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Mommy Musings - Navigating Diplomacy
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For those who follow Mommy Musings — be warned, the Hammond Family has enrolled a student in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District system. This is a precarious time for me, personally. It is a time when I will now be tested on how well I can balance my personal and professional life and not have it come at the expense of my children.

Some of you may recall the dilemma I faced last year over whether or not to register my June born son for the 2009-2010 year. While we went through the registration process last year, by summer my husband and I both felt one more year of pre-school would do our son better.

Long story short, to date, it was the best decision we have made thus far for our son. Both his confidence in his academic abilities, as well as social skills have improved greatly. Perhaps to some, factoring these things for a student at the young age of five may seem ridiculous. Yet I feel anyone, who knows of or has a child in our school system today, can attest to their importance.

So for the parent who just completed the registration process, uncertain of their decision, I offer this: follow your gut. Evaluators know what they must score your child on, as part of the assessment process, however they do not know your child.

In a day and time when Kindergarten classes are filled with 20 students or in some cases 26, it is better to exercise precaution.

The aforementioned fact appropriately demonstrates my new dilemma.

I have much respect for teachers. Many of our family’s closest friends have dedicated their lives to serving our youth. Sure, like any profession there are good teachers and bad, as well as those who perhaps should retire. Whatever your position, I challenge the non-supporter to spend a week in a classroom with a group of 28 to 36 preteens (hormones ablazing) and then tell me what you think is fair pay. Teaching is no easy job.

State budget cuts are killing our public school system. My largest concern as both a reporter and a parent, is that few are paying attention. My concern is that many see the kids on the playgrounds, homework coming home and assume it is business as usual in the schools. Sadly it is not. Our teachers and our children need our help.

Yes, we are all taxpayers, but now is not the time to rest on our dollar. Now is the time we must rally together like never before and ask the golden question: What can I do?

From my understanding, classroom sizes are increasing, aides are being eliminated and the standards still remain.

Our family recently participated in the Support Oakdale Schools Fun Run/Walk event. Neither my husband, nor myself are avid runners. We did not show up to challenge our 5K time or try for a personal best. We participated in the event not only to support our schools, but also to demonstrate to our son that a group coming together can make a difference.

Times are tough for everyone, this I know is not new news. My plea to our readers would be to reach out to your schools in the coming school year. If you are working less and home more, perhaps volunteer as a classroom aide once a week, inquire about crossing guard duty or playground help. Teachers are overwhelmed, the chance of them seeking help from us is rare, responding to an offer of help is much more likely.

My goal in this new role of elementary school mom and reporter is to navigate with diplomacy. I am, after all, a features writer not the education reporter. I will leave the hard news to my colleague and do my best to ‘diplomatically’ approach this next chapter with my children’s best interest at heart.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.