I’d really like to put together a singular post explaining the absurdities of a little thing called the American educational system, but since it would be way too long and take about 2 years to write, I am going to try to break it all down into small, bite-size pieces for the purposes of this blog.

There’s just so much to write, and I’m not quite sure where to begin. I’m not even talking about the the quality of education itself. That would require a whole other blog and a lot of in-depth analysis and probably charts and graphs, and I’m not sure I’m the right one for the job. I have my problems, of course, but I don’t have the answers, and I wouldn’t want to harp away on something without being able to provide adequate solutions or at least suggestions although I’m sure longer school days and a school calendar that’s closer to an actual year rather than 6 months would go a long way in fixing the problem.

But that’s not why I brought you here today. I brought you here to discuss how much the school, and I can only speak of my school district although I’m fairly certain this ridiculousness is going on in school districts across the nation, irritates me. Irritates me like no one has irritated me before (and I’ve been irritated a lot. See: All posts on my children).

 

When I say irritate, I mean with a flaming, white hot passion that makes me want to punch somebody’s face in. I just don’t know whose. Well, I have an idea. My passion, though, has waned over time due to constant and repeated exposures to the nonsense and a dying hope that anything will ever improve.

Perhaps a little story of the nonsense we parents are expected to not only cheerfully accept (because it’s for the children) but also enjoy (because it’s about the children) will help to illuminate the cause of my intense and persistent irritation.

As I’ve said before in “My Life in One Picture,” the school district doesn’t really feel the need to openly communicate. I suppose they feel communication isn’t helpful. Rather, they like to be intriguing and mysterious. And while the school and attending families are considered a “community of learners,” per the school’s propaganda, the “community” part of the slogan seems to be coming from one side only. That would be the parent side.

The school doesn’t feel the need to communicate with parents unless it’s about a snow storm or some sort of delayed opening or early dismissal. Then, they refuse to stop calling your house or messaging your devices. I receive no less than four, FOUR, messages, usually around 5:00 a.m., that the school is closed due to a snow storm. And that’s just me. My husband receives them on all his devices as well. So at 5:00 in the morning as everyone in the house is silently and blissfully in repose, all the electronic devices erupt into a deafening and heart-arresting cacophony of ringing and buzzing. The school must know I can’t both answer my home phone and my cell phone and check my email messages all at the same time not to mention they also insist upon jerking my husband awake to do the same damn thing. Now they’ve got two people scrambling around in the dark of night trying to silence all their devices.

I understand the importance of disseminating the message, but send one message once, and send it at a more reasonable hour, please. I don’t need a message to wake the entire household up extra early to tell us we can all go back to sleep now because there’s no school today. The thing is if there’s a snow storm, I kind of already know the school may be closed. I’m gonna check. I’m not going to stumble blindly into a blizzard to drop my kid at school without first wondering, Hey there’s five feet of snow on the ground, maybe I should check to see if school’s open. 

The thing is, the school has closed before a flake has even touched the ground. Just a threat of snow can cause a school closure. In that case, it’s perfectly understandable to send a million messages. I would need them because I’d have no reason to think the school was closed primary because there is no reason for it to be closed.

The only other time the school gets in contact with parents is for state-wide testing, the all-important state tests that determine school ranking and funds. Then they contact you not to discuss preparation or material covered or how it is or isn’t relavant to areas typically covered in that grade, but to let you know your child should get a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast in the morning as those things can affect their performance on the test, and we, the community, want to optimize our test scores.

Um, where is that concern on the other 175 days of the school year? No, no need to worry about your child’s ability to function on any other day of the year – those days don’t matter.

Sure, you're all laughing now. Wait until you're failing out of 6th grade.

Sure, you’re all laughing now. Wait until you’re failing out of 6th grade. Photo credit

I’m not saying the school should stop communicating with the parents, but one notice per topic is plenty, and the subjects about which they choose to communicate demonstrate the priorities. This makes it difficult for me to really embrace the whole warm, loving, “community,” team message projected.

What I would really appreciate is a little notification on the schools’ academic programs, school performance, changes in curriculum, homework assignments, any special projects or events occurring in the school, my children’s performance, their preparedness for the next grade, school activities that require my attendance. For some reason the school finds all this unimportant. Stupidly, I thought that’s what they’re there for.

Apparently not because the school openly discourages second-half of the year conferences in the elementary school and all conferences in the middle school. They still maintain the half-day schedule though. Half days will be had whether they are being used for the intended purpose or not. But if the school neglects to send home pertinent academic information and then discourages a whole 15 minute conversation with teachers, in which to glean any glimpses into the academic, social and behavioral progress of the student, how exactly are parents to obtain this information?

It’s been 12 years, and I still haven’t been able to figure it out. Nevertheless we are a strong, dedicated, hard-working community. I mean, it says so right there on the school banner.

This is a continuing series. Look for future pieces on Band Camp, Yearbooks for Minors, Annual 24-Hour Death Battle of the Bands, Weekend at Camp Bernies, The Never Ending Elementary School Graduation Celebration and Fundraising Fever.