Teachers: Cut Parents a Break!


It’s a huge cultural taboo to criticize teachers, but I don’t care.  They are not perfect and I can’t keep quiet about this issue any longer.

My beef is with the relentless assignment of outside projects.  I am fine with kids doing regular homework, but don’t teachers realize how much time and money these extra projects cost us parents?

Take for example, my younger daughter Chloe’s recent shoebox diorama book report.  Well, she’s our third kid and these diorama projects are just relentless and frankly, I had run out of shoe boxes.

So, of course, I had to run out in a panic to buy a new pair of shoes just so my daughter could do her damn school project.

Fortunately, I was able to find a lovely pair of Prada pumps for only $230 at a local discount shoe store.  But when I handed the empty box to my daughter she informed me that her diorama project involves planets or some nonsense, so the deep purple Prada shoe box was unacceptable.

So it’s back to the shoe store!  I had to buy another pair of shoes.  This time I searched hard for a jet-black shoebox.  I ended up with another lovely pair of pumps, this time by Marc Jacobs, on sale for  $249.

Fortunately this box was just right for her planetary diorama.  My daughter began her project and right away I saw another problem.  It turns out that her drawing of the Milky Way was, well, amateurish to say the least.  I couldn’t let her turn those scribbles in and then have that on display at Open House for all the other parents to mock!  So I had to ask a graphic artist neighbor friend to cover up her smudges and re-draw it properly.  I bought him a bottle of Cab as payment.  Tack on $65 more dollars.

Add up the shoes, the wine, and the porcelain solar system set (which I bought to replace her dreadful hand drawn paper planets) and this diorama cost me close to $600!  Unbelievable!

And don’t get me started on the oral book reports.  You would think an oral report wouldn’t cost any money at all, but I can assure you that’s not the case.  When my other daughter Samantha chose Anne Sullivan for a biography assignment,  she had to give the report dressed in character.  Now renting a costume from one of the local film studios was easy enough, but Anne Sullivan wore glasses and I don’t have any.  I didn’t want to buy her those magnifier type that they sell at the drug stores for fear that my daughter might get confused by the magnification and then trip on her way up to the front of the class.  That’s no way to start an oral report.

Instead I had to find empty eyeglass frames.  I went to an eyeglass store near my office, named L.A. Eye something, and I was shocked to discover just how much eyeglass frames cost.  I have new pity for my bespectacled friends!  After much comparison between the photo I had downloaded of Anne Bancroft in “The Miracle Worker” and the store’s designer collection, I found the perfect pair.  Price tag: $465!

So add up the eyeglass frames, a trip to the salon to get her hair bun just right, two sessions with an accent coach to ensure that my daughter could properly portray Anne Bancroft portraying Anne Sullivan and this project cost me a whopping $785!   Outrageous!

Last year, Chloe was assigned a “Flat Stanley” project where she was supposed to make a doll in her likeness and then I was instructed to mail the doll and a journal to family and friends around the world.

After watching in horror as my daughter attempted to cut out a costume for her doll, I had to enlist the services of a fashion designer friend.  A good designer is very expensive you know, but what choice did I have?  After all, this doll would be representing our family all over the world.

On top of her design fee and the yard of raw silk, my “friend” dinged me for something called a “fabrication charge” because I insisted that the doll’s mini-backpack be fully functional.  What use is a backpack if it can’t open and close and actually hold items?  All told, my daughter’s Flat Chloe doll cost me $880!

I have to think that the teachers have no clue how much time and money these projects are costing us parents.  What else could explain their insensitivity?

Next up we have the California mission project.  I might as well call my architect friend now and put her on hold.  I can only imagine how much design and construction for a replica mission will set me back.

After all, I can’t let my kids do these projects on their own – I mean, they would look like a child made them!   

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