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ANNIE'S MAILBOX Spouses should know about family finances

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dear Annie: For the past two years, my husband has been traveling out of the country on business. Our relationship has become very strained, and I believe he is hiding many things from me.
I've always trusted him with our finances, but now I'm beginning to worry. He seems more interested in his business than in his family.
I know nothing about our finances, and I'm becoming nervous and worried that he's going to leave me. I have a strong feeling there is another woman in the picture. What should I do to protect myself financially? Could Be Losing Him
Dear Could Be: Every married person should be knowledgeable about the family finances. Look at the checkbook to see where the money is going. Call your bank and get copies of your financial statements. Someone at your bank, or your accountant, can provide assistance.
Your next step is to talk to your husband. Your insecurities may be unfounded, but either way, ask him to go with you to a counselor. Explain that these frequent separations are taking a toll on your marriage. If he refuses, go without him. If the situation deteriorates, or it turns out you have no access to your family bank accounts, talk to a lawyer.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Ticked Off in Texas," the high school sophomore whose teacher punished a student who didn't have her school supplies on time by making her retake the class. This problem needs to be put in writing to the principal with a copy to the Board of Education. Documentation is necessary.
This teacher is really out of line to penalize the student for something over which she has no control. The parents are the responsible parties. They have the money and must find the time to buy the supplies. This teacher lacks the intelligence and maturity to be in charge of a classroom and should be reprimanded.
I work in a public school system and am aware that teachers like this will be allowed to continue their abuse if not stopped. Telling the student to have the parents speak to the principal is a joke. If the student ends up in this idiot's class again, she will most definitely be penalized forever. J.W.
Dear J.W.: Our readers were split on this one. Here's more:
From California: I am sick of hearing the excuse that both parents work and that's why the student couldn't get supplies. I bet those parents find time to get groceries. My guess is that if it were a permission slip for a field trip, the child would have managed to connect with the parents. If the student failed the class for not having supplies, you can bet it happened many, many times before.
Hawaii: That teacher's behavior was totally out of line. In my school district, we have many students who cannot afford even basic supplies. All students really need is their brain, a pencil and scratch paper. Teachers need the support of parents, and this teacher probably has very little because of her obnoxious attitude. I would recommend that the student discuss this with the principal and show proof that the completed schoolwork deserved a passing grade.
Casper, Wyo.: At 15, parents don't have to buy supplies for their children. Students can do this themselves. We had a 14-year-old student who rarely did his schoolwork, and any work handed in was not acceptable. After a year of failing grades and terrible progress reports, the boy's mother cried when told her son would have to repeat the year. She said, "We always thought he was doing OK," even though there were conferences, telephone calls and notes sent home (returned and signed).
Turns out the boy was lying to us and to his mother. My advice to the student who wrote is to repeat the grade and work hard. The teacher will see the effort. Don't whine with excuses. We don't keep records of supplies, but we do document effort and learning.
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