Monday, September 27, 2010

Thank you Ma'am, may I have another?

I'm not exactly sure where it was, or how it came about, but somewhere along the path of growing up I found that I can not stay silent when I think something is wrong or unjust. Unfortunately, at the same time I fixed that characteristic within me, I didn't affix a thick skin along with it. 

And that makes for an occasional rough time emotionally, when I find myself taking a stand and someone with a louder, meaner voice gets in my face over it. 

As it turns out, my what I still consider to be clever address labels for the questionably run fund raiser resulted in Rich and myself receiving a verbal spanking by Noah's elementary school principal on Thursday.

Imagine, 42 years old and reprimanded by the principal for the first time in my life.

As it turns out Noah's principal, Mrs. R. doesn't appear to have a sense of humor, as she took those labels quite personally. That came as a bit of a surprise to me actually, as she is not exactly one of those "warm fuzzy" people, and certainly doesn't present herself as vulnerable. 

Unfortunately, this verbal lashing took place right after an hour meeting with Noah's teachers, the guidance counselor, his aid, and the principal (nine of us in total). During that meeting I did a presentation on attachment disorder and how and why I felt that was the umbrella under which Noah and all his other behavioral and emotional issues fall. 

I rocked that presentation, if I do say so myself. As the meeting was breaking up I felt I had accomplished exactly what I set out to do, which was take charge of the meeting, educate the people that work with Noah, and emotionally draw them in so they connected and feel for him as the wounded child he is, despite how he pushes them away. The presentation itself deserves a post dedicated solely to it, so I'll leave further explanation to another time. 

It's very unfortunate that this presentation coincided with my taking a stand against the intimidation tactics of this fundraiser. I felt a coolness towards me by the principal going in to the conference room. I certainly assumed that by then she was aware of the statement I made with those address labels. 

I knew sending them in on Monday that the timing sucked. I in no way anticipated just how pissed off the principal would be. 

Or the tactics she would use to express her anger.

After asking the remaining people in the room to leave so she could talk to us alone, she went into a speech about how Noah receives more from the school than most of the children there. And that the Home and School Association is paying for something special for his emotional support class that none of the other children get (it's a bit of a long story, but in a nutshell I knew exactly what she was talking about and have been privy to the inside story, so I know that it isn't quite as she presented it - Mommy's connected too you know). It was very much presented in a "you should be ashamed for not bowing down and doing anything that I or the H&SA asks" way. 

But then the kicker was when she said it hurt her to see those labels. 

Of course my first reaction was "oh shit, I hurt someones feelings" because I genuinely feel bad if I realize I have done that. 

I stayed calm and nodded, and said that I certainly had no intention of hurting any ones feelings, but I was making a statement. Like duh!

I attempted to explain that I had serious issues with giving names and addresses of family and friends, and that I am not comfortable asking people to support my son's school when they have their own kids school to support. And I told her that I had discussed my concerns via email with Noah's teacher.

I told her that at the time I made a conscious decision to focus my energy, emotions and time on preparing for the presentation (did I mention it was a 50 slide Power Point presentation?) and that I chose not to take on the H&SA or her directly, but that I felt my choice of names and addresses would make it clear. She told me that putting together that address list obviously took a lot of time. (Which it actually didn't considering the school boards names and addresses are all in one place on the district website and googling the other addresses barely took any more time than if I was looking up someone in my personal address book.)

I tried to convey that I felt the tactic being used was emotional intimidation and an adult form of bullying, and that it was unfair to punish the children.

She responded by saying that the teachers would never let one of the students not qualify the class for the party, that they would provide addresses themselves. And that she is even sending one to one of her former secretaries. Well first, that's awesome of the teachers, but really? How was I to know that? And I'm not even sure what kind of message that sends. And as for sending to her former secretary? Ummm...the point?

I'm guessing the conversation lasted about 15 minutes. There was no resolution. But I did cry at the end, yeah me. *ugh*

She told me they would not be using the labels. I'm actually not sure if I should be pissed about that or not. I think its a bit short-sighted on their part. Who knows, one of those people might actually appreciate the chutzpah of a 2nd grader and send in a check. I can 100% guarantee they have a greater chance of getting money from that list than they do if I actually did put family members on there. Also, the school board members are elected, so don't they essentially work for me? And I seriously wonder if they are aware of this fund raiser and the the pressure that is being applied to the parents.

I told her that I hope this doesn't effect how she treats Noah in the future, and that just offended her even more. 

I truly believe that had I not just spent an emotional hour presenting as I did, and two weeks working on the presentation leading up to it, that I probably could have at least come close to taking her on verbally. By then though I had reached my limit, and the waterworks started.

Rich and I walked out and I tried to joke about how well I "make friends and influence people." 

He took his car and went to get Kiel and I took my car and went to the park and cried for half an hour. 

But now I've had time to calm down and think about it all and I'm very much WTF! Seriously, I hurt her feelings? With address labels? Don't you think that's a little dramatic?

Yesterday I ran in to our neighbors across the street at the mail box and I asked him what he thought about the fund raiser. He said they didn't like it so they just didn't send the labels back, but then the day before the teacher had asked his daughter where her labels were and that really pissed him off. He thought it was great what I did and made me go and tell his wife about it. He said that the neighbors on both sides of him had issues with it too, and he knows that at least one of them didn't send them back. 

We talked a bit about how many people probably didn't like it, but rather than rock the boat they sent the labels back anyway. Which is exactly what I know my next door neighbor did. 

I'm actually surprised, considering the population of the school (approx. 600 I believe) that I"m the only one that did something like this. 

Or perhaps I'm not, but because Noah is "special" (as in requires more work for her and more of her budget) my stand pissed her off more?

Rich is very concerned that Noah is going to pay for this in some way. He wants me to drop the issue completely and send them a check.

I just can't do that though! I can't! I'm not going to be intimidated into doing something or supporting something that I think is wrong. 

I have and will continue to support the H&SA and the school in other ways. I am appreciative of what they do for Noah.

I have a big project due at work on Wednesday, but once I feel I have a good handle on that I think I'm going to write Mrs. R a letter and make sure I spell out exactly how I feel and what wording n the emails and fliers concerned me.

You know what else really pisses me off? I found out yesterday after doing a bit of digging, that the school has to pay a 20% commission (yes, twenty percent) of any funds raised from this effort to the company that started the Race for Education and I guess provides them copyrighted material and some guidance. I don't recall seeing that mentioned in any of the information to the parents that was sent out previously. 

So if I send a check to the school in lieu of the addresses, as they finally agreed to accept late in the day the Friday before the Monday deadline, 20% of it will go back to that company. 

I still question the legality of requiring children in a public school to participate in something like this, or be penalized. Or that the only option is writing a check to the school for $75 to $100 per child. My nephew the lawyer is looking into that for me.

I wonder who I should cc on the letter I'll be sending her?



  1. That "fundraiser" is ridiculous! I can't imagine giving addresses out for things like that either.

    I'm glad to hear that your presentation went well though before all the drama with the principal!

  2. You are so very right on this issue, but since Noah's school needs money so badly I will head to town tomorrow and get a $3.00 bill from the bank. I understand that they print them especially for people who want to make a point! Mom Mom