Tennessee elementary schools were notified next week that the largest and most exciting trip was being gutted. AAA sent letters to the schools telling them that effective immediately only 8 kids per school were going to be allowed to go on the Washington DC Safety Patrol trip. This has been a massive disappointment to many kids who have looked forward to this trip for years. Not only did AAA cut back on this trip, but they made the announcement about the cut backs AFTER school has been in session for a month and AFTER kids have already signed up for the safety patrol program and been told they will ALL have a chance to go based on their school and safety patrol performance.
I understand programs have to make changes and not every undertaking like this is sustainable. But the fact that they made the decision after planning was already under way for the trip is just wrong.
Why has this program been drastically cut so suddenly? According to news sources and a PR representative from AAA, this was not a financial decision. This decision was made because there were simply too many kids going on this trip. This was not a financial decision on AAA’s part. The funding for this trip is taking care of by the parents, school and fundraisers. AAA does not pay for this trip.
This morning a spokesperson for AAA went on a local radio station to talk more about why these cuts were made and be interviewed by a radio personality whose son is a 5th grader and will affected by this decision. I was blown away by how unapologetic the spokesperson was for this decision. Her attitude was rather smug with a sort of “suck it up and get over it” tone.
I’ve emailed 2 people with AAA about this situation and have yet to receive a response. I’m sure they are bombarded by emails and phone calls from 100’s of other angry parents and teachers. I rarely write a negative blog post about a company or product, but I felt the need to let everyone know just how AAA has handled this situation.
As of right now, many schools are choosing to not participate in the trip at all if they can only choose 8 kids to go on the trip. There is just no fair way for many schools to pick only 8 kids out of many kids who work hard all year and are very deserving of this trip.
I know I will personally never have a AAA membership again after this. I will keep everyone updated on what happens. My daughter was heartbroken when I told her that this trip that she has been so excited about may be canceled. My 5th-grade daughter knew what a huge honor this trip was. Yes, I could take her up to DC this summer when school is out and will probably do that. But let’s face it, walking around DC with your parents isn’t quite the same as exploring with your closest friends and teachers.
How would you all handle this situation as a parent?