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RE: artsednet digest: April 05, 2002


From: Martha Ulakovits (MSQU_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Apr 06 2002 - 06:09:03 PST

  I have not had a parent advisory committee but I have had volunteers that
worked with me over the years. I can tell you though, that my sister, a band
director at a prominent high school, has what they call booster parents. We
have talked many times over the years about what a pain it is. Sure they
help out and they raise money and it does extend the influence of her
department, but it definitely has it's downside. Just form observation, I
would say most of the problems she has is in dealing with the booster
parents. They want to run her program. They have strongly voiced their
opinions on various subjects including but not limited to: how the money
raised would best benefit the band program, what the uniforms should look
like, who should be in what position, who should be allowed to participate
in what event, what music should be played for what event,etc. All of these
issues are decisions the band director and assistant should make, not
parents. Parent have often gotten argumentative with my sister, her
assistant and/or each other. They have made threats and gone over her head
many times. I am not talking about one group of malcontents. I am talking
about a pattern that exists over the years. Fortunately her principal always
backed her up, but who needs the hassle? They save her time and help her out
in many ways but sometimes they consume her time too. She has to manage the
students and them.
  My experience is limited to a few volunteers. Some volunteers have been
very helpful and follow my lead, others have tried to take the lead away
from me and made decisions on their own that became embarrassing. I have no
aid or assistant assigned to me at all and currently I have no volunteer. I
chose not to ask for volunteers on a regular basis this year because of past
experiences. The pto meddles enough. I have had to struggle with them to
maintain the integrity of my art program and I have made a few enemies in
doing so.
   I think it is a trade off any way you look at it. You might try it for a
short period of time. Nothing is set in stone (unless you do it for three
consecutive years, ha, ha.)If it turns out to be more trouble that it is
worth then pare it down until it doesn't exist.
Martha Ulakovits

Subject: Re: artsednet digest: April 04, 2002
Date: Fri, 05 Apr 2002 06:20:37 -0600 (CST)
X-Message-Number: 1

Dear everyone,

I am trying to create a situation in which I will have parent volunteers in
classroom -- my hope is that they will help with art exhibits in the
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
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
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
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
rubrics and standards -- and some have expressed concern that I didn't do
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
and bring home work, which is a sort of 30-minute quick project (instead of
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
them state standards -- or we look at art videos, or slides of student work
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
Superintendent on down. I feel it can only help -- but I can also see it
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
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
make it into a science/biology room? Why is this room so messy? Why is
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
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
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
said in class, knocked paint over on purpose --) the father came to the
conference in his Green Beret uniform - literally ready for combat --
, 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
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
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.