Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Opting Out

Occasionally I wonder why I left the teaching field. I loved the actual teaching, nutty as some situations could get ("Yes sir, your son really did cough the words 'bullshit'. No sir, I am not making this up. No, I would not agree that children always try this stuff at home with their parents first. Yes, your precious snowflake really did curse outright in my class, and the fact that you coach soccer with the vice principal and called him (because your dear boy called you on the pay phone on his way to the office) means nothing. So sorry!"). I mean, if I were still teaching I'd have the summers to be with my children, the daycare issues involved with school holidays that don't match up with my office's holidays would be minimal. I'd be nearly ensured of employment, with reasonable healthcare available as well as a state pension. What in the world was I thinking by leaving?

Then I run into idiocy with my children's schools, and it all comes back to me.

The Elder started middle school this year -- at the same school where I used to teach, no less -- and so far it's been great. He's in the accelerated program, he enjoys his teachers and classes, and overall I'm pleased and relieved.

So the problem isn't academic. No, the problem is a couple of the endless forms we're to fill out at the beginning of every school year. Now I'm not going to bitch about all the forms -- that's a separate post in and of itself, and really, on the whole I'm accustomed to them after my years of indoctrination (although WHY they can't at least make them fillable PDFs available on the school website so we could just type in the info and print those suckers out, then edit for subsequent children/ years is beyond me). What I'm not accustomed to is being told I must fill out an opt-out form...

...when I'm not opting my child out of that particular, erm, option.

Yes it hurt me to type that.

But that's what I am told I must do. See, there are three pages at the back of the Code of Conduct with space for a parent's signature. One is an acknowledgment that we have received and read the Code of Conduct and agree to be bound by it regarding our children's behavior and consequences for same. No problem. I signed it.

The other two forms are "Opt-Out" forms, one for directory information (controlling who may access information to your child, such as colleges and the military) and the other is for technology (can your kid use the school computers? appear in the yearbook? etc.). Initially I didn't fill out either of these forms, as I wasn't going to restrict the Elder's information or his technology access.

Then the child comes home with the Directory Information Opt-Out form and tells me his teacher said I had to sign it. I figured if she was pushing it this hard then perhaps I should look at it more closely. I decided I'd require that I be contacted if colleges or the military wanted his information, because hey, if the teacher is pushing this it seems perhaps I was too hasty in leaving his information available.

Okay, fine.

So yesterday I get the Technology Opt-Out form back from this same teacher, with a post-it affixed saying "To Elder Offspring's Parents: You must fill out the top of this form and sign the bottom. Pick one of items 1-5 only if you are interested."

The school board itself doesn't appear to require that I fill out this form unless I wish my child's access to be restricted, and I base my belief on this line, which appears at the top of the form in question:

"Students will have the privileges listed below unless this Image and Technology Opt-Out Form is submitted by the Parent/Guardian."

In spite of this line, I'm being told I must fill out this opt-out form, sign it, and leave it blank. Doesn't matter that I am not choosing to opt my child out (the double to quadruple negatives necessary to even discuss this are making me crazy). Nope!

Have I completely lost my mind? Because seriously, this isn't a hill I would normally choose to die on, but holy crap. I know this isn't a school board requirement because I haven't ever had to fill these forms out before (and leave them blank!!!), and I've had kids in the public schools for years.

So I wrote the teacher a nice letter explaining that I couldn't in good conscience fill out an opt-out form when I did not wish to opt my child out of anything, and due to my time as a legal secretary I was extremely uneasy signing an essentially blank form (which could then be checked off willy-nilly and then waved around as proof that I'd chosen to opt-out my child when I did nothing of the sort), and I hoped the attached Affidavit of Receipt, which I personally composed and signed, would do in its stead. I also attached all my contact information for their convenience in case they felt this matter merited further discussion.

Hopefully they'll just look at the letter with its myriad attachments and decide arguing with me about this would be more trouble than it's worth.

What a way to start off the year. I'd better toss a few more bucks into the Elder's therapy fund...


Anonymous said...

oh. Oh. OH!!!! I so TOTALLY AGREE!

Same issue in our home. The one that irks me the most is the MANDATORY cell phone use agreement that we MUST sign, for children who do not even own cell phones.


Amanda said...

It's freaking lunacy. I mean, I don't have a problem with them wanting proof that we've received and read the various opt-out forms and are... well... opting out of opting out (just typing that has my brain spinning).

What I do have a problem with is them requiring that I, as proof of receipt, turn in a blank, signed form.

Uhm... no.

Ain't gonna happen, kids.

Ms Snarky Pants said...

Good lord that's a pain! If they want it to be a form that states your intentions with regard to disclosure of information that's one thing. Then have an option that includes the release of his information, but having an opt out form you have to sign is ridiculous.

Gosh the military like stalked me after I took their math and science test or whatever that thing was. It was annoying! Do kids still have to take that?

Amanda said...

The ASVAB? I don't know -- it was optional when I was in school, from what I remember.

And yeah, it's the fact that it's an opt out form that gets me. I'm not opting out; ergo, I shouldn't sign the form.

If they drag this out I know I'll be a complete idiot for continuing to fight it, but I'm not sure I can stop myself... LOL

Jenn said...

That's so crazy!!!
I totally agree with you, you should not sign a BLANK form - that makes no sense.
What they should do is add another check box that says, "I opt to NOT opt out of anything."

Amanda said...

Jenn, indeed. And you'd think they'd have some intelligence about this (people, it is an OPT-OUT FORM! You fill it out if you'd like to, say, OPT-OUT!), but nope... not a whit of brain activity is occurring.

Tycho Beresford said...

Did you staple any cash to your Affidavit of Receipt? If not you will likely get it back.

Choreboy said...

*I* told her to just opt out of opting out of the opt out form but she has chosen to do battle instead. Me? I opted out of it all when she started ranting and foaming at the mouth;)

Amanda said...

TYCHO! I wondered if the use of "precious snowflakes" would invoke your presence ;)

And Choreboy, dearest... :PPPPPP

Jen said...

The schools around here find all sorts of ways to annoy me. I'm so happy my daughter has only one more year.