Monday, April 23, 2012


For 12 years of my life I remember spending the very first day of each school year filling out forms. Not just one form full of personal questions, but the same form in triplicate. And there was never a sheet of carbon paper between the cards. Each of the three cards containing all of your family info had to be completed in your own handwriting. I remember that the cards were to be completed in print, which at one time was called block letters.

Every year I wondered why we were having to do this. My name stayed the same. My mother and father stayed the same. My mother's maiden name never changed. Of course my birthdate never changed. I did get older. We did move a couple of times. And after I started school, I did get a new brother. But for the rest, there wasn't much new family news to report. So why couldn't we have simply updated our information? Why did we have to completely fill out those cards every first day of the every school year?

And who actually looked at those cards and where did they ( proverbially, of course) keep them? And where are those 36 cards today, 45 years since I graduated from high school!

When I began teaching in 1970 in my hometown, I had to make sure that my homeroom students filled in the triplicate cards every first school day. Monitoring that activity was a lesson in itself. Most of the time it was to be done in blue or black ink and in the absolutely neatest printing. Explaining what "maiden name" meant to 7 th graders was sometimes more than I bargained for, since as the years passed, more and more mothers had never been married. Or they had been married so many times that the kids had never heard of their mother's maiden name.

Do students still have to endure that senseless ordeal in 2012? I hope not. But I bet they do.
Stay tuned for more senseless paperwork tomorrow.

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