MomDay Monday – School Daze

by Bill Brenner on April 3, 2012

Please indulge me while I contribute to this pile-on.
Personally, I love the school my kids go to. The teachers and support staff are wonderful. I’ve made some of the best friends ever among the parents. I adore the fact that my children are in the same school their mom and aunts attended. And, most importantly, the kids are being infused with a faith that will carry them through all the difficulties that await them in adulthood.
But there’s a lot of truth to what Linda writes about. There is a lot of dysfunction.
I wrote about the parental gossip awhile back in a post called “Schoolyard gossip and the damage done.”
I wrote about the school administrative culture and it’s frequent cluelessness on how to deal with the more challenged students among them in a post called “Taking the different kids out with the trash.”
When parents pay a hefty tuition every month to send their children there, the administration has a responsibility to listen to parental concerns instead of dismissing them as rabble rousers.

They have a responsibility to communicate clearly and often, but they have slipped on that one regularly this year.
With families so over-scheduled these days, you have to be from another planet to expect every parent to remember a note from last year and in September about school closing for three days BEFORE April vacation so teachers can attend a conference. To get defensive when parents take you to task for not putting reminders in the weekly school updates is maddening.
If the Archdiocese of Boston thinks this event is so important that every teacher needs to be there, they should consider holding it on a weekend, during school vacations or in the summer, to minimize disruptions in the school schedule.
What does this have to do with the subject matter of this blog? Two things: I know parents who, like me, have dealt with illnesses of the mind, body and spirit in the past.

The better the school communicated with them and works with them, the better they can parent and, in turn, the better their kids will do in school. More importantly, this is about the children. When the school doesn’t properly communicate with parents, the students suffer.
And when it comes to children with special needs, it is the school administration’s responsibility to make sure ALL of the student’s teachers are on the same page. When the ancillary teachers mark a kid down because of deficiencies caused by something like ADHD and you, the parent, learn later that those teachers were not told of the child’s issues, it’s inexcusable.
All that said, I don’t think there’s a single problem here that can’t be fixed. We can all learn from the problems, help in solving them and emerge as a school community that’s stronger than before.
But if parents like us keep our mouths shut or sugar-coat things because we fear retribution against ourselves and our kids, nothing will ever improve. Pure and simple.
Personally, I don’t fear retribution from school administrators. They are good people at the end of the day, and they want to do their best. Sometimes, public pressure is necessary to help them reach that full potential.
I’m not worried about being blackballed by other parents, either. Frankly, the folks who would be angry with me are already the ones who aren’t inclined to like me anyway.
And who knows? Maybe this public display of concern will lead to some new, unlikely friendships. Those are often the best kind.

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