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Volunteerism in our schools

Original post made by PAUSD Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 10, 2007

It has been suggested in a post in another thread that we are expecting too much volunteering from parents in our schools. Is this the case?

Do we need to do more than be on committees, drive for field trips, stuff Friday folders, help out with editing writing projects, help with fundraisers and science fairs, etc.? Should we be providing home cooked meals for teachers once a month, lunch tables supervision, playground supervision, providing hot lunches instead of Chartwells, etc. etc.? Is some of this just finding busy work for mothers who are not employed outside the home?

Some school field trips are done by parent drivers and are cancelled if the drivers are not found. Some field trips are done by school bus. Some field trips are funded by parents to provide rented buses.

Is there any kind of disparity between our schools in how much volunteering is required or necessary and is this taken into account when we realise how Palo Alto schools are regarded as being of high quality.

Comments (3)

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Posted by PAUSDMom
a resident of Midtown
on May 10, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Unfortunately it has become "mandatory" volunteering in our schools. They call it volunteering - but at the beginning of the school year, the teacher sets out the timeslots on a weekly basis that need to be signed up for immediately.

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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2007 at 2:07 pm

The level of volunteering varies widely from school to school. Some schools/teachers like a lot of parental assistance in the class, some only want help with projects. I have never felt it was mandatory in any way and have always enjoyed the opportunity to see my kids and their classmates in an academic setting and on field trips.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2007 at 11:38 am

I can't really remember my mother or even other parents being in school or the classroom, in fact I am sure my parents would not have recognised my teachers if they passed them in the street. So I have checked with other family members. My mother is definitely amazed at the things I do at school. My sister, who is a teaching assistant, is also surprised as she has never seen it at the school she teaches in (in fact the parents would never stand for it) or the schools where she was just a parent.

I think our teachers are so used to the level of volunteering that they just expect it from year to year. There are so many that do volunteer on a regular basis that they know they can ask almost anything and it gets done. Others, who perhaps when new to the area have never asked so never get. I do know that quite often things are cancelled because they don't get the required amount of parent assistance.

One of the things that are looked at demographically when looking at the socio economics of our schools is that we need to be diverse in many areas to enable the schools to be equally, or fairly, filled with enough of the type of parents who do volunteer to enable all our schools function the same way. This has been mentioned at many levels including Board Meetings and is definitely "on topic" when it comes to discussions about choice programs and FLES.

Even our high schools require plenty of volunteers, from manning the libraries to helping at various hands on projects like the re-enactments that are often put on by English/social studies teachers.

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