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All the parent signatures that are required these days on kids’ assignments have really started driving me up the wall.  I’m supposed to sign reading logs and spelling homework for my elementary school kids, and even my tenth-grader has one class that requires him to get a parent’s signature every week on his assignment planner.  Tenth grade!  It’s ridiculous.  What is the point?  Well, apparently, it’s accountability – but who is accountable to whom?  If my kids don’t get the required signatures, they get points off the assignment or they miss out on a “reward.”  What is the educational value of getting a signature? What does that have to do with learning, with thinking?  Nothing, that’s what.  It has everything to do, however, with compliance and obedience.  It doesn’t teach responsibility or independence, or even good study habits – all things that schools claim to hold in high regard; rather, it teaches kids how to be micro-managed.  It shows a lack of faith in kids to hold up their end of the bargain; it implies that kids aren’t to be trusted.  It also demands that parents involve themselves in something that really should be between the students and the teacher: the doing of assignments.

Worse than parent signature requirements, though, are requirements of kids’ signatures agreeing to this or that.

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This came home with my first-grader today.  It pertains to a musical/acting performance the first-graders will be putting on later this month.  Under those bullet points is a space for the student to sign his or her name agreeing to these conditions.

It’s infuriating.  Why are a bunch of six-year olds being told to sign an agreement?  Where’s the consideration to make it a valid contract?  What happens if the student breaches the agreement?

I especially love the last point: “I will practice my lines at home without interruptions.”  Because we all know that a six-year old has that much power, that he or she can control everything that may be going on in the home and ensure that he or she will not be distracted by, say, a crying baby, or squabbling older siblings, or a neighbor’s dog’s incessant barking, or another neighbor blasting rap music.

This particular performance has been a staple of the first grade experience at our school for a number of years.  Three of my older kids took part in it when they were in first grade.  I don’t remember an agreement like this being sent home requiring the students’ signatures.  It’s entirely possible that it did and I just don’t remember.  I do know that I am so disenchanted with so many things pertaining to our school and our district at this point that nothing is slipping under my radar.

The bottom line is: either this performance is part of the first-grade experience for ALL of the first-graders, or it’s not.  I have no doubt that every single one of those bullet points has been discussed with the kids in class, face to face.  Why can’t the teacher have a little faith that the kids will follow through without making them sign a stupid piece of paper?

It’s highly unlikely that my child will be signing this.  I’m already on this teacher’s shit list, but I’m tired of keeping quiet just to keep the peace.  It would be easier, of course, to just have my daughter sign the damn thing and turn it in.  And then we’re all just toeing the line, aren’t we?

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