Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wonder Why Wednesday - Fight For Your Rights - Updated

Well, I still don't agree... but it would seem my other post (since deleted due to irrelevancy and crabbiness) was incorrect... my complaint did *not* fall on deaf ears.

Part of the parent presentation was a pointed remark to the kids to *not* brag if they do get to go, and that they're very lucky if they do. I also heard from a few other parents who informed me that *they* heard that next year, it'll be done quietly. Good. Carry on.


Okay so there are a lot of troubles in the world, we all know it. I really do try to stay positive though, and not get hung up on petty things that aren't really going to make or break anyone's lives.

This week however, whether it's because I was tired (I got back and went right back to work, no breaks - I haven't even unpacked all the way yet) or because it truly was an injustice, I about had a fit because of the announcement of the "8th Grade School Trip" that The Kid's class is being offered next year.

I put that in quotes because it is so not the 8th Grade School Trip. Rather it is a decidedly elitist and exclusionary exercise in what happens when nobody from the "lower classes" speaks up or gets on the school board.

The trip, as it was DESCRIBED TO THE KIDS (way to go, guys) involves going to Washington DC and New York City (which I can't even type without hearing the salsa commercial) to see the sites, go see The Lion King on Broadway, etc etc.

Sounds fun right?

And you can go... for 2000.00.

Two. Thousand!

Who are these people?! Do they even know who goes to their school? There are maybe 20 families who could possibly afford this without it being a *major* sacrifice.

I've been singled out before by the school for being uppity, which I don't really care about, but in the interest of being taken seriously, I limited my complaints about this to a carefully worded letter to the principal. We'll see what happens - probably nothing, but I had to say something, right?

Which leads me to my Wonder Why today... Why do public school parents not speak up more?

Do we feel that we're not allowed? That somehow because we're receiving a "free education" for our children (in quotes because anyone who's sent their kid to a public school knows you get nickled and dimed to smithereens on a regular basis) we're not entitled to an opinion?

Who's tax dollars pay for these schools? Oh yeah! OURS!

So I fully feel that I can and *should* voice my concerns.

I just wish more people would.

For your review, here's the letter I'm sending the principal. I might adjust it a bit after I actually attend the trip meeting tonight (I want to know first hand what the deal is), but in general I think it's right on.

What happened to visiting the State Capitol and having McDonald's for lunch? Is it not good enough?

I realize that you yourself are not personally in charge of this trip and the planning, and I debated whether to contact you about this, but I really feel I must say *something*, even if it doesn’t really accomplish any change. I do hope this note will not come off as me “complaining”, but rather voicing my concerns about this.

I’m deeply bothered by the situation, and so can’t sit idly by, but at the same time I do wish to be constructive.

If you feel that this should go to someone else more appropriate, please feel free to forward it to them, however as I understand it I am able to address these issues with you?

After polling some other parents and finding that there are several folks who agree, I would like to ask you to consider, for next year’s 7th graders, an alternative way of offering the World Strides trip, if you continue to offer it.

While I don’t argue that it’s a fantastic opportunity, it’s not one that many families can afford – not only are there many families who are struggling with the current economy’s backlash through layoffs and cutbacks, you also have at the school a large number of families who live in subsidized housing (the apartments behind the school) and I’m sure there is a significant number who receive the free lunch program – this trip is not even in the realm of possibility for them.

Given that’s the situation, I don’t think it’s fair to have an assembly/make a presentation to *all* the students touting the fabulous trip, only to have a majority of them be denied that opportunity. Rather I think it would have been more appropriate to send some sort of flyer, sans pictures and including only basic trip details and including the amount it will cost, and invite those parents who can afford the trip to then requests packets and attend a meeting. It’s one thing in high school – the kids can get jobs and earn the money - but in grade school no amount of babysitting or birthday money would garner that kind of cash in any family but one with money, at least not without including some kind of school-backed fundraiser, which I understand is not under consideration this year. It falls on the parents and families of the kids.

On the subject of fairness, I do understand that you have a strong view on mollycoddling – I do as well. I don’t feel that everyone deserves an award for just showing up at the game, or a prize in a competition, but I do think that showing a bunch of kids a promo video knowing full well that most of them can’t go is just kind of… well, there’s really no other word than unfair.

I can’t help but suggest that in lieu of doing such a hugely expensive trip next time, the school consider doing something equally educational but closer to home and more importantly inclusive to the *whole class*, like a day-trip to the capitol and to explore Colorado State history in some way. I think it would be more appropriate as an 8th grade trip, whereas a huge week-long expensive excursion to Washington DC and New York is more of a high-school age trip, but that’s just my 2 cents.

Lastly, and it’s more of a touchy subject I know, I truly think it would be more appropriate to hold the “World Stride classes”, and the trip itself, outside of school time. I think having this all during school time needlessly exacerbates “have and have-not” issues that already exist, unfortunately, in our school and community as well. There’s already, since Monday’s assembly, an on-going discussion of “are you going” and “why aren’t you going” that is embarrassing for a lot of the kids and their parents. While it’s true that it’s part of life that some people have money and some people don’t, I think that this amps the situation unnecessarily.

I hope you’ll at least take my concerns into consideration – it’s too late for my daughter’s class unfortunately, the cat’s out of the bag, but maybe the next crop of incoming 8th graders will have something more inclusive, and the World Strides will be an on-the-side kind of thing.

What do you think? Too much?


Chris said...

Money or not (and it was "not" when I was in Jr. High), my Dad and Grandma NEVER would have let me go out of town on a school trip. We moved before 5th grade and my old 5th grade (in the Chicago Suburbs) did a trip to Lake Geneva... they had already said they would NEVER let me go. Do that many parents, money or not, actually let their young kids out of town without them????

But yes, $2,000 for a school trip is crazy insane.

curegirl0421 said...

Oh sure, lots of kid go out of town... our entire 8th grade class spent the day in Springfield, and in 7th we went to the Dells... plus Girl Scouts always has camping and stuff... young kids are one thing, but at some point we have to trust we've raised our kids well enough that they'll be smart. How else will they learn to navigate the world with confidence?