Monday, June 8, 2009

Dear Leafy Suburban Elementary School

Remember when I told you that Best Namma Ever! and I took the Urban Kids to the Nature Museum? We went last Thursday; Thursday afternoon, I typed up this letter and sent it to the principal of the elementary school emblazoned on all of their millions of t-shirts swarming the place.

Dear Ms. Principal Lady:

I have just returned from an outing with my two children to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where we encountered your first graders. We left the Nature Museum when we realized that the behavior of your students would not allow us to enjoy our own visit.

Our encounter with your students began in the Butterfly Haven, where the Museum employee had to repeatedly and emphatically tell the children to get off of the various ledges. I had to wonder at why he had to keep doing this and why your school's adults were not on top of this.

Knowing that we were hopelessly outnumbered and that your adults were not interested in controlling their students, we spent much of our time trying to avoid your group as we went through other exhibits.

We finally ended up on the first floor in a play area designed for small children. However, our enjoyment there was short-lived, as droves of your students soon descended upon the area. Your students came into an area that was being enjoyed by very small children and their caregivers. Your students soon took over and showed very little regard for those smaller than themselves. For example, my 2 1/2 year-old and another little girl had been enjoying a slide, one designed for children about their age. Your students, however, shoved by them in such numbers that they were soon in a corner, confused and unable to wrangle a turn from the group towering around them.

I waited for an adult, any adult, from your school to intervene. I waited for an adult, any adult, from your school to look into the play area to check in on the students. This was not to be. The adults from your school were not interested in chaperoning their students. Nor were they interested in noticing that each and every caregiver of a smaller child was collecting their charges and getting out of there. No, your school's adults were outside of the play area, where they were huddled together deep in conversation. Apparently, they believed this play area, perhaps the entire museum, to have been appropriated for their exclusive use today? (I finally stepped in to play "traffic cop" on behalf of the smaller children.)

I take my children around the city to various museums throughout the year. Inevitably, we encounter school groups. I tend to keep my distance from these groups until I can get a read on how well the adults are handling their group. I have noticed that the city school's students are very often the most closely and strictly supervised; they are also the best-behaved and pleasant to be around.

Your students today acted as a large group of antsy first-graders will do. Your chaperoning adults, however, have succeeded only in denigrating your school.

As a former teacher married to a seventeen-year veteran of the Chicago's {Great Big Urban} High School, I see your trip today as a very sad way to end your school year.

Thank you for your time,
-Urban Beyotch Mom

I then called the Nature Museum and found out who is in charge of school groups, then forwarded the letter to him with a delightful note to him praising his staff for their hard work despite Leafy Suburban School's roughshod behavior. My hope is that if the principal actually gives a rat's patootie and calls the museum about any Crazy Lady's Complaints that he will find me to be the Nice & Smart Lady.

For the record, I did get a return note from the principal at 8:45 that night thanking me for my letter, assuring me that she would investigate what happened and apologizing if her students interfered with my visit.

I've yet to hear anything more, but don't much care now. I got it off my chest.

(Tell me again why I need the schools to teach my kids how to socialize?)


rita said...

Good for you! Far too often people are terrorized by school groups and nothing is said. I hope that the principal gives those "adults" hell.

G said...

Are you saying you don't want your kids climbing all over everything in sight and shoving other kids out of the way?

Good for you to have the nerve to speak up! I wish I had at a field trip I set up for our homeschool group... some other kids just shoved their way in. Maybe next time!

rita said...

I've been on a couple of near-perfect school fieldtrips; one was with the senior class to Kings Dominion; we were not expected to keep an eye on the kids, just have our own good time. The second was just 10 days ago, when I went to the Smithsonian art museums with art classes (upperclassmen and women, not those hideous 9th graders). Same thing; just rode the bus in, went off on my own, not a bad kid in the bunch.

At least, this time no one was arrested. (I hate 9th graders on field trips.)

Miss you, Urban Mom!!!

Hen Jen said...

Bravo for you! And, feeling your pain....we live close to a children's science museum, we now try to go around lunch time, since the school is usually ushering the kids out for lunch, and then they leave to head back to school. It's not pleasant when they are there. Worse for me, is how they take over the (PUBLIC) park next door. Several times we have watched a group of 50 kids descend onto the park, take over all the equipment...while the adults group themselves off in the distance. A group of 50 bigger kids and 3 swings, little kids have no chance! We leave. But I am really, really bothered that we are so often chased off of public playgrounds by elementary school trips or by daycare groups. grr...