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How Involved Should You Be With Their School?

March 28th, 2010 · 1 Comment



I hadn’t spoken of the incident that I’m about to share for at least six years. I’d pushed the very thought to the back of my mind, so distressing was my first contact with the powers that be at my son’s new school seven years ago.

But in recent weeks I’ve had cause to speak of it twice and on both occasions my audience was a person with first-hand knowledge of the machinations of exclusive private schools. They both gasped in horror and then started laughing hysterically when I told them my story.

“I can’t believe you really thought you could infiltrate the School Board!” one of them shrieked. “Oh, I’ll be dining out on this story for years”.

So here’s what happened. A couple of months into our son’s new boys-only schooling we received a notice in the mail calling for nominations to the School Board. I had decided that I wanted to be involved with our son’s school in a meaningful way and given that my career as a publisher prevented me from tuckshop and other daytime activity, the School Board seemed ideal. So I sent off my nomination with optimism and enthusiasm.

A couple of days later I received a phone call from one of the Board members inviting me for a coffee to discuss my nomination.

I phoned my husband immediately. “This is a good sign,” I suggested.

We met for coffee at a city location that was convenient to both of our offices. I was nervous but optimistic. He appeared a little agitated.

He cut to the chase. “We would like you to withdraw your nomination for the School Board,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Sorry?” I asked, sure that I’d heard incorrectly.

He explained to me that if I didn’t withdraw my nomination there was a fair chance that I could be voted on to the Board, in place of one of the incumbents. And clearly change was not welcome by the School Board.

I asked him why they bothered calling for nominations if they had no intention of honouring them. He informed me that in all of the years that he’d been on the Board (many) no one had ever nominated.
Our meeting was brief. As I drove back to the office I became enraged. How dare they tell me that I can’t stand for the School Board. My husband and I discussed it through the night and into the weekend. We shared the issue with our closest friends who were also parents of children at the school. They egged me on. “Go for it, we’ll vote you onto that bloody Board,” one of the fathers cheered. They were as angry as we were.

After a few days of dissecting the options we decided that I shouldn’t pursue the School Board. It was our son’s first year at a school we anticipated being a part of for the next 13 years. We chose not to rock the boat. The decision came down to one niggling fear: that our son would pay the price for my muscling in on that School Board.

I wrote the letter they wanted me to write: explaining that I would withdraw my nomination, but also accusing the Board of dodgy governance. With a few of the corporate world’s high flyers on the Board, it was an unusual position for the Board to take.

Interestingly, the letter calling for nominations never appeared in our mailbox again.

Did I make the right decision? Perhaps I should have steamrollered that Board to invoke change, but at what cost to my son? What would you have done?

Tags: Bullying · Culture · Education · Uncategorized

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jessica // Sep 30, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Hi! I just came across your blog- you write some great things! I was wondering if you’d be interested in being a guest blogger over at Or So She Says…. we have been looking for a blogger to share some things about Teenagers. If you are interested, please email Jessica, and I will send you the info. We’d love to have you! (You can also submit a post you’ve already done:)

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