I am not fond of the NJ school system. I don’t think it’s as great as the people here think it is. It’s all about statistics and teachers’ salaries and looking good on paper. And of course the new superintendent gave a motivating speech, essentially assuring us that since he’s raised 7 of his own kids, he’s more qualified than any of the rest of us to make decisions about ours. And he threw in a little political ditty about the war, which made me bristle. No one else seemed to notice.
They killed an entire forest of trees, I think, in order to make sure we had in our hands every worthless piece of information… calendars and syllabuses… and one teacher even had a paper with lines drawn on it, so we could take our own notes in the 4 minutes we had with her.
Armed with our maps and schedules, we navigated the halls to our kids’ classes. Students were standing every few feet to ask us if we needed help finding something.
“No, thanks!” I smirked. My high school was 10 times bigger than this country-bumpkin place, and we only had 3 grades. (The Indianapolis school where I grew up now has an on-site babysitting facility so teenage mothers can continue to learn. And guess what? We didn’t have to cut off our arms and legs to pay taxes to build it, either. And the teachers were excellent.)
We had to sit at small desks like children and listen to boring teachers that looked like students themselves explain their grading systems and what they expect in class. Did I really need to sacrifice a Thursday night to listen to that bullshit? I couldn’t care less what percentage of the grade the tests are. This is high school, for godssakes. If the kids don’t care enough to be responsible by now, then they aren’t gonna.
I know the latest craze with education systems is to get the parents involved. What makes them think I want to be involved? I went to school. I did my time. I brought home my perfect report cards. I worked my butt off to finish a 4-year degree in 3. Fuck them. I’m done. Now it’s the next generation’s turn. I’ve got other important things to worry about, like deciding what to make for dinner and finding a job.
I’m more of a “hands-off” parent when it comes to schoolwork. My kids’ projects always suck compared to everyone else’s, because they do them themselves. I don’t get involved. This is my personal choice, and it also supports my parenting style. My kids know full well that Tommy’s science fair entry looks great because his dad did it, not because Tommy did it. Tommy will probably flunk out of college without his daddy there to help.
As a single mom, I play many roles in my home, but one role I do not need to add is full-time teacher. Please, teachers, stop whining about your small salaries and do your jobs. If you did, I would certainly agree that you deserve more money. Good teachers deserve the highest salaries on the planet. Why do I have to spend hours at home with flashcards teaching multiplication tables while you are playing Bingo with your class or watching Happy Feet during school time? What is that?
There were a couple of good points to the evening, though.
As I sat in the auditorium, and the huge choir filed in (who have been together all of 2 weeks now), I welled up with tears of pride to see my first-born standing among them on the risers. They did an amazing job. Truly. And I studied music, so I’m not easily impressed. She saw me, near the front, and smiled her smile. That made it all worth it.
And on my way out, after filing through the halls and seeing only one or two people I recognized, I heard a man’s voice in the dark call, “Lisa!” I had to look and ask who was there… it was my good pal from Al-Anon, J. As we stood there talking, another member of our tight meeting walked by and stopped to talk. We had no idea we lived in the same school district. I felt a sense of comfort wash over my whole body and I relaxed, finally.
There really are some good people around here.