Monday, April 28, 2008

On being an involved parent

Being a parent, it's hard work, y'all. Especially once your kid gets to school, and you have to deal with the whole bureaucracy there.

One of the kindergarten teacher aides from Anna Marie's school comes to my Weight Watchers meeting. And while we weigh in, we sometimes chat about how school is going. And lately she's been telling me that a couple of the teachers had nixed the idea of taking the kids on their annual zoo trip.

Now, I know the class sizes are bigger than usual this year - each class has 27 kids! That's due to two factors - one, we're experiencing tremendous population growth, and two, one of the teachers retired last year and they never hired a replacement. Twenty seven kids might not sound like a lot, but oh my word, it is!

So, this past Thursday at weigh-in, this teacher aide tells me that the trip is off - and that Little AM's teacher is one of the ones who doesn't want to go!

Keep in mind, our teacher also has a daughter in kindergarten at the school, so she's cheating her own kid out of the trip.

One of the excuses the aide said she was told (and there was another kindergarten mom in line with us, talking) was that there weren't enough parents willing to help out. Hello! We haven't even been told a date for the trip! No one asked us to help!

So Friday, I sent an email to the principal.

(Yes, I know, going over the teacher's head and all that, but I seriously thought he was the one who made that decision.)

He finally responded this morning, saying that those decisions were made at the grade level, but that he had spoken with the teachers, and the trip was back on.

Back on!

I don't want to take credit for this - I know I can't be the only parent who heard the trip was canceled and went to the administration! And part of me is a little worried that AM's teacher (remember, the one who wanted the trip canceled) would get wind that I had contacted the principal and give The Kid some problems. I certainly don't want her last month of kindergarten to be ruined because of her mom!

Now, I have to live up to my end of the bargain - the principal said that I needed to get as many of the parents as possible to come chaperon. I don't know many of the other parents from her class (because, oddly enough, when I go volunteer for something they aren't there!) but I do know the class mom, so I guess I'll have to enlist her help with the contact information.

And I also may have to get Jason and both my parents to sign up to go.

But man - what do other kids do, when they have parents who either don't care enough to get involved or are not educated on how to do so? How are we supposed to get the best education for our kids, if we just sit back and take what's handed to us instead of taking a pro-active approach?

It may just be a trip to the zoo, but I think it's the principle of the thing - they had us order class T-shirts in the fall, and specifically said in the note that they would be worn on field trips, to include the annual zoo outing. I don't think I'm remiss in saying that the two trips they've had so far this year, both of them to the movies, do not count as actual educational experiences.

Guess I'd better buckle down and get to dialing now, huh?


Paige said...

Your kindergarteners get to go on a field trip to the movies? Wow. have fun at the Zoo. I'll be going to the Aviary next week with my third grader. I hope it doesn't snow.

Heather @ Desperately Seeking Sanity said...

I would so totally go with you if I lived closer... but way to go on making sure those kids have a trip... :D

Lissete said...

I ALWAYS went on field trips when my girls were young. At that grade level actually, there was never really a shortage of chaperones. Many mommies were just as psycho overprotective like me! :)

Dana D said...

I followed you here from the EC page, and just wanted to let you know I stopped by! Love the blog! And love that you were an advocate for your child as well as the other kindergarteners!

wendster said...

I wanna go!

Let's go see the turtle house, kids!

Cuz it's MY favorite and its right here at the front of the zoo. LOL.

I bet you WERE the one who put the trip back on! WAY TO GO!

And after teaching for 10 years, I know this answer ... the teachers detest the PARENT who makes trouble for them ... not the kid. And you didn't actually make trouble ... it was probably more like they dropped the trip out of concern due to lack of parent involvement during the school year and they translated that as "we probably won't even have enough chaperones." And if you add that to the fact that the teacher really doesn't even like going to the zoo, I could see why she would drop it.

Now ... let me put on my mom hat: I would have kicked that teachers' butt! Cancel the trip without even CHECKING to see if the parents would volunteer?!?!? Oh heck no! Bare minimum she had the responsibility to send out an invitation/survey to see what kind of support was available. That teacher NEEDED you to kick her butt. Good parents like US keep teachers on their toes. A little bit of that is a good thing. It keeps teachers dotting their i's and crossing their t's to know that the parents are watching them that closely and raises the quality of our children's education.

You definitely did the right thing, in my opinion.

another mondo long comment from me. Sorry about that.

doodlebugmom said...

Good for you! I always enjoyed going on field trips with my kids, it was fun getting to know their friends.