What's the deal with schools and parent newsletters?
Let me rephrase that: What's the deal with school administrators and their slavish devotion to the idea of having someone put together and print out a parent newsletter?
I don't get it, people. We live in a digital age. Most schools who have possession of parent emails will email out a newsletter on a regular basis. It'll be with the latest calendar, have some school-specific updates and general information that parents and students would probably need to have. Usually someone in the office will put it together, make a few changes and send it out after someone else proof-reads it.
My theory is that crappy schools think that more information is better, especially if it comes in paper form.
When I worked at TCS, each year our new principal (and yes, I had a new principal every year - in fact, one year I had TWO new principals, if that tells you anything) suggested that since I was the journalism, newspaper and yearbook teacher, I should put out a parent newsletter.
When I would point out that the district or regional supervisor already sent one out, they would all say the same thing: "But this is a printed version, for OUR parents!" Worse, they would say this like they were giving me the opportunity to be excited about it. Wisely, I always passed.
First, why would you dump this on an overburdened teacher anyway? I'm not spending my limited free time trying to chase down administrators to proofread or approve the newsletter to publish it. I can't even get them to get back to me about the fact that I don't have enough desks in my room.
Second, what is the obsession with newsletters "printed out and available for parents?" They can't read unless it's on a sheet of #10 bond? Almost everyone now spends their time peering at their phone. Do they really need paper? Why is it so important for us to continue killing trees to give out sheets that parents will immediately toss on the ground in the parking lot?
I've decided that since administrators have no idea how time-consuming it is to produce written media, they must think that the elective teacher (me), needs something to do with her time. I usually have a couple of responses.
First is a flat "No." When they push, I ask what they'd like me to eliminate so I can get it done, like maybe a section of the yearbook? That usually works.
One year my principal wanted it to look "professional." Rather than argue, I spent an hour getting quotes from people who could print it and presented it to him. He never brought it up again.
Another told me it was "no big deal - you'll just do it in your free time." That reply was an emphatic no; what I said was "I don't have any free time when I'm at school. You're suggesting I do it when I should be eating, sleeping or bathing?" He laughed, but I didn't. I told him he needed to get all the information together for me to organize. Wwhen he came to check on my progress, I told him he hadn't given me any of his information for the articles. (He hadn't, and I didn't attempt to remind him.) He bothered me twice more, still getting the same response, before he never talked about it again.
The last administrator who suggested it never followed up, but I knew he wouldn't. He just liked looking like a "doer."
Does more information make a school look better? Or do principals think it does? I ask because someone found out my journalism background and once again approached me about "doing a newsletter." Luckily, this time I had the standing to say, "Only if I get an extra stipend to do it."
My supervisor laughed. "We thought you'd find it fun."
I deadpanned, "No, I'll only find it fun if I get bonus pay to do it. So unless that's part of the package, absolutely not." She quit laughing.
I'm waiting to see if they suggest I do it in my free time.