I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Be Revolutionary

Imagine what our world would be like if nobody ever stood up for what they believed in. If women didn't have the right to vote, if African Americans were not free to mix with Caucasians, if many families did not hide Jews during Hitler's regime, if... there are endless examples of how someone daring to be be a revolutionary improved society as we know it. It's not just society, though.. it's science, too. Think of the scientists who dared to try new things, who went against the status quo in order to prove their theories. Many of those are the people we have to thank for vaccines, antibiotics... I could go on for a while here. What about those people who dare to be revolutionary right in their own backyard? Where are those people?

Over the past couple of years there have been some rather irritating things happening at the kids' school. Incorrect billing practices, disorganised events, major communication breakdowns - you get the idea. For some time now I (and many other parents) have chosen to remain silent, really only voicing our concerns to one another. Last year I made an attempt at bringing one of these issues to the attention of the principal - only to have her fob me off and tell me I didn't fully understand the situation. After it took over 6 months to get a reply to an email, a second attempt at discussion proved equally futile.

At a recent parent's association meeting, I asked the staff member present (not the principal) what the procedure was for parents who needed to voice a concern about administration. Long story short, asking that question was the equivalent to opening up a big bag of angry cats in a small room filled with cat-allergic people. The room erupted with people all similar in their frustration and dissatisfaction with various issues - and in no time at all it became obvious that this was not MY issue, this was OUR issue. Long story short, it was determined that the only action available to us was to write a letter to the governing Council of the school and hope we could get them to listen or at the least sit up and notice.

The letter is written. It's not derogatory. It's not accusatory. It's filled with positive language, with "we want our school to be fabulous,", with "let's work together," with "surely we can all improve" and so on and so forth. It's not at all the guns blazing letter I wrote in my head, but it IS the one I think we should send. Frankly, it's all gentle and nice-nice... but it's all true. We DO have a vested interest in the long term improvement and growth of our little school and we know that telling them off would achieve nothing other than making us look like hysterical complaining parents. Which we are - but it's an attitude which we know won't get us anywhere, hence the tone of the letter.

Why, then, are we finding it so hard to get people to sign it? Not only 'people' but the very people who themselves admit they are unhappy with the situation? One parent won't sign because her husband told her to "stay out of trouble," another is worried that signing will affect her chances for scholarship in future years...and so on. Of course, they are entitled to not sign - it's their right and I can understand their concerns. I don't agree with their concerns, but we all have our own moral compass - and we all need to decide for ourselves when to be revolutionary and when to stand on the sidelines. I know I'm brave, and outspoken, and extroverted...and I know other people are not. Some people just are not the type to stand up - and I appreciate that the world needs leaders as much as it needs followers. However, I'm still having a hard time swallowing this.

One of the parents asked me what I would do if the Council did nothing about the situation - would I still sign if I knew that? Of course I would - because knowing I tried to bring attention to something, and then failed at that attempt - would still be more valuable than sitting and doing nothing. Council ignoring our letter would in itself speak volumes about the school, wouldn't it?

Someone else asked if admin problems are really going to affect my kids' education? Is not getting a correct bill (for more than 3 years now) going to really affect their day-to-day happiness at school? Actually, YES, it will. Fact is, a lot of these admin problems are the reason why the school is not growing - there has been no growth in a few years now. The current Grade 5 class has 5 kids in it. Parents are choosing to take their kids out of this school for reasons related to admin ... and ultimately, that DOES affect my kids and their education. If staff morale is low and great teachers leave .. that too affects my kids education. If they get to Grade 5 and there are only 5 kids (of which they would be 3), well, that's not really doing them any favours either.

So, I'm choosing to be revolutionary. Because someone has to be.


M.B. said...

You go girl. :)

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

I don't have time to leave a long comment (which I am inclined to do) but I certainly hear you Em.

I am another person who has no problem politely sticking my neck out, in the interest of appropriate feedback, even if it is not positive.

In fact, my whole family has recently written an emotional, but carefully worded and logical letter about the medical care my brother is receiving.

Good Luck.

heinz said...
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R. Ramesh said...

wonderful blog,,cheers and wishes:)