Thursday, August 23, 2012

A letter, in progress

I'm so angry right now that I need to compose this letter in public before I send it.  Or in semi-private, except for those of you who know me.

Dear Superintendent of our school district,
I am writing to you to let you know what you have wrought on our Elementary School with your choice of principal.  In three days of school you have taken us from being super-engaged parents, willing to come into the classroom and teach origami, to shelve library books, to build a garden and help teachers build hands-on science lessons, to organize amazing science events, and to try to help the school, the teachers and the students in every possible way --- you've taken us from that --- to being disgusted with the decisions being made by the principal, and with the manner in which the decisions are being made, discussed and carried out.

It began with the first day that the principal was in the school, before he even took over.  He decided that he would eliminate casual Friday dress for the teachers --- on the grounds that one day they might have to stand in front of a TV camera for some reason.  At the time I thought that he was just a poppycock-peacock, that his cufflinks for show were way too much, that he was attempting to win a battle where whether he won or lost the battle he'd lose the teachers' hearts.  And my heart felt sad.
That same day, he he announced the end of the "Words of Wisdom" moment before school starts: apparently those three minutes a day can be better used.  I wasn't too bothered by that, but Boo was intensely upset.  She even wrote an email to him about it expressing her dismay.  I'm in agreement with Boo on this issue, since she's upset --- it would be easy to find another three minutes in the day by cutting the end-of-day recess by three minutes.  As much as the words of wisdom were pablum, they were good thoughts, and the children liked them.

Third, in an effort to supposedly make the school safer, the new principal decided that when picking up children, parents had to have a hang-tag with their kids names on.  A bright yellow hang-tag, made of cheap cardboard.  With some extra words on.  This will, apparently, keep unauthorized individuals from picking children up.  But it would be a trivial manner to scan the card, print off a few copies, write some kids names on, and play the pied piper of Hamelin.  And when we cycle to school to pick up the kids, we have to take a near-letter-sized sheet of card with us to show who we are.
Now, if I were to write some other child's name on a sheet of card, and take it with me, I'd fail, because the teachers and staff outside would recognize that I wasn't the child's parent.  But here's the thing: this has nothing  to do with the card, and everything to do with the incredibly competent teachers.  They would be the ones stopping it, and I sing their praises to the ceiling.  They basically know every child and every parent, and put them all together.  There may be some need for more security -- I don't feel that it's a big issue in a small school, but I can see an administrator feeling a need for it --- but this is not a solution, this is begging for a lawsuit, it's so misguided.

And then, today, after all the hard work LOML and others have put into the garden at the school, we receive word it's to be pulled up.  No thought to the uses it's been put to: to students going out to plant, to watch seeds grow into shoots, then plants, then fruit: no thought to the study of insects: butterflies, ants, etc: no thought to the kids who run through the gardens at recess smelling the flowers: no, the principal would rather it be grass.  Actually, I suspect he'd rather it be concrete.  As of Monday the raised beds are to go, and then we have a two week moratorium to make a case for the non-raised portions of the garden.

Rarely have I had such little respect for an individual in education.  One person comes to mind, my history teacher from high school., who, 32 years ago, ruined my brother's educational prospects.  I can't think of another educator I can detest as much.  And the school term is only 3 days old.  We're contemplating switching schools.  I hate that, but I can see our beloved school circling the drain so quickly, it's ridiculous.

Yours, having to try extremely hard to keep the expletives deleted,

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