I’ve waited a week to post about my participation in the school committee to see if my feelings changed and time would lead me to a different conclusion.
Nope. It sucked. The committee was useless and I regret that I took time off from work to take part in this.
Where to begin? The day before the first meeting, an email gets sent out that the meeting is being rescheduled to start at noon because meetings such as these are considered public and therefore must be advertised as such 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Apparently, the constant press about this committee and the frequent notices about when the meetings were going to be held simply weren’t enough.
We showed up at noon and learned that all of the parents that volunteered were invited to be part of the committee (so much for me being special!). All ten of us. Yes, that’s right. In a town of 17,000 where everyone under the sun is bitching about the middle school and vice principal, only ten signed up to be part of this. While disgusted with the light showing, I can’t help but be jealous that everyone else is so much smarter than me and steered clear of this buffoonery. In addition to parents, there was a nice variety of teachers, paraprofessionals (I think we called them teacher’s aides in the olden days) and administration.
I thought that we were going into this meeting to identify the issues in the school and to research them. Even though I knew this committee was “phase one” of the plan to fix the school, I had high hopes that we’d go in there and do such a great job that the district would not have to hire (and the taxpayers would not have to pay for) the consultant that everyone thinks shouldn’t be hired anyway. Not for nothing, but isn’t it the job of the superintendent to fix problems within the schools?
Instead, we were each given a post-it pad and told to come up with questions related to the following categories: curriculum, assessment and instruction, leadership and organization and culture and community. Then we were to put our questions under the specific category that they fell under. After that, we gathered into three groups and sorted through the questions, placing them all into “like” categories.
Despite the fact that there was a “leadership” and organization” category, we were not allowed to discuss personnel. We were not to discuss rumor and innuendo. Several committee members tried to get the “white elephant” out in the open, to no avail. In fact, the administration was taken out of the equation to the degree that we were left to discuss the anger one parent felt about there not being a school spirit week, and another mother’s angst about her kid having to wait outside in the mornings after the bus dropped her off at the school.
I took time off for this?
I left that three-hour meeting feeling like my time would have been better spent organizing my sock drawer. I contemplated quitting, just not showing up for the second meeting. However, I’m a glutton for punishment and was actually the first to arrive for that meeting.
This six-hour meeting started with a rehash of the first meeting, then we were given our trusty post-it pads back and told to write good things we knew to be true about the aforementioned categories. Then we did the same thing as the last meeting… We gathered into our groups and sorted post-its into subcategories.
Despite the fact that the initial press release called this phase “important work,” I beg to differ. In fact, if my town is about to spend tens of thousands on a consultant to come in and pinpoint the areas needing to be addressed, I’d surely hope that the consultant would be able to figure things out pretty quickly on his/her own.
And so… my participation is over. I feel like I didn’t bring much to the table, nor did I participate in anything that will bring great change to my town or the schools my daughters will attend. Nice move on the part of the administration and school board to make people feel like they were part of the process.