Monday, August 12, 2019

A little more hair pulling

When we started going through the process of getting the necessary forms for our children to attend public schools in order and it ended up being far more complicated than necessary, I said something to Andrew about how fixing the system was "a hill I would be willing to die on."

So this morning I met with our state representative, Beth Moore, and she was super nice and understanding—and curious—about it. I came prepared for the meeting, armed with health form requirements in other states, evidence of discrepancies on how Georgia law is enforced in relation to these forms, and so forth. She promised she'd look into it more and see how we could simplify it for future families (either removing the Georgia-physician clause or extending the time frame or...something) the next time they're in session (which won't be until January).

I felt pretty good with how things went and really hope we can make some headway because it's been such a ridiculous mess for us (and everyone else who moves to the state).

Now I have to decide how many other hills I'm willing to die on or whether I should just let things go.

Transportation to and from school is still stressing me out. I thought today was the first day of orchestra, so we sent Miriam to school with her cello and sent a transportation form in with Benjamin. Since Miriam wouldn't be walking with him on orchestra days, I'd like for him to ride the bus. All was well and fine with the world until I got an email from the orchestra club in the afternoon informing me that orchestra begins next week.

I couldn't have Miriam walking by herself and her cello while Benjamin was escorted onto a bus.

Unfortunately, you're not allowed to call the school or email the school to request a change in transportation. Ideally you send in the transportation form in the morning with your student and they hand it to the teacher and then whatever needs to happen happens. But in emergencies you can fax a change in. So I decided I'd fax a change in—as archaic as that sounds.

It says right on the change form that you can fax it into the school before 2:30 (but not to email or call about transportation changes).

But also faxing is archaic, so I called to make sure they'd received my fax I was told, "Ma'am, you're supposed to send these forms in with your child in the morning."

"I did send a change form with my son in the morning," I explained. "But I thought orchestra started this week when it really starts next week. So I need to UNchange his transportation. I need him to walk home with his sister (and she needs to know that she'll be walking home because there's no orchestra this week)."

"You should have worked that out in the morning."

"But...I...didn't... Because I just got the email now. So...I somehow have to get my kids together after school. I can't have one walking alone and the other riding a bus."

"This really is something that should have been be worked out before school. You have to print out a form, fill it out, send it to school with your child..."

"I hear you. I do. That's the protocol. I get it. What I'm saying is, what do I do if our well-intentioned plans changed throughout the course of the day? What then?"

"Then you have to come into the school to hand in a change form in person."

"I have to come into the school personally to hand you a form to ask that my children walk home from school?"

"Well, you don't have to hand it to me personally. There's a little red basket in the office. You can put it in there. You don't even have to talk to anyone."

"Neat. But school gets out in twenty minutes. Why would I drive down there to hand you a form to tell you to tell my kids to walk home? I may as well just stay and pick them up. And what if my car is broken down and I can't get to the school to hand in a change form? Or what if..."

"Ma'am. You just need to understand that you need to plan your day in the morning and then follow through with that plan, otherwise you can only change transportation by coming to the school in person."

Cool. Cool. Cool.

Is it just me, or is that policy asinine?

Also, that isn't quite what the handbook (or the transportation forms say). But, I just feel like...this policy (a) creates far more paperwork than is truly necessary and (b) is altogether too inflexible.

I understand that they have our children's safety at heart. I don't understand how handing a form into the office in person protects children because it's just as easy to forge a form in person as it is online. Why not allow parents to email? If you can check a red basket in the front office surely you can also check your email inbox. I'm just saying...

Also...plans change. They just do. And sometimes you can't make it to the school to hand in a form (surely that would be a reason to call or email the school to request a change).

Also, I don't think it interrupts classroom learning very much to make a quick announcement in the room that Suzy's gonna be a car-rider this afternoon. Classrooms are rife with interruptions already (because we fill them with children who have limited attention spans and then only give them one recess (at the end of the day) and expect them to sit still and behave the whole day and they just...can't). An announcement or two (or even 10 as Rachel supposed she maybe had at schools that would announce transportation changes in the classroom) isn't going to squash their intellectual development...I don't think (I haven't actually conducted any formal studies on the matter).

I seriously don't understand why their dismissal is so regimented, so I'm trying to talk myself out of approaching the school district about this. Like, fine. You made me choose one main method of transportation. But, like, as walkers we're supposed to check the forecast every morning to see if a big storm is in the forecast (and if it is we're supposed to fill out transportation forms for the way home). But, like, what if the forecast is wrong and a big storm sneaks up on us? Then what?! Shouldn't I be able to call the school and say, "Hey! There's hail and brimstones falling from the sky. Please don't let my babies walk home today!"

Not that they would. I'm sure they'd err on the side of not letting them walk.

Today I walked from the park to the school to see where in tarnation they were and it just turns out that the crossing guard was late so they weren't allowed to cross the street. Until twenty minutes after dismissal. They were just standing around for twenty minutes waiting for a crossing guard, which I appreciate because they do need a crossing guard to help them across the street in front of their school because there are so many cars because so many people drive their children.

But, anyway. It's fine. I'm sure I'll get used to it. It just feels so ridiculous that it might just become something that I start poking around to see if the policy can be changed to be a little more flexible.

Lastly, homework.

Benjamin has a packet of homework to do each week and I think it's going to kill us both. I'm sure we'll just suffer through it, but I'm seriously fighting the urge to start mailing the school books like The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn and The Case Against Homework by Sara Bennet and Nancy Kalish because the last thing I need to do with Benjamin (after he's had a full day of behaving well at school) is an hour of homework. 


  1. AARGH!!! I am so frustrated on your behalf. Do you know, as a child, school made me LIVID. I spent grades 1-6 LIVID. Every day. So much stupidity and injustice. Then I spent over 30 year with kids in public schools. So. Much. Why??? Mind you, I have also had wonderful experiences with good schools. Leigh. Northridge. Magnola in CAlifornia was pretty good. I thought about the time I was at the doctor's office, naked and very pregnant, and the doctor didn't come and didn't come, and I was watching the clock tick tick tick and I knew that I would be late to pick Kelli up because I was in no state to go and find a phone. Emergencies happen!!! You can't have policies that don't allow for unforeseen changes of plan. Like, nobody can plan life that well!

    1. Also, send me the school's address and I will have Amazon deliver them those books! Straight to the principal. Or the teacher. Whoever needs them.


  3. *Sigh* It seems to be a district-wide policy (and neighbouring districts have similar policies) but...I'm just not a fan, guys. Not. A. Fan.

  4. I feel like my school has a similar policy...that being said if something comes up they are super easy going about changes. Sounds like your principal is really uptight and has infected the staff.

  5. Wait, since nobody walks did they hire a crossing guard just for your kids?

    1. There's one other child that walks (that my kids know about) but they have a parent escort, so it's less mind-blowing (I guess) (and they can cross without a crossing guard because parent). The crossing guard has been there for years (definitely more than one but I'm not sure how many)? Like, people know her by name, but I don't know what she does, precisely, when she's not ushering a grand total of three kids across the street. people?

    2. That is so interesting.
      I hope things don't get too frustrating. I enjoy reading about your adventures. They are definitely more interesting than mine!