School Blues

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.32.47 AMI’m about to doing something that terrifies me. I’m going to bad mouth my school district. (Just to get the courage to say that I had to fortify myself with not one, but two Rice Krispy treats.)

I know this is something you are never, ever supposed to do. Once your move into an area with one of the top performing schools in the country you’re supposed to drink the Kool Aid.

Well, I’m going tell you that right now that Kool Aid is a little off like when you mix the classic cherry flavored Kool Aid with something called Arctic Green Apple and you think, “Wow, something’s not right there.”

Now, before you start sending me hate emails (And just so you know I’m still recovering from all the Rolling Stone backlash. So please no more threats to my person or property.) give me a couple of sentences to explain myself. I’m not talking about the people doing the heavy lifting – the teachers. What I’m perplexed about is the let’s call them higher-ups in the district and I’m not alone in this feeling.

Last week at a mom back-to-school confab featuring a cross-section of awesome women I took a deep breath and shared, “I think something is wrong with the district?” I’m not going to lie. I was a little scared what would happen after I dropped that bomb. But, surprise, surprise, a lot of moms agreed with me. We started swapping stories of the recent idiocy we had experienced and that’s when I decided to throw caution and my email account to the wind and write this blog.

Because I adore my friends I will only share a tidbit of what I have experienced. The first foray this school year that left me feeling a little WTH? was earlier this month.

My daughter’s schedule had a problem and I needed to talk to someone about the issue. (And yes, I sent an email thus not violating the school’s golden rule of preferred communication. And yes this was not an issue she could “self advocate.”) Let’s just say I would have had an easier time getting a Time Warner or a Comcast representative on the phone and when I did get a human to talk to me I was not so gently shoved off to another number (at one point I was told to call the district’s IT department – huh?) and multiple people redirected me to the school’s website!

Really you’re going to tell a mom of a high school sophomore to check the website? Like this is my first rodeo or something? Are you kidding me? Why didn’t you just say, “We don’t care and our goal is to get off the phone with you as quickly as possible?”

Oh and about that website. It was hostile. Lot’s of all caps and yellow highlighted passages that let you know whoever wrote it and approved it thinks parents are a great big pain and time suck. (Note to all high performing school districts – one of the reasons your schools “perform” so well is because of the parents who care deeply about public education.)

It’s not like I don’t know and appreciate how busy the administration is but come on a high school with less than 1,500 students is not a multinational company. You can communicate with a parent. And I wasn’t doing the “I think I’m important and I want help right now” thing. All I wanted was someone to get back to me in a timely fashion.

Well, I’m not ashamed to admit to you that I finally hit the wall and went full cray. Full cray, mind you, at an In-N-Out Burger parking lot in Los Angeles. The reason being is because in California you can’t drive and talk on your phone. So, when my full cray episode exploded I turned into the closest parking lot I could find which just happened to be an In-N-Out.

Now, going full cray at your kid’s school is a delicate operation. You can’t be the parent that is always grousing. No one will take your concerns seriously if you’re a chronic complainer and if you have multiple kids in school you have to pace yourself. Right now, I’m in the cray sweet spot. I have one child left in school and that meant it was on like Donkey Kong.

I got out of my car, thus allowing me room for full arm gesticulation, because you can’t go cray without dramatic and robust upper body movements, and called the school. Finally, someone talked to me. Finally, my problem got worked out. Bonus, a group of folks eating lunch outside the In-N-Out applauded after I got off the phone. I did exactly what you would have done. I took a bow and then got a double double with cheese.

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7 thoughts on “School Blues

  1. Deirdre says:

    We are pissed off Moms and hear us roar! We were also just dealing with multiple scheduling issues for my daughter’s junior year. She didn’t get an elective she wanted, which is a disappointment, but she’ll love. But they couldn’t figure out how to get her into the right level of US History so they told her she could take AP or Regents (basic). She requested Honors because Regents is too easy, and AP is too hard. So why the heck is it not possible for her to be in the right level of a required class? Answer: Because the district is so busy pushing kids into AP so it makes the district look better because more kids are taking AP, and then they don’t have enough sections of Honors for families who are sane enough to say, “Ummm, no.” Regents it is. We are not buying into the “My kid has to have 12 APs to get into a good college,” crap. I’m exaggerating, but only a little.

    • Emelle64 says:

      I too put my foot down on APs…good for you! And my kid got into a very good private college with only ONE. And he actually had time to play 3 sports, sing in the choir and (insert gasp here) HAVE FUN in high school!!

  2. Scott B. says:

    God I’d love to hear more about the specific issue. We are in BV and love the schools & teachers, but we had a couple issues that we had to take up the chain with less than satisfactory results. Those were primarily with the oldest but now the two youngsters are going through. Don’t get me wrong, we moved to our house based on the school district and I feel like we have some great schools, but that doesn’t mean that transfers to stellar administrators and/or processes.

  3. J.A. says:

    I’ve had scheduling issues with my junior this year. And, we too, are in a high performance public school district. My problem lies with the counselors who do the scheduling. Our son signed up for classes last January. In May, we contacted our counselor to make certain his needs were being met – and then two days before classes started he discovered nothing he requested (or we requested) had been addressed. Our HS counselors want students to “self advocate” but aren’t available the two days before classes begin, and it always takes a parent to step in. Our problem was further hindered that our school counselor thought she should put our son in classes based not on teacher recommendations, but her own opinion. It took the first week of school to get his class schedule addressed, and he had to drop a class (for this semester) that he really wanted to take. To add a little fuel to the fire, I spoke with a parent who works in the counseling office and was informed that their family never has problems, because they are addressed in May before school ends for the year. For the rest of us regular-joe’s, we have to wait until mid-August.

  4. Vanessa says:

    What kills me is that when your kids are in elementary school they want you to pretty much live up at the school. Then once they hit 9th grade it’s that “self advocating” crap. I get it mommy doesn’t need to be solving every problem but sometimes you’re going to have to talk to a parent. SO deal with it schools!

  5. mamalion3 says:

    What is with this “self-advocating” crap? Are we not legally and financially responsible for our kids until they are 18? Until self supporting for those of us on a certain moral code…. That means what they take in school, what they say, what they write on paper or cyberspace is MY RESPONSIBILITY!!!! Therefore, you bet your sweet butt I get to talk to someone about my daughter! We too are in a “high performing ” district and my daughter was placed in a non AP class. As of right now my daughter is the salutatorian of her class, the counselor had the audacity to ask me if she was approved for the class from the previous year teacher! Counselors are worthless!

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