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Backpacks Revisited

And so we have embarked on the Year of the Backpack.  I feel I owe you an update, since you so kindly shared my outrage of stupid school policies.

I took on the middle school first.  I sent a polite request to the eighth grade principal for clarification of backpack and locker policies.  Surely they didn’t mean to restrict access to backpacks AND lockers?  Well, no, they did not mean to do that.  I received the nicest response within fifteen minutes that the policy would not take effect and students could use their backpacks or their lockers at any time.  I also received an invitation to contact him again any time I needed anything.  Looks like eighth grade is going to be a good year, my friends!

I wish I could say the same about fifth grade, but after two weeks, I’m getting the feeling that fifth grade is going to be one unpleasantness right after another.  I emailed the principal about their backpack policy.  A couple of days later, I received a vague reply about her need to clarify the policy with the teachers.  Um, hello?  You’re the principal.  Why don’t you know what’s going on in the fifth grade?  So.  I waited a week.  A WEEK.  I sent a very brief note asking her to share the insight she’d gained.  Oh, am I sorry I asked.  I got back the most snotty, dismissive reply ever.  It basically stated that the policy is that kids leave their backpacks in their homerooms because it’s easier for the teachers, and anyway, the other kids don’t go into anyone else’s cubby.  Oh sure.  You made a rule?  Tell me about how well each and every ten-year-old respects that rule.  Essentially, she gave me the brush off and she did it in such a way that she clearly expected me to drop this issue either because she’s so intimidating and scary (she’s not) or because she’s the boss of my kid (she’s not that, either).

Okay, here’s the thing.  I know there are a lot of rules that I don’t necessarily agree with or understand, but I’m not going to fight every one of them.  If there’s no harm, well, then, it’s not a bad thing for kids to understand they just have to follow rules because.  For instance, I don’t understand why I need to use a turn signal if there are no other cars around, but it’s the rule, right? However, this rule in particular leaves my kid’s possessions sitting out for anyone to snoop through, mess with, or steal.  Don’t talk to me about how kids won’t touch other kids’ stuff.  That’s ridiculous.  So, I still have every concern about this rule and I’m going to continue to fight it, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a very long year.

Here’s the thing.  I was courteous.  I was polite.  And in return for my carefully worded, valid concern as a parent, the school’s representative blew me off.  Completely.  So, are parents only supposed to be involved if we agree with the administration or if we’re pouring money into ridiculous wrapping paper fundraisers?  Is our principal incapable of having a civil conversation about a disagreement?  Does she believe that she is my principal?

This remains unresolved, and it may for some time to come.  I responded to her in kind, which isn’t to say that I was exactly rude, but I was blunt.  I didn’t bother to hide behind any niceties.  I don’t expect her to grant all of my wishes, but I do expect to be able to have a conversation and explore options and compromises.  If she can’t even discuss these things with me, they why should I trust her with my child’s education?  She’s clearly not open to new ideas or discussion.

I don’t advocate rudeness or picking fights with the school, but I’m not being nice to her anymore, because it gets me nowhere.  She wants to intimidate me, but it’s not going to happen.  I’m not going away.  I can drag this out all year long.  And guess what else.  This is my youngest child and it’s his last year in elementary school.  So, there really aren’t any consequences if I make enemies there.  I have immunity.  I don’t give a damn what you think of me and, happily, the kid I have in your school doesn’t care how much of a stink I kick up, ever.  In fact, he encourages it.  We’re just a couple of backpack crusaders and we’re in it to win it.

Isn’t nice when we can teach our kids about task commitment?

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  1. September 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I agree with the following the rules thing, but I also agree with questioning and understanding what it is that does not make any sense. If it isn’t understood by you, I suspect there may be others who don’t get it either. Good luck!

    • September 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Thank you…I’m going to need it. 🙂

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