Dear School District,
I know that it's only been a week since my son started Kindergarten, but I was hoping to share a few ideas with you. Unlike those helicopter parents who elbow their way into the principal's office on Day 3 to give "constructive feedback," I wanted to make sure that I really understood how things worked before reaching out to you. It's Day 7, and as a seasoned public school veteran now, I'm hoping that my outline of district-wide improvements will be well-received.
Here are a few important ways that you can improve the public elementary school experience for all of the families in our community:
1. Mandatory public school for toddlers. So here's the thing. My 15-month-old wakes up at 4 a.m. every day. And on the days that I can force (err... gently coerce) him to go back to sleep, he does me the pleasure of sleeping in until 6:30. He would be the perfect candidate for an elementary education, because he is wide awake and ready to learn at the crack of freaking dawn every day! My 5-year-old, on the other hand, must be pried out of bed and put directly on the toilet every morning, where he then falls asleep again mid-pee. Don't even get me started about how we convince him to eat breakfast. Why did I spend the first four years of his life praying that he would sleep in past sunrise, and now that he finally does, we have to wake him up for school? You've got it all backwards. Just consider it. My 15-month-old will be arriving in our place tomorrow morning, while Max and I get some shut-eye. Ben likes Cheerios, so just make sure he has enough, and you'll both be fine.
2. A coffee kiosk at drop-off. Preschool should teach you a thing or two about mornings, because 8:25 a.m. is too early. I know that parents have to get to work (I will be contacting their employers shortly to demand "delayed start" for all working parents). I know that there are many things to cover during the school day, and for the district, time is money. Or, absences are money. Or, something like that. So can we meet somewhere in the middle? More specifically, can that somewhere be in front of a coffee stand that also sells donuts and muffins? I just paid a sh*tload of money at registration for the PTA, the school library, the disaster preparedness fund, the gardening club, the music program, the art appreciation tutors and the field trips, so I'm happy to pitch in another $10 towards a part-time barista. If all of the families gave $10, we would have enough to pay her and buy some fancy syrups for our lattes. Think how much nicer we'd be in the drop-off line if we had a warm PSL waiting for us while we kissed our little learners goodbye. If you give a mama a muffin... well, you know how the story goes.
3. Late Parent Parking. Because while we're on the subject of drop-off lines, I've discovered that our school has a major problem with bullying. Oh don't worry, the kids are fine. It's the parents. The ones in the parking lot. It is really hard to wolf down a sandwich, finish a conference call, check Facebook and lay on the horn to let another parent know they're about to rear-end you, all at the same time. Perhaps if you sectioned off a large portion of the parking lot and reserved it for parents who were running late, we would all be a little kinder to each other. You might spare another mother the mortification that I experienced today at pick-up, when my newly-minted Kindergartner waltzed out of his class, couldn't find me, then finally ran into my arms yelling "Mom!!! I thought you were dead!!!"
4. Trampolines. You know how "standing desks" are all the rage? Well, I'm glad that we're paying such close attention to the needs of adult human beings who are able to set their own schedules and go to the bathroom without having to raise their hand and wait to be called on. But for our littlest workers, wouldn't it be great if we found a way to meet their sensory needs too? I'm not talking about a large trampoline, just those personal-sized ones. You could set them up right by their desks and label each one with a student's name. Think of how much time we'd save our teachers! They'd no longer have to ask the kids to "stop wiggling" or "sit down" or say, "don't rock in your chair." And what's better than a classroom of exhausted, out-of-breath kids? It's like having recess during reading time. Our children's future cardiologists will thank you for it, and we'll be on our way to happy, healthy, sensory-satiated learning.
5. A Google-esque environment where teachers are able to take care of all of their personal needs on campus. Heard of Common Core? Well, here's a "new math" problem for you. My son's Kindergarten teacher has 26 children who are literally tugging on her skirt all day long. Multiply 26 by one or two parents for each child, who also want her attention before and after school. Subtract the amount of money that she pays out of her own pocket for classroom supplies. Add in a few "Best Teacher" mugs that she really doesn't need. Subtract the price of the bag lunches that she brings from home so that she can spend her lunch break grading papers or checking in with her own children's care providers, then subtract the student loans that she still owes because she traded a lucrative corporate job for one where she actually can change the world, and you have about $0.00 left. Why should the filthy rich Googlers get all of the perks? I vote that we add the following critical services for teachers to the bond measure that we will be voting on in November: catered breakfast and lunch for all school staff, on-site childcare, an on-site gym, dry-cleaning services (who needs that more than elementary school teachers??), valet parking and car wash services, a dog run and a seasonal flu vaccine clinic (or a homeopathic remedy booth, if that's your cup of herbal tea). I know, I know. Folks in the tech industry work crazy long hours doing really important things, and have to have these on-site services available so that they can actually survive the outrageous demands of their job. Oh wait. So do teachers.
There you go. I might be new to this whole public school thing, but as you can see, I'm pretty dialed in to the needs of our community. I tried to start small. I can appreciate that real change only happens one step at a time, so I'll hold off on the bigger requests until I've been around the picnic tables a few more times.
You know, like next week.
Looking forward to a lovely relationship,
Your Future PTA President