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Monday, February 04, 2008

Sign Here

I got another school notice. Or two. Or four hundred and sixty seven. All in one day. When I taught in public school, teachers complained constantly that parents never read their notices. Of COURSE they never read them! Have you ever SEEN how many notices come home per day from school? Let's just say it's not the textbooks that cause those backpacks to outweigh the children!

Out of the approximately 254 notices that come home on a daily basis, a parent who barely has time to read a story to their kid is supposed to be able to pick out that one notice that HAS to be returned the very next day, otherwise the kid gets hung by their toes from the rafters, kicked out of school, or complained about in the lunch room.

Sometimes that notice is easy to pick out because the kid is hopping up and down on one foot saying he or she is going to miss recess if it doesn't come back pronto. But normally it's just one more notice in the kajillion that came home and who the heck has time to look through all those things?

Let me tell you who: not your average parent. Our literacy rate in the US might be right up there with Switzerland and Turkmenistan, but even great readers have trouble wading through all that stuff.

Here's my method for disposing of extra paperwork in the fastest possible way: I never read anything I sign, ESPECIALLY not school notices. What's the point of looking? The punishments for not signing whatever papers they send home range from the kid missing recess to being kicked out of school. Most of the papers state that both the parent and the student understand and/or agree with policies that they don't understand and/or agree with. The only options are to figure out a way to pay for private school, quit work and home school, or sign the stupid papers. They've got you over a barrel really.

I'd like to think that my kids are going to do their best to learn what they need to learn and behave the way they need to behave regardless of whether or not they sign a paper listing all the dire and horrible consequences if they fail to live up. And I'm for certain going to do the best parenting I can do regardless of whether or not I "agree" to all the different ways their going to punish me if I fail to parent exactly the way they want me to parent. So for the most part, I just shut my eyes and hope for the best when I sign all that stuff. I do look to see where they're going on their field trips at least.


delmer said...

I had just this same thought this past weekend. Well, a similar thought.

I'm going to do my best and I expect the school to do their best.

I'm going to quit worrying over my child getting homework slips -- some of them come for the oddest, in my opinion, reasons -- and I'm going suggest my children quit worrying over them too much.

If any child gets zero (and we're past that) or 1000 slips this year, I'm guessing they'll do just as well in college and their standardized test scores will be just as good.

My kids don't do homework for fear of getting homework slips -- they do it because it's assigned. Still, sometimes something gets missed, or homework is left in a locker, or a book is with the other parent, and they get a homework slip. And it stresses them out.

Anonymous said...

I have enough forms to fill and I don't even have kids. Yeesh.

Don't blame you for not reading the forms but it's great you read the field trip slips. I remember going to all sorts of fun field trips when I was a kid - my 4th grade teacher LOVED field trips (she was really cool and she was probably in her late 30s or early 40s. We all thought she was pretty and not "teacherish."

Anyway, we went on some snow trip and camping I think and all sorts of things. I remember sliding down the snow in something like a giant frisbee. I am wondering if kids can go on those types of trips any more what with a school being afraid of being sued for any type of injuries!

Hmmm...does this mean you don't do your own taxes? That's a heckuva lotta reading.

Ingrid said...

I really try to keep up with it, but I get angry that my kid misses recess because I didn't sign a "Valentines Party" slip or whatever.

I wound up speaking to the teacher to let her know that since papers have a tendancy to get lost, ripped, dropped,eaten by a giant boa constrictor..etc, she needs to email me if something important comes up and I'll take care of it.

My son is in first grade and you would think this teacher was trying to put him through mail carrier boot camp. It's ridiculous.

Jill said...

Delmer - I hate homework. That's been the ONLY thing I've been really pleased about my daughter's middle school - she never has any homework. Like NONE! I can see the other parents' point, that maybe they're not actually learning anything so they don't need any homework to reinforce the learning they're not doing. But that almost could make up for the no homework obviously I'm without on not worrying about it quite that much.

Ms.Q - I don't know about taxes. Actually, I need to learn pretty darn quick here what to do about that. Last year my cousin did them for me, but she lives out of state and was doing it for a favor because I was so lost being just divorced and all. Now I'm just as lost, but I've been divorced an extra year. I think I need to have them done someplace because even though I imagine I'm *capable* of doing them, I think having them done would save time & money when you factor in the total the brain blocks and frustration and procrastination...

My best field trip was 8th grade - it was a rocks and minerals field trip that was overnight. We went all over New England collecting different kinds of rocks and minerals. We toured a granite quarry, pulled garnets out of a cliff. It was sooooooooooooo great!

Ingrid - In the teachers' defense each and every public school teacher could probably employ their own secretary and keep them busy full time 40 hours a week EASILY. I'm sure the teacher is every bit as frustrated at having to keep track of whether however many kids have turned in their 17 forms that were due that particular day instead of spending that time...I dunno...TEACHING or something!!!!!!!!!!!! Least I always was... It seems like there's got to be some MUCH more reliable form of transportation for important papers than a six year old's back pack.

Beth said...

I'm with you, since you have no choice, I just sign away. A few times it has come back to bite me though when I have complained about some stupid policy only to be reminded that I "agreed" to it when I signed some form I cannot recall. Oh well, frankly I cannot wait for the kids to just graduate so I can be finished with all of this crap!

Christine said...

Once they hit high school they just don't bother bringing the forms home. Easy for everybody. And the school DOES call, if it's a form that will keep them from getting state funding, if I don't sign it.

I figure, for field trips, if they want to go they'll remember the form.

DJ Kirkby said...

N3S's school have given up sending home stuff, instead they write things on a board in the entrace way which is obscured by many parents, millions of milling kids and the fact that taking N3S to school invariably means I am going to be late for work!

Maureen said...

Ah memories... luckily daughter is past those days. I remember signing reams of papers, and you're right, most I never even bothered to read to be honest. And everything worked out fine in spite of it all.

Noelia said...

I'm so not looking forward to Joshua's school notices...I have a feeling that lil's guy is going to be trouble....

Jill said...

Beth - I dunno, I thought there was supposed to be some kind of out if you sign stuff "under duress." To me, "sign or pay for private school" counts for duress, don't you think?!?!?!?

Christine - Yeah, middle school seems to let up a little too. Well, they mail stuff and I never check the mail so... :-)

DJ Kirkby - Yeah, if you can't drop off or pick up at school you're ALWAYS a little disconnected, even if they do send the stuff home. :-( :-( :-(

Maureen - Glad to hear the method's tried & true!

Noelia - Well...what can I do but wish you luck wading through it all!


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