Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: *inviteseller on September 11, 2013, 07:11:23 PM

Title: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 11, 2013, 07:11:23 PM
My 7 yr old DD just started second grade..we are on week 3.  I have already had Meet the Teacher night, learned how she operates and I like her.  Then tonight along with the 5 pages of homework  :o was a note about signing up for ClassDoJo. com.  The paper gives us the parental code, the username and password.  Okaaaayyyyy..I already have to get everything done online-all paperwork, her report cards ect.  So I go to the website, wondering what it is for.  To my surprise, it is to track my child's classroom behavior!  So, my DD is signed up to some website that I didn't ask for, to track her behavior????  Now, she is very well behaved (her first 2 years of school she only earned one warning on her behavior chart each year for talking in class) but her daily sheet had that info (they had to mark a stop light with the appropriate color they were on each day on their folder).  I just feel this is another step in only communicating via computers.  Her teacher already told us that she puts a lot of stuff on the class web page, and the district does everything online, plus almost every teacher only wants to communicate via email.  I don't want to check a web page that isn't even maintained by our district for correspondence when a note or call would convey any issues better.  And I think in the case of behavioral issues, a phone calls gives the parent a chance to ask questions right away and for the teacher and parent to suss out the problem and come up with an immediate solution.  I am sick of having to live and breathe for emails and page updates. 

How do I convey to her teacher/district that while I respect the moves being made into the technological age, I feel it is becoming too impersonal, that I don't like my DD's information being on a website I did not approve of, and bring up that not everyone has a computer without coming off as that parent?  I am afraid that my frustration at constantly being told to check the website or send an email is going to make me not be as polite as I know I need to be to correctly convey my frustration.  Or, am I just being a fogey and shouldn't expect my DD's teachers to ever pick up a phone or write a note to put in her backpack???
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: GSNW on September 11, 2013, 07:32:22 PM
That's a tough one. I have had parents express similar concerns to yours - meaning, they don't like that we publish gradebooks using ParentLink because they don't want "a hacker" to find their child's information, or feel that it could potentially create a privacy issue.  Of course I'm assuming that your DD's behavior chart is only visible to you, just as you (hopefully) can't see the behavior charts of her classmates.

From my perspective, I feel like, the more information out there, the better.  I want to make things in the classroom as transparent as possible for those parents who want to have all the information.  I also want easy documentation of issues.  For example, I already documented (using the "management" tab in my gradebook) that I had to have a 1:1 conference today with a student in one class because he said something inappropriate to another student.  I was going to call home, but I had two meetings after school and then wound up having to supervise open gym for fifteen minutes.  Unfortunately the home number was long distance, which I can't call from my classroom.  By the time I got to the office with the long distance capable phones, the counselors were gone for the day. I *will* make contact with this student's parent(s), but the note is already in the GB and chances are good the parents have seen it.

So that's just an example of why putting something online is more convenient than a phone call.  There is the added consideration that some districts seem to love these new programs and will at times make them mandatory.  If you express concern at all, which I think is your right as a parent, I would do it at the principal or district level.

I would love to pick up the phone more often.  By the time I have put out fires, uploaded grades for 200 students 3x per week, put my lesson plans on a website so my BOSSES can see them, put them on another website (along with uploading digital copies of assignments so PARENTS can see them/print them in case they are lost), the phone calls don't always happen.

I do send home physical (on paper) progress reports every week, but that's my choice, not a forced issue.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: WillyNilly on September 11, 2013, 07:35:20 PM
I think expecting a occasional note in your DD's backpack is reasonable, but not phone calls. Not everyone likes or feels comfortable on the phone and certainly its not part of the actual job that I'm aware of*.

If you have an issue with your child's name, personal info and behavior on a website due to online security of her identity, I get that, but I think trying to fight the digital age just because you don't prefer it is a pointless battle.


*I don't have kids, but I went to school from K-12th grade, plus my dad was a public school teacher for 35+ years, 5 of my cousins, one of whom I'm quite close to, the others reasonably close to are teachers, 2 of my fellow community board members are retired teachers, and several of my friends are teachers, and I seriously dated a teacher for 3 years. None of them called/call parents except under the most extreme circumstances. Its just not part of how they interact with parents. If parents want to speak with the teachers, parents should go to the school during school hours or on designated parent's nights. Otherwise its written correspondence only.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: GSNW on September 11, 2013, 07:38:55 PM
Also, *inviteseller, I don't think a polite inquiry or short statement of your opinion makes you THAT parent.  I would rather have opinionated parents that are questioning what's going on or trying to find out more about it than ones who just don't give a flip and are completely checked out of their child's education. 

I have a parent who has emailed me every week this year (so, four times) asking about what we are doing in my elective class.  Every week, I give her a brief rundown and say, "and here is the website where I post lesson plan information each week!"

And still she emails me.

Still, at least she cares.  I have called home before and said:

"Hello, I'm Mrs. GSNW, Joey's science teacher."
"Oh... Joey is taking science this year?"

/headdesk

Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: MommyPenguin on September 11, 2013, 07:45:36 PM
My MIL is a teacher, and she asked me to download classdojo to my iPad so she could test it, because she's heard about it.  And my guess is the reason the teacher wants to use it is the way it works.  It's really, really easy to mark when a student does something good, or something bad.  It's like, tap student, tap + or -, done.  It was a few months ago, so I don't remember exactly, but I mostly remember that you can just sort of tick off good and bad behavior on the spot.  So the idea is that the teacher keeps it with her and can mark things on the go.  That way, instead of evaluating behavior afterwards, when the passage of time may have made the teacher forget a student's thoughtless remark or two kids pushing at the water fountain, she took note of all those things at the time and so things don't get missed.

That said, I don't think that degree of behavior-watching is necessary or productive.  Sure, the two kids pushed each other at the water fountain... if they didn't make enough of a ruckus for the teacher to remember later, was it that big a deal?  Kids will be kids, right?  And how exactly can the parent deal with it at the end of the day, or whatever, and often without even knowing the specifics?

I also agree with the privacy issues.  While theoretically only the parent should be able to see their child's information, it's not unreasonable to say, hey, I don't know anything about this program or how truly secure it is, why should my child's information and behavior be on it?

I'd bet that the teacher won't be able to keep up with it for long.  But I think it would be okay to say something, gently, to the teacher about your concern.  I'm sure somebody else can come up with a good way to do it.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: camlan on September 11, 2013, 07:51:43 PM
I think it would be reasonable for a parent to contact the principal of the school requesting  that parents be informed of all databases and websites that their student's information will be posted on. And for the non-school system ones, the degree of security of that information.

If you frame it as a request for information, and a request that all parents, every year, be informed of how and where their students' information is being posted,  you will come across as someone who is concerned about her child's privacy, but not so over the top that she's demanding all internet info be removed.

And it might just make the staff realize that they need to keep parents informed of these things.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: bonyk on September 11, 2013, 08:15:46 PM
Teachers are being asked to share more detailed information with parents more frequently.  This is a way to make it happen.  If you really don't want you daughter's name on the website, send in a note saying that you would prefer to have your daughter's name off, and that you will contact teacher if you have any questions or concerns.  This takes the onus off of her having to provide such info.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 11, 2013, 08:27:00 PM
Thanks for the teachers views !  It is a bit surprising that I had heard nothing about this new website..I do follow all district news and involve myself in my child's schooling, but it does make me a little mad that the teacher didn't explain this when I went for Meet the Teacher night last week ( a child free night where the teacher's have seminars in their class to go over curriculum, behavioral expectations, ect).  It is an opt out program and my DD is already enrolled.  And if a teacher has time to make remarks about my DD's behavior on a web site, she has time to make a quick note in her daily folder.  This program may be better for the older kids, but my DD spends all day with one teacher (other than music, art, gym) and she has 24 kids to deal with only.  Yes, there is grading and planning, but I think it will take more time for her to note something on the web site, me to read it, have a question, then email her, then her to email back when something could be taken care of with a quick note directly to me or a quick phone call before or after school.  Also, in our school, we have a large number of immigrants that have been brought here by a charity from war torn third world countries..these parents cannot even speak English, let alone have a computer (they are on the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale), so they are instructed to go to the library, use their computers, and ask for interpreters.  Just seems like a lot of work.  I have a meeting with various PTB next week to update my DD's health issues and requirements, so I may bring it up and go with the safety side of putting kids on a website with only opt out info.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: ettiquit on September 11, 2013, 08:39:44 PM
My MIL is a teacher, and she asked me to download classdojo to my iPad so she could test it, because she's heard about it.  And my guess is the reason the teacher wants to use it is the way it works.  It's really, really easy to mark when a student does something good, or something bad.  It's like, tap student, tap + or -, done.  It was a few months ago, so I don't remember exactly, but I mostly remember that you can just sort of tick off good and bad behavior on the spot.  So the idea is that the teacher keeps it with her and can mark things on the go.  That way, instead of evaluating behavior afterwards, when the passage of time may have made the teacher forget a student's thoughtless remark or two kids pushing at the water fountain, she took note of all those things at the time and so things don't get missed.

That said, I don't think that degree of behavior-watching is necessary or productive.  Sure, the two kids pushed each other at the water fountain... if they didn't make enough of a ruckus for the teacher to remember later, was it that big a deal?  Kids will be kids, right?  And how exactly can the parent deal with it at the end of the day, or whatever, and often without even knowing the specifics?

I also agree with the privacy issues.  While theoretically only the parent should be able to see their child's information, it's not unreasonable to say, hey, I don't know anything about this program or how truly secure it is, why should my child's information and behavior be on it?

I'd bet that the teacher won't be able to keep up with it for long.  But I think it would be okay to say something, gently, to the teacher about your concern.  I'm sure somebody else can come up with a good way to do it.

POD

My son's school gives parents access to grades online, which I love and am not terribly concerned about privacy issues, but I was immediately turned off at the idea of behavior being tracked online.

I don't want to know every single bad thing my son does in school. I want to know when it gets to a point where it's negatively impacting his ability to learn (and others!), but if my son talked out of turn in class today, I just don't care. It's stressful to see something like this, especially if your kid has a history of acting up (and yes, my son does).

If my son's school started using this site, I would absolutely not use it.


(I totally get where GSNW is coming from though)
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Library Dragon on September 11, 2013, 08:52:24 PM
Is only this teacher using it? If it's school wide she may not have known when you had Meet The Teacher Night. It's shocking what's thrown at teachers at the last minute.

The teacher or school may be dealing with parents that have changed behavior records sent home.  When DS2 was in second grade we had the traffic light behavior chart.  The parents of a problematic student cut and paste the charts from previous months to say they had no behavior warning.  This was after he tried to shove another student off a hay wagon while it was moving.  The job they did was hilariously bad, pluse the principal kept all his emails from them acknowledging previous incidents.

Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Mikayla on September 11, 2013, 08:55:52 PM
I have a meeting with various PTB next week to update my DD's health issues and requirements, so I may bring it up and go with the safety side of putting kids on a website with only opt out info.

I think this is a good idea and I also have a random suggestion (for this or any future issues).  Also, I'm not a parent, but I have several sibs with kids in grade/middle school years.

There's strength in numbers.  If something strikes you as a jump the shark moment, talk to a few other parents and see if they agree.  My brother had a very negative reaction to something the school was doing online and, by asking, he realized many others felt the same way.  They ended up appearing at a PTA meeting as a group and voiced their objections.  The school put the plan on hold. 

Don't always assume you're *that parent*!  Some people do have concerns about various aspects of this.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 11, 2013, 09:09:21 PM
No, this isn't the only thing the teacher uses.  Thursday night she showed us their individual charts they use , a card for each month.  One part was for behavior (she explained what they would get an X for) and one part was for homework/not keeping their homework journals up.  She also said she would send home mid month 'interim's' on their behavior in the folder and if it was something so egregious, she would call.  So this seems a bit overkill.  I am going through the site now and it just seems almost nit picky.  Yes, this is definitely school wide (altho kindergarten is exempt) but I don't know if it is district wide..I should know that shortly as I IM'd a friend with kids in a different elementary school and the middle school.  I don't see how this just showed up since Thursday though..with over 750 kids just in our elementary school, this sounds like it would take awhile to set up.  I don't care about the grades being online as that is on our district site and they change the codes all the time and no one has had an issue since they started doing it, but as this is a site I have never been to or investigated, I would prefer me to make the choice, not the district for something like this.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: johelenc1 on September 11, 2013, 09:40:00 PM
Based on the replies so far, this will likely be an unpopular opinion.

I think the teacher is using the tools at her disposal to make her life easier, manage her classroom better, communicate privately with the parents and overall make things as simple as possible.  I think you are asking to make her life more difficult.

I will say that I do not have any issues of paranoia or concerns over the internet safety issue.  I know there any many people who have concerns and some of them are valid.  But, for me, the internet is here to stay and it's how I live a lot of my life.  I bank on it, pay bills on it, email on it, etc.  I password protect and am careful with sites as much as possible.  But, for me, I'm just not going to worry about the possibilities of such things.  This is just said to lay out my general state of mind over the issue.

So, that said...the site is password protected - make it as complicated as you wish.  And, frankly, if someone somehow hacks in - they will know...how your kid behaved?  If you don't need to see how they behave everyday - don't check.  If that's all the website does - never check.  If there is a real issue, you will get a phone call or note.

The truth is that electronic communication is often easier, more reliable and certainly more eco-friendly.  Teachers already have to pay for their supplies including paper - and who knows, now days, maybe even printing.  Sending an email is really easier for the teacher.  Not to mention, an email is "a note" - an electronic note that can convey any sentiment that the teacher could write on a piece of paper.  Also, papers get lost - who knows what gets home.  Once a email is confirmed as correct, the likelihood of the message getting through is extremely high.  It also allows a parent to go back and review any messages at their leisure without maintaining a stack of paper.  All in all, it's just better.

Now, there are certainly people who still don't use the internet.  There was one parent in my daughters' K class last year who did not have internet.  Certainly, she received paper notices.  Some people have email addresses and just never, ever check them.  And that's ok.  I would suspect however, that most of those people are not especially computer literate people  (and they probably aren't spending time on etiquette forums either  ;):-))  In these situations, I do think it makes sense that paper correspondence is sent.

And, then there are the people who really are incredibly concerned with internet safety.  Again, I would suspect these people are probably very careful with their internet use.

Now :-)  after all that, OP you don't sound like any of those people.  So, to me, unless you have a physical (lack of computer or internet) or philosophical (the internet is a way for big brother to track my every move), then if you do demand personal correspondence from the teacher instead of the teacher's preferred method of communication - then unfortunately, you are being that parent.

I love email.  I love school websites.  In fact, I met with some parents this morning and we are going to set up a Shutterfly site for our 1st grade class so parents can email each other, ask questions, coordinate class parties, post announcements, and post pictures (with permission).

My experience has been that despite email, web sites, etc. that if an issue really does arise with your child, the teacher will contact you by phone or note and then meet with you in person to discuss the issue if necessary.  Email is not a substitute for dealing with issues that do need to be dealt with in person, but it is a way to manage all the things that do NOT need to be handled in person.

So - my verdict is  ;D - unless you really object to the internet as a means of communication on safety grounds, then do your teacher a favor and just work with her in the way that works best for her.  She has enough going on.  And, that doesn't mean you can't send her notes whenever you want to.  I send notes to my girls' teacher all the time - especially last year in kindy.  But, it may be easier for your child's teacher to deal with it after class in the evening and respond by email instead of finding time in the middle of the teaching day.

Teachers have so much going on...I think you should give your teachers a break:-)

Modified to add:  PS - OP - if you really do have concerns then I do think you have the right to ask to have your child's information exempt from the site.  I just think that if your main objection is just that you prefer phones and paper over email, then you should let it go and go with the flow.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 11, 2013, 09:44:30 PM
There are some major things being sttressed in education right now. The teachers I know are being told they are part of teacher evaluations and the trend in education.

One of those things is the collection of data (including attendance, behavior, grades, etc) and the quick sharing with student/parents there can be a timely response.

One of the other things that is stressed is the use of technology. Honestly, this system has a lot of benefits. Unlike a note, it can't get lost on the way home. If parents of a child live in two different households, they can both see it. There is probably a record of when data was entered do parents can't claim they weren't given the info when it was posted and yhe school can't claim they told parents about a problem they didn't post.

If the district is using this system then asking your daughter to have a different system probably will get you labeled "that parent".
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: alkira6 on September 11, 2013, 09:48:14 PM
Another teacher chiming in with use it as you see fit. If you think it's too much, don't check it.  I also think that people seriously misunderstand internet security and "hacking".  Some things can be "hacked" on paper easier than online.

Another thing that may or may not impact you is the fact that teachers are under increasing pressure to document everything. I currently have a paper phone log, and electronic phone tracker, an electronic and paper gradebook, district parent contact e-mail, a discipline tracker in each student file, and a book in guidance.  And this does not touch grading.  If I am called to account for any kind of contact, I have to have both a written and an electronic attempt so that a parent cannot say that I did not try to tell them about the issue.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Cami on September 11, 2013, 10:07:09 PM
I can see your concerns. I can also see the teacher's pov -- which in part may be a CYA situation. One of my coworkers was a teacher and one reason she left the profession was because of the parents, particularly the parents of the problem kids who would deny that they received notes, that they got phone calls, that there were extensive and long phone conversations or in-person conversations...  This system allows the teacher to "prove" that the parents was notified of their child's behavior issues early, regularly, and often.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Promise on September 11, 2013, 10:15:38 PM
I teach in a university setting in education and have visited many different districts' rooms. I've also taught in public education.  This is a difficult thing because of the balance between the individual parent's wants and the teachers' time.You as the parent want the one-on-one communication with a teacher, which is the best thing for your child. I too was that parent. These are the ones who push their children to do their best and listen to the teacher. We like parents who support us and back us up in there's a problem with their child.

But then there is the teacher who has more and more poured on her, expected of her, unexpected pop-in principal visits to do a "snapshot" no matter what was scheduled for that day (like district tests) and then scoring her down because she's not working on an objective. She has no aide with an evergrowing number of children; all this without much support from the other parents. Parents now just complain, complain, complain without providing encouragement or a solution that works well for the teacher and student. I'm not saying this is you...only what I've observed over the years.

What is a solution that you have that will not cause the teacher to have spend extra time just on you? She's probably found a system that gets the information out in the fastest way possible. If it doesn't work well and you can think of something better, I'm SURE she would love to talk with you about it.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: jedikaiti on September 11, 2013, 10:19:29 PM
I think it would be reasonable for a parent to contact the principal of the school requesting  that parents be informed of all databases and websites that their student's information will be posted on. And for the non-school system ones, the degree of security of that information.

If you frame it as a request for information, and a request that all parents, every year, be informed of how and where their students' information is being posted,  you will come across as someone who is concerned about her child's privacy, but not so over the top that she's demanding all internet info be removed.

And it might just make the staff realize that they need to keep parents informed of these things.

Yea, I would frame it more as a request to be informed BEFORE your kid's personal info is shared with third parties. Because unless the whole thing is hosted on the school district's servers, it is being shared with third parties. And nothing is 100% secure.

I don't have kids, but I think that would annoy me, too. Parents have quite enough to do - checking the school website for school news, the class website for lesson plans, logging in somewhere else for grade info, and yet another site for behavior? Centralization, people!
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: CookieChica on September 11, 2013, 10:24:56 PM
I think it would be reasonable for a parent to contact the principal of the school requesting  that parents be informed of all databases and websites that their student's information will be posted on. And for the non-school system ones, the degree of security of that information.

If you frame it as a request for information, and a request that all parents, every year, be informed of how and where their students' information is being posted,  you will come across as someone who is concerned about her child's privacy, but not so over the top that she's demanding all internet info be removed.

And it might just make the staff realize that they need to keep parents informed of these things.

Yea, I would frame it more as a request to be informed BEFORE your kid's personal info is shared with third parties. Because unless the whole thing is hosted on the school district's servers, it is being shared with third parties. And nothing is 100% secure.

I don't have kids, but I think that would annoy me, too. Parents have quite enough to do - checking the school website for school news, the class website for lesson plans, logging in somewhere else for grade info, and yet another site for behavior? Centralization, people!

When did all this start? Parents need to see lesson plans? For what purpose? And didn't parents get grades like twice a quarter before but now there's real time updates?

No wonder my teacher friends are so stressed out! I'm bringing them a bottle of wine!
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: GSNW on September 11, 2013, 10:30:35 PM
- checking the school website for school news, the class website for lesson plans, logging in somewhere else for grade info, and yet another site for behavior? Centralization, people!

I asked our new super this same question at our last town hall-style meeting.  Why do I have to put my lesson plans three separate places (hard copy, parent website, website for my bosses) every time I write a new lesson?  Why can't we just give parents access to the same website our admin looks at?

The answer?

"We don't believe the way lesson plans are written for your bosses would be interpreted well by parents."

What in the HEEHAW?

I realize not all parents share the same education level, but I'd be willing to bet most parents could understand the objective, activities, and homework for the day.  And if they want to see the state standard those things correlate to, well, who cares?  I'd bet they can understand those, too!
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 11, 2013, 10:34:16 PM
Don't forget - a lot of times those things go on the board for the kids, too.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 11, 2013, 10:58:23 PM
This is not a website that is part of the school district..I am ok with the school site (altho it has more glitches than we parents like but they are trying to fix them) altho it is a pain to constantly be flitting from section to section to get daily messages, notes, grades, assignments.  I am not ok with the district deciding to sign my child up on a random website to track something that the teacher is tracking already on their monthly behavior cards in the classroom.  I realize that the collection of information has gotten to a level than almost does seem intrusive, but as the parents, we are responsible for our kids so anything they want to set our kids up for that is outside of a district website run by our own people should have been run by the parents and an opt in, not an opt out.  The letter that came home has my DD already signed up with a user name and pass word under neath the student code.  And yes, I would prefer if there is a behavior issue the teacher address me.  Yes, I use email but not much and for some reason last year, my DD's teacher was not getting my emails..found out they were going into spam so I was advised to 'make another email address'  >:( .  I try not to call unless it is a health/safety issue, so if I have any other  concerns, I send a note in the morning in her homework folder or in her homework assignment book.  When my older DD was going through some serious issues at the high school, no matter how many voice mails I would leave for her guidance counselor/school psychologist they never called me back, they sent emails that said 'Heard you have a concern, email us with any questions."   >:( >:( >:(  My main problem is, while I appreciate the demands put on teachers, the parents, who are held responsible for their children's every action, should be given the information and ability to say whether they want their child to participate or not in some random website, that seems to me to be silly.

And I agree about centralization.  It seems like there should be one place for notes, assignments, news..but I can spend up to an hour going through the main page for district information (and don't get me started on the robo calls for every.last.thing. in the district, including the call the night before school started with a 5 minute message from the superintendent! ), then my schools page, then the class page for any special events (like telling us the night before that they had to all wear white today for their grade and she has no plain white shirts!), then I have to sign into DD's account to check assignments, upcoming tests, grades, see if they are marking her late because we have Yurtle the Turtle for the morning bus driver..), then I can start her on her homework, studying.  I do it because I am that involved parent who wants my child to get the most of her education, but it is getting ridiculous because now I have another web site to see our schools equivalent of Santa's naughty or nice list !
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 11, 2013, 11:24:37 PM
I just heard from my friend who has kids in the district but different schools and she said "CRUD MONKEYS!, we have to sign a paper allowing our child to have their picture taken, we have to list who is allowed to pick our kids up and those people have to show ID, but they can sign our kids up for a website we have never heard of and assign user names and passwords??"  I think that about sums up how I feel..they are extremely cautious when it comes to our kids physical safety (and I am impressed at how well it is done without it seeming like it is a prison) but they don't think about how parents would feel about their kids being signed up for a website we didn't even get a chance to look over ahead of time.  And no, we don't go sign them up, it is already done for us.  Yes, I would like a little more personal service from the teachers but I will grit my teeth and deal with it,  but I think they made an interesting assumption on the behavioral website.  I am sure they can track behavior electronically for data collecting without using names of the children, just make them a statistic by age or gender.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Pen^2 on September 11, 2013, 11:58:10 PM
I am a teacher, and at one school I worked at, we had a similar system pushed on us about four days before the school year began  :-\ It was very much a "you have no choice, worthless peons" kind of thing. Many parents were happy with it (modern! Must be good! More personalised!), most just didn't bother checking it (seriously, that much data is kind of irrelevant for most of the kids), and several were upset about it. It was hard to get across the fact that this wasn't optional for me--I had to use this system or I'd be out of a job, literally. I'd love to make individual phone calls to each parent who wanted it, but unfortunately there is more than one parent and it often isn't practical, especially if they want the play-by-play kind of level of detail, since that would require something like weekly phone calls. I taught six classes, with maybe 5-10 parents who were unhappy with the system per class. This worked out at over an hour each evening that I'd be spending on the phone, basically saying, "Your kid is doing fine. Let's go over a huge number of data points that say exactly that." On parent-teacher nights I'd be happy to talk to them, or send a very short note home once a month or something, but what was being asked, as reasonable as it was, just wasn't practical.

I can fully get behind this point of view. But as understandable as it is, it simply might not be possible to cater for. Maybe ask that if there is a problem, then the teacher contacts you directly, but otherwise leave things as they are, or see if she's able to find time to chat with you briefly once a month/term/etc. It needs to be understood that anything the teacher is able to do is probably going to be done in their own time, as well, so be thankful if they are able and willing to give up precious free time. Not that I think you're not grateful or anything, just that I had so many parents who were offended that I needed things like sleep.

And to be fair, although one could argue that it's just as easy to take the same amount of detailed data down on paper during a class, in truth that doesn't happen. Twenty or thirty years ago it was unthinkable, or at least incredibly rare, to take down that much information about an entire class of students throughout the lesson. A couple of trouble makers, sure, but not thirty kids at multiple times during the hour or however long each lesson is. I don't think this much information is very useful most of the time, to be honest, but the fact is that these systems do enable more data to be taken down, useful or not.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 12, 2013, 12:23:05 AM
I don't want a teacher calling me at home at night-I'm too busy checking the website for all the daily information  ;D, but if there is a serious enough issue, I would prefer to be called than emailed because I have been in a 3 day email a thon over something for older DD that if the teacher would have taken 5 minutes to call it would have been settled.  My younger DD is NOT a behavior issue..the kid actually is nicknamed 'the police woman' because of her absolute love of rules and structure (part of her OCD issues), and really, if I write a quick note on the homework assignment page, I know she looks at it (part of the classroom behavior chart), just jot me a note there instead of sending me an email on it.  I don't really deal much in email so I can go days without checking it but because my DD, myself, and the teacher all use the homework assignment book, answer me there!!!  At meet the teacher she had us fill out a getting to know you sheet for the parents and one of the things asked was "best way to communicate"  I checked phone and notes sent home.  She then tells all of us she deals in emails..then why ask us???  I have decided though to opt out of the behavior website and will be asking that my DD's info be removed by the school. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Pen^2 on September 12, 2013, 12:41:52 AM
I don't want a teacher calling me at home at night-I'm too busy checking the website for all the daily information  ;D, but if there is a serious enough issue, I would prefer to be called than emailed because I have been in a 3 day email a thon over something for older DD that if the teacher would have taken 5 minutes to call it would have been settled.  My younger DD is NOT a behavior issue..the kid actually is nicknamed 'the police woman' because of her absolute love of rules and structure (part of her OCD issues), and really, if I write a quick note on the homework assignment page, I know she looks at it (part of the classroom behavior chart), just jot me a note there instead of sending me an email on it.  I don't really deal much in email so I can go days without checking it but because my DD, myself, and the teacher all use the homework assignment book, answer me there!!!  At meet the teacher she had us fill out a getting to know you sheet for the parents and one of the things asked was "best way to communicate"  I checked phone and notes sent home.  She then tells all of us she deals in emails..then why ask us???  I have decided though to opt out of the behavior website and will be asking that my DD's info be removed by the school.

Fair enough in opting out. Your daughter sounds lovely and if it doesn't seem like there'll be any issue, then not bothering with it is a good way to go.

Maybe the "best way to communicate" thing was used kind of like a vote, and since most parents put email, then email it is? Maybe the teacher only uses the way you put down for if there is an emergency?

At any rate, I think you're fine. As long as you keep being understanding that what seems easy and logical isn't always as easy for the teacher as one might think (e.g. she looks in the homework book, but writing in it isn't necessarily convenient or easy depending on how the class works and is run), then I don't think you can go far wrong.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: blarg314 on September 12, 2013, 03:37:20 AM

When did all this start? Parents need to see lesson plans? For what purpose? And didn't parents get grades like twice a quarter before but now there's real time updates?

No wonder my teacher friends are so stressed out! I'm bringing them a bottle of wine!

I'd make it straight up vodka!

Personally, I think that the micro-information approach adds unneeded stress to teachers (adding the recording/reporting to everything else they are doing), students (every single thing they do is recorded and remembered and reported) and parents (keeping up with the flood of data). I'm a scientist, and I quite like data, but too much data too fast without analysis and interpretation can make things more confusing.

I don't blame teachers for preferring email to phone calls or written notes. It's more convenient, takes less time than a phone call (and doesn't involve playing phone tag), and it leaves a paper trail - when and what you sent, so when someone says "You never told me..." you can respond with "yes, I did - see".  Phone calls are nice for the parents, but when you multiple the number of kids the teacher sees by the number of phone calls, and factor in the headache of having parents phone you at random hours when you're, say, trying to spend time with your own kids, or sleep, or cook dinner, it can be a serious pain.

My worry about this sort of web site would be whether the same method of communication would be used for important communication as well as the flood of trivialities. John and Ahmed shoving each other in the line to the water fountain or Lin getting a 7/10 on  that day's spelling test is minor - I don't want that level of daily monitoring. But if there's a persistent conflict, or a major incident, I do want to know - bullying, changes in a kid's behavior over time, a decrease in performance or difficulty keeping up with the work.

As far as an internal vs external website - I've got to say, I don't have a particular optimistic view about security on an internally managed site being better than contracting out the process. A well run external site could beat a local setup run by amateurs. 

As an aside - one of my favourite random facts about web browsing is that you're much more likely to get a virus from a church website than from a p@rn site, because the latter is actively working on preventing viruses and hires the appropriate expertise, while the former tends to be run by people with little knowledge, who aren't setting it up safely.

Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: bonyk on September 12, 2013, 03:47:07 AM
OP, the reason for the emails instead of notes is (most likely) that teacher needs "proof" she contacted you.  A note is not acceptable proof, but an email is.

Yes, you are getting way too much info. It is overwhelming for both you and the teacher. This is the current trend of education.  Please contact the principal and school board and tell them that you find this much communication and information off-putting.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: kherbert05 on September 12, 2013, 05:11:20 AM
You don't have to do class dojo if you don't want to.

I use it and give the parents the option of signing up. I love it because it helps me focus on the positive. Those quiet good kids get noticed because they have all these green points. I use the random feature to make sure I'm calling on different students not the same 5 who are bouncing out of their seat to answer.

Last year I had a kid with behavior issues - ADHD on spectrum - convinced he was a horrible person. (Very supportive mom who was doing what she needed to find him help - but also wouldn't let him use his condition as an excuse you have to be civilized) The weekly reports that you can print let me show him that he was actually behaving the majority of the time (He would have 80 - 85% green).

My niece is well behaved, but very social. Sis got frustrated that things seemed to be going well then bang she was on red parent contact. Niece's teacher is using Class Dojo. Sis checks it several times a week and is able to reinforce the teacher's expectations.

I'm a teacher I don't have time to contact parents individually about every little thing I work 10 - 20 hours a week outside of school time.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on September 12, 2013, 05:51:05 AM
My middle child's teacher used this website last year and well, I honestly wasn't too impressed with it and as his current teacher uses a color system for behavior, I don't think he'll be using it, thankfully. I'm definitely not one against technology but I just liked the thought of asking him when he got home "What color day was it?"
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: MyFamily on September 12, 2013, 12:33:30 PM
I wish my kids' school would do this - it sounds like the ability to mark positives that the kid does would be so nice for the kid who is generally a good kid - wow, son, I see that you did X (or even if it just notes the number of times the teacher notes when the kid did something positive - looks like you had a good day!).  Or as kherbert05 noted - she used it to help a child with low self-esteem see that he was doing so much better than he thought.

My son struggles.  He sees a counselor, and one of the positives for my dh and I is that the counselor also advises us on the best ways to help our son.  One of the things he pointed out is that we always make a big deal when our kid does something wrong, and almost ignore it when our kid does something right or just a simple acknowledgement - but the reaction is usually much less than if they do something wrong.  Something like this can help the child see that the teacher is seeing them do something right, even if they had a difficult day.

Another advantage is that some parents are not very good at letting schools know if they've moved or changed their phone numbers.  My dh has this with his students (he is in a public school) and I've had this at the private, boarding school where I work.  So, a teacher can try to call and call and call and get no where; but this shows that the teacher made a very good effort to reach out to a parent. 

And I agree, any teacher using this tool correctly, would be calling the parents if there is a big problem.  The advantage would be that when the teacher calls, the parent would already be aware or the parent would have already taken steps to avoid a small problem becoming a big problem.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: bopper on September 12, 2013, 01:53:32 PM
I have an high school age child and we have a "parent portal" where we can check on their grades and attendance.  I can see if my daughter missed a homework or how she did on a test and how she is doing over all so we can make adjustments before report card time.   Now I don't have to use it but I like having access to the info. My DD is a good student but when we had an exchange student I had to keep on her a little more about doing homework...I could say "you have zeroes for the last two homework assignments, what is up with that?".
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 12, 2013, 02:26:10 PM
We use the parent portal too all though ours is kind of scattered throughout the district website..You have to check district page, then school page, then class page, then finally student page.  There is a section for behavior on her page, plus they have a behavior chart in class that the teacher said she will send us an update on mid month via their homework folder, so I just feel an independent website is overkill for all involved.  I sent a note today on the paper that we had to sign when we logged in for the first time that we were not going to be involved and take my child's information off please.  I have the log in information and I will check next week to make sure she has been unenrolled in it.  If I am questioned on it, I will politely tell them that I don't like my DD's information being sent out or logged on to anything other than the district site without my permission.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: earthgirl on September 13, 2013, 08:37:03 AM

The truth is that electronic communication is often easier, more reliable and certainly more eco-friendly.  Teachers already have to pay for their supplies including paper - and who knows, now days, maybe even printing.  Sending an email is really easier for the teacher.  Not to mention, an email is "a note" - an electronic note that can convey any sentiment that the teacher could write on a piece of paper.  Also, papers get lost - who knows what gets home. 


I used to teach middle school and wish that something like this was available when I was teaching.  I agree that the website seems like a more direct way to communicate with you, OP, since sending a note home with kids, in my experience, wasn't always reliable.  It sounds like that may not be a problem with your DD, but with other kids, sure.  And while a phone call would also ensure direct contact, I know that it's a lot more time consuming (for me, at least) to make phone calls on a regular basis than to enter information into a computer. 

If you don't think you need to track DD's behavior on a daily/weekly basis, then opt out, if there are any major issues then they'll find another way to contact you anyway.  And I think that it's definitely not rude to request that your & DD's personal information not be put anywhere without advance notice & permission.   
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Goosey on September 13, 2013, 08:49:02 AM
What is the safety issue here? That the kid's name is on a website? What other information is on the account that makes it dangerous to be out there? Isn't it just the name and behavior issues?

I don't think I'd ask the teacher to make time to call me after school. Teachers are already working enough on their free time without also having to make time for special requests. Teachers today are required to give more and more and more data to parents. It can be difficult to accomodate everyone's demand for immediate satisfaction and constant flow of information without compromising on the time they can be creating lesson plans, etc.

I think if there's no real safety issue, it's making something out of nothing. I'd get more information about the site before I decided to further complicate the teacher's job.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Eden on September 13, 2013, 08:50:46 AM
I think teachers are in a tough position. Some parents want to know every minutia about what happens with their kids all day long. Some, and it sounds like the OP is among them, only wants to hear if there is an issue that needs to be addressed. If I were the OP I'd just double check with the teacher to ensure that if there is a problem that needs to be addressed she will contact OP directly and the website is only there for the parents' convenience if they are interested.

As for the privacy issue. I know everyone has various opinions about this. I'm just not sure what the danger is with this particular website. What would a "hacker" learn that would be dangerous based on the kids names and tally marks? That's just where I would be with that.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: SCMagnolia on September 13, 2013, 08:55:35 AM
Quote
I think it would be reasonable for a parent to contact the principal of the school requesting  that parents be informed of all databases and websites that their student's information will be posted on. And for the non-school system ones, the degree of security of that information.

If you frame it as a request for information, and a request that all parents, every year, be informed of how and where their students' information is being posted,  you will come across as someone who is concerned about her child's privacy, but not so over the top that she's demanding all internet info be removed.

And it might just make the staff realize that they need to keep parents informed of these things.

I agree with this.

It's one thing if there is one website for the school district where parents can go to check for school information and to log in to get information on their child.  A myriad of individual sites outside of the district's control, though,  is a totally other thing.  Besides the fact that going from site to site to check on a child's progress can be time-consuming and confusing, there are security and privacy issues involved that you definitely have a right to be concerned about. 

If we, as adults, have concerns about how much of OUR information is collected and put online, and how secure that information is once it gets online, it is nowhere near unreasonable to expect the same for our children.  I'd suggest two things:  first, if you can opt out of any of these sites, do so.  And second, discuss your concerns for privacy with the principal or even the superintendent if necessary.  I honestly think that if a teacher wants to use sites like these, the sites need to be scrutinized and approved by the school board before they're put into use, or that the school district comes up with a list of approved websites that can be used.  If a site isn't approved, it isn't an option.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: blahblahblah on September 13, 2013, 09:40:55 AM
Man, I'm just glad that this sort of website wasn't around when I was a kid. My parents were the sort to get really displeased if my behavior was anything less than perfect, so if they had the opportunity to see all of the little infractions I committed every single day, I probably would have been grounded until I was thirty.

In elementary school we just had weekly folders where the teacher could mark down how our behavior was each week. The top grade you could get was "Excellent." I usually ~only got "Very Good", which was the next level down. My parents were not happy, to the extent that at one point when they saw the teacher while picking me up, they asked her what I had been doing wrong in class. My teacher was baffled at their level of concern (yes, concerned parents are good, but come on, seeking out the teacher because I was only "very good" instead of "excellent"?), and I think she felt sorry for me, because after that she started marking my behavior as "Excellent" even though I hadn't markedly improved.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: m2kbug on September 13, 2013, 09:54:27 AM
I think you're probably going to get nowhere on this one.  I feel the same as you, and everything is online.  I've heard, "It's on the website" a few times over.  As far as safety, the school is secure, or at least as secure as they can be.  All computers are vulnerable.  I'm not overly concerned in this area.  The schools take great measures to assure safety.  I have expressed that I would prefer a phone call or send a note in the backpack.  Back in 2nd grade, they carried "communication folders," so all homework and communication, permission slips to and from went in there.  I'm having a little bit of a difficult time with some of this website stuff.  I have one on an IEP, so I'm more likely to get personal communication through that.  That's been one of my struggles is people don't call me if they recognize a problem and I don't know anything is wrong until the sucky report card comes home.  I've been on the phone trying to get them to call me so the issue can be addressed right away rather than after that report card comes home.  I've had issues accessing the sites and seeing the sites along the way.  It's been a bit of a mess. 

I am settling into the computer era.  It really does offer a convenience and you can see what's going on right away.  Mine are in upper levels, so there are more teachers and classes.  I think if you call the teacher and say you would prefer a note in the backpack or a phone call, they'll comply with that.  You can probably opt out of that web site.  If your child was a behavior problem, they call.  Don't worry about that.  I've gotten notes when someone injured themselves and had to see the nurse.  I've gotten notices when Strep throat is running rampant and reminders to keep your kid home if they're sick during cold and flu season.  My child triggered the 1st grade pinkeye letter.  We have no idea where she picked that up, but we all got it, she shared.  :) When you get some of the assignments home, if she's pulling low scores, call the teacher. 

It doesn't sound like you have anything to really worry about.  No news is good news. :) I think if you just call up your child's teacher and just tell them you prefer notes or a phone call, they can comply.  I'm with you on how you feel. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 13, 2013, 10:17:32 AM
Honestly, from OP's description it doesn't sound like the district has the best people managing their sites. I think I'd prefer a source that was run by people with greater expertise.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: lmyrs on September 13, 2013, 02:35:31 PM
Honestly, from OP's description it doesn't sound like the district has the best people managing their sites. I think I'd prefer a source that was run by people with greater expertise.

Agreed. If it's that complicated that it takes the OP an hour every night to work through the district's site, then I wouldn't have a lot of confidence that they have any idea what they're doing. At least a site that seems to be relatively common amongst other schools from all over the place (judging by the number of people here who have used it) is likely doing a really good job of security or it wouldn't be so popular.

I'm not a teacher and I'm not a parent. So, I don't really have a dog in this fight. But, in my experience, teachers have so much work to do and "only" 26 or however many it was students is still a lot of work, especially in elementary school. It's my understanding that the teacher told you on parent night that she would contact you directly if there was a problem. So, I think you should believe her. Opt out of the site if you don't want to do it.

But, it sounds to me like this is just a symptom of your real issue which is that the website for you to access the information that you need is very complex and not user friendly. You should be gathering like-minded parents and approaching the divsion board at their next meeting and ask them how they are going to fix it. It's not the teacher's fault that the division website is such a mess and it's proably no picnic for her either.

The problem with asking for special accommodations to make your life easier is that it often adds an extra level of complication to the life of the person you are asking for accommodation from. And, if it's just you, that's probably not a big deal. But, if every single one of the parents (or even half of them) all want the same thing, it puts the teacher in an untenable position and it's not fair to her. I think that you should work within the existing parameters as much as possible.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 13, 2013, 03:41:52 PM
We have a daily homework journal..they have to write their assignments in the correct blocks, parents have to sign and there is a spot for a daily note.  I already wrote one about a math assignment (I have officially failed second grade math  :( ) and she wrote a quick note back.  I rarely contact them because the teachers are very good with both online and hard copy of weekly schedules/lesson plans..it is either the nurse or social worker who calls me.  I only expect a call or note if there is a behavioral issue (with her, not likely).  The district site, due to the size and scope of the district, has information I may need in numerous places.  The dojo site is an independent site that the district does not run.  Again, it may seem a bit overboard, but only I am allowed to put  my child's information on third party websites.  If the school would have sent me home the information on the site so I could check it out, make a decision on my own, then I could have signed her up or not.  But the issue is they signed her up and I do not know what information was put on because I cannot access the teacher site.  I just want to find the most polite way to discuss this with the school when I am a bit angry.  When they started putting up the student information on the portal at school, we had to sign up for it and there was a lot of information about how it was going to be done, what would be on the site, the security, ect.  I wish they would give us the same courtesy with outside of the district sites.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: EllenS on September 13, 2013, 04:02:19 PM
My dd is only in first grade and it's been like.....eons since I was in elementary school, but this all just sounds like unbelievable overload of nitpicking, and I pity every teacher, admin, and parent who is forced to deal with it.

I don't even remember HAVING daily (much less real-time) behavior charts when I was a kid. It sounds horrible, i'd be a nervous wreck. "am I being good now?  how about now? I was good a minute ago, am I still being good?"

I reinforce my teacher's good behavior of communicating with me on paper...by sending fresh produce from my garden in dd's backpack.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 13, 2013, 04:15:53 PM
I agree EllenS.  I remember when the only time our parents heard anything about us was the report cards!  And if the teacher has to stop to mark down that Johnny talked out of turn or Suzie walked quietly in the hall..really, when are they teaching.  Our school has a wall of fame..kids get their names on stars for good behavior every month, and if you are constantly running to put Johnny on the Dojo site because he can't sit still, or talks out of turn, or doesn't turn in his homework wouldn't it be easier to actually write a note to the parent?  I have talked to a number of parents over the last 2 days and everyone said that this site is a pain and overkill for all of us.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 13, 2013, 04:22:13 PM
It sounds like maybe the teacher carries an ipod and one screen allows  them to access any kid in the class as they circuate through the room.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: lmyrs on September 13, 2013, 05:06:32 PM
It sounds like maybe the teacher carries an ipod and one screen allows  them to access any kid in the class as they circuate through the room.

Yah, Sharnitan this is exactly how I pictured it too. Which means it's really, really easy to make the "checks" or whatever as you go, whereas taking the time to sit down, get paper and a pen, write a note, give the kid the note, and hope the kids gets the note to mom seems infinitely harder.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 13, 2013, 07:53:06 PM
My idea of a note though is something written down on their homework journal (which is the size of a full size notebook).  There is a spot for parents to write to the teacher and the teacher does collect them each day to make sure they are signed (it is a behavior chart thing) and check for notes..that is what she told us at least.  It is kind of disconcerting to think of her walking around with an ipad making pluses and minuses on everything all the kids do...I know they are expected to keep track of information, but it just seems, I don't know, Big Brotherish for that amount of monitoring when they also have behavioral cards in the class.  I am not afraid of technology as my computer seems to be an extension of me anymore, but sometimes some of the things seem unnecessary and again, my personal feelings are that only I can decide when my minor child's information gets put out there.  This is not done anonymously either as each child has their own page, where as for data collecting purposes go it is usually just done by groupings..age, race, gender.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: lmyrs on September 14, 2013, 01:27:55 PM
I have no quarrels with you not wanting your kids name on an unfamiliar website if that's what you want. But, again, that's something for the principal or the district head, not the teacher. It's not the teacher's fault that they are required to constantly make notes and monitor. If you think it's too "big-brotherish" then go tell the big brother (I.e., the person who is making the teacher do this).

And the point I'm making about the note isn't that the note is impossible, but that it's way harder than what she's doing because if she's going to write the note in real-time, she needs to go dig out your specific kid's homework folder to do it or remember to do it later when she's going through the folders. Unless you want her to carry your kid's homework folder around with her tablet. That's what I mean about special accomodations being a bit of a nuisance for one person but becomes nearly impossible for several.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: AngelicGamer on September 14, 2013, 02:23:47 PM
I don't get how writing a note is harder?  If she can't remember (and going on the idea that she's carrying around an iPad or tablet with her), she can make herself a quick note while keeping an eye on the kids.  And then, when there is downtime, she can do the digging and all. 

OP, I do agree that you might need to go to the principal instead of the teacher about the website.  It does seem more like it's a decision from above rather than the teacher doing something on her own.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 14, 2013, 02:38:57 PM
Based on my understanding of lower elementary and the current trends of education in general - there is no down time.  Down time is a sign of a bad teacher.  If they observe a teacher with time to make notes in kids folders during the school day, that teacher is doing something wrong. carrying an ipad and entering data as you interact with the kids at the same time is OK but there should be no down time.

And forget the principal, OP indicated this was a district thing.  Try the superintendent, maybe the board of ed.  This was their decision.  And if you think that education is too "Big Brother-'y" then contact your state board of education, your governor, your federal government, etc. Of course, none of those people have taught a day in their life so their theories on what should happen, how it should happen, etc. can be interesting.

Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: miranova on September 14, 2013, 04:52:57 PM
- there is no down time. 

This is what I was going to say.  Most people just have no idea how true this is.  If I appear to have down time, I'm just momentarily stunned by all of the things I still need to do, and need a moment to write them all down before I forget everything.  I probably work at home at least 10-15 hours per week just to keep up, I am never ahead. 

One thing I'm surprised wasn't mentioned....phone calls can not be made in front of any students due to privacy issues.  I am in the physical presence of students from 9am to 5pm, excluding my 20 minute lunch break, during which I do need to actually eat lunch.  So any phone calls must be made before 9 or after 5.  I am also expected to personally notify parents of any grade below a "C", even though they have full access to my gradebook online.  That's not considered good enough, because they might not be checking it.  The only possible way to achieve this is to find 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there while my kids are testing or otherwise engaged to send a few emails.  I will call after hours for a serious issue, but with over 100 students, many of them are going to be below a C at any moment.  I can't make that many phone calls after hours all the time.  I just can't. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: miranova on September 14, 2013, 04:57:54 PM
Oh, and sometimes I'll just get to work 2 hours early and do ALL my emails.  But I highly doubt parents want to be woken up by a ringing phone at 7am for a non emergency.  Emails are non intrusive and don't require that both parties be available at the exact same time.  I will schedule a phone call at a parent's request, or will call myself if it's serious, but otherwise I rely heavily on email.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: kherbert05 on September 14, 2013, 05:37:36 PM
We are not allowed to e-mail parents about anything covered by privacy laws (grades, behavior issues) because e-mail is not private. We have been told it is subject to the Open Records Act/Freedom of Information laws. SO if Joe Blow down the street decides we are wasting his money he can demand copies of our e-mails.


Please take that with a grain of salt. We have also been told we couldn't friend any student of our district under 18 - include teachers OWN children. Then it was we could and should be fired for friending anyone under 18. Then finally none of our staff should sign our contracts, instead we should all go apply at wal-mart. Glad he is someone else's problem now.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: miranova on September 14, 2013, 07:11:19 PM
We are not allowed to e-mail parents about anything covered by privacy laws (grades, behavior issues) because e-mail is not private. We have been told it is subject to the Open Records Act/Freedom of Information laws. SO if Joe Blow down the street decides we are wasting his money he can demand copies of our e-mails.


We don't have that official rule that I know of, we are just told to be careful that we don't respond to emails about students if we don't know the source.   But my parents supply their own contact info and when they do, they sign that I can email them to discuss their student's progress.  The only time I've had parents not give an email address was because they didn't have one.  At least that's what they told me, and I didn't question it further. 

Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: ettiquit on September 14, 2013, 07:40:17 PM
We are not allowed to e-mail parents about anything covered by privacy laws (grades, behavior issues) because e-mail is not private. We have been told it is subject to the Open Records Act/Freedom of Information laws. SO if Joe Blow down the street decides we are wasting his money he can demand copies of our e-mails.



Wow. My district has no such policy, which I appreciate since email is by far the easiest way to communicate with my son's teachers. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: blarg314 on September 14, 2013, 09:53:11 PM
 
One thing I'm curious about is whether the parents have the teacher's home phone number - if the teacher is phoning kids outside of school hours, they could get their home number.

I'd absolutely hate that - they're at school all day, and are often doing prep work or marking in the evening or on weekends. Being on call outside of school hours for any parent who wants to phone and ask questions sounds horrible, particularly for what they tend to pay teachers.

Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 14, 2013, 10:18:42 PM
Our teachers call before school , altho they do not get in officially til 8 30 at DD's school, or when the kids are at their 'special' (gym, library art, music).  Again, with the load of work my DD brings home, I realize the teachers have a lot to do, but the teachers expect the parents to come to the school for conferences and school events during their work day and they really push for parental involvement when things are scheduled 9-5 so it is a balance of trying to accommodate everyone's schedule.  Last year my DD's teacher would send emails during the day about an issue with DD (not behavior but important) but as I was not allowed to check personal e mails at work, I didn't get these until evening, usually after DD went to bed.  I finally said she had to call me if it was imperative because if not, I wouldn't know until I checked my emails after the kids went to bed.   If not, write a note in her homework folder and I would see it right when I got home. 

I will be talking to someone on the school board (who I do know) and see if they are aware of this, if they are, why is it imperative, and why parents were not told.  From the parents I have talked to, with kids in all 5 of our district schools, no one knew about this until the note came home with their kids info.  Some of the parents are fine with it, some feel like me and a few said they weren't even bothering to look at it as they see enough on their kids district page to know if there are any problems.

And blarg, I did have one of my older DD's teacher's home number.  She gave it to the parents and said we could call her up to 9 pm if we had any questions because she knew that with work sometimes daytime conferences were not possible.  This teacher and I are still friends 12 years later!
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 14, 2013, 10:19:45 PM
In some cases, yes. In other cases, no. I know sometimes a staff meeting or something else might keep a teacher.an hour (or two or three) past normal contract time. In that case they might still go to their classroom and call from there at 5pm. Other teachers might call from a personal number. That is not something I'd advise but each teacher decides for themselves.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: MyFamily on September 14, 2013, 10:32:17 PM

One thing I'm curious about is whether the parents have the teacher's home phone number - if the teacher is phoning kids outside of school hours, they could get their home number.

I'd absolutely hate that - they're at school all day, and are often doing prep work or marking in the evening or on weekends. Being on call outside of school hours for any parent who wants to phone and ask questions sounds horrible, particularly for what they tend to pay teachers.

When my dh has to make calls from home at night, he can make the call so that the receiver only sees the caller id as blocked - we have also taken steps to make sure that our home phone number, as well as our cell phone numbers, are listed under my name only.  It isn't 100% - if someone wants to, they can find his number, but we aren't going to make it easy for his students and their parents.  We had to take these steps after one of his students was able to get our number, with the help of an older sibling and the internet and he started to prank call us.   As the spouse of a teacher, I put up with a lot of family time taken over by my husband's job, but I drew the line at that. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: m2kbug on September 14, 2013, 10:39:19 PM

One thing I'm curious about is whether the parents have the teacher's home phone number - if the teacher is phoning kids outside of school hours, they could get their home number.

Personal home numbers are not provided.  You deal with things during school hours through the school phones.  If they call from home, they probably have their number blocked, but yes, it's possible it shows up on caller ID.  You don't typically have home numbers.  You deal with things during school hours.  Teachers are going to protect their home life like anyone else.  They are not on-call 24/7.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: CakeEater on September 14, 2013, 11:17:25 PM
In my first year of teaching, all staff's home phone numbers were provided to all families. Another young teacher and I complained about that and had them removed for the next year, but all the existing staff had put up with phone calls to their homes for a few years prior to that. Why they hadn't complained about that is a mystery to me.

OP, I think you have a right to have your DD's info removed from any website you like. That's fine.

I get the impression, though, that you think that your DD's teacher is sitting around all day with all the time in the world to work out the personal communication preferences ofthe parent of every student in her class, and write personal notes to some, call others etc. Teachers just don't have that time and that memory. It really is a much bigger drama to write notes in homework diaries than to write an email often. I can type much faster than I can handwrite a note. I can edit when I reread it if I think I've been too harsh, or not given enough information.

You seem to feel that the school should be doing things on your schedule:

Our teachers call before school , altho they do not get in officially til 8 30 at DD's school, or when the kids are at their 'special' (gym, library art, music).  Again, with the load of work my DD brings home, I realize the teachers have a lot to do, but the teachers expect the parents to come to the school for conferences and school events during their work day and they really push for parental involvement when things are scheduled 9-5 so it is a balance of trying to accommodate everyone's schedule.  Last year my DD's teacher would send emails during the day about an issue with DD (not behavior but important) but as I was not allowed to check personal e mails at work, I didn't get these until evening, usually after DD went to bed. I finally said she had to call me if it was imperative because if not, I wouldn't know until I checked my emails after the kids went to bed.   If not, write a note in her homework folder and I would see it right when I got home. 

Other parents' schedules aren't the same as yours, so these might work fine for them. I, as teacher, can't remember the best schedule for 30 kids and their parents (many more for other teachers): which can read emails during the day, and which prefer a phone call after 6, but not during dinnertime, which is  between 7 and 7.30, which are available for daytime events, but only every second week when they're on afternoon shift. Schools operate between 9 and 5 - when else would you like events to be scheduled?

And it's great that you read your child's homework diary as soon as you get home, but that's not going to be the case for many parents: they'll get an email when they're on the bus home in the afternoon, and won't see the homework diary until the next morning.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: bonyk on September 15, 2013, 10:51:42 AM
Anytime I've given my home phone number to a parent, I've ended up regretting it.  11 pm phone calls to tell me that Sally wrote down the wrong assignment?  2:57 pm (dismissal is at 3) phone calls to tell me that you don't want Johnny going home on the bus? 6am phone call to tell me that Freddy had a bad night last night and is going to be in a bad mood all day?  None of those are appropriate.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: blarg314 on September 15, 2013, 08:30:39 PM

Look at the responses about how and when phone callls are made, I'd say that it's unreasonable to expect phone calls to be the main form of  communication for anything except emergencies or serious issues.

Teachers can't the phone in front of students. They need to use the phones at school, or go through the effort and expense of making sure they have an unlisted landline at home.  And most of the work day is taken up with teaching, supervising recess/lunch/detention, extracurricular activities and meetings, both with parents and the school. And if the teacher has to leave a message - the parent can't phone them back after 5pm, and during the day there's a high chance the teacher can't come to the phone because they're supervising.

And as an aside - I don't like the idea of constant uploading of minor notes via iPad/website from a pedagogical   or parenting perspective. But I can see how an iPad makes this level of monitoring efficient. I suspect that the software has a list of kids, and a list of pre-generated notes that just need a single tick to add an entry to the site, or mark the kid as well behaved or disruptive.  It would be relatively easy to program in automatic warnings to a site like this as well - monitor for sudden or gradual drops in marks for example, and automatically post a message to the site, or the same if they are improving in a subject over the term.

They could even program in a search for correlations that a teacher might miss, which strikes me as actually a fairly useful tool - things like a kid who always does worse on Mondays (what's going on on the weekends) for example.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: GSNW on September 15, 2013, 10:17:06 PM
I think there are two separate issues here - one, that OP doesn't appreciate enrollment in this site/program without her consent, and two, the communication expectation.

OP, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that you are of the opinion that if issues are so minor they don't warrant a note/phone call, they also don't warrant inclusion in this type of program.  That's kind of what I'm seeing.

I have to agree that parents should be advised of this stuff ahead of time, and that the nagging little details are a waste of everyone's time.  I don't teach at the elementary level so I'm guessing it's different there, but this would be the equivalent of me making a notation every time I saw a kid running in the hall and said, "heyo, slow down."

I'll reiterate that OP is not impolite or "that" parent to make her concerns known, provided that they are directed to the administration/district who are likely the ones who heart this program the most. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: CluelessBride on September 15, 2013, 10:41:54 PM

I have to agree that parents should be advised of this stuff ahead of time, and that the nagging little details are a waste of everyone's time.  I don't teach at the elementary level so I'm guessing it's different there, but this would be the equivalent of me making a notation every time I saw a kid running in the hall and said, "heyo, slow down."


I suspect the issue is that there are enough parents that respond to disciplinary action (once the student has done something that requires more than a verbal reprimand or the student's cumulative behavior is bad enough to warrant it) by claiming that their child is an angel, has never done anything wrong before, and if there were any issues why weren't they notified immediately.

By documenting every stupid little infraction and putting it where the parents can see it (if they want to check), the teachers and administration have the ammunition they need to uphold punishments.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 16, 2013, 08:06:14 AM
I think there are two separate issues here - one, that OP doesn't appreciate enrollment in this site/program without her consent, and two, the communication expectation.

OP, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that you are of the opinion that if issues are so minor they don't warrant a note/phone call, they also don't warrant inclusion in this type of program.  That's kind of what I'm seeing.

I have to agree that parents should be advised of this stuff ahead of time, and that the nagging little details are a waste of everyone's time.  I don't teach at the elementary level so I'm guessing it's different there, but this would be the equivalent of me making a notation every time I saw a kid running in the hall and said, "heyo, slow down."

I'll reiterate that OP is not impolite or "that" parent to make her concerns known, provided that they are directed to the administration/district who are likely the ones who heart this program the most. 

Exactly..I do not need to know my child talked without raising her hand today, I will see those minor things if they happen on her behavior chart.  If it is a non stop thing for the week, just a quick note on her homework chart works for me (and again the teacher showed us where we can write notes to them and them to us).  But she is 7 so occasionally she has a brain freeze and forgets to raise her hand.  As long as it is a one time deal, I don't need to know.  I know she is extremely well behaved but strays once or twice a year.  But when she was having breakdowns in the class last year and crying, don't email me, call me!  (Her dad, my SO passed away 2 years ago and last year it really started to hit her).  If she is not turning in her homework or doing well on tests, that is a daily update on her online district grade book.  I just feel this extra site is overkill for everyone involved, and honestly, the majority of the kids that are the consistently misbehaved have parents who are not checking web sites or homework journals, or come to parent teacher conferences. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 16, 2013, 05:12:11 PM
OK, I will quit complaining now.  A FB friend just posted that her child's school told them they HAVE to buy their kids (9th grade) an iPad mini ASAP.  They can either buy it outright or send in 10 post dated checks for $30 each.  All their textbooks are on it and they have no choice.  Technology is a good thing, but this is ridiculous.  Our kids every move tracked on line, spending what may be a rent payment or groceries for the kids 'textbooks'...And the comments on that post are not complimentary to her school district! 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: EllenS on September 16, 2013, 05:14:37 PM
This is a public school?  What are they going to do if a parent doesn't send the money, expel the kid?
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: GSNW on September 16, 2013, 05:35:04 PM
OK, I will quit complaining now.  A FB friend just posted that her child's school told them they HAVE to buy their kids (9th grade) an iPad mini ASAP.  They can either buy it outright or send in 10 post dated checks for $30 each.  All their textbooks are on it and they have no choice.  Technology is a good thing, but this is ridiculous.  Our kids every move tracked on line, spending what may be a rent payment or groceries for the kids 'textbooks'...And the comments on that post are not complimentary to her school district!

You know what... this makes me want to cry for some of those poor kids.  You know the kids are being told YOU HAVE TO HAVE THIS!!!! and now they are stressed about making sure they get one.  USUALLY there are programs for families that cannot afford this stuff (for example, the kids at my school in band have to buy a $15 polo shirt, but if a family can't afford it, the school will just hand it over).  But every day the kid goes without the iPad, and every day more and more of their friends have one, and every day their teachers ask for it, the kid becomes more stressed about something beyond their control.

Not to mention, the HS we feed into tried something like this a few years ago and it was a disaster.  They gave all their algebra students iPads (GAVE them!) and the parents had to sign something saying they would replace it in the instance of bla bla bla... most of them wound up broken, banged up, or stolen.  And the district is now wasting time and money going after the parents. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 16, 2013, 06:46:28 PM
I feel for the parents that have to figure out where $300 is going to magically drop from, the kids who know their parents can't afford it but will fail without it, and the teachers who are beholden to these wonderful ideas set up by people who are not in the classrooms everyday.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: miranova on September 16, 2013, 08:56:25 PM
I think that is just flat out wrong.  Every child is entitled to a FREE public education.  I could afford to get my kid a $300 item if I absolutely had to, but if my district did this I'd be one of the loudest opponents because I just think it's wrong on principle.  I can't believe they are allowed to do that.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 16, 2013, 09:02:02 PM
I think that is just flat out wrong.  Every child is entitled to a FREE public education.  I could afford to get my kid a $300 item if I absolutely had to, but if my district did this I'd be one of the loudest opponents because I just think it's wrong on principle.  I can't believe they are allowed to do that.

Have we clarified that it is a public school?
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Library Dragon on September 16, 2013, 09:24:11 PM
An interesting piece:  http://gawker.com/why-does-it-cost-almost-600-to-attend-public-school-912311949 (http://gawker.com/why-does-it-cost-almost-600-to-attend-public-school-912311949)

I obviously don't know if the system referred to by the OP does, but some public school systems "rent" textbooks to students.  A few decades ago when I lived in Arizona the major charity for the military Catholic parish was raising funds to pay for public school textbooks for low income families. I had hoped things had gotten better, but it seems to have gotten worse in some areas. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 16, 2013, 09:38:37 PM
It is public school.  I haven't heard back from her as to how often those $30 checks have to be spread, but there is over 30 comments and each one is angrier than the next.  This woman said she can barely afford this but she doesn't want him to be singled out as the 'poor kid'.  She did say if they can't get it this week  :o, they can be signed out a loaner but only until they get one.  She is doing the payment plan.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: EllenS on September 17, 2013, 12:33:14 PM
That would make me so angry, I would probably do something ridiculous.

Our school system is starting to hand out Nooks to all the students in Grade 3 and up - but they say they are cutting the busses next year, because they can't afford it.  :o

The parents are livid.  We are in a very economically diverse district, with a lot of people who have no cars, and a lot more with all adults in the house working, and several kids who go to different campuses.

My cynical explanation: political theater to justify a property tax increase (which is stupid because most folks would gladly pay it anyhow)

Most cynical explanation I have heard: they are trying to force low income and minority students out of the schools by depriving them of transport. (which is also stupid, because funding is based on attendance).
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: CluelessBride on September 17, 2013, 01:03:29 PM
That would make me so angry, I would probably do something ridiculous.

Our school system is starting to hand out Nooks to all the students in Grade 3 and up - but they say they are cutting the busses next year, because they can't afford it.  :o

The parents are livid.  We are in a very economically diverse district, with a lot of people who have no cars, and a lot more with all adults in the house working, and several kids who go to different campuses.

My cynical explanation: political theater to justify a property tax increase (which is stupid because most folks would gladly pay it anyhow)

Most cynical explanation I have heard: they are trying to force low income and minority students out of the schools by depriving them of transport. (which is also stupid, because funding is based on attendance).

Off topic, but it's possible they got a grant (either from the government or a private foundation) to pay for the Nooks.  There are all sorts of programs out there to increase technology in the classroom/improve access to technology. If so, that money would be completely separate from funding for buses.   It's also possible that long term using Nooks and digital textbooks will be cheaper than supplying physical textbooks (which can be crazy expensive).

OK, I will quit complaining now.  A FB friend just posted that her child's school told them they HAVE to buy their kids (9th grade) an iPad mini ASAP.  They can either buy it outright or send in 10 post dated checks for $30 each.  All their textbooks are on it and they have no choice.  Technology is a good thing, but this is ridiculous.  Our kids every move tracked on line, spending what may be a rent payment or groceries for the kids 'textbooks'...And the comments on that post are not complimentary to her school district! 

Although there wasn't one where I went to high school, my understanding is that a school book or supply fee of ~$100-200 is not unheard of in the US, even for public schools. In a community with a book fee, I could see where long term a $300 ipad purchase might save the parents/students money if done properly. But "buy one now" and "use post dated checks if you can't afford it" is NOT doing it properly. This type of thing requires (at minimum) plenty of notice, a rent to buy option, and hardship support.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 17, 2013, 01:08:56 PM
As far as having the Nooks but cutting bussing, I know there are all sorts of grants and funding that provide or even demand "technology" but specicifically exclude things that are usually covered in the general fund like bussing, utilities,security,etc. Saying the district doesn't want the money for Nooks means the money is taken away, not that it is spent on something else.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: EllenS on September 17, 2013, 01:51:05 PM
Yes, it could very well have been a grant, but that was not publicized.  We have a transparency/credibility problem around here.  Sorry to threadjack.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 17, 2013, 02:14:10 PM
My DD's first grade teacher got a grant last year for 5 ipads for the classroom.  They were used for supplemental education.  But a grant for a whole school to give all those kids nooks when they are facing a fiscal crisis concerning transportation?  And giving kids these expensive items to take out of school means at least 1/2 of them will be broke, stolen, lost which means they have to be replaced. Also, what if the parents don't have wifi?  Are they expected to go without something so their kids can do school work that could be accomplished with books and notebooks?   I would rather pay $30 for a lost textbook than $300 for a broke or lost nook.  There is this huge push for technologytechnologytechnology, yet the educators complain that the kids spend too much time on the internet and video games.  Kids are not learning to do cursive writing, look things up in a book, use their brains instead of google.  I don't allow my younger DD to use the computer for anything other than research for science projects.  She uses dictionaries, encyclopedias, reading books.  Her science project last year, which was an extreme project, she hand wrote her theories that she got through very little computer research and more hands on learning instead of typing it out..it looked like a first graders project, not like some that were so slick because everything was computer generated.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Goosey on September 17, 2013, 02:23:48 PM
All these arguments were used when computers came on the scene, too. I didn't have a computer for some years and I used to have to go to someone's house and borrow theirs or go to the library - yet everything was required to be computer-typed, computer/internet research and citations were needed, etc. I was expected to be up to date on the latest and make it work.

A grant for nooks, etc is completely separate funding than the buses. I'm sure each nook is insured.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: EllenS on September 17, 2013, 02:36:08 PM
Although there wasn't one where I went to high school, my understanding is that a school book or supply fee of ~$100-200 is not unheard of in the US, even for public schools.

I have never heard of one in my area.  The parents are asked to buy a list of supplies, but parents who cannot do so are given an option to contact the school anonymously.  And even in a community where there is a "supply fee", what do they do about indigent families?  Do the kids just not go to school?

In our area, we are very much given the expectation that the public schools are "our tax dollars at work". I know that my taxes, and the supplies I send, are not just paying for my child's education but subsidizing those who cannot afford it.  I am happy to do that as much as I am able, and anything that creates an obvious barrier to kids who may already be struggling, just makes the top of my head come off.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Sharnita on September 17, 2013, 02:44:30 PM
I do know my mom had to pay a book fee at the beginning of the year in her working class public school in the 50s and 60s. Back when she was in grade school they had no school lunch for anyone. It wasn't on an assumption of financial wealth. All the kids at her school were blue collar.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 17, 2013, 03:07:52 PM
I just talked to FB friend.  She called the school today.  It is a pilot program for 9th grade only but will be expanded next year.  There was no warning, just a note saying 'get this now'.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Judah on September 17, 2013, 04:49:28 PM
Although there wasn't one where I went to high school, my understanding is that a school book or supply fee of ~$100-200 is not unheard of in the US, even for public schools.

I have never heard of one in my area.  The parents are asked to buy a list of supplies, but parents who cannot do so are given an option to contact the school anonymously.  And even in a community where there is a "supply fee", what do they do about indigent families?  Do the kids just not go to school?

In our area, we are very much given the expectation that the public schools are "our tax dollars at work". I know that my taxes, and the supplies I send, are not just paying for my child's education but subsidizing those who cannot afford it.  I am happy to do that as much as I am able, and anything that creates an obvious barrier to kids who may already be struggling, just makes the top of my head come off.

Book fees or educational fees are illegal in my state. Schools can collect fees for things like sports, field trips, and other optional activities, but not for required educational materials like books, work books, or lab supplies.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 17, 2013, 06:04:52 PM
Our PTA has a fund set up to help with some of the school supplies(notebooks, folders, pen/pencils) if a kid needs help.  The social worker comes to the PTA and makes the request and it is done anonymously.  The PTA is given the list of the supplies from the classroom and the PTA buys them and gives them to the social worker to dole out.  We don't supply book bags or clothing/shoes but a lot of parents donate gently used book bags and winter coats to the social worker so if they see a child in need, they can give them something.  This works out well because only the social worker and possibly the teacher know who the recipients are so no family has to be embarrassed, but I do remember one year we knew because the parent complained it wasn't a brand new bag and coat (they were not junk but they weren't brand new).  We just rolled our eyes at the SS of someone getting help and complaining about it. 
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: blarg314 on September 17, 2013, 08:21:07 PM

Even with a school that normally had a book fee, I'd still object to the iPad for every student. I did a bit of looking around for discussions of this sort of thing.

- Not all textbooks are in eBook form. So a student will have to have an iPad and a bunch of textbooks. Then there's the licensing fees for the textbooks - if students normally pay for the books, then it will likely be an iPad + licensing/purchase fees for all the books on it.

- It drastically increases screen time for kids, and reading on a screen can be physically fatiguing - headaches, eye strain, etc. Personally, I can read books for hours on end with no problem, but if I'm concentrating hard on a screen for too long time I get dry scratchy eyes and have to stop for the day, even if I still have work to do.

- iPads are expensive and both easily broken and a hot theft item. Kids tend to be careless. Insurance tend to be either quite expensive, or very limited. I suspect they might have a hard time getting an insurance company to provide group coverage for a bunch of 14 year olds who will be carting around $500 items that break if you drop them - and they will be carted around pretty constantly.

- You will need to spend even more money on peripherals. At a minimum, you'll need a case/screen protector and a couple of styluses (again, teens, lose things easily).

- iPads are not specifically a text book reader. They also play games, do email, web-surf, do Twitter and Facebook, etc. So you're giving kids email/web/game machines to carry around with them constantly. That's not going to result in kids spending more time on 'fun' educational games and reading textbooks so much as a lot more Angry Birds (They've found this with programs providing computers to low income students - a lot more game playing, not so much increase in school performance).

If they cripple the iPad's functionality (turn off internet, block games, etc) I can see parents being legitimately angry at having to pay full price for a broken tablet.

The nook makes more sense for a lot of these things - it's sturdier, uses e-ink (which makes a big difference for readability), is much cheaper, and is a dedicated ebook reader. However, textbooks are not well suited to the small screen format - it would work fine for novels, or straight text, but if you've got equations or illustrations in there, it becomes pretty unwieldy.

Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: kudeebee on September 17, 2013, 10:12:56 PM
The nook makes more sense for a lot of these things - it's sturdier, uses e-ink (which makes a big difference for readability), is much cheaper, and is a dedicated ebook reader. However, textbooks are not well suited to the small screen format - it would work fine for novels, or straight text, but if you've got equations or illustrations in there, it becomes pretty unwieldy.

Nooks are not just ereaders.  My older nook color allows me to surf the web, check on email, take notes, has some apps, etc.  The newer nooks are tablets.  So the nook could be used for more than reading, depending on the kind it is.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: TootsNYC on September 18, 2013, 10:11:23 AM
My experience with my Kindle makes me think that electronic textbooks are going to be a PITA for studying--it is incredibly hard to page through the Kindle to find the reference you were looking for.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: CluelessBride on September 18, 2013, 10:36:58 AM
I don't have an ereader, but I've used textbooks on my laptop before. It does change how you study - especially with regards to looking something up, but I didn't feel like it was any harder, just different. In terms of paging through to find something, I didn't - I just used the find function. I do find that I read a little bit slower from the computer screen (which isn't ideal since I'm already a slow reader), but my comprehension generally goes up.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on September 18, 2013, 12:29:21 PM
My experience with my Kindle makes me think that electronic textbooks are going to be a PITA for studying--it is incredibly hard to page through the Kindle to find the reference you were looking for.

Yes, I have had both an ereader and a tablet, and they were horrible for reading textbooks.
Title: Re: Go with the flow or protest?
Post by: blarg314 on September 18, 2013, 08:38:48 PM

I use a computer extensively for reading academic material, and a Kindle for books. I find that the Kindle screen is too small and too awkward to navigate for textbooks, but is easiest to hold.  (I have the simple model, where entering text is very, very slow). A full sized tablet (not mini) is better, and a laptop works well - I can change position, the screen is large enough to see the material, and search functions are built in (which is useful). If I want to read a paper thoroughly, though, I tend print it out.

But doing it on a laptop requires more dedication than on the printed page, because right next to the document you are reading is your email, and web browser, and games, and social media, and all sorts of other distractions.