Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My battle With Public School...Act One, Scene One

As many of you know I've been frustrated with our public school system for some time. Today I was at Mackenzie's school as a parent helper and happened to get a chance to sit down with the principal for a few minutes to discuss some of my concerns. After our meeting she emailed the teacher I had some issues with and that teacher called me in to discuss it. I met with her and we had a good conversation that basically ended in us respectfully disagreeing. She called me later and told me that she had emailed the principal back with the results of our discussion and then the principle emailed her back with some things. She wanted to clear up some points and informed me that she would be emailing the principal back and she would copy that email to me. Well, she ended up sending me the entire back and forth emails between the two of them. I was annoyed that the whole high school nature of the emails and decided to respond in an email sent to both of them. I thought I would share all the email fun with you guys! Let me know what you think!

Here is the first email from the principal (Kitty) to the teacher (Deb):


Mrs. Tiffany Dxxxx stopped in today. She would like to meet with you. She is concerned because she feels that the standards have dropped in your classroom. She gave specific examples such as the journal does not have to be completed any longer and that students do not have to complete the agenda book. Please call her at XXX-XXXX. She would like to meet with you any day after 12:30.


Email #2

Thank you for the information. I meet with Mrs. Dxxxx after school today. We had a pleasant conversation regarding the changes in expectations for daily journal writing and signed agenda books. She expressed that although she has certain expectations for Mackenzie, she understands given the reasons I shared.
Mrs. Dxxxx also shared that she went to talk with you, instead of myself, because she wanted to express her frustrations with the school, as a whole.


Email #3

When Mrs. Dxxxx entered the main office she explained that she did not know with whom she should talk. Mrs. Shumaker ushered her into my office. In her conversation with me, Mrs. Dxxxx did not express any concerns with any other teacher or school items with the exception of your classroom. She shared other parents have come to speak with you and they did not feel that you heard their concerns.


Email #4


I just got off the phone with Mrs. Dxxxx and I am courtesy copying her in this correspondence. Mrs. Dxxxx shared that today she walked into the office for the purpose of scheduling an appointment. She found out that you had 10 minutes or so and shared with you at that time that she probably should have had conversation with me first. She did not feel that she probably had sufficient time to "get her thoughts together." She confirmed that she gave specific examples of changes in the classroom, but maybe you "just didn't get" that she had concerns about the school and with other staff. She did not confirm your statement that "other parents have come to speak with...[me]...and did not feel that...[I] heard their concerns."


And here is my reply with I emailed to both the teacher and the principal.

Mrs. Zxxxxx & Mrs. Hxxxxxx,

I do not wish to engage in a "he said, she said" kind of discussing. I am sorry for any confusion. I will address my thoughts to both of you in this email so we are all on the same page. First of all, my concerns are with the overall education system that we have experienced, but the issues I have discussed with both of you from Mrs. Hxxxxx's class are specific examples. I am not trying to assign blame, rather I am trying to point out areas that I feel need changed or improved upon.

I am disappointed with the expectations for my (step) daughter. At the beginning of the school year, I was satisfied that the work level and the classroom structure established was appropriate and that the level of communication would be high. I was very pleased with the way the agenda book was to be handled. My step-daughter is very bright, but we are continually battling with her responsibility and communication skills. I was relieved to know that both the teacher and I would be required to sign the agenda book daily so that I would know if she was missing work or having trouble in any areas. I was also happy with the nightly required reading and journal entries. There was also to be a small amount of take-home homework each week that could be expected. In the beginning of the year she was managing her time with these assignments because she knew they were required. Now that all of these things have been dropped as requirements, she complains that I make her do them anyway when they aren't graded or counted for credit. I feel that these are important or they wouldn't have been started in the first place.

It is my understanding that there are some students whose parents do not help them at home and that because they cannot meet the requirements (through no fault of their own) the requirements have been dropped. While I understand this, what it means for my child is that the expectations for her have been lowered. I realize that there is no perfect solution that works for the entire student body. My concern with the education system as a whole is that as the standards are continually lowered to make every child able to succeed in every situation, the students are no longer challenged. Why can't exceptions for those students without parental support be made instead of changing(lowering) the expectations of ALL the students? Why not require the students to read nightly and fill out a reading log without parent signatures? This way the requirements and expectations are put on the heads of the students without relying on the parents. Those students without parental support are going to have to do homework someday, why not begin teaching the responsibility now? I want my daughter to be prepared for the years that lie ahead.

While I am airing my thoughts, I have one other thing to share that I haven't discussed yet. In another of Mackenzie's classrooms some politically slanted comments have been made that I do not appreciate. Mackenzie came home to tell me that "President Bush was the worse president ever". When I asked her why she felt that way, she didn't have an answer other than that is what her teacher told her. When I asked her why her teacher thought he was a bad president, she said that the teacher didn't say. I don't think it is a teacher's place to express their political or religious beliefs to students without at least sharing both sides to the argument. As a fourth grader, my daughter believes that teachers are always right and she doesn't completely comprehend the difference between a teacher's opinion and fact. Mackenzie took the statement that her teacher made as a fact, not the teacher's opinion. I wasn't there and I don't know exactly what was said, but from several things Mackenzie has told me throughout the year, I know this teachers political views and I know they have been filtered to Mackenzie. I believe she should be learning about government and politics from a bi-partisan viewpoint.

In conclusion, I do not want to point fingers or criticize. I do want to express what I see happening and how I feel about it. I don't think I am the only parent with these concerns or frustrations. When the community is standing at the polls, making a decision to vote for or against the levy, these are the things that affect that decision. I am concerned that as the public school system lowers expectations for students, those top students will move to private or home schools, starting a trend that will be the eventual downfall of the system. I am a product of Greenville City Schools and would like to continue to be proud of that. I want to see the school system succeed and improve. I would like be confident that my children will receive a quality education that challenges them and helps them grow and prepare for "the real world."

Thank you both for taking the time to address my concerns. I hope I haven't come across as "just complaining", but rather as trying to express some issues that I (and others) feel are important. Please feel free to contact me with any further concerns or questions.

Tiffany Dxxxxx


Lauren said...

NEVER apologize. You go girl and you say what you have to!!

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

OH My God.

Aleta said...

You are absolutely correct that their back and forth emails were high schoolish. My gosh! I'm glad you copied both and gave them a good dose of reality! Well done.

Deb@Mommie Mayhem said...

I agree . Your 100 % correct ! Good for you for setting them straight !

Dig in...