Administrators need to consider society

Published 10:53 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Each year before school started, I went shopping with my parents for a first-day-of-school outfit.

On another trip, we purchased school supplies.

Then, on another day, we’d stop by the school to see who my teacher was going to be.

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If any registration matters needed to be handled, we did that on another day.

Essentially, the final weeks of July and the start of August were spent getting ready to go back to school.

It’s a time consuming process, but for my family, it wasn’t impossible. I was the only child, so my parents didn’t have to visit multiple schools or go on multiple shopping trips. And my mother worked for my father’s business, so she could take off whenever necessary.

Twenty years later, life isn’t so easy for many.

The public school district is full of single mothers, multiple siblings and very busy lives.

Mom may work from 8 to 5 at a job where she simply isn’t allowed to run out for an hour to stop by three schools.

For years the public schools have pointed the finger at parental involvement when low test scores were released. And, I believe, more often than not, that finger was pointed in the right direction. Education has to start at home, and parents have to be involved.

But, is the local school district doing all it can to eliminate the excuses uninvolved parents may offer up?

It’s now a fact of life that we have too many single mothers who don’t always make the right decisions and who may not easily put food on the table.

Those charged with educating our children can either gripe about the woes of the world or do their best to work around them.

Sometimes the solution is easy.

This week, West Primary and Frazier Primary schools are having orientation. At West, parents could come at either 10 a.m. or at 2 p.m.

Neither time offered an option for parents who work 8 to 5 with a restricted lunch break.

At Frazier, orientation was 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. The 5 p.m. option is slightly better, though it likely causes a panic-inducing rush for moms or dads who get off at 5.

Orientation at Frazier is mandatory. But the school is also having “Meet your child’s teacher day” from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 6. That means any concerned parent who would like to meet the teacher must find a way to get off work twice within a two week period.

Why not combine orientation and teacher day, so parents can make one trip, yet still be involved?

And better yet, why not offer a 6 p.m. option too?

The administrators at Robert Lewis Middle School seem to have a better grasp on this idea. Their orientation is from 5 to 6 p.m. for seventh graders and from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for eighth graders.

It is up to the building-level principals to set the times for orientation, parent meetings and such, Superintendent Anthony Morris and Parent Center Coordinator Marilyn Turner said.

The district-level administrators suggest having meetings at more than one time, Turner said, but they don’t force it.

The top administrators should get more involved. Principals are likely trying to work within the realm of what their teachers and staff want. I doubt many teachers are raising their hand to work at 7 p.m. in July.

Yet, someone needs to step in and demand it.

Society isn’t perfect. But it’s the only one we’ve got. The district can work against it or work with it.

The finger pointing simply isn’t getting us anywhere.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or