You Don't Know What You Don't Know.....
Many of our opponents have accused us and others of not being involved with the education of our children. We have been challenged regarding how many board meetings we attend, are we room parents, part of the PTO, and the list goes on. More recently we've received comments regarding how uninformed so many parents are as to what actually goes on at MVRCS. This started us thinking about how little access to information we as parents have regarding the school day of our children. As a result, it has made us realize how little access we have to not only information regarding our children but also access to 'our' school. It has caused us to come to the conclusion that the Board and Administration of MVRCS do not want informed parents but rather prefer them to be kept clueless and uninvolved. You Don't Know What You Don't Know.
Our first case in point relates to how much we, as parents, know about our child's day while they are at school. While many schools not only encourage classroom teachers to publish weekly newsletters, they require it. Newsletters are a way for teachers to maintain open communications with parents, keep parents abreast as to what is going on in the classroom, and provide parents with a starting point or prompts as to helping children talk about what they are doing in school. Wouldn't it be so nice to be able to have a specific question to ask about a lesson or activity rather than just the standard 'how was school today'? How often do parents get the opportunity to visit the classroom, stop in and catch up with teachers (other than the 5 minutes during pickup), or see other students work? The school has eliminated any opportunity for parents to access the buildings as they are not permitted in the classrooms before or after school. It is even more upsetting that the children are not even permitted back in the building after school regardless of the reasoning (i.e. forgot something, bathroom visit, want to show their parent something). With all of the cameras in place (with a lip reading program attached no less!) and the staff that are required to be there until 4pm, it is incomprehensible that the school has adopted such policies. As parents we should have full access to the facilities that house our children for 37.5 hours a week, 200 days a year. This is just another way for the Administration to limit access of information to parents because they rely and depend upon parents being ignorant and uninformed. As for the arguments about being room parents or 'involved' - only 2-4 parents are room parents and therefore permitted to attend the occasional party or event and how do you stay involved when you have such limited access to the building and teachers? Again, You Don't Know What You Don't Know.
We have heard from many teachers that the powers that be at MVRCS have strict limitations and restrictions on what teachers can and can not speak to parents about. In all honesty, they are permitted to speak to parents about very little and any teacher-parent correspondences (notes home) must be pre-approved. MVRCS is the only school that insists upon such control placed upon their teachers. The Administration has been quoted as saying that they do not want to provide too much information to parents as then they would be required to continue in that manner. Try asking teachers some tough questions like 'what level group is my child in (i.e. should I be concerned that my child is in the lowest reading or math group and still struggling)'? Or, 'how was my child's placement determined?', and heavens forbid you request a level change for your child - DENIED but unfortunately, the teachers have such limited say all of this. In hindsight we wished we had provided parents with a list of questions to ask during their 15 minute conferences last week. On that note, did you meet with the teacher who actually teaches your child reading and/or math daily or their homeroom teacher (if they are not the same). Do most parents even know that the homeroom teacher is not necessarily the teacher that their child spends the majority of their day with? Again, You Don't Know What You Don't Know.
We would agree that parents are permitted to attend the Open Meeting portion of the Board of Trustees monthly meeting but must also acknowledge how uninspiring the experience is for the majority of most parents. As we've discussed in the past, Neil Kinnon treats the parents with blatant disregard that borders on contempt. At the same time, the Board too often (and many times illegally) resort to Executive Sessions which exclude parents. The Board has shown just how little importance they place upon these meetings as not only are they not welcoming to parents but they make obtaining the minutes for these meetings near impossible to obtain. At the very least, the Board COULD post the minutes for both sessions on their web site as a means of ensuring all parents are informed and kept abreast as to issues. While many parents have determined that attending the Board Meetings serves no purpose considering the dismissive and demeaning tone of Neil Kinnon, many would appreciate having access to an agenda and/or meeting minutes to allow them to be better informed. We bring up TitleI funding as an example, why would a school who makes it clear that they do not have access to the funding that our public schools have, refuse funds and assistance in reading? In an Annual Report the board said it was so that they could control the curriculum and methodology but Title I is meant assist and ensure the reading success of all students. We think it is again, because it would allow too much information to be revealed AND because they could not control (to the degree it is now) what told to parents.Again, we see this approach and attitude as just another example of the Administration wanting to keep parents uninformed and ignorant. Let's not forget, it is difficult to challenge or question what you don't know about, or you don't know what you don't know.
We could really go on and on with this as it has become overly apparent that the Board of Trustees and Administration do not want involved, informed, questioning parents but would much prefer to just maintain unilateral control similar to a dictatorship. Oh yes, and is that Dictator Neil Kinnon with the control?
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