For the love of parent-teacher conferencesWednesday, November 14, 2012
Failing With Gusto
Word may be out.
As an opportunistic writer of all things silly, I have found CPS to be a generous benefactor through the years. The school system has provided countless heroes and villains, memos and decrees, and best of all…
I LOVE parent-teacher conferences - despite not getting paid the $25 Walgreens gift card that other moms received this week simply for showing up. I don't know what I have to do to get on that gravy train, but I'm definitely looking into it.
Anyway, what I love best about parent-teacher conferences is when teachers relax enough to let things slip. I get the gossip, the inside scoop about the administration, and a head's up on attempt #504 to reinvent the very foundation of the public school system. With three different institutions to harvest such information, I may well be the most clued-in mom in all of Chicago.
That was, I used to be.
Chicago Parent has outed me. The publication is disseminated at all the schools. My mom-in-the-woods routine has been found out. The teachers now view me, quite correctly, as someone looking for a story. It doesn't matter that my writing is light-hearted and mostly benign, I am still suspect.
Here is an example of how yesterday's sessions went:
Marianne: Hello, I…
Teacher: Your son is doing fine. Just fine. Here. Sign here. Good to see you. Don't forget to pick up your 18 forms detailing policy changes on your way out.
Marianne: But don't you want to talk about….
Teacher: We're good. We're all good. You're not wearing a wire, are you?
I've been shut down. No longer am I able to easily gather the comedic nuggets collected in previous years. Stuff that went along the lines of:
"Sweet Jesus. Some of these students have never heard the word 'no.' Thanks for being a bad-ass parent, Marianne. We need more of you."
"Can you believe they're making us take time to cram high-fructose corn crap down the kids' throats each morning? Like any kid is going to say 'no' to a Pop Tart? Half these students are eating two breakfasts each day. Tell me again why Chicago is so obese."
"You want to know about updating our school website? Ha ha. You're living in a fairy world, Marianne. The last time that thing was touched was 2002. I think one of the PTA moms did the code and nobody has been able to figure it out since."
I am a little sad that I have been blocked from sitting back and sharing a few giggles and frustrations with my favorite educators. Why just this month, I even saved some gems to discuss at conferences. Instead, I was out the door before I could even open my notes:
The Concussion Awareness Form (required parent signature) so my child can participate. IN CHESS.
The letter from the head of CPS telling me everything is great. Then two weeks later, a letter from a DIFFERENT head of CPS announcing that everything is STILL great. Nothing to see here. Move along.
The 54 memos on standardized tests, workshops, websites, and reprogramming weekends available to all CPS students.
To say that CPS and Comedy Central don't have a lot in common is to ignore the potential here. I really believe that with a few talented writers (ahem), this debacle could be turned into some kind of network version of "The Office." Instead of copiers and office politics, the show would highlight kids devouring double doses of Cherry Pop Tarts each morning while their teachers dole out $25 Walgreens gift cards and policy forms.
Just think about it, NBC. I'm telling you …