Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Another snow day and other (less desireable) time off.

So, I got my snow day on Friday and it was awesome. Guess what? They're calling for ANOTHER storm tomorrow. So now we're contemplating a mid-week snow day. Woo hoo!

I'm feeling a little nervous right now because I wrote a letter to my school board trustee complaining about the school schedule. To be fair, I complained a little (stated my concern), then provided what I thought was a reasonable solution. The solution was actually pretty detailed, which now seems a bit presumptuous and cocky. So, I'm nervous. Nervous that: a) he'll respond with a brush off; b) he won't respond at all; c) he'll respond with an empty promise; d) he'll suggest that I take my concern to a higher level. GAH!

The issue I wrote him about was the fact that school children have 22 days off during the academic year that are not statutory holidays. This includes PA Days (9 - 6 full days, 6 half days); Christmas holidays (7 non-stat days), March Break (5 days) and Easter Monday (1 day). Doesn't this seem excessive? I told him that having to schedule time off work for all of these days, as well as snow days, child sick days, daytime concerts, parent-teacher interviews and observation days is pretty taxing on working parents.

What I really wanted to suggest was that teachers do Professional Development on their own time (like in the summer, over March Break, etc.), but I knew that wouldn't fly. What I did suggest was that PA days be tacked on to the end of the year and Christmas period so that parents could at least schedule blocks of childcare instead of trying to make arrangements for a day here and a half-day there.

I know this is boring stuff for anyone who doesn't have school-age kids, but it is such a stressful thing for me, many of my colleagues at work and other working friends. I hear time and again how "school is not a babysitting service". Of course it isn't, but it is a legal requirement that my children attend between September and June. As such, doesn't it make sense that the schedule would at least consider the impact their decisions have on the parents?

15 comments:

Jess said...

I don't have kids of any age but I still think this is a really big issue. It's also especially taxing on low-income parents who can't afford to take the time off school and also can't afford to pay someone to take care of their kids.

bananafana said...

we're so lucky that my office is completely understanding. However, there are some days I just need to be here and O's school has days off left and right for PA. Drives me crazy. I've always wondered why they do that. Let us know how it turns out!

LoriD said...

Jess - I forgot to say that I did say in my letter that single parents and low-income families would have a much harder time of it than me.

Banana - it's great that you have an understanding office. Truthfully, mine is too, and so is Homer's, but it's still stressful.

Don Mills Diva said...

I am not looking forward to all the planning my life around a school schedule - yuck!

Tessie said...

Dude, I WORRY and WORRY about this. How does it work? My office is pretty flexible, FOR THE U.S. and all, but I still can't just take off at noon once a month OR MORE. Not to mention before school and after school care and GAH.

I'm surprised more working parents don't complain. I really am.

Artemisia said...

I think that it was very respectful and professional to share your concern but also share what you consider to be a fair solution. I think that communicates a willingness to work out a solution, rather than just sending a rant.

If he responds in a less than cooperative fashion that only demonstrates his own ability to work with his community of parents.

At least, that is what I think!

I think the workplace environment and logistics for parents are really outrageous. I've decided, in the past year or so, that it is important that I as a NON-PARENT act as an advocate for parents in my workplace whenever possible. Fortunately, I work in a great atmosphere that is open to such attitudes.

LoriD said...

Artemisia - I could just hug you for that. Really.

desperate housewife said...

I think this is pretty crazy. It seems like schools are concerned PRIMARILY with the convenience of their own employees, rather than the students and parents they are working for. I mean, technically they work for the government, but whatever. THE POINT IS, they should be thinking of the kids, and how having all these random days off causes stress in the home and between the parents, which could make the kids feel as though their care is a burden, which is unhealthy. THEREFORE, in the INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN, they should do as you suggested and schedule things in blocks of time which can be planned for.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

My children are now homeschooled, but I totally sympathize with this problem. I know so many parents who have so much stress because of this issue. The amount of time that school kids are not in classes is ridiculous. I think your solution is spot on.

JMC said...

I was lucky when I worked in that my immediate boss only cared that I worked my 40 hours each week. She didn't particularly care WHEN I worked them, as long as I was usually available during normal working hours.

Now I'm home, and I can barely do all the kid and school stuff. I don't see how working parents or single parents who don't have bosses like my old one do it.

Laural Dawn said...

I'm with you on this.
My son is just entering JK and we'll be hit with it. You either end up paying more in daycare or asking family. This played into our decision that we're going to look for a nanny next year.
My dad is a principal, so I can tell you first hand that the teachers, many of whom are also working parents, also have to deal with this problem. (the PA day issue).

Saly said...

I agree, this is a really big issue. My boss's husband is on active military duty for a year and that leaves her to deal with all of these days off on her own. I'm not there yet, but I can imagine it will be a pain.

Chantal said...

I agree, this is a pain. My board actually did away with the 6 half days and moved to 3 full PA days which I like more. But that means we still have 9 PA full days off. The half day wasn't fair to the kindergarten kids who only attended in the afternoon and missed 6 more days than the morning Kinder kids. My hubby and I often find ourselves negotiating who's job is more important on a given PA Day and I hate that. I hate that it drags us down to that level. This March is even worse with 5 days off for March break, 1 PA day the following week and then 2 days off for easter the week after that. Why oh why. I like your idea of doing their professional development at the tail end of the school year. Good on you for voicing your concerns.

Family Adventure said...

Lori, I think you absolutely nailed it -- the extra holidays thrown in here and there without rhyme or reason are a nightmare for working parents with limited holiday schedules. The school boards could certainly organize these holidays/P.D. days better. Tacking them onto existing holidays is not a bad start.

I hope you get the reply your letter deserves, though I doubt you won't have to go higher up....but keep us posted!

Heidi

Life As I Know It said...

My son just started Kindergarten this year and, yes!, there are a lot of half days for both professional development and parent conferences. Plus all these snow days this year!!