Sunday, September 16, 2007

Blue Cards

A quick google shows that the term "blue card" is used for many, many different reasons, including immigration. If immigration is why you came to my blog -- sorry for the disappointment. My blue card is endemic to the New York City public schools.This "little" card is the most important repository of emergency information in our school system. On to it goes everything school staff needs to know about a student in the event that they need to contact an adult. On the back is a place to tell the school what to do if none of the people listed on the card cannot be contacted. (I always write "use your best judgment.")

When I was a kid, and up to about two years ago in my own school, a parent had to complete 3 cards for every kid. One set of cards went in the main office, one to the school nurse and one to the deans. Basic contact information was easy to obtain. These days our school just collects one and photocopies it. (We actually make our own blue "form" with all the information and then some on one side of a letter size sheet of paper.) Why? Because getting all three of them back is difficult.

But, I hear you thinking, why can't you just look it up in the school computer? Well, we could but half the time the parent/guardian phone number is incorrect because the student has moved and failed to update the school on the situation. So, we depend on blue cards and pray that the information on them is correct. Sometimes it isn't. Wiley high school students will fill them out with false information leaving us grasping at straws when we have to find their parents or another responsible adult. Others, just fail to return them, usually intentionally, leaving the end result the same is in the preceding instance.

I had to fill out one of these for each of my kids this year, something I don't always have to do for some strange reason. Despite the blue card, however, I also had to correct or enter my address on three other documents for Little Squid's school -- for some reason they still had an old address despite my changing it two years ago and my kid being fully registered for a metrocard, something that would not happen if the Department of education computer system had the wrong address.

Basically, my take on these administrative forms? Blue Cards good, no blue cards bad.

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