This is the time of year when teachers and students begin to get a slump. There are no big holidays, exams are over for a time, the weather is generally yucky, and spring is too far away. Teachers get cranky because students are not doing what they are supposed to and students get cranky because they think that teachers are asking them to do too much work in and out of school. As a result, February is a month of short tempers, suspensions and in-fighting among teachers. This year has been particularly bad as the economy has made everyone jumpy and rumors of layoffs and downsizing appear everywhere even though the actuality of either one has not even been mentioned. As I look at the news about the schools and listen to the other teachers talk to one another, I am struck by the fact that I am not hearing much in the way of optimism. People are talking about leaving their jobs, about how they feel nothing is moving forward, about how they see more and more responsibility moving away from the students and on to the teachers. Let me give an example of what I mean. This week there was a particularly vicious girl fight in our area of the school. Girl fights tend to be more vicious as they will scratch, bite and other things. However, this one involved some girls who normally do not cause trouble and it took an adult sitting on one of the girls to break it up. All three of the girls were suspended for five days and a mediation meeting was scheduled on the day they are to return. The next day I got a phone call from the father of one of the girls who wanted to know if he brought her in could she return to school that day. When I said no and that she had to wait for the mediation, he became belligerent and said that his daughter couldn't afford to miss that many days of school, who did we think that we were to keep her out, fighting shouldn't be a suspendible offense, and on and on. When I told him that his daughter should have thought of that prior to starting the fight, he went on to say that it was the school's fault that she got in the fight to begin with. When I asked him why, he stated that the principal instigated the fight by not letting kids do what they wanted to do--like going out to lunch, walking the halls if they didn't want to go to class, etc. His opinion was that, if the students were just allowed to select what they wanted to do and when, there would be no problems. How do you argue with that logic? I have found that, in recent years, parents have abrogated their duties and now want schools to be the same way. No wonder teachers get frustrated. Not all parents are like this. Most of them want their children to be successful but the handful who don't care ruin it for the others. I don't know if there is a solution for all of this but I will probably be retired before anything is done in a positive way.