Dear Mr. New Principal,
I know it’s hard starting a new job and that like any new boss you’re going to want to change things up a bit. But, only one month into the school year you’ve made some real blunders and that’s just with the parents. So, as an experienced elementary school mother, I’d be remiss to not help you out by sharing my hard-earned wisdom.
Changing Pick Up & Drop Off – This has been your biggest mistake to date (And who’s counting? Oh yeah – me.) Trust me on this – you’re going to get someone killed. Either a child is going to get run over or and more likely a mom is going to use her SUV as a battering ram and repeatedly bash in the back of another mom’s car resulting in death by blunt force trauma. You can’t just announce in the school newsletter that pick up and drop has been radically changed.
First, now that the district is trying to save money on paper and ink and go green all the newsletters are e-mailed. Great idea, but how many moms do you think are really opening up the attachment (and that’s if they can get the thing to open) and reading the newsletter? I’ll tell you – less than ever before. Why? Because the Friday Folder, which used to contain the newsletter, is opened and gone through in the kitchen, by the trash can. As we moms go through the graded papers we toss them in the trash can and save one or two to post on the fridge. We also read the newsletter because it’s in with our kids crap. It’s inescapable.
Secondly, if you’re going to change pick up and drop off some extra effort on your part is called for. How about some signs or better yet how about you dragging your administrative fanny out there in the morning and afternoon. Because this is what is happening. 1/3 of the moms are attempting to following your instructions for the new pick up/drop off as outlined in the newsletter, 1/3 of the moms are dazed and confused or in desperate need of caffeine and still following the former pick up/drop off rules (hey, were all creatures of habit) and 1/3 of the moms just don’t care about the rules and will continue to freelance and do whatever suits their needs best. Double parking, butting in line, honking or my personal favorite leaving their car unattended in line while they go do God knows what inside the school thus creating a traffic snarl that could be covered by Channel 5’s Chopper 1. I’m betting you can see the havoc and danger this is creating from your office window.
My course of action for you to follow would be: To send an actual piece of paper home (I’m sure the PTO would cover the expense) with each child outlining the new pick/up drop off procedure. Each parent would then have to sign in blood that they have read and understand the new procedure. That paper would then be returned to school and kept on file. I also suggest that you strap on an orange safety vest, grab some traffic cones from the gym and physically put yourself in the middle of the melee that is school drop off and pick up every morning and afternoon. Sure, some moms may flip you the bird or even scream at you. But, buck up big guy you can handle it. Remember you are the school’s authority figure so use it.
Class Parties – With all the problems public education is facing I’m a beyond bewildered that you have chosen to focus your time and energy on changing the way class parties are held. No longer is the class party a sacred covenant between the teacher and the home room mom. You’ve put yourself in the middle of the party planning with a “party checklist from the principal.”
Your checklist demanding that educational games must be played like spelling bees and that all crafts must require math made me sigh deeply. But, when you went all Nutrition Nazi on the food that’s when my chocolate high wore off and I became PMS pissed. Your mandate that only sugar-free, fat-free, carb free snacks can be served is incredibly disingenuous. Let me begin by saying yummy with your suggested menu of sparkling water punch and a cheese stick and celery platter. Let me finish by saying instead of being a huge party pooper why don’t you concentrate your effort on changing the high fructose corn syrup, high fat, high carbohydrate, high sodium swill that is served everyday in the cafeteria and leave the three, count them three, parties that are held during a school year alone.
Fundraising – Guess what Mr. Principal ? We, the parents, don’t really live to fundraise. We do it because we want to help you and the faculty make our kid’s precious elementary school better. So, when you start sticking your nose into our fundraising practices and suggest better ways for us to do things like the gift-wrap sale and book fair two words for your buddy – back off. We are volunteers not school employees. We are doing this as a labor of love and just as quick as we can turn our children into little Amway salespeople we can turn it off. Imagine your budget without all the goodies our PTO provides for the school. Can you say no Smart Boards? I’m always looking for a reason to not eternally fundraise and I think you’ve just given me one.
Quiet Cafeteria – You know what gets me, when adults who work with kids forget what it’s like to be kid. No talking in the cafeteria – WTH? If I were a teacher I want kids to chat it up big time, get it all out of their system, so when they came back to class they were all talked out. Yes, I know kids can get loud but volume control is one thing and complete silence is another. And yes, I also heard the reasoning that if the kids talk they don’t eat their lunch. Really? Because talking has never come between me and my meal. I’m living proof and have the thighs to back up my claim that it is possible to do both.
Parent Volunteers – Excuse me, we now have to go to a two-hour parent volunteer training conducted by you before we’re allowed to donate our time to work in the school. What parent doesn’t know how to cut out pumpkins or staple together worksheet packets. At middle age we still have most of our fine motor skills in tact. I can understand a quickie tutorial on how to use the new copier that the PTO bought for the school. But two hours of training – how are you going to fill it? I hope it’s not with a Powerpoint of your short and long-term goals for the school because that could get ugly and require some degree of protection for you. You know what’s going to happen don’t you? Hardly any parents will attend the training and that’s means less parents in the school.
P.S. Be nice to our teachers! We’ve got their backs.
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