A School Superintendent’s Guide to a Parent’s Point of View
My frustrations as a parent are building; not because of my child’s misbehavior, but because of my feelings of opposition concerning our poorly ran school district. A school district that once was rated at four-stars, bringing our family the decision to move here.
Currently while amid my full-time job, I am looking at my child’s grades that may display clear reasoning’s about where his improvements and his weaknesses are and checking for missing work. On my phone is a school app, I have pop ups, each time a grade is inputted from the teacher, which admittedly takes me away from my focus of being at work. Work that helps me pay for the care of my child; including the school supplies I am expected to pay. The two hats I wear throughout the day, every day, as both parent and employee can be overwhelming. Yet, my husband and I chose to bring this beautiful being in the world and I need to make our living. So, it must be done.
Clichéd as this might sound, it most aptly was different when I was growing up. I will first indicate the obvious that we did not have such forms of technological advances we families are all expected to have today within our households, up and running with an I.T. person readily on hand to keep it all functioning. Although I do not have one on the payroll and if our technology goes down, we have it figured out. Instead of running to the neighbors for a cup of sugar, we now borrow their computer. Hey, it’s still a good excuse to see how they are, right?
With my own personally saddened recognition that the days of my ever being a June Cleaver or a Donna Reed or a Carol Brady – complete with Alice the housekeeper, will never be me or probably most of the parents within our society; I do believe if I were, if I had more time to offer my child, I may just be that parent you’d believe is an actual caring parent for their kid. Alas, my employment must supplement my husband’s, so my child can and will be cared for. With that comes the daily notion my son is missing out on much of the doting I wanted to provide him as a stay at home mother.
Now let’s bring up the topic of your teachers that are on the payroll, okay? Without my child, your teachers (and yourself), would not have a job. Nobody twisted their arms to decide to go to school to become a teacher of snotty-nosed and entitled brats, full of daily defiance, where their parents obviously do not care about them. I’d like to enlighten you on the fact that if I was given the awareness of my child ever misbehaving, consequences at home would be implemented because although we have taught him better, as parents it is our duty to modify it whenever it decides to reappear. When I hear weeks later (from my own child’s mouth), that he has misbehaved and we were never informed by the school, I am stunned. Why was I not informed? The typical answer from your school is, “because he was provided a consequence at school and it was believed that was enough”. You’re joking, right?
When I was a child, if I misbehaved to a certain degree, my parents were called and every privilege at home ripped away from me. My parents and my teachers stood as a united front and if I did so happen to get away with something, I felt guilty for weeks thinking it would be found out by all parties, along with the recognition it being probably best not to do it again. But, I cannot say my accusations of your schools’ conduct are entirely true. My husband did get a phone call at work one day from the principal: On the last day of school, my son did give a friend a piggy-back ride down the hallway. So, it is not entirely accurate, the school has notified us on what really matters (sarcastic tone intended).
My son requires special attention as per a 504-Plan implemented by my son, his parents, principal, and teachers in a meeting. I requested this meeting with the hopes of establishing a closer, more attentive relationship primarily between he and his teachers, followed with that of his parents and his teachers.
When the dreaded time occurred to call upon his teachers for extra help, I can most equivocally portray my request using the, “like pulling teeth” analogy. When I dare thought to think outside the box and call the school for an outside tutoring resource versed in at least one subject, the school was unable to say. I would have gladly put such a resource on my payroll. I felt too uncomfortable posting an ad on a help wanted website for some stranger with potentially made up references to come inside my home and tutor my child. As an alternative, I emailed teachers with hopes of better collaboration. “Have him come see me” was a common response.
Okay well there is hope in setting up such a meeting between student and teacher, right?
My son’s worst subject (and his parents) is algebra. Why this forsaken subject is taught, I cannot say. Nonetheless, this kid is required to learn it. I can confidently realize he will never use it in his lifetime, although it is for some reason a requirement and therefore, I will do my part to ensure he learns it. Who knows, the future may have more of a trend in physics or engineering after my son has a brain transplant.
I see a pop-up on my phone (at work) indicating my son has approached an “F” in algebra. Instead of putting my focus on work, I am staring at his grade trying to think of ways I can better collaborate with his algebra teacher. Eureka! I shall send her an email in which will request extra assistance for my son, emphasizing his weak areas of the subject and hopefully targeting those areas to get him caught up. I apologize to the teacher for all the homework he has turned in that have only been partially done, although we were unfortunately incapable of helping him as we do not understand it ourselves. In the back of my mind, I wish there were more hours in a day to try and attend an algebra class so I could not feel so helpless in this area of math.
Side note: How do single, working, parents do this?
I get a response from his algebra teacher:
“I am available every Wednesday during lunch time and Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. Your student will need to set up an appointment with me to ensure I am not in a meeting. I have two-hundred and fifty students in my workload, many who require special attention like your son. Therefore, I cannot be relied upon to approach him.”
Okay, I can work with this. My son has a 504-Plan that indicates he may require reminders for specific things. Although, my son is unable to attend extra help after school because he already has that reserved for other subjects. So, Wednesdays during lunch it is and I will seek a way for my son to remember to approach his algebra teacher.
I feel more hopeful for my worried son who is feeling the pressure of failing and repeating the ninth grade, as am I. Yet I do not share this concern with him near as much as I honestly feel. It would only cause him more duress. I share what I can with hopeful optimism of what the plan of action is to get him to succeed. I also tell him several times to set the meeting up with his teacher for this to happen. My son assures me he will.
It seems for a small, fraction of time my lack of faith for our school system has been restored. That a plan has been successfully streamlined between parent and teacher for the pending success of my son’s academia!
This feeling of heightened faith crashes and burns quicker than my hope had begun. I want to cry. I’ve convinced myself my son will be residing in a cardboard box after my husband and I have left this earth because he will have never graduated high school and cannot afford living independently because being employed at a fast food restaurant was the only thing he was qualified to do.
My son “forgot” to set up such a meeting, even though he has algebra two periods prior to lunch. Okay, I must alter this gap in communication and step up my game as a responsible parent. I give my son two more opportunities to seek independence on this matter. And he fails to succeed on both accounts. I already have established a back-up plan should this happen anyway so I incorporate his needs written within his 504-Plan that he may require reminders to assist him. I email the algebra teacher with a polite request to approach him to set up a meeting. I also fill my son in on the plan and let him know if he does not show up after her reminder, I will then begin making requests to the office to make such a request over the loud speaker, knowing this would potentially encourage him to avoid such embarrassment.
Two Wednesdays go by. Both Wednesdays the teacher was absent and there was a substitute. I confirmed this beyond what my son reported. That very Friday, I receive an email (at work), after the school day and the school week had ended, indicating by the very same teacher all the work missed must be turned in that Monday whereas no more assignments would be accepted thereafter. You’re serious? Am I reading this wrong? Wait, what just happened?
I stare at this email. I search my other emails wondering if I missed something where she may have specified such a deadline in addition to my requests. Nope. Nothing. What do I do now?
I get frustrated. I get angry. I email his teacher, with every attempt I can think of to hold her accountable. Before I click send, I copy the principal to what now is a scathing email emphasizing her lack of cooperation and a request to remove my son out of her class, concerned I may have gone too far only after I click send.
I admit, I allowed my emotions to overtake my logic. Although, I am not heartless.
Only after I sent the email, I thought of her potentially losing her job, her inability to financially support her own growing family and their needs. I considered how it is portrayed how busy teachers are, the pay they receive, and how they spend so much of their time inputting in computers what they are teaching instead of spending the much-needed time to actually teach. It also occurred to me, they did not always have a choice that our small rural town has become an ever-growing and renewed community where poor and wealthy and in between reside, side by side, and their children all go to the same schools within that district, complete with diverse cultures and demands for all to have such accommodations considered. It did occur to me that because of all these accountabilities and accommodations left on their shoulders, two hundred and fifty students a day for one teacher’s workload, is nothing short of irrational for any one person to manage with great success.
Which only leaves me with one question:
Pardon me, but what the hell are you thinking?