Brain Teaser

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 11.00.14 AMI’m feeling perturbed. I was up at my son’s high and noticed nothing had been done about a complaint, well really more of a concern, that I had shared with the principal, in what I thought, was a very nice and chatty email, a freaking year ago.

The equally chatty, somewhat new and I’m just going to say it, handsome, very handsome principal (Okay, so I may have a bit of a mom crush on the principal, big deal. I also had a mom crush on my son’s elementary school principal. Oh my, this has just gotten awkward) had gotten right back to me after I wrote the email and due to the quickness of his response I figured action had been taken. Wrong. Because as I walking through the school gigantic posters, really more like face flags (I’m telling you the quality of the photography and the flag fabric is top-notch) of students holding balls or ball hitting implements were staring at me.

I had no complaint with the lovely posters, flags, whatever, of student athletes. What I did have a concern about was the quid pro quo of it all. Because just around the corner, in a dimly lit hallway, are teeny tiny 5 X 7 photos that look like they were the by-product a mediocre laser jet printer of the National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Scholars. WTH? And this is why I wrote the principal last year. I figured I was the perfect person to spearhead this concern since, at that time; I was not the mother of an athlete or a scholar.

In my email I asked the principal why the National Merit kids couldn’t have posters 10 times the size of their heads? In a delightful phone call he explained that the Parent Booster Club paid for the posters. I shared that I’m sure the National Merit kids parents, would with glee, shell out money for a face flag. Because he was so charming, I figured I had wooed him to my way of thinking.

I’m now more than a little angry and adding fuel to my fury is that I recently heard the author of the new book The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way talking about how no other country in world let’s sports dominates their schools the way America does. (P.S. We’re currently ranked 36th in math.) Now before you get all upset I do not want to see sports de-emphasized. I’m a Texas girl and I was raised on high school football but I was wondering what’s stopping us from shining the same LED floodlight on academics.

For instance, why don’t we start recruiting math teachers with the same zeal we use for football coaches? Instead of win loss records we could have teacher stats. As an example, “Mrs. Smith is currently leading the state in the number of students getting a 5 (highest score) on their Calculus Advanced Placement test and more than 63% of her former students have sought post-graduate degrees with an average income of well over six figures.”

Even better would be the pep rallies. I would suggest holding at least two. One in the fall when most students take their first SAT or ACT and one in late spring when the AP tests occur.

Think of the cheers – “Tangent, derivative, theorem, aren’t so hard because you’ve studied they’re your lucky charms.”

Or this one for AP Euro History. “French Revolution, Russian too, don’t forget to write an amazing FRQ!”

I can already see the marching band playing the theme song from the Big Bang Theory as a salute to the quantum theory portion of the AP Physics exam.

Imagine a world where instead of telling just athletes to be a-g-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e we would instead use that same cheer on the brave, young, souls about to embark on the biggest battle of their teen years – the SAT’s.

“Competitive colleges are okay but you’ve got highly selective wanting you after today!”

The best part of all is that it would be so easy to do. What’s a couple more pep rallies and huge face flags. For sure, you would want those.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Speed Dating and The Parent Teacher Conference

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This afternoon I promise I’m going to be better. I’m not going to eavesdrop. My ears will not strain to hear every word that is being said. My cochlea will not quiver in auditory anticipation. Today, I will give it my all, to behave during parent teacher conferences in the high school gym.

That’s right the gym, because in my school district once your child enters the ninth grade you begin a four-year journey of speed dating their teachers. No more loving, one-on-one, tête-à-têtes in the classroom. It’s you, the teachers and hundreds of parents looking for their grade book soul mate in the gym. (Yes, you can still make an appointment for a discreet, 15-minute conference in a dimly light, secluded classroom but that’s only for parents seeking a long-term relationship with the teacher.)

Trust me, this whole parent teacher conference speed dating thing is not very romantic what with the lingering smell of teenage feet, unflattering fluorescent lights, and the off gassing of janitorial mop water. All the teachers are lined up alphabetically in the gym and are given a small desk, two chairs and a sign with their name on it. You only get five minutes with each teacher and zero privacy.

Plus, the whole waiting your turn really is a mood killer. Depending on the teacher and the class they teach (usually math or any AP class especially AP European history due to what my son says “is the first time you realize more than a rote memorization of facts is required to succeed in a history class”) you can have parents lined up more than 20 deep waiting for their five minutes.

And yeah, as you wait and slowly scoot up in the line you’re close enough to the teacher and the other parent currently in the speed dating chair that you can pretty much hear everything that is being said. Sure, you make a valiant attempt not to listen. You look at your phone and pretend to be engrossed in your email or Candy Crush but try as you might you can’t stop yourself.

Okay, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I can’t stop myself but I’m certain I always see other parents with their heads tilted and their ears angled in the optimum position for eavesdropping.

Shame on me, I know. But seriously some of this stuff is riveting and all of it is testimony to the fact that teachers are doing the Lord’s work and I don’t care if they get a couple of months off a year we’re not paying them enough.

Back in October, during the last parent teacher conference, there was an angry mom whom I thought was going to go to blows with a teacher because their kid had a 92 in the class. A 92! The parent thought their kid should have a “higher A.” An “A+ A.”

The teacher held her ground and explained very slowly and using single syllable words that an A was an A and that the parent needed to calm down and all was well  because the district didn’t have A+ designations on their report cards. The parent finally stomped off. I wanted to applaud the teacher or blow her kisses or something. Instead I pretended like I hadn’t heard a thing.

My favorite is when a parents sits down and moans and groans about how hard their kid studies and then the teacher does a few click on their computer and voila no homework has been turned in for two weeks straight. You would think the parent would assure the teacher that they are immediately heading home to threaten their child with all sorts of punishments.

But NO the parents argue with the teacher and tells them they’re wrong. WTH? How can you have made it all the way to high school with your kid and not have figured out you do not raise your voice to a teacher (especially in a crowded gym) or argue against the empirical evidence in the all mighty grade book.

To avoid nasty surprises like this I always ask my son if there is anything I need to know before I go to “date” his teachers. My high schooler also sets my teacher speed dating agenda. I’m told to go to the teachers that “like him the least” and then work my way up to the teachers “that love him.” I’m also instructed to text him ASAP with any good or bad news. I never text him. I can’t. I’m too busy listening to what’s going down in that gym.