Friday, February 19, 2010

Schools - gotta love 'em

Some days you have to have a lot of love to love schools (or, more correctly, teachers and staff).

I happen to be picky about things being done correctly. To me it is one demonstration that people care, especially in written communications.

I'm thinking right now of a couple of meeting notices that have been mailed to me this school year and also of my stepson's IEP.

First, the notices. Like, today's notice. In today's mail came a Notification of Conference. It used to be that the Special Ed staff would check around to learn if a given date and time would be convenient. I guess those days are gone. What happens now? They just mail out the Notice.

But here's the part of the Notice that gets me. I've been called a lot of things in my life, but today the school district reached a new high. Or low. Over the years I've been called my stepson's father. Or stepfather. Or even ex-step-father. But now? I have finally graduated to "Other."

"Other"? What's that? Even my stepson's mother got the title of "Other" on this notice. And it had to be typed. It wasn't a simple box to be checked.

I think I'll show up at the meeting with my own name badge: "Gus Philpott - Other"

Wait; there's more.

A previous Notification of Conference arrived with my name wrong. Actually, not wrong. Somebody else's name. Ever since 1996, the school district has known me as Gus Philpott. That's Philpott; P-h-i-l-p-o-t-t. Not all that hard. I might even forgive them if they dropped the last -t-.

But on that notice, for the first time ever, the school district put my last name down as my stepson's last name. Apparently, I was the only one who noticed it. At the meeting I waited for someone to acknowledge the error, but it didn't happen.

The pecking order of names on Notices is also important to me, because I "get" the subliminal message that is sent. For a meeting involving a student, it seems to me that the student's name ought to be the first name on the list. Or the second, or maybe the third. Not the last!

Other errors? How about typos and misspelled words? They are different, you know. We all know what typos are. But when a word is misspelled, that's not a typo. Like some examples?

How about quaterly? And Quartelry? Don't you think that at least one person on an IEP Team of 7-10 school employees would notice a typo and call it to the attention of the high-priced person who typed it? Apparently, no one is brave enough.

But the prize word of the year was "upserp". That's not a typo. Here was the sentence. "(Student) will accept the decisions/directions he is given without trying to upserp the hierarchy in a given situation." And it has been that way for over a year. At a meeting last spring a teacher read the sentence. I thought she might just read the correct word ("usurp"), but she hesitated and then read "upserp". And none on the school staff batted an eye.

There must have been $400,000 worth of payroll in that room, and no one said, "What was that word?"

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