MomDay Monday – School Daze

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Every school has its issues.

Issues with teachers. Issues with other parents. Miscommunication. Problems with other students.

Every school.

There’s no getting around it. We’re all human. We all have failings. And a school is, after all, made up of us imperfect humans.

But at what point does a school have so many issues it becomes dysfunctional?

Is it when the faculty talks out of turn to your child about their parents’ divorce?

Or perhaps it’s when other parents refuse to accept that their child is the school bully & consistently puts the blame for their child’s behavior on the very kids he’s bullying.

Is it when there are arbitrary punishments meted out at whim? One day a behavior is punishable by making the child sit out of recess. The next day, the same behavior is overlooked. One day, uniform infractions are barely mentioned. The next day, a student loses privileges for wearing the wrong uniform piece.

Perhaps….

But I believe it’s when a school & its principal are so afraid of criticism that they close off lines of communication to keep others from hearing it.

I believe it’s when a principal is more concerned with who saw a comment on the school Facebook page than she is with addressing the issues brought to her attention.

I believe it is when a student receives retaliation for the actions of their parent.

And I believe it is when anti-bullying rallies are held for the students but parents & staff are seemingly the biggest offenders.

The Kids attend a private, Catholic school. They have been there since they were each 3 years old, starting in the youngest Pre-K group. They have known their classmates for most of their lives & we have made good friends with some of the families of these kids. When The Ex & I decided to divorce, we quietly told The Kids’ teachers so they were aware of the situation at home & on the lookout for any kind of behavioral issues that might occur because of it. This school had an opportunity to show The Kids an example of what it means to be a Christian & support my children during a particularly tough time.

They failed.

Within weeks, it seemed as if everyone knew what was happening in our family. The rumor mill was in full force until people I hardly knew & rarely spoke to had an opinion on my divorce & The Kids’ reaction to it. I had been blind to the dysfunction in the past, believing my kids were in the best possible place for the best possible education. There were two things I hoped to keep consistent throughout the divorce as the kids lives were being uprooted. Their school & their house. I was determined to keep them in that school & in the house they had been in for the past 4 years even if it meant having to ask my dad for money. But little by little, my eyes were opened & I saw that there were issues with this school far beyond anything I ever realized. There certainly have been people on the faculty as well as other parents who have been more than supportive & I can’t thank those people enough for the kindness & support they’ve shown, especially to The Kids. But they have unfortunately been too few & too far between. It is school dysfunction at its best. Or worst.

I’ve stopped my insistence that The Kids stay in that school. It’s part of my letting go. And it’s okay. I am aware that any school will have issues, dysfunction, intolerant people & parents who violate the school drop off & pick up rules. At this point, I’m willing to take my chances.

But I’m keeping the house.

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2 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on THE OCD DIARIES and commented:
    Please indulge me while I contribute to this pile-on.
    Personally, I love the school my kids go to. The teachers and support staff are wonderful. I’ve made some of the best friends ever among the parents. I adore the fact that my children are in the same school their mom and aunts attended. And, most importantly, the kids are being infused with a faith that will carry them through all the difficulties that await them in adulthood.
    But there’s a lot of truth to what Linda writes about. There is a lot of dysfunction.
    I wrote about the parental gossip awhile back in a post called “Schoolyard gossip and the damage done.” http://billbrenner1970.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/schoolyard-gossip-and-the-damage-done/
    I wrote about the school administrative culture and it’s frequent cluelessness on how to deal with the more challenged students among them in a post called “Taking the different kids out with the trash.” http://billbrenner1970.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/taking-the-different-kids-out-with-the-trash/
    When parents pay a hefty tuition every month to send their children there, the administration has a responsibility to listen to parental concerns instead of dismissing them as rabble rousers. They have a responsibility to communicate clearly and often, but they have slipped on that one regularly this year.
    With families so over-scheduled these days, you have to be from another planet to expect every parent to remember a note from last year and in September about school closing for three days BEFORE April vacation so teachers can attend a conference. To get defensive when parents take you to task for not putting reminders in the weekly school updates is maddening.
    If the Archdiocese of Boston thinks this event is so important that every teacher needs to be there, they should consider holding it on a weekend, during school vacations or in the summer, to minimize disruptions in the school schedule.
    What does this have to do with the subject matter of this blog? Two things: I know parents who, like me, have dealt with illnesses of the mind, body and spirit in the past. The better the school communicated with them and works with them, the better they can parent and, in turn, the better their kids will do in school. More importantly, this is about the children. When the school doesn’t properly communicate with parents, the students suffer.
    And when it comes to children with special needs, it is the school administration’s responsibility to make sure ALL of the student’s teachers are on the same page. When the ancillary teachers mark a kid down because of deficiencies caused by something like ADHD and you, the parent, learn later that those teachers were not told of the child’s issues, it’s inexcusable.
    All that said, I don’t think there’s a single problem here that can’t be fixed. We can all learn from the problems, help in solving them and emerge as a school community that’s stronger than before.
    But if parents like us keep our mouths shut or sugar-coat things because we fear retribution against ourselves and our kids, nothing will ever improve. Pure and simple.
    Personally, I don’t fear retribution from school administrators. They are good people at the end of the day, and they want to do their best. Sometimes, public pressure is necessary to help them reach that full potential.
    I’m not worried about being blackballed by other parents, either. Frankly, the folks who would be angry with me are already the ones who aren’t inclined to like me anyway.
    And who knows? Maybe this public display of concern will lead to some new, unlikely friendships. Those are often the best kind.

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