Visiting Oakland Schools
I recently called my neighborhood elementary school to find out about a school visit and was given a fairly frosty response. I was told I could attend an open house in late May (too late!) After asking a few more questions and explaining that I would like to see the school before I made a decision about sending my child there I was told to just come down to the school where I could receive a visitor's pass. No need to call ahead (which I would do anyway to make sure the class wasn't out on a field trip or whatever). I could then sit in and observe a kindergarten class. I was told the teachers, staff and principal were too busy to talk to me during this visit. I realize that the staff are very busy and respect that but how am I going to get a sense of the school if I can't ask someone there basic questions about curriculum, after school programs, etc. I guess I was surprised at the ''attitude'' I received for making what I thought was a reasonable request. Is this typical of the OUSD? anon
Sadly, the welcome you get when you call a harried elementary school office secretary may not be warm and inviting -- especially if the call is timed when school starts (8:40 a.m.) when lunch starts (11:30 a.m.) and when the school day ends (3 p.m.). The office staff are often dealing with any number of crises -- playground bumps and bruises, calls for attendance numbers from downtown, etc. Still no excuse for rudeness. Try to avoid high traffic times, ask for a PTA contact or someone who is active at school and is willing to get you the information you need. Tours don't usually start til late January (after Information Night). If you still get stonewalled, call the OUSD Public Affairs department (in the phone book) and they can give you basic information. Hope this helps. And don't give up! Judy
The personnel in public schools are extremely busy. They do not have the luxury of hiring extra help to answer phones and schedule tours. It is true; they simply do not have the time. You need to understnad that private schools often have a clerical staff person whos main job is to just answer the phone and show parents around. At the school where I work we have 2 full time clerical staff for 800 students. Their jobs consist of answering phones, callling in attendance and lunches, dealing with sick kids in the office, ordering supplies for the teachers, typing the principal's paperwork, and dealing with parents of children who are already enrolled. They work very, very hard every day, and you wouldn't believe some of the verbal abuse they must contend with on a regular basis. I'm sure they don't mean to be abrupt, but it is frustrating for them when all of you call expecting something they just can't offer. The staff truly is working to service their students and don't have the luxury of small class size and extra clerical support. Give your local public school a try. Don't expect individualized attention as a prospective parent. It is an unrealistic expectation. A sad truth, but that is it. Go to the Open House and talk to your neighbors. Have faith that you child will not rot in a public school.
Had the EXACT same response from our local public elementary school. They just don't have a marketing budget. I got a great tour from the president of the PTA finally. Jane