Update 6: Paperwork, paperwork

I’ve spent the last few days dealing with paperwork of all kinds, but mostly paperwork for school crap.  There are health forms–for school and for sports–registration forms, emergency contact forms.  You name it, there’s a form for it.  What I wouldn’t give for some automation of all this crap.  It’s gotta be a pain for the data entry/filing people to receive hundreds of forms, figure out if they’re complete, etc.  And I don’t even have forms yet for Geeky Girl’s new school–did I mention she’s going to go to the school where I teach?  (Yes, yes we’re excited.).  And I don’t have any kids with issues–as Laura at 11D pointed out in a Tweet.  Just navigating the regular forms is a pain.  I can’t imagine filling out other forms, especially in situations where the system tries to hide behind its bureaucracy.

I find the health forms particularly painful.  In my ideal scenario, my kids’ health records (or at least their immunization records, which is what most schools really care about) would be stored at a statewide data center.  Every year, I’d have the option of doing the form by hand or simply going to a web site, finding the school to send it to, and then clicking the send button.  Hell, I’d even pay a fee for that; I already pay my doctor for the records, so I’d be happy to pay someone else.  Emergency contact information seems like it could be automated too.  Every year, I fill out the same information (and yes, there have been years when the info has changed, but still).  An online form seems like a much nicer option.  Having spent the better part of today building my own online form, I know they can take some time, but surely, the time saved in the end for us all would be worth it.  Pop that info into a secure database and be done with it, I say.

7 Replies to “Update 6: Paperwork, paperwork”

  1. Yeah… forms. I’ll be swimming in tons of forms in two weeks after we come back from our trip. I’m not looking forward to that. Good luck with everything.

    Oh, and I already suspected that Geeky Girl would go to the same school where you’re going to teach. I hope it’s a great experience for both of you!!

  2. We’re getting a few more things automated — you can log into your child’s school account to see their report cards and track their progress to graduation. You can also check on their bus information. But we still have to fill out health forms and permission slips the old-fashioned way. The number of times I’ve written out the girls’ health-card numbers? I can’t even begin to calcuate that!

  3. Our pediatrician has yellow cards for immunization dates–one for us, one for her office.

    Whenever we need to fill out this info, we fill out only the top name and address info, then attach a photocopy of this card.

    We also scan in the school and daycare forms after we fill them out, then email them to ourselves so we can easily pull them up w/ a gmail search.

    If the school form hasn’t changed, we print out the scan from the prior year, use whiteout to correct the date, and send that in.

    It’s not cheating–it’s efficiency!

  4. I have been saying exactly this for years! (why do I have to fill out three little index cards with the exact same emergency contact info for each of my kids- one for the office, one for the nurse whose office is 15 ft from the office and one for I-dont-know-who! Couldn’t I fill it out in one place online and everyone could access it?)
    Thank for letting me know I’m not alone! And good to see you back!

  5. I feel the pain! My oldest starts public school this year, after doing kindergarten at our very good university daycare center.

    The daycare center still has paper-based paperwork, but they have streamlined and simplified it in the years we’ve been there. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get at least some of that online before my youngest leaves the institution in 2-3 years.

    But the public school’s forms? Ye gads! I’m surprised they weren’t mimeographed.

    I was shocked at how they were not able to cope with sending the forms to me via email. Nope. Not an option. I must come in person to pick all the forms up and then bring them back. Not for security reasons; they just didn’t really know how they would use email to send and receive forms.

    And after having tried to navigation the school district’s website, I have serious doubts that their online forms would be at all easy to use.

    Sigh. Whine. I have a sinking feeling that I will find myself sitting on a school district internet committee or two or three in the years to come.

  6. It appears that most schools are woefully behind the times when it comes to using technology to save time and money. Keep in mind that these are the same folks who insist they need more tax money because they’re going to teach my kids “21st century” skills. And they wonder why I’m so skeptical?

  7. Valerie, our school district web site improved a bit this past year, but it still isn’t that easy to navigate. And it’s still up to individual people to put the appropriate information in the appropriate spot. Doesn’t always happen.

    Tex, I think the people that do the back office stuff and the faculty are quite different animals. While I’ve met a few back office people who are tech savvy and ready to roll with the times, most of the ones I’ve met look back fondly on the days of mimeograph. The faculty, though, most of the ones I’ve met are on our side. 🙂

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