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Live from Parent Night: An Early-Grades Perspective

In the middle of all the federal and state policy news on early childhood that Early Years covers, it's easy to forget that preschool and the early elementary grades are really about young children and their families. So I've asked a few friends with children in the years between preschool and 3rd grade to share their back-to-school and off-to-school reflections during September.

We'll kick off with a parent night seen through the eyes of my Maryland-based friend, MoCo Mom, now parenting a first-grader in Montgomery County, Md. This reflection wasn't quite live-blogged, but she sure made me feel like I was there:

  • That interactive whiteboard/tv screen is gigantic. Does every classroom have one? Oh, we have no more money for a science teacher, or for supplies for enrichment projects, and the classes are getting bigger than they can fit numbers of desks in a room, and the teacher is begging for donations of paper bags and Ziploc baggies, but we have these giant whiteboard screens?
  • How long will the parents in my politically active community keep berating the principal for losing a position that the school board took from her? Oh good, now someone's asking her to finger which member of the school board stole our science teacher! C'mon, people, would you do that at your workplace?
  • Things you don't like to see your fellow human beings do: Our school is a magnet school but offers the magnet curriculum enrichment to any child that can do the work in a specific subject, whether s/he tested into the magnet or no. Now we have a parent—a really nice neighbor of mine—being angry about how can it be a magnet if other kids get all the same things his kid gets?
  • They got rid of the stoplight discipline system that sent my kid home with a smiley or frowny face for the day to show me how well he behaved. Hooray. But, ironically, if a calendar with a smiley or frowny face doesn't come home, I have no idea WHAT happened in the classroom. Rut-roh!
  • So, the best 1st-grade teacher is working a second job and getting a master's ... to stop teaching. Hmm ....
  • I want to nominate our elementary school principal for president—she has more managerial experience than the incumbent, is much saner than the GOP field, and fending off entitled upper middle-class and activist parents has got to be good prep for managing Congress.
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