about his children’s education, Mr. Rossi takes an active interest.
â€œI take them every day. I chaperone all of the class trips that I can. I go to the field day and all activities. I even make videos for the classrooms and show them at the end of the year â€”Â highlights from the year,â€ he said. â€œThese rules should be in place for parents who aren’t involved and who, in some cases, don’t even know their kids are absent. This is not for responsible parents trying to teach their kids the right things and teach them about the worldÂ outsideÂ the classroom.”
Would that there be more fathers like Mike Rossi who seize the opportunity of combining running the Boston Marathon with his kids seeing the places where the American Revolution began. Â That’s the kind of learning that has no substitute, and this man is the sort of parent every child should have.