VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Back-to-school can come with a lot of hand cramps for parents filling out form after form for their kids, and a father of five in Vancouver is wondering why moms and dads have to write down so much of the same information every single year.
“The school district that my kids are in seems to be indicative of most, and they rely heavily on paper forms,” says Adrian Crook. “There are probably a number of reasons for that but the net effect is that, in my case, I get a little over 100 forms — and I’m divorced so my ex-wife gets the same 100-plus forms.”
He complains that the paperwork is very repetitive.
“You’re entering the kids’ names, birth dates and health information over and over and over again by hand, there is no electronic option. It is a yearly thing and it’s almost like the school doesn’t remember your kids have been there previous years. It just seems to be a downloading of work onto parents, who are already pretty busy.”
Going through some of these forms now and so far my favourite form name that perfectly highlights how ludicrous 2019 school life has become:
"Impromptu Walking Field Trip Informed Consent Form"
— Adrian Crook (@5kids1condo) September 2, 2019
Crook has tried to simplify the process on his end.
“In years past, I have tried to digitize it for myself. I will scan things in as a PDF and enter information electronically. I tried to pseudo-automate it myself so it could be a little bit faster,” he tells NEWS 1130.
“But then last year, I just determined I wasn’t going to do it and see what happens,” Crook laughs.
How did that work out for him? Crook says the school asked for the forms for a little while.
“They bugged me for a few weeks but then they all just went away and nothing happened. This year I might take the same approach!”
Crook’s social media rants about his school form adventures have been eaten up by other parents, who are quick to share their own frustrations, and Crook says he has approached his school to ask why there is so much repetitive paperwork.
“I asked the principal why there isn’t more automation and electronic forms. Part of the reason is that they have a front office staff who might not be as computer-friendly as others,” he claims. “Apparently, it would add a lot of workload for them to be brought up to speed with managing all that from an electronic standpoint.”
Parents responding to Crook’s posts have described their own trials and tribulations, and he sympathizes.
“There are school apps that allow you to pay for some things but not for others. Three of 10 forms can be completed in one app with the rest coming to you in multi-coloured handouts. I imagine there are some school districts that do this really well but it doesn’t seem like Vancouver is one of them,” he says.
You know what's totally insanely ridiculous? How every year the school gives us the same package of forms to fill out, x2 (since each divorced parent gets a set), x5 kids. With no option to say "no change from last year".
Totals 200+ forms, for us.
(Photo just a bit of it) pic.twitter.com/VwemuRJIEp
— Adrian Crook (@5kids1condo) September 6, 2018
“I know the school that my kids go to have hopped from one tech platform to another when it comes to communication with parents. There just doesn’t seem to be a harmonized approach to this,” he adds.
Even at the classroom level, Crook says teachers will use different systems within the same school.
“It may not be a big issue when you have one or two kids but, when you have five, if you’re getting communication from the kindergarten teacher through a bespoke app and then hearing from the Grade 5 teacher through email and someone else wants to sends notes home with your kid, it’s crazy-making.”