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An Update From the Activist

May 22, 2010

Let me first just tell you that I should be doing the laundry.  I am so close to being DONE.  One load in the washer, one in the dryer to be folded…that is it!  I am all motivated about it, and everything.  Then, well, Jeff went off for the afternoon and Sarah is at a playdate, and I just planted my large behind on the chair and here I am.  So if it doesn’t get done, it is obviously your fault.

This week was about as busy as last week.  I had our last girl scout meeting to plan, prepare, and run on Monday.  It went fast and we ran out of time (as usual) so we didn’t get to play as much as I had wanted.  My next task for this troop is totally revamping it.  We need to meet more than once a month and for a longer period of time.  I want to map it all out, so I won’t be running around at the last-minute next year.  New jobs can be unpredictable, so I might not be able to procrastinate as much as I tend to.  So, Girl Scouts, Baseball, Softball…Mon, Tues, Wed, Thursday nights.  I volunteered in Sarah’s classroom Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as well.  And, on Tuesday night, I did a make up yoga class because I missed my regular class on Saturday morning.

On Tuesday, three parents were to meet with the Assistant Superintendent about our large class size issue.  I couldn’t attend, because I was already scheduled to chaperon on a field trip to the nature center.  After my field trip I was called over to a meeting of our “core” group because we were to meet with the principal at 3:00.  It was not a good meeting.  Somehow, the Assistant Superintendent sold the idea to one of the parents in our “core” committee that because next year’s first grade numbers (or “the bubble”) is the problem, that is where we should focus.  The idea was that we would ask some families not to return to our school for first grade.  I was completely shocked and couldn’t believe this was even an option.  I know that my children would be devastated to be essentially “kicked out” of this school that they…heck, WE love.  I still involuntarily shake my head when I think about it.  By the time we had to leave to go to the principal’s meeting we were still unhappy and not in agreement.  You can probably guess that the principal’s meeting didn’t go much better.  We decided we had to meet the next day to hash it out.  I was so upset by this turn of events.  I couldn’t believe how things had changed after one meeting.  The Friday before, we were already mobilizing to prepare for the next step after this meeting with the Assistant Superintendent.  We weren’t expecting to get what we wanted.  Then, suddenly it was okay to go along with the district.  The good news that came out of this meeting was the district kicked in another .5 teaching position.  We were asking for a 1.0 position, so we got half.

Wednesday.  Another meeting at my house.  This parent who was pushing for a reduction of “the bubble” did a total turn around and now wanted to ask for this 1.0 position, and beyond…she wanted to ask for it for three years.  We all knew we wouldn’t get that, and it was weird that she suddenly was so on board with wanting to ask for more, when the day before she was adamantly opposed to it.  I guess this is what it feels like to be collaborating with a politician.  She obviously had ulterior motives, and how sad is that.  She had to leave to get her kid from preschool and in about ten minutes we had an action plan that everyone agreed upon.  We needed teacher input, off the record.  So we took an informal survey, and one from our “core ” group called the Assistant Superintendent to request “leadership” for this issue.   We found out that the Assistant Superintendent was going to call a meeting with teachers.  Yay!  *Someone* leaked this information to teachers so they could go in and ask for what they wanted, and if they didn’t get it, we as parents could move forward.  That meeting was held on Friday.  I still haven’t spoken to any teachers about how they are feeling, but the decision was based on money (of course) and space.  There is not enough space in the school to have 19 classrooms of children.  This was sort of the deal breaker.  If there aren’t enough classrooms, how can we ask for another teacher?  So, poor 5th grade will have to deal with 34 kids in a class, with a part-time teacher that will pull kids for reading and math.  It is not official, but I am sure by next week it will be.  I am okay with this only because of the space issue.  I still think 34 kids in an elementary classroom is too many.

I am also relieved that this may be over.  So much of my time was spent on this, either in actual meetings or on the phone, or huddled in a corner somewhere.  I felt like it was all I could think about and things at home were not being taken care of because I was so busy in this fight.  That didn’t make being home much fun.  Yesterday, I finally had the whole day at home.  Laundry got done, meals were made.  The kitchen was clean, and the house was picked up.  Ahhh.  Much better.

Today I got an email from a parent.  It was addressed to all the parents on the “core” committee and some other ones that must have written emails, or made phone calls.  Here it is:

“A big thanks to everyone that made this happen.  You have made a big difference in the lives of many children and teachers.”

That made me think.  Wow.  I made a difference.  Worth the dry heaves,  for sure.

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5 Comments
  1. May 22, 2010 2:48 pm

    Yay!!!!!!! Meg you are the greatest! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the work and worry you put into this. If it had not been for you, I would not have known about this issue.

    • May 27, 2010 7:19 am

      Thanks Carly… It is one of my things, this class size issue. I am glad it worked out, I just feel bad for the fifth graders next year.

  2. May 22, 2010 3:21 pm

    That’s not the only place you make a difference. :) It’s nice to know this may be over, but don’t be surprised if it morphs again…those kinds of things have a way of doing that. I can totally relate to your feeling of “Aaaah.”

    • May 27, 2010 7:23 am

      I know that class sizes will be big for Katie and Nicholas in second grade, but not 32 students per class. So, I will deal with 28. Hopefully there will be a little attrition between now and then, so it won’t be quite so high. I think the principal has learned a lesson through this. He has had to face the music on every front: Parents, Teachers, The District, and Fellow Principals. At least I HOPE he has learned his lesson!

  3. May 30, 2010 7:21 am

    Once again, I think you’re amazing! I know all this stuff is incredibly complicated. Sorry that you had the one squirrely parent – what was that all about? My mom is hard at work on her school district’s budget, and it’s major stress! There’s so much that goes into our kids’ education systems.

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