I am trying to create a situation in which I will have parent volunteers in the
classroom -- my hope is that they will help with art exhibits in the hallways;
hands-on mentoring with the students, organization of student art files/
portfolios, web design of art exhibits, or even after school programs which I am
trying to organize (either before or after school). It is a middle class suburban
district with an appalling lack of resources for teacher support and student
support (-- there is one paid aid for 550 students). I find myself doing extra
work (like all art teachers)...which keeps me from getting as much work up in the
hallways as I would like -- my days have been often very long (11-12 hours at
times) in order to get everything done (paper mache sculptures put away and
organized). In my informal conversations with parents, some are incredibly
interested in getting involved with mural making. Some wanted to know more about
rubrics and standards -- and some have expressed concern that I didn't do more
projects with the little ones such as a hand print in paint then made into a
butterfly. (In other words, some parents hope that kindergartners will create
and bring home work, which is a sort of 30-minute quick project (instead of a
project which takes several weeks). Hence I have also been thinking about
creating a toned down art education class for parents as well in which I show
them state standards -- or we look at art videos, or slides of student work and
discuss everything from rubrics to grants to whatever.
So tell me -- is this a can of worms? Or do you think that parent support of an
art program can help the program and maybe even get more support for us from the
Superintendent on down. I feel it can only help -- but I can also see it blowing
up in my face with parents who might be upset by the pictures in Jansen's
"History of Art," or some such issues which might get into censorship…i.e. why is
Andy Warhol's work considered art? Why are you studying this? Why are the kids
doing research when they should be making art? Why did you give so and so an "A"
on this project and my son a "B"? Why is your art room so big? Why don't we
make it into a science/biology room? Why is this room so messy? Why is this
room so neat? What are the janitors actually doing? What are you actually
doing? Why is so so and so down the hall treating her students this way or that?
Why hasn't his student been expelled? Why is this student getting a detenton for
throwing a spitball? It can just go on and on.
Has anyone on this list serve created a parent advisory group? This district is/
seems to be amazingly conservative -- hence I need to tread lightly and carefully
here. Just for your information, my principal and I got in touch with parents of
a child who had trouble behaving -- (crawled under tables, echoed everything I
said in class, knocked paint over on purpose --) the father came to the
conference in his Green Beret uniform - literally ready for combat -- camouflage
, medals - the full bit...another parent told me she understood I had been
"cussing" at the children because I said "I swear," and another parent told a
colleague of mine that when she conferenced with her there would be three
entities there - the two of them and God -- and God knew what the truth was.
(This may or may not be true depending on your religious beliefs-- but it is/was
heavy handed-- ). Oh yes, and when the term began in August, the assistant
superintendent opened with a prayer -- not a moment of silence -- but a prayer --
and this is a public school district. Argh.
Thanks for your input all.