Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


The Non-Policy Policy

In general, I like Kate's school. It is my choice to send her there. I like the environmental educational opportunities, with the Orca community garden, the way the school hatches and releases salmon eggs every year, the outdoor school "get in touch with nature" stuff they do. I was born in Ely, Minnesota and spent my formative years camping and fishing and picking (or eating) gallons of wild blueberries. The wilderness was at my doorstep, particularly the unspoiled Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Kate, on the other hand, is a city girl through and through, familiar with public transit, boundless ethnic cuisines, and the ins and outs of the Starbucks. The focus on the environment as part of her grade school experience may not be an exact substitute for the hands on experiences of my youth, but it's something.

My views are not entirely in alignment with all of the school policies or the concerns of other parents at the schools. I've posted before about the horrific "Cranes over Hiroshima" performance at the "Festival of Lights" that so scarred Pramas a few years ago. Currently sticking in my craw is the new "policy" around names at the school; an excerpt from the Dear Families letter sent home with Kate yesterday:

...Many people have questioned whether the tradition of first names for all adults sends mixed messages to some children and families around important cultural norms of respect. Staff felt differences in honorifics could more explicitly denote respect for different traditions. The following paragraph lists by room numbers staff members' decisions on name use.

Room 1: Mary, Room 14: Marletta, Room 2: Melanie, Room 3: Ms. Tanisha, Room 4: Ms. Laura, Room 5: Liz, Room 6: Ms. Katherine, Room 7: Mr. Donte, Room 8: Ms. Judy, Mr. Ray, Jennifer, Room 9: Phi Ho, Art: Becky, PE: Fran, Office: Mr. Ben, Colleen, Sandy, and Ms. Anita

My reaction: Are they kidding me?! Some of the teachers and staff are going by Ms. or Mr., while others are not changing? And they're expecting this haphazard implementation (where some people in the same room aren't even applying the same nomenclature) to stick with kids who have spent 4 and 5 years calling these same adults by first names?

For fuck sake, just pick one or the other and DO IT. This half-assed attempt to please both camps will please neither. In fact, this non-policy policy is the very definition of "mixed message"!


for this post

Blogger Jeff Tidball Says:

And not only are first names and honorifics all mixed together, some of the honorifics appear to precede first names instead of last names.

Calgon, take me away!

Anonymous Anonymous Says:


I could be Mr. T at that school!


Anonymous Anonymous Says:

At Miranda's school it's definitely a class (i.e., status) thing. All teachers, principals, guidance counselors and the like are addressed as Mr., Ms., Mrs. and Last Name. All parent helpers, teacher's aides, cafeteria workers are referred to as Mr., Ms., Mrs. and First Name (a Southern tradition, I'm told). So Miranda's teacher is Ms. Floeck, but her cafeteria monitor is Ms. Mary (okay, actually it's Mommy, but in general).


Anonymous Dr John K Says:

The "Mr (firstname)" convention is a southern thing. Nevertheless, my sense is that it isn't really an honorific, but more of a diminuitive.

That is, I might refer to your daughter as "Miss Kate", but in reference to an adult it feels weird to me. (To be perfectly honest, my first impression of "Ms Judy" and "Mr Ray" is that they must be members of minority groups, but that just be my semi-northern view of southern norms.)

[I note the irony of my handle in this context.]


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