BY NUHA ISLAM
In history teacher Charlie Cardinale’s first hour class, six students sit scattered around a vacant classroom. Next door, there are four people. Directly upstairs, three students sit watching a rerun of “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.” on Netflix while the teacher grades papers. Rather than taking the scheduled chapter eight unit quiz, a Super Bowl trivia game is passed around Cardinale’s room. This is the landscape echoed on all floors of the school campus on Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day (TODSTWD).
“When my daughter Ginabelle was little, she used to come in and give a cartoon drawing assignment to my students, then grade them herself,” Cardinale said. “But high schoolers? They do absolutely nothing productive.”
While kids Ginabelle’s age may find TODSTWD a rewarding experience, for high schoolers it’s a filler day better spent at home. TODSTWD is a field trip that should not be extended past elementary age students, as it becomes idle and the value is lost.
According to Broward County Public Schools representative Christie Cerbone, the field trip day is used to help students explore the adult workforce first hand.
“The Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day event is designed to assist students in formulating some ideas about future career paths. A day at work will heighten the aspirations of students and help them to make the connection between academic success and success in the world of work,” Cerbone said. “In addition, this activity will provide the opportunity for parents and other adults to showcase their places of employment, explain their job responsibilities, introduce their co-workers, and present the various career choices that are available in the workplace.”
A dedicated occasion for students to explore their parent’s line of work is an exciting prospect the first, second or even third time around. But for a 10th grader, the annual field trip can turn into a decade of visiting mom or dad’s cubicle.
Even if the goal of the activity is for students to gain varying vocational perspectives, attending the same place of employment for 12 years only exposes one career field. Even for students whose parents don’t work standard desk jobs, the same visit can turn pedestrian.
“Both of my parents work at CCHS,” junior Sarah Megna said. “If I choose to go to work with them my surroundings don’t change because I’m still in the school environment.”
Aside from the tedium, TODSTWD is disruptive to the curriculum itinerary. Because it is a district approved field trip and not considered an absence, this can lead to deserted classrooms countywide.
“Even if you choose to go to school, you’re wasting your time because teachers will only give busy work,” sophomore Laura Hujber said. “It’s a day better utilized as an extra vacation day.”
This year, TODSTWD fell between a professional study day and the weekend, further incentivizing students to take a day off to get a long weekend. In future years, TODSTWD will disrupt block scheduling and throw the AB block rotation off balance.
For classes with EOC and AP exams, where class time is crucial, the loss of a day can disarray work and push back the classroom syllabus.
“It’s impossible to teach a lesson when 90 percent of the class is missing,” science teacher Loretta Coyne said. “I can offer extra credit to my biology students but that only goes so far.”
TODSTWD is also disruptive to the work environment. Kids can encroach on a productive work area and resources must be allocated to keep kids entertained. Many workplaces have age caps at 12, so high school students are unable to go to the office.
With no major testing and age clearance, these impacts are largely lost on elementary students, which is why the TODSTWD model works well for them. Amending this field trip to be inclusive only of younger students, who gain actual insight from this event, is favorable for high schoolers.
If TODSTWD must be kept in higher education, it should be moved to the summer. This allows for the benefits of getting on the field experience without the cost of the disruption of the school day.
“I cannot blame my students for taking a day off to relax at the beach,” Cardinele said. “Current policy is a loophole that allows for that. Until this technicality is closed, students will continue to spend a day at the beach.”
Photo by Sarah Khan