Well, I did it. I started an experimental online community for the elementary school, and a Yahoo email list too, since that seems to be easier for people to understand. All completely unofficial, unsanctioned, and in fact, said “No” to several times by the school administration and PTA representatives.
Their “no” was often pointlessly and frustratingly obstructionist. “But parents would have to give permission for their email address to be public. It’s too complicated! Patiently I explained that all that would take would be two check boxes on the forms already sent out to parents each year. One box that says “I give permission for my email address to be used by the school to contact me through a private email list” and another box that says “I give permission for my email address to be shared with other parents and teachers at the school.”
It is not rocket science, it’s tech that’s been around for several decades, and has been in popular use for 10 or 15 years…
The issue, however, is not the setup and management of the list and its potential privacy problems. It’s that the school panics a bit when parents communicate with each other, without the school administration’s mediation. That is completely understandable. Open public discussion does tend to create discussion, controversy, complaints, and even flame wars. However, that is inevitable in any public forum for discussions. We can manage that! And I will moderate such a list and its disagreements as best I can.
I also offered (multiple times) to set up a list for the school that would be completely under their control, and to train the office staff how to use it and maintain it.
So I feel that doing this, that even trying to start it, will label me as a troublemaker. But I sincerely want it to be for the school’s good, and for helping the kids.
Not everyone will have email. But more sharing of information is better; and more possible conduits for information.
I think that as parents we have to step up and be activists if we want the public education system in this country to survive.
Wish me luck. I hope this works. In my fantasy world, more of us get to know each other, because it is easier to email someone (for many people) than to call their phone number (usually passed out in the school directory, but we don’t have one this year, yet) and sometimes easier than talking face to face, especially with the language barrier we have at our school between Spanish speaker and English speakers. I sent the information for the list in two languages.