The mother of a student in the Thomaston-Upson School System came before the Board of Education at their October 6 meeting to express her concerns about the quality of education, the Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) program, and drug usage in the schools.
Wendy Fallin is an Emergency Room nurse at Upson Regional Medical Center. She has a Bachelor of Education degree in Secondary Education. She said her family moved to Upson County two years ago after her husband retired from the military, and they have a son in the high school.
She said the quality of education, BYOT and drug use all go hand in hand. She related that when her son first started at Upson Lee High School as a freshman two years ago, he came home and told her his honors classes were repeating what he had learned in seventh grade at another school. He said the same thing the next year when he was a sophomore.
Fallin said her son did get into trouble last year and spent time in alternative school, but said she has heard similar concerns from other parents.
“I don’t think we’re challenging the students enough,” Fallin told the board. “What you expect of them is what you’re going to get. There are a lot of honors students and they’re doing very well, but I’ve heard from a lot of parents that the school is not preparing them for college, because they’re having to catch up the first year to what they should have learned to get into college.”
Fallin noted that with the Bring Your Own Technology to school program, she knew her son wasn’t following the rules and suspects others are also using their cell phones for things other than classwork.
“I know this because I put a little spy on my son’s phone, and he’s not texting himself, he’s texting several students in the classroom,” Fallin said. “I addressed this issue with the principal at the high school, and with all these issues, all he told me we could do was pray. I do believe in the power of prayer, but it doesn’t solve everything. With the BYOT’s, they’re texting, they’re snap chatting, they’re selling drugs in the bathrooms, the parking lot and off campus. Get rid of the cell phone use. If you have to have technology in the classroom, get computers.”
Fallin also believes drug use in the schools is out of hand. She gave an example from two years ago, when her son played on the freshman football team. She told him after viewing one of their games that his recreation team could beat his high school team and said he told her that was because “half the team was playing high.”
She said she has talked to the principal about the drug use by players and been told the school does drug testing. But, she said, if they don’t test for a specific agent, the drug test could be inaccurate. She also suggested that they test athletes right before a game to make them understand the seriousness of their actions.
“If they test positive, they don’t get to play,” she said. “I know this is a big football town, but what’s more important, the students or the sport?”
The board thanked her for her comments and said they would look into her concerns.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.