There are certain things we do in life simply because we’ve always done them. Which is never a great reason. We say “God bless you” when someone sneezes once but never when they’re doubled over coughing for half a minute straight. Why? We’ve always done it. We don’t really know why.

We can stop saying “God bless you” and the world would keep spinning. Guess what? We can do away with this charade called Back To School Night and the world will also keep spinning.

My problem with BTSN?


I’m sure you’ve had those arduous, droning work meetings and afterwards you say to a co-worker, “That could’ve been an email.” Such is BTSN. Let me let you in on a little secret. As a father of four this ain’t my first rodeo so I know that absolutely nothing happens at Back To School Night. Yet we all feel like we’re supposed to be there.

You hear happy yammering from the excited teacher about how all your kids seem like the best crop they’ve had in years. (They’re not. And she’s not excited.) You’ll hear how in kindergarten they’ll work with manipulatives in math and how they’ll do everything kindergarten obviously does. This isn’t rocket science. It’s kindergarten. They’ll learn letters. They’ll practice lining up in an orderly fashion. Oooooh! Did you really think they’d be splitting atoms in a lab?

OK, so you have an older kid in fifth grade? Yeah they’ll be learning about the Constitution and working on book reports and vocabulary words. You know, the obvious fifth grade crap. Do you want them solving the Pythagorean theorem? Yet we make teachers have 14 hour days to mansplain it all.

Now parent-teacher conferences are a different animal. Those you take seriously. This is where you actually talk one-on-one about your own kid’s strengths and weaknesses and problem areas to help them. These are worthwhile.

But Back To School Nights are a bigger waste of time than a Republican running for office in Camden. The teacher outright tells you to not ask about your individual child because they just started the school year and they haven’t learned enough about them to give feedback yet. And invariably what happens after the clichéd little presentation about signing up for Class Dojo and putting money in their lunch accounts and all the other assorted bull&€+\ that could have been an email?

Idiot parents line up to ask how their kid is doing.


Another little secret about Back To School Night. Teachers hate them. They know they’re as pointless as saying “God bless you.” Their workday ends around 3 but BTSN doesn’t start until 6:30 and if they go all the way home they’ll only have to turn around to make the drive back in even worse rush traffic. All to give an unimportant speech stating the obvious things 1st graders or 4th graders or whatever graders will be doing.

Oh! And don’t even get me started on how they’re now holding Back To School Nights even for high schools. If your kid still needs mommy and daddy meeting his teachers in 10th grade then you’re an abject failure as a parent. Do you buy all that bubble wrap in bulk?

So teachers will often get together with other teachers and hit a bar for a happy hour to kill time before going back to the school to answer dumb parents' question and state obvious things in mind-numbing fashion. A little buzz is probably necessary to get through the mental torture of BTSN. I won’t judge.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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