OMG. A north Fulton elementary school asked students to sign pledges that they wouldn’t use acronyms or draw pictures while signing their classmates’ yearbooks.
Citing this young generation’s affinity for the acronym, the AJC asked, “No more LOL? Seriously?”
As a parent, I have no problem with the pledge that Birmingham Falls Elementary School asked fifth graders to sign before being given their yearbooks in an effort to foster civility.
The pledge may have been overkill, but I have been a yearbook editor and an adviser and can vouch that kids write questionable comments, both in written comments to their pals and in the permanent text.
As an editor, I had to watch carefully for double entendres in the captions and student legacies. Students will be looking at these yearbooks 20 years from now with their kids.
I don’t think reminding kids to be polite and positive in their yearbook salutations is a bad thing. While parents contend that kids should be able to write what they want in their friends’ yearbooks without Big Brother interfering, I have heard of upset parents calling the school about scrawled comments in their child’s yearbook. (I wonder if there was some incident in the past that led this school to take this precaution.)
“It’s like they don’t trust us,” Alyssa, 11, told the AJC. “We’ve been writing that stuff for years now.”
The pledge she was asked to sign Friday didn’t make sense to 11-year-old Roxy, either, but she said she did it so her parents wouldn’t have to come pick up her book from the principal’s office. That afternoon, she told her mom about it. Over the weekend, her friend Alyssa mentioned the signed form to her dad.
By Monday, word of the contract had spread quickly among parents, helped by Facebook. Alyssa’s mom told the AJC she felt like her daughter was bullied into signing the form, which parents did not see ahead of time.
The pledge forms were only meant to remind students at the Milton school to be considerate while signing yearbooks, Susan Hale, spokeswoman for Fulton County schools, told the AJC. “It was a pledge that the students were going to be respectful of one another,” Hale said.
The pledges asked students not to scribble, draw pictures or use acronyms others wouldn’t understand, Hale said. The same pledge was signed by fifth graders last year, she said.
But Principal Susan Matzkin did not see the pledges before they were given to students, Hale said. Matzkin, Hale said, believes written pledges weren’t necessary and could have been handled with verbal instructions from teachers.
Fifth-grade teacher Beth Brock apologized in an email to parents Monday and said the school plans to no longer require the signed forms. “Teachers will lead discussions with students about respecting yearbooks, and we ask for parental support in reinforcing this at home,” Brock stated in the email, obtained by the AJC. “Students will be trusted to choose school appropriate acronyms/language.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog