Letter: Questions use of classroom time
As I was reviewing my son’s school work that was sent home over the Memorial Day weekend, I came across an invitation. The invitation was to a baby shower, which I thought was strange, because my son is only 10 years old. The shower was in honor of one of his fifth grade teachers at Achilles Elementary School and the school’s guidance counselor. The invitation was sent to the children and stated the gender of each baby as well as where the teachers are registered.
I was shocked! In most professional circles, it is considered unethical and against company policy to accept a gift from those you serve, and even worse to actually solicit gifts. Here we have one fifth grade teacher holding a baby shower for the children to bring gifts to two other teachers in the school, and all of this during school hours.
I e-mailed the principal and copied the e-mail to this teacher, as well as the superintendent of Gloucester County Public Schools and expressed my opinion of how inappropriate it is to solicit gifts from children and to hold a function like this during the school day. I also stated that if these teachers could not fund something more appropriate and constructive for my son to do during this time, then I would pick him up from school prior to the baby shower.
The principal promptly e-mailed me back to advise me on how she felt this function was appropriate and that the children wanted to honor their teachers during this time. She also stated that the school had done well on the SOLs and now that these were completed, she felt like this was a constructive use of the students’ time and also that attendance was voluntary. I was more shocked by the principal’s response than the initial invitation.
I responded by explaining why it was inappropriate to solicit gifts from those you serve and that these are the same children that do not have their own middle school to attend next year due to the tornado. I also explained that a more appropriate way to honor the teachers would be to donate to one of the fundraisers that are currently underway to rebuild the school, buy band equipment, etc., in their teacher’s name if they chose to.
It appears that some of the supposed academic mentors our children have are instilling the "work hard so you pass the SOLs for the year and then you’re done learning for the year" work ethic into our children.
I continue to try to instill a strong work ethic in my son and that he should always "go the extra mile" in everything he does and have wondered why kids today don’t seem to be interested in doing the "and then some"—they just seem to want to do what’s required and that’s it.
It should also be noted that the school year for Gloucester students was reduced from 180 days to 160 days to save money. So it also appears that with a reduction in instructional time this year that it is still appropriate to use this time to hold a baby shower for the teachers. I did speak with the superintendent regarding this matter and while he stated he understood my concerns, he felt like they could hold a baby shower during the school day.
I am disappointed and angry that these are my son’s academic mentors. I felt like it was important for the taxpayers and parents of Gloucester County to understand the caliber of some of the educators and leaders that their tax money is paying the salaries of.