parents night

so it was parental indoctrination night at school. we sat on tiny chairs with bright tennis balls on the feet, i suppose that keeps them quiet? kindergarten classroms are such great places, so bright and hopeful. i was a bit stressed, having had to park two blocks away, being a bit late, and still needing to get to the dentist (i know, i know, i’m going), and also discovering that i was wearing some neon-bright hot pocket cheese on my shirt so feeling unkempt, i didn’t pay close enough attention to anything. it’s ok, there were handouts, i can read up on this when i get my mind back from my teeth.

thing that struck me: i understand they need classroom volunteers because teachers aides cost money. this is ok, and a good way to keep the parents involved. i understand there will be fundraisers, it seems the lifeblood of any sort of extracurricular programs, to have to scrape up the money first. i understand that.

but when they mentioned the items they will be needing donated all year long, i felt somewhat distressed. bottled water for the dispenser? little 3oz paper cups for the water? film for the school camera? the teachers have to pay for the developing out of their own pocket? these things are no longer part of a school’s budget?

when they instituted the california lotto years and years ago, it was promoted as ‘helping our schools’. you’d think that that would be extra money, i’m almost certain it was supposed to be, but just as some pessimists wrote on the ‘con’ section of the ballot measure (i remember reading this), the money will just end up replacing current funding sources, not augmenting it. and sure enough.

well, it’s heartening to see that parents are willingly chipping in to make sure schools have adequate supplies (and water! water!). we’ll make do with what we’ve got. and maybe this is the only way to do it, with strong community support. but this is a fairly affluent area — what about places where the parents can’t help as much as they can around here?

11 thoughts on “parents night

  1. Same thing happens here. Every new or raised tax goes into the General Fund, and gets spent on things other than what it was originally intended to buy. Or else it goes into “special funds” which end up getting raided to solve some urgent shortfall in the General Fund. I certainly have no solution to offer, but it’s frustrating to watch, and if you’re a supposed recipient of these funds, I can only imagine how infuriating it must be.

    But water? That’s ridiculous!

  2. Reminds me of high school. They reduced the extra-curric budget to make room for more football and basketball (these were income generating electives, after all). When the speech and debate team started selling candy door-to-door, the parents were outraged. What were their property taxes paying for exactly? Unfortunately, the school board had hired an MBA for superintendent instead of someone with a background in education, and his goal was to reduce debt. That meant a lot of out of pocket expenses for parents and teacher. Harumph!

  3. kd, it’s the same shit here. Film, kleenex, snacks…time, money…school wants it. What on earth did they do 15 years ago? I don’t remember having to bring all this stuff to school!!

    The terrible thing, though, is our PTA. Out of thousands of students, only about 10 of us show up to the meetings. Talk about depressing.

  4. When we were in Alabama, I remember buying things like kleenex, toilet tissue, hand soap and ziploc bags. The non-schoolish items always wound up costing more than the actually pens and paper. When we moved here (Long Beach Unified Schools) it actually stopped, and I’m still in shock over it. I’m totally counting my lucky stars about it, too.

  5. Yeah, when I was teaching, I had to buy plenty of items for the classroom either not covered by the school or impossible to get in any reasonable period of time. They did their ordering once, at the end of the previous school year, and if you ran out of stuff or wanted something else later, you bought it yourself. Not easy to do on a first year teacher’s salary.

  6. The sad truth is that, where parents can’t afford to chip in, the children go without. It’s not going to get better unless the whole school budget system everywhere gets reformed. And why would anyone want to go into teaching when you can go to a temp service and make more money doing word processing? The educational system, like so many of our systems, is broken.

  7. in a better world, school budget cuts would be LAST on the list. the thought of teachers having to pay for supplies out of their own pockets? or kids in less affluent areas going without? more than sad.

    kurt’s school is a ‘california distinguished school’, probably in part because of the neighborhood we’re in, and the high percentage of ‘soccer moms’ who are more likely to put the time and funds aside to help the school. we lucked out, living here by the skin of our teeth.

  8. Here in NYC, teachers buy everything from school supplies for their students to BOOKS. That’s right, the NYC school system doesn’t even supply enough books for students. It’s a terrible thing.

  9. When my mom was teaching I can remember she’d spend between $200 to $600 per year on things for her room and her kids. Often more actually – I think I’m remembering the average for teachers or something. And all my kids books, when I had finished with them, went to her classroom for her kids to read.

    At the same time I feel kinda weird about all the fund raising work they have kids doing these days – selling candy and magazines and stuff – kids shouldn’t *have* to do that kinda thing, unless they want to. Or is it just me? They have kids raising money for class field trips and stuff that I can remember used to be free – or at least they didn’t have us trying to earn it somehow. *sigh* Not like I have answers…

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