We have had some uncommonly brutal winter weather here in central Indiana this month, resulting in countless school delays and closings. School corporations utilize a variety of different methods to notify parents of changes to the school schedule, including through social media (and I try to keep up with them, too, on the They're Our Kids Facebook page).
Normally, all six public school corporations within Hendricks County are on the same page when it comes to delays and cancellations, but last night, we had the rare instance of three corporations canceling school due to today's brutal cold, while three others opted instead to go with a two-hour delay.
Within two of the school corporations who announced a two-hour delay on Facebook, many parents unleashed their fury through comments on the corporations' social media sites. Most of the comments were less than constructive in nature.
We have gotten so used to social media that it's easy to forget just how far our comments travel and who they impact, so I have a few reminders for us all:
This winter has been crazy, and we're all tired of being cold, cooped up in the house, and having our work schedules perpetually disrupted by school closings and delays. Trust me, I'm right there in that boat.
But bashing school corporations -- or anyone else -- on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media is nothing but negative and mean-spirited.
Let's all try to remember the Golden Rule: treat others as we would like them to treat us.
We wouldn't like it if school personnel got on our social media site and publicly bashed us for how badly we're doing our jobs. Our first response would be that they have no idea what they're talking about because they don't do our jobs.
The same applies to us. We don't know all the factors that go into a decision on delays or closures, so let's not pretend that we're on to some secret motivation behind the school corporation's decision or that the administration has a collective IQ lower than that of a rock. There is no big conspiracy, and these are well-educated, well-trained people who are making these decisions. Understand that this is not a typical winter in Indiana. The schools are doing the best they can in unfamiliar territory.
Don't forget that our children model our behavior, so when they see, hear or read us making angry comments about school officials, they in turn think it's okay to treat their teachers -- or their fellow students -- the same way. We're a society that is sensitive to bullying, and yet we're teaching our kids by example how to bully.
We have a couple of much more constructive or productive options on how to handle decisions that upset or anger us.
First, there's the old adage that if we don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
But if we're so upset or angered by a decision that we feel the need to let someone know, let's try a personal letter or email to a school administrator, rather than a public tongue-lashing on social media. (Click here to find your school corporation's website and contact information.) Our chances of getting a response or orchestrating meaningful change increase a thousand-fold when we treat others the way we'd want to be treated.
To understand more about the inner workings of our school corporations, let's get more active with parent-teacher organizations, attend school board meetings, and communicate more frequently with teachers and school administrators -- and not just when things aren't going our way.
And let's just keep the kids out of it entirely. We'll avoid poisoning our kids' minds about school, and we'll also keep ourselves out of presentations made around the world on how not to use social media.
Don't worry. Spring will be here soon.
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