Friday, October 19, 2007

"No Siblings Allowed"

What is more annoying than people who say one thing, then act completely against those words, while claiming to be "holier than thou"?

We had our quarterly Special Education Parent's Advisory Committee meeting last night. One of our brave school folks used the evening to put forth a new "Where are the parents?" campaign. Precious minutes that could have been spent at the bar where instead wasted with school personnel dragging us into "what can we do to attract parents?" I suppose moving the meeting each time to a different school, so parents would be more comfortable, is a good idea. The rest have been tried. Fliers? Done that each year. Phone calls? Been there, done that. Online links? How many times have I been reminded the majority of parents don’t have computers? Yet it remains the same half-dozen folks sitting here at the table. Yes, we'll put out a flier, and I'll spend hours on the phone and we'll send out emails and take out ads in the paper and put ads into the newsletters. We might get a few new faces for a meeting. But at the end of the day- I'm putting my money on having the same half-dozen faces here.

But why I get really annoyed with these campaigns is because there has also been another round of new policies- all of which discourage parent participation. Parents are not permitted at school parties. Functions that were "parents welcome 'before are now closed. And best of all- this year, siblings are not welcome- not at parties, not at functions, not on field trips, not at meetings. No siblings allowed.

When I was little, younger children often accompanied parent chaperones. Children who are not in daycare have nowhere to go when Mom or Dad is accompanying the older child on a field trip or helping organize the class party. We enjoyed meeting younger siblings (and a few times, I was that younger sibling, who got to meet Big Brother's friends!) It was part of the fun, part of the special moment, part of that community-building and socializing that school is supposed to be fostering. Remember "family values"?

Now that I'm a mom, who {gasp} has more than one child, the impact of this new policy is more sinister. It is isolating. I get no chance to meet other parents, see how my child does in unusual situations, participate and support his school experience. I have no idea who the other families are. As a special needs parent, I'm already pretty separated from the other families. Now I can't come at all.

Want to know where the parents are? We're raising our kids. And clearly, people who are busy raising kids are not welcome at school, anyway.


Niksmom said...

You know, these sorts of policies always baffle me. On one hand schools want parents to take a more active role-- not only in their child's education but in school committees and activities. Yet, they turn around and exclude the very people they need to work with. I wonder if they've never stopped to think about the fact that including siblings could actually help minimize (future) school anxiety and may ease transitions and foster greater daily participation from those same siblings?

As I just finished writing in an email to someone else, "Wouldn't if be great if parents were actually given some say in how our schools were run?" I know, weird science, eh?

JoeyAndyDad said...

It's the teachers' and administrator's version of "stop hitting yourself", don't you know?

Next they won't allow parents into school buildings and will wonder where all the parents are.

Then they can say to themselves, 'well no one else cares about their education, so I'll just make all the decisions here'. It's what they do now, really.

Casdok said...

How ridiculous!

Maddy said...

How very odd. I assume it must be something to do with liability? 'Unsupervised' younger children around perhaps?

We're very fortunate, parents are encouraged to volunteer so I make sure I'm in each of the classrooms [where we're all made welcome I should add]

What about a more 'informal' meeting after school, at pick up time - you could all just 'hang out' on the playground with the sibs and the kids?
Best wishes

gettingthere said...

How very sad indeed. Did they explain their reasons? Was it fear of litigation? This latest decision is the surest way to attract even fewer parents.

kristina said...

One reason given to us was "too many people in the room." (One family had brought their babysitter who had brought her own child, plus the baby sibling of a child in Charlie's class.......). I did often find attending school parties to be somewhat awkward, as it was not clearly established who should do what---at one party, I remembering the staff just standing back and off to the side, while Charlie's teacher talked, supervised, participated. It felt awkward, to say the least.

Good, free babysitting would make it possible for parents to attend: We all know, you can't just run out at 7.15pm on a weekday night.

Club 166 said...

I'm with JoeyAndyDad,

It seems like they're trying to set up a self fulfilling prophecy of parent non-involvement, so that they, "the experts" can do what's best for them.


Stimey said...

My kindergartner just made the Wall of Fame, which means his picture goes up on a wall and he gets to go to a pizza lunch during school, to which parents are invited. I'm not even bothering to ask if siblings can come. I'm just going to show up, 2-year-old (and 5-year-old babysittee) in tow. Just let 'em try to toss me out!

(We're supposed to bring our own pizza, so at least we'll be feeding ourselves!)