Monday, January 30, 2012

A parent asks a question (part five)

When I finally asked our school’s principal whether other parents had also complained about the school’s intensified emphasis on discipline, the reply came from the assistant superintendent, who offered to arrange a meeting with “district leaders who support the methods being used” at the school. Of course, that didn’t answer my question, and I wasn’t sure why I’d want to meet with people who have apparently already made up their minds about the issue. So I wrote back:
Thanks. That was my next question – how much of this new policy is being dictated by the district? There’s no point in me complaining to the principal about things that she is being made to do. Still, it’s not clear to me just who the decisionmaker here is – something I have always found hard to pin down in the school system.

I think a meeting with concerned parents could be a good idea. But I worry that it sounds like you have already decided that you “endorse the methods the methods being used at Hoover,” before you’ve even heard what parents have to say. What are you thinking the purpose of that meeting would be?
The assistant superintendent’s reply:
Good afternoon, Mr. Liebig. Thank you for writing. You are correct in your notation that the social-emotional system used at Hoover and all other elementary schools is a district-endorsed curriculum. I was not suggesting that we must have a meeting you with, but offering the idea if you wanted to learn more about the curriculum.

Again, thank you,
Readers, there is a reason why the background of this blog is a brick wall. Is the district completely impervious to input from the public about how its policies are working? Are the central administrators at all curious about how individual principals are actually implementing their policies, or about how kids and families are experiencing them? Apparently this is the district’s idea of engagement with the public: they’re happy to talk to you, but don’t expect them to talk with you.

To be continued.


Wendy said...

It always amazes me how little input parents have. It's always after the fact that we get information on how wonderful a program, curriculum, etc is even if all the parents think it's a disaster. For us, it was Everyday Math. If it's any comfort things aren't much different here in Ohio. Currently our local district is warning us that we had better pass a levy or the state may come in and take over and how awful that would be for our community to "lose local control". My first thought was that for parents not much would change......

Chris said...

Wendy -- Great point. Not much leverage in that threat, is there?

By the way, don't get parents around here started on the subject of Everyday Math . . .

Chris said...

By the way, I did learn one thing from this email exchange: it's not discipline, it's a "social-emotional system." FedUpMom, another item for your list!

FedUpMom said...

Thanks, Chris! I added it to the list.

It is just amazing that the people most affected by these decisions have absolutely no say in them. We call this democracy?

I like the way she offers that the meeting could help you "learn more about the curriculum". She doesn't even pretend to be interested in anything you might have to say.

Can you go to the press? Write a letter to the editor of the local paper? Could you get some kind of TV-news-worthy stunt to publicize the problem? I'm thinking political theater here. Something with a staged silent lunch and whistle-blowing guards?

FedUpMom said...

I'm thinking that you could stage an event called "Eat Lunch Like an Iowa Schoolchild", invite a lot of like-minded parents and members of the press, and then serve unappetizing food in 15-minute increments, with whistle-blowing guards enforcing silence, table by table.

Chris said...

From another reader email: "I hate it when they adopt that 'tone' with you--it's precisely the kind of thing they are doing to the children. Management strategies, not reciprocal, respectful interaction."