I am so not a fan of back to school nights or school social events.
Maybe it is because I’ve been doing these for longer than most adults thanks to G.
Or maybe because there are just too many elements of junior high among the adults.
For example, these events at their school tend to be an outward demonstration of who is really, truly committed to providing a quality of education to all of these kids. They do it by volunteering while at the same time doing sort of the “look at me, I’m volunteering and you aren’t” dance.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very thankful for the parents who can volunteer on a frequent and regular basis. But, when I do it, I don’t do it to draw attention to myself. I do it because I have identified a need, and I have filled it. I don’t do it for my own social net worth within the parental community.
And if you are volunteering alongside many of them? Especially the women?
They are gossiping about EVERYONE.
Teachers, staff, other parents, kids – you name it – they gossip about it.
And it drives me nutty.
When DJ was in first grade, her teacher’s mother was dying. She and her sister had to alternate taking care of her, so she was burning through vacation and sick days like crazy. The parents would constantly bitch about the fact she was gone. They complained that she was not engaged. They decided it was because she clearly didn’t take her job seriously. After listening for about 20 minutes of this while I was helping these women get food ready, I asked what they would do if their own mother was dying. “Oh, we’d drop everything and go spend as much time with her as possible” was their reply. “So why, when she is doing the same thing you would do, is what she doing interpreted as her being irresponsible or disengaged or not taking her job seriously?” “But we expect our kids to get the best education” was their reply. I think I launched into my teachers are people too lecture. When they realized the line they had crossed, the backpedaling began. I mean, they could not be known as uncaring of the staff’s personal issues.
I have always dared them to come after me for not volunteering as much as they do. I would love it if they did because here is the reality. While they are volunteering to pass out chicken at the annual chicken dinner, I am buying their children pencils. G’s kids seem not to have any. They can’t seem to get their parents to buy them. They can’t seem to locate their own. So, they leave it to the teachers and school to supply them. One year, I got a deal on 5000 pencils. I figured that would last him and his other teachers in his other 4/5 grade a few years. It did not last them through the year.
White board markers.
Hell, I have bought his classroom a projector when he needed it.
Besides stuff, I have picked up after their kids.
I have made sure things have gotten back to their kids – jackets, book bags, lunch boxes, etc.
His parents who loved the fact they could download their kids’ homework? Yeah, I set it up so that they could do that before the school district provided a technology solution.
For the school, I have picked up trash. I have weeded their flower beds. And I did these things without the need for a “community clean-up day” or a school event. I did it because it needed to be done.
And I have done that – at this school – BEFORE my kids attended the school.
Why have I done it? Not because I wanted my social net worth within the community to go up. It was because I saw it was needed, and I did it. I did it so that their kids could learn. So that their teacher could teach without worrying about if he had a white board marker that worked.
I guess that is why these events drive me nuts. We are doing this under the guise of “helping the school” and “helping the kids” and “helping the staff”. But, I can’t help but feel it is mainly because it is “helping the parents look good.”
And the only time I don’t mind that level of competition?
School auction. Because the competition usually results in the school getting a shit-load more money than it would have without it.
Is his school the only school that is like that? Or have other parents noticed this trend?
7 Comments Add yours
I’m not involved with our parents’ association so I’m not sure how they are with each other or in their meetings, but I’m sure some of this goes on.
Sounds like you’re going about it the best way, just do what you see needs to be done and ignore the rest.
That’s amazing they went through that many pencils!
Your “teachers are people too” comment made me smile. We are, but we’re not really allowed to be. There’s a lot of “don’t be seen doing this…don’t be caught going there…don’t say…don’t wear…” And you’re right, if you’re out for any extended period of time you’re considered to be not doing your job. It’s amazing how quickly some forget that teaching is a job just like any other job and sometimes life comes first.
Well, I tried to be involved in the middle school parent association – had this silly idea that I could change people’s limited perception of the issues that were truly impacting kids. Ha! Silly me!
I will say that parent night at the therapeutic day school was unlike any parent night I’ve ever experienced. Teachers and staff outnumbered parents at least 2:1 and no one was recruiting volunteers or spouting off about the next fundraiser. It was ALL about the kids – and quite refreshing!
I agree with MinorityReport….we are not allowed to be “people too.”
Working at an inner city school we don’t have as much parent involvement. Actually little to none. Everything is done and provided by the teachers/staff.
As for my own children, their school is much as you describe, but I find as a teacher myself I can’t tolerate them. I just let the teachers know that if there is a need to contact me. I also send supplies monthly that I know will be needed.
MR & Gwen – When G worked at the inner city school, he would get looked down upon by the parent if they came into a restaurant we were at and he was having a beer or glass of wine. He couldn’t even go to the store nearby without the same judgement. They were allowed to have a drink, but they expected the public school teachers to not.
Dana – I’m actually glad to hear that his current school is totally focused on the kids. Nice change.
I’ll have to ask Teacher but I bet (from my limited experience seeing the parents there) that this happens at his school too. It’s mostly about appearances and that’s sad because the students could possibly suffer if certain things are not done/donated in a timely manner.
Amen- The parents are worse than the kids. They get in their little “clicks” and it is so annoying. Most of those biznitches volunteer so much because they don’t work or are overcompensating for the shitty job they did early on.
Having spent years as a teacher myself, I can attest to the fact that it’s just as bad at very school I’ve ever been at.
Unfortunate that looking good to others trumps actually being meaningfully involved in their own child’s education.