Parent Lecture…er…open house


Remember open house as a kid? It was that night when you got to go to school after hours and show your parents all the cool things you had been doing at school. Meet the teacher, maybe have a glass of sugar free juice, listen to the school song…you know…open

Well I just went to my fourth open house and although none of them have been all sunshine and rainbows, this one has been by far the worse. Honestly, I felt like the entire time we as parents were being talked down to. Like we had already failed our children, therefore failed the school, and this was our warning that we better shape up. No more Mister nice guy. Your kids are in third grade now baby and this is serious business. It is September 29 but we are already thinking of fourth grade state testing and preparing your kids for it. Make no mistake, we don’t live in the moment around here, we want to make sure your little monsters are ready for college…the S.A.T’s are coming up…we hope you have them enrolled in the prep classes.
A lesson on sitting…all children at the third grade level…MUST. SIT. (1) We cannot have the children fidgeting in their seats; children must sit still at all times. Sitting is expected through the duration of the day. Any child not sitting is obviously one to those kids and the parents are those parents who are not helping with the partnership between the school and home…because…
This is a partnership…your children are part of the community…you want them to be active and engaging members of their community…you want them to be respectful to the teachers and administrators in the school. In order to do that they must show up ON TIME and be ready to learn. They must not MISS days unless it is a medical issue or family emergency. Children must SIT STILL while in school and PAY ATTENTION as to respect the teachers this is all part of being responsible learners. As parents it is us up to us to make sure that we enforce these principles on our children. It is imperative that you get your child to respect you at home and listen to you the first time, because we can tell those children whose parents enforce good behavior at home and those who don’t. We know which parents are letting their kids watch TV and which ones are reading them the New York Times.
We then got a lovely video from the New York Education Commissioner about the wonders of common core, and how New York schools were doing great, but hey we can do better…and it is because of the common core that children were scoring better on the tests, the test which are so important, the tests which are amazing and can tell you everything about a person, the tests which tell the government which school is doing their job and which isn’t…the tests…the tests…
Honestly, this was the language and the tone of the evening; I only wish I was kidding. After, we went to the kids’ classroom, now we were going to see the work they were doing right? Meet with the teacher? No…more slideshow crap. More propaganda from the New York State Common Core…
ELA (that is English Language Arts to you) is very important and we spend x time doing it, here is all our reading stations and books…the kids have SO MUCH FUN picking out their books and reading…and are SUCH good readers. Common Core Math we spend x time doing and your kids are SUCH AMAZING MATHEMATICIANS…they all LOVE doing math so much. (it was seriously at this point, where my child, bless him, started shaking his head…I leaned down and he whispered…”no we don’t…we hate it…she’s crazy”. download (3)The mother next us giggled and I had to stifle one…I love my kid. I don’t care if that was rude or not. ) It was reiterated that when giving snacks, to make sure there is no sugar…we don’t want them fidgeting at their desk…because they MUST. SIT. STILL. In order to be engaged responsible learners. SIT STILL.
Finally all that was finished, we all hailed the common core, we sang praise to the education commissioner of New York, we lost our minds about how wonderful the district is and how great our kids are and how wonderful it is that they get to spend 7+ hours sitting STILL…boo ya! Now can I see what my kid has been up to? Nope time to go…get out…no questions, no time for questions, no time for comments…get out… time to go…its 7:45 get out…thanks…bye bye…
The whole thing left me feeling…angry and sad. To use yet another bit of popular fiction, it made me feel like the speech Umbridge gave at the beginning of the school year in HarryPotter: The Order of the Phoenix . If you haven’t read it (what is the matter with…no judgment), basically Umbridge is a government official, infiltrating the school because they don’t agree with the way it is being run…so the government comes in and decides what is best for the children, by making all these rules that basically take all the enjoyment out of school and turn into a prison. The School commissioner might want to see how this ended for Umbridge

Now, before anyone goes into a rant about how school isn’t meant to be fun, they are meant to be learning, or whatever… stop. No. You can make learning fun. Learning should be fun. You should WANT to read, you should WANT to count money, and you should WANT to know why a volcano explodes. You shouldn’t cry when you wake up, cry when you go to bed, and get angry when doing homework. School should encourage and foster friendships, nurture hobbies and talents and engage children in different cultures and languages. It should not destroy a child’s self-esteem with impossible standards, pin them against each other with rigorous tests that are meant to test all children no matter their ability at the same level, and force them to learn about things they aren’t ready to understand. It should allow them to learn at pace that is right for them, not force them into a mold based on a standard, set by someone who is looking a spreadsheet full of numbers.

When did learning in this country go from learning,exploring and nurturing the desire to know how and why things work to hammering them into children until they want to quit school? Are test scores more important than the joy of learning? Looking at my child, and many children I see everyday, I don’t think they are.





  1. Ben · October 5, 2014

    Great article! What a bummer that they would expect children to sit still all day! As an avid fidgeter, I remember how frustrating it was being told your doing something wrong all the time when I didn’t even realize I was doing it. At Reyna’s school, they have a couple different ways they manage the wigglers; All the kids sit on balance balls, and this year they got a stand-up desk for each classroom that kids can choose to take turns using. Maybe the overlords at your school could be enlightened 😉

  2. Hamptontrainer · October 5, 2014

    Excellent, I complained all last year that at the open house there was no time for parents to ask questions. They obviously took my multiple complaints seriously. The open house is just to check a off a box for the tristate consortium.

  3. Claudette Gerdjunis · October 12, 2014

    THANK YOU! I have trying since last summer to get people to see the Umbridge factor. My son and I first saw it last summer when were having our annual summer Potter-movie-a-thon. Sadly, I actually think she may even be out new Superintendent. Yikes. I love your posts!

  4. Tina · January 1, 2015

    Fantastic post. The sad truth is kids are expected to sit sit and sit more. Schools are becoming test prep factories. If it is not tested it is not taught. Our children are suffering. By what they are and are not learning anymore. More parents need to wake up and help in this fight.

  5. Mike · January 1, 2015

    Cuomo is right! There are terrible teachers in NY and you just met one. Everyone of those teachers who lock step and march children to the Common Core Chambers every day to save themselves should be the first in line next to go. Their loyalties are not to the children, they are loyal to themselves and they will only march on the mansion for those causes that effect them. The parents and students that will become parents soon will remember those guards that stood for the children and to hell with those “poor me, I have to protect me first” teachers when the time comes. Teachers have written off refusers or have teamed them up (elbowed) with needy children to co-teach for them. It’s time to quadroople the refusals but without advance notice, no letters until the day of the tests. Amigane the mind blowing confusion in he hearts and souls of the admin and their guards then. What if instead of refusals, everyone of them finished in five min by connecting the dots? Maybe the test scores should account for not 20% but 80%, should that wake up these walking dead Natzi guards? Why do us parents know more about what is going on than 70% of the teachers? Maybe Cuomo is right?

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