09 May 2009

The Involved Parent

Long ago and not very far away, I *used* to be an involved parent at the local public elementary school. I'd volunteer three hours a week at the school, do the PTA thing, buy the stupid fundraising stuff, etc.

I've learned better, though, and not just through my experience with Elf in public school. Here's what I mean: We'd keep getting calls and newsletters about please join the PTA, this or that committee, blah blah. Then when you join, the public school staff TELLS you what you are doing. They TELL you that the Box Tops money should go for a new playground or whatever.

And um, if I'm on a curriculum committee, shouldn't I be able to select ANY sort of reasonably secular material for the children? No? It has to be "Show Me Standards" this and "Aligned with District Expectations" that, so you get a choice of two, but then they tell you the other is way expensive and ask you to only recommend "this" one. Here you go! Now write a report about how great it is and recommend it for us, wouldya? Um. So yeah, I skipped bothering with that one. That committee is a two year commitment, and I just have other things to do than to play that rubberstamp game. Smart move on my part, but then I didn't get a "say" in the curriculum, did I?? So I have no right to complain when they pick out something really dopey...

Or, we're redistricting! We want parent input! Once you're on the committee, the district tells you that any redistricting has to work out so that there are certain numbers of socioeconomically deprived kids in each district (map already looks wonky when you do that). AND we want the races equally distributed (more wonky) AND it has to go with efficient bus routing...By the time you're finished, you might as well have had zero input. Actually it's worse than zero because they give you the IDEA that you have some say-so.

Is it any surprise that parents on the whole are uninvolved??? It shouldn't be.

I know teachers can have some crappy-o parents. Hey, I read some of their blogs and I also know what a pain in the patootie some of these kids can be. I live with a few myself, but I can only imagine what a hard job that is with 30 to a room. Actually, more for the having to deal with other people thing than anything else, what with my being an introvert and all.

And I know that your school has 575 other students, but see... this one is *my* kid. Maybe I'm a little overly picky. I can give on some things, but I *twitch* can't stand *twitch* stupidity. Some things the school system does are just stupid. I'm getting older and maybe not wiser. Maybe I'm just more lazy and recognize the futility of banging my head against the wall on some of these things... so I've quit doing it.

What do you think being an "involved parent" should look like?


  1. I think having a say should mean exactly that. If it doesn't don't whinge to me that parents don't want to be involved. I saw too much when I was teaching. Not only does everyone know what's wrong. they know what needs to be done to fix it but are they allowed to do that? Not on your nelly! I am so over this story. If I still had a kid in PS I'd be a slacko parent. I'm that jaded.

  2. Oh I so hear ya. I too used to be involved. Now the acacamy the kids go to for electives has said that next year every parent has to volunteer. Nope not me. Im going to keep Tink in orchestra as a homeschooler which is an option they have but I am no longer going to register the kids there for classes! Im so done with that. They get paid for all that not me. if they're so disfunctial that they need my help they will pay me too. Ive given enough to my public school district! No more!


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