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#1 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 01:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everyone. I'm struggling with an issue at my daughter's otherwise fabulous school. The teachers think I'm nuts and I really need some objective opinions. My daugter is a first grader at a private school. In the two years she has attended this school she has gone on many field trips. Never have parents been asked to assist as chaperones. I always thought parent chaperones were a given on school field trips.

Anyway, long story short, I am considered an over protective parent (probably a fair assesment), and I do not allow my child to go on field trips unless I accompany her. She has 17 children in her class and the teacher takes them on trips ALONE! I find this to be reckless and irresponsible, but the teachers at this school think I am crazy. Lets look at one upcoming example. The teacher is to take all 17 children to a local Dairy Queen. The store is located approximately 1.5 miles away so they will walk. Part of the route doesn't even have a sidewalk and passes through the busiest intersection in town. The other problem is that this particular store's bathrooms are located OUTSIDE, so if one of the children needs to use the bathroom the teacher will either have to leave the other 16 students alone in the store to escort the one child to the bathroom, or let the one child go outside the building to the bathroom alone. When I mentioned this to the teacher she had no response whatsoever.

I've been on several trips with this class and children are always allowed to go to the restroom alone, even when the restroom is located out of sight of the teacher. Am I crazy, or is this unsafe????? This class routinely (twice per month) walks to a local church for services. The bathrooms in this church are located downstairs in the basement. The children are allowed to get up and go down to the basement alone when they need to use the bathroom. This basement has at least one exit. I find this to be inexcuseable! These children are 6 and 7 years old, and this church is open to the public. The basement doors are often unlocked and anyone can come in from off the street.

My child's teacher is exasperated with me because I insist on accompanying my child on every field trip. I'm the only parent who does. These teachers are used to taking children on trips alone and do not think parents are ever needed to assist or chaperone. She says I'm causing my child to be fearful (not true, my child thinks I come along for fun!), and she says all the other parents trust her, so why can't I? I believe that most parents assume that there are policies in place to provide for adequate supervision on field trips, so they don't worry. They have no idea.....

So, what do you all think? Oh, and this teacher has planned 8, (yes, 8!!!) field trips for the last two weeks of school. It's going to be a long two weeks!
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#2 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 01:59 AM
 
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I agree with you that 1 adult, 16 kids, traffic & outside bathrooms is a disaster waiting to happen.

But my bigger question is - Dairy Queen? Seriously? A field trip to DQ? (Reminds me of my undergrad microbiology field trip (tasting session) to a brewery - yeast is a microorganism after all )
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#3 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 02:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, right! I think they're just bored. They're done with their school work and have nothing else to do until the end of the year.

Thanks for your reply!
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#4 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 03:44 AM
 
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I would have serious reservations about the setup you described. There are 22 kids in my son's kindy class and they ALWAYS beg for as many parent volunteers as they can get! 17 kids is a LOT to watch, and I really, really do NOT like the idea of the walk you described. I would never have thought about the bathroom thing, and honestly the church situation wouldn't bug me that much. However, the DQ restroom situation is a valid concern. I'm not much of an alarmist on things like this, but on the slight chance there happened to be a pedophile in the area, it wouldn't take much to see all these kids with one overwhelmed teacher and watch for an easy opening. Granted the odds of that are very slim, but it's another concern. My biggest worry would be the normal "expected" dangers of things like cars and traffic. At MINIMUM on every field trip there should always be at least 2 adults imo. If an emergency happened (even something like a bee sting and hysterical non-allergic child) you would need one to attend to the issue while the other watched over the other children.

Since I too tend to be overprotective, I asked my much more objective and less protective DH about it. He was appalled that this teacher expects to do the field trips alone and said that you (and I) are NOT being overprotective or unreasonable in finding this unacceptable.

ETA: I mentioned to DH the distance to the DQ and he was um, quite colorful and verbal in his opinion of that distance for a child that age to walk 2 ways, with only one person supervising, with missing sidewalks and high traffic areas. Either one of us would be accompanying as you plan to do, or our child would simply not be going.
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#5 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 08:50 AM
 
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As someone who teaches that age I think that field trip sounds ridiculous. What if something happened? What if a child tripped and needed stitches. At our school kids are never out the building without 2 adults -- we walk a block and a half to the nearest playground for recess and wouldn't go without 2 adults with any age kids, and we're close enough to call for help on a cell and have someone there in a just a couple of minutes. Add in the bathroom issue, and it raises huge concerns for me.

In addition to that, I think school should be all about learning. That doesn't mean that it's all skill and drill, learning can happen at recess -- learning to make friends and solve problems, learning to move your body and solve problems with it, it can happen in art or music or dance. But Dairy Queen? What would be the objective for that trip? Learning that clear arteries are overrated?

And, just to be clear, you're paying tuition for your child to go to Dairy Queen?
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#6 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 09:03 AM
 
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Public schools (at least in this state) have safety regulations governing the adult-child ratio on field trips for exactly that reason, and 17 children to 1 adult would never fly. Then again, a field trip under those conditions -- through a busy intersection with broken or missing sidewalks, etc., no educational value -- probably wouldn't fly, either.
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#7 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 09:07 AM
 
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OT, but I used to do field trips when I worked for Pizza Hut, you'd be surprised what kids can learn. I also chaperoned a field trip to grocery stores and tcby. Kids love to see how things are made, and then they get to make their own.

T

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#8 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your replies. I checked this morning and I over estimated the distance. It's only .7 miles. The distance doesn't bother me, but absent side walks and the high traffic area do. They will have to cut throught the parking lots of two busy businesses, or walk on the street. Neither of these options seems reasonable to me with only one person to supervise 17 first graders.

As for educational value, this is a "get a treat" only type of trip. The other trips she has planned are more educational, so I don't mind them except that there are so many (8 in two weeks) and parents are not asked or invited to assist.
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#9 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 03:48 PM
 
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I would NOT be okay with that at all.

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#10 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 05:55 PM
 
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I'm surprised the teachers feel this way! I am a teacher and no matter how small my class is I will take as many chaperons as I can get. Last year I co-taught and had just twenty children, and we had three chaperons. I can't think of a time where I would decline a chaperon to help out.
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#11 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm surprised the teachers feel this way! I am a teacher and no matter how small my class is I will take as many chaperons as I can get. Last year I co-taught and had just twenty children, and we had three chaperons. I can't think of a time where I would decline a chaperon to help out.
I don't understand it either. It's really changed the way I feel about the teacher and the school as a whole. Part of it is that this is a small town (pop. 15,000) and people have the mentality that it's a safe community. But how many times have you heard parents and neighbors of missing kids on tv news show say that they never thought it could happen in their town. It can happen anywhere.
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#12 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 06:57 PM
 
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OT, but I used to do field trips when I worked for Pizza Hut, you'd be surprised what kids can learn. I also chaperoned a field trip to grocery stores and tcby. Kids love to see how things are made, and then they get to make their own.

T
We've done those -- our kids study food and go to see how pizza is made. Or our kids in 1st grade studied money and business and went to a bakery and talked to the guy about the financial process.

I just didn't get that vibe from this. I got the vibe that it was "let's go eat some ice cream". I could be wrong.

I've never seen kids not enjoy a field trip. If they'll enjoy going to the grocery store to research nutrition, or to a farm to see the baby animals in the spring, or to any number of other places, why would you need to take them DQ. If they were studying food then I'd take them some place where they'll learn about healthy food.

To me it's like having a little one -- if you feed them strawberries and blueberries and say "Oooh a treat" they'll buy it, but if you feed them junk and say "this is a treat" they'll assume that the fresh stuff is thereby not a treat.
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#13 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I got the vibe that it was "let's go eat some ice cream". I could be wrong.

This is definintley "let's go eat some ice cream." The permission slip says the kids worked hard and "deserve a treat." Another thing that really bugs me about this whole thing is that my child will be marked "absent" if I take her out of school early to avoid the poorly supervised field trip.
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#14 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 08:23 PM
 
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My son goes to an alternative elementary school and regularly walked/walks 2+ miles each way. There are 15 kids in the class and 1 teacher and then at least two other people - could be a college intern or parent. They even went across the state (8-10 hours on a bus) in third grade last year for 4 days. These are the kinds of trips parents beg to go on. Anyway my question to you is (and I mean this with no snark) do you need to accompany her because you need to accompany her, or if they had other adequate supervision (and I don't think they do either) could you sit some out?
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#15 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 08:41 PM
 
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I don't understand it either. It's really changed the way I feel about the teacher and the school as a whole. Part of it is that this is a small town (pop. 15,000) and people have the mentality that it's a safe community. But how many times have you heard parents and neighbors of missing kids on tv news show say that they never thought it could happen in their town. It can happen anywhere.
It's not even the number of criminals, you know? A car swerves on the road, a child falls and needs first aid. Anything could happen!
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#16 of 67 Old 05-09-2009, 08:49 PM
 
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I really find this difficult to believe. Why would parents not be encouraged to attend? I went on almost every trip my kids had. Even the fun trips that required a "parent lottery" for chaperones. We were still allowed to go on the field trip but not on the buses due to overcrowding. Seeing first-hand how impossible it is to properly supervise that many students crossing the street...I would be livid! Seriously, these are 6-year olds. I've personally been the chaperone to many a "wild child" during dozens of trips, and I can honestly tell you that there were MANY circumstances that warranted an extra pair of grown-up eyes, ears, and arms!
Mama, you just keep letting them think you are the paranoid, crazy mom. I wouldn't let MY 1st grader out of that school yard without PROPER supervision, and at this age, that's MY supervision!

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#17 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyway my question to you is (and I mean this with no snark) do you need to accompany her because you need to accompany her, or if they had other adequate supervision (and I don't think they do either) could you sit some out?
I'd feel much more comfortable if there was at least one parent accompanying the class on field trips. I'd probably still want to go on most trips but I'd definitely sit some out.
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#18 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 11:12 AM
 
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It is ridiculous that the school allows a teacher to take a class out of the building alone, just for safety reasons. There should always be two adults, just in case.
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#19 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Seeing first-hand how impossible it is to properly supervise that many students crossing the street...I would be livid! Seriously, these are 6-year olds. I've personally been the chaperone to many a "wild child" during dozens of trips, and I can honestly tell you that there were MANY circumstances that warranted an extra pair of grown-up eyes, ears, and arms!
Mama, you just keep letting them think you are the paranoid, crazy mom. I wouldn't let MY 1st grader out of that school yard without PROPER supervision, and at this age, that's MY supervision!
Yeah, I've seen one too many "instances" as well. One time I saw a child nearly hit by a car at the YMCA parking lot due to lack of supervison. Another time I saw a kid disappear in a outdoor bathroom for fifteen minutes. (I was not there to chaperone, only to supervise my own child). I finally went in and checked on him myself. Another time I went to the public library to find my dauther's Kindergarten class scattered around the library, upstairs, downstairs, on the stairs, in the elevator and in the bathroom. I asked the teacher where my daughter was and she had no idea! Another time I was walking back to school from a park with my daughter and two children lagged behind with me. One girl had to tie her shoe 3 times so we were way behind the others. The teachers never looked back and got back to school a full five minutes before us without the two students who were with me. They had no idea which kids were with me and just assumed all the children were accounted for!

What really enfuriates me about this whole thing is that the teacher is treating me like a crazy, neglectful or abusive parent. She keeps saying things like, "I'm concerned about your daugther" and "I feel sorry for your daugther", and "You're teaching your daugther to be afraid of the world." and "Every other parent trusts (the school), why can't you"?
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#20 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It is ridiculous that the school allows a teacher to take a class out of the building alone, just for safety reasons. There should always be two adults, just in case.
That is EXACTLY my position but I am seen as alarmist and nuts.
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#21 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, and did I mention that the route to Dairy Queen takes the children over a bridge that crosses a flooded river while at the same time winding through the busiest intersection in town? I assume that the teacher doesn't have eyes behind her head and she can't walk backwards all the way to DQ, so how she will know if one of these children is overcome with curiousity and decides to get too close to the river and falls in?

And after the bridge the sidewalk ends and the ground has been torn up for sandbagging so it is uneven and full of holes and happens to be very high traffic area with parking lots for three local businesses. I wouldn't walk my own three children down this route, much less 17 children not my own who are entrusted to my care.
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#22 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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HAve you discussed this with the principal? What does he/she have to say? I would have some pretty serious concerns about the school in general if the principal thought there was nothing wrong with this.
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#23 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 11:47 AM
 
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Yeah, I've seen one too many "instances" as well. One time I saw a child nearly hit by a car at the YMCA parking lot due to lack of supervison. Another time I saw a kid disappear in a outdoor bathroom for fifteen minutes. (I was not there to chaperone, only to supervise my own child). I finally went in and checked on him myself. Another time I went to the public library to find my dauther's Kindergarten class scattered around the library, upstairs, downstairs, on the stairs, in the elevator and in the bathroom. I asked the teacher where my daughter was and she had no idea! Another time I was walking back to school from a park with my daughter and two children lagged behind with me. One girl had to tie her shoe 3 times so we were way behind the others. The teachers never looked back and got back to school a full five minutes before us without the two students who were with me. They had no idea which kids were with me and just assumed all the children were accounted for!

What really enfuriates me about this whole thing is that the teacher is treating me like a crazy, neglectful or abusive parent. She keeps saying things like, "I'm concerned about your daugther" and "I feel sorry for your daugther", and "You're teaching your daugther to be afraid of the world." and "Every other parent trusts (the school), why can't you"?
I think you need to start looking for a new school for your DD. The teacher's disregard for her students' safety and her disrespect towards you as a parent are HUGE red flags If her attitude is shared by the other teachers in the school, I would not send your DD back next year.
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#24 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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HAve you discussed this with the principal? What does he/she have to say? I would have some pretty serious concerns about the school in general if the principal thought there was nothing wrong with this.
Yes, I have and he has no problem with me accompany my daughter whenever she leaves the school grounds. However, I don't think he's willing to "rock the boat" and make any policy changes right now because he just started this year. I may speak with him again.
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#25 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think you need to start looking for a new school for your DD. The teacher's disregard for her students' safety and her disrespect towards you as a parent are HUGE red flags If her attitude is shared by the other teachers in the school, I would not send your DD back next year.
Her attitude is definitely shared by one other teacher, the gym teacher.

I've already decided to homeschool next year. I was seriously considering it before all this started but my decision is solid now. I have to get through these next two weeks though and it's really stressing me out.
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#26 of 67 Old 05-10-2009, 10:55 PM
 
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I have a K and a 1st grader this year and our rule is and has always been (and will always BE) that my children cannot leave the school for a field trip without me or dh (often both of us).

I can't imagine a school that doesn;t have to abide by rules concerning childcher rations... Our classes are small (less than 24 students) and we have the teacher, and aide and at least 4 parent chaperones per class, per field trip. We always have more parents to volunteer...

I don;t think you;re overreacting at all. My job is to make sure that MY kids are safe and secure in whatever environment they're in. At school, in school, they;re safe and supervised. Out of school there is too much possibility of "something' hapening or someone wandering off or getting lost - nope. I'd not risk it.

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#27 of 67 Old 05-11-2009, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a K and a 1st grader this year and our rule is and has always been (and will always BE) that my children cannot leave the school for a field trip without me or dh (often both of us).
I'm glad to hear that I am not alone in the way I feel about my children being taken off of school grounds. I wish my feelings were being respected by the teachers in this school.
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#28 of 67 Old 05-11-2009, 08:11 AM
 
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I have a K and a 1st grader this year and our rule is and has always been (and will always BE) that my children cannot leave the school for a field trip without me or dh (often both of us).
OK, I have to ask about this. Our school takes all kinds of different field trips. We often take field trips to shows (e.g. a play of a folktale of the culture we're studying). This field trips are paid for by a grant which pays for only a handful of extra tickets.

So, if say 5th grade went, we might have 56 tickets -- 50 for kids, 4 for the classroom teachers and two extra. The two extra usually goes to the special educator and the ELL teacher. It's not possible to get extra tickets, even if a parent paid for them. We usually have to beg for the special educator ticket and the ELL teacher because we feel like those kids sometimes need support.

The kids walk out the front door of school and onto the bus. They walk off the bus and into the front door of the theater, go inside sit on the lobby floor with classes from other schools, until they call classes one by one. Then they sit on the seats and watch the show. They they walk out and straight to their bus for the trip back to school.

I guess I'm describing this because while I think the OP is absolutely right not to allow what sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, I can't see banning all field trips. Would you really feel unsafe in a situation like I describe?

If not, would you ride the bus (if there was a seat) and then be willing to sit in the lobby? Would you follow the bus in your car? Or just tell your 5th grader not to go?
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#29 of 67 Old 05-11-2009, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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MOMILY, The situation you described sounds reasonable to me, especially since you are talking about 5th graders. My daughter is only 7 and she goes on frequent "walking" trips with just one teacher to supervise the whole class. Also in the situation you describe I'd be worried about first graders being sent to use the bathroom by themselves, which is exactly what the teachers at my child's school do.
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#30 of 67 Old 05-11-2009, 11:18 AM
 
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The situation in the OP I would have a huge problem with. But a regular school trip with the teacher and one or two other adults? I don't need to be there too. When dd1 was in sk, they had a trip to an apple orchard.

They were using parent volunteer drivers, and I wasn't picked as one. I insisted on driving my dd there and back, as she was still harnessed, and would be lucky to get a booster seat in someone else's car. But I didn't join the class on the actual visit.
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Refbacks are Off