Thursday, May 27, 2010
Teacher Appreciation Week
Wow, lots of comments on this one! I appreciate them all. I would have liked to hear from some teachers, especially teachers who are also parents.
Let me say first that I hold my kids' teachers in the highest regard. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for what they do. We've been very fortunate to have landed with some really great teachers over the years.
That said, here's my beef:
First of all, this Teacher Appreciation Week came right on the heels of Mother's Day. Now, I'm not going to enumerate all the trials and toils we mothers face in the process of gestating, birthing, and raising these kids, but suffice to say that it involves much blood, sweat, tears, money, sleepless nights, worry, loss of sense of self, sacrifice of bathroom privacy, loss of ability to eat meals without having to share with grubby little fingers, sacrifice of ability to carry on phone conversations, willingness to be pooped on, vomited on, peed on, bled on, have snot wiped upon, and have one's heart stomped upon by doing all of this only to hear, "I want DAAAAADDDDDDYYYYYYY!" And this goes on for years. Not just a measley nine months out of the year. And we mothers don't get paid for what we do, either. Okay, I know teachers are underpaid. But everyone knows they're underpaid. They go into it knowing they're going to be underpaid. I would venture a guess that nobody goes into teaching thinking they're going to become rich from it.
Okay, it's not a contest, but let's get a little perspective here, folks. A week? Really? Whose idea was that? I want a week. Mother's Week. I'm thinking of lobbying the Powers That Be for it, actually.
The whole thing just hit me all kinds of wrong ways. After being asked to shell out money week after week after week all the school year long, I really had to stifle a scream when this flyer came home. It's not that $8 is going to break me (actually $16 since I have twins in kindergarten). It's the principle of it. More money, more money, more money.
I started the school year off by providing a big shopping bag per each of my kids full of supplies for their classrooms. I've written checks for fundraisers. Every field trip costs money now. Public education is no longer free, my friends.
And now this. It just gets to be old, constantly being asked for more.
Not any single item on the list of gifts and treats is problematic. It's all of it taken together. It's A LOT, in my book. The PTA luncheon - who do you think foots the bill for that? So, we're supposed to bring in a little gift AND contribute to the fund for the big group gift? And yeah, at $8 a kid, we're looking at around $240 for a group gift. That's quite a lot!
What bothers me the most is the obligatory nature of it all. None of this is presented as optional. The Room Parents have decided that this is what we're doing to show our appreciation, and we parents are expected to take part, even though nobody asked us what we think. That doesn't sit well with me. And really, how much does required appreciation mean anyway? Isn't something kind of lost in requiring it?
In past years, I have chosen to not take part in the group Christmas gift to the teachers, or the Teacher Appreciation/End of Year teacher gift, because I'd rather show my appreciation on my own, in my own way. That seems more meaningful to me. But I have found that the Room Parents will then hound me about it. I've been shadowed before and after school by Room Parents reminding me (over and over) to turn in my contribution. It's beyond annoying. I told the Room Parent last year that I was getting a gift for the teacher on my own, and she actually got a little pissy with me!
What is it with these Room Parents, anyway? Sometimes it seems like they take their position a little too seriously. Or it seems rather political almost - like, what are they after? Is this how they try to gain status for their kids in the school, or curry favor to get their children placed in the classes they want or something? Or maybe some of them just have too much time on their hands, and being Room Parent is their thing. I actually have a good friend who is a Room Parent in her child's class at a different school, and she told me that there tends to be some competition between some of the Room Parents to do the most, and get the most for their teachers. What the hell is that all about?
Bottom line: I think it's way too much to ask of parents, especially when said parents have been being asked to give, give, give all year long, and chances are, said parents have multiple kids in multiple classes, and are therefore being hit up from all sides. I think one day of Teacher Appreciation would be plenty, and I, personally would appreciate the whole thing being toned down.