Friday, March 11, 2011

Lunch Time Poll Topic #8675309

Yeah, so I have no idea what number Lunch Time Poll Topic we're actually on.

Today's topic was submitted by an old friend. As in, I've known her for a long time. Not that she's old. Anyway, she needs some feedback about a situation with the school, and we all know that you guys always have the best answers on the internet.

A couple of things to note:
1. She's a teacher, so the workload of a teacher is something very familiar to her.
2. Powerschool is a program many schools use so that parents can have access to their kids' grades and attendance on a daily basis. You can even see the grades for individual assignments and tests. It's like a report card every day that includes all graded work.

Without further ado, her letter:

Today I got a heavy-breather phone call from my 11 year old daughter. My cell rings after I put my students on the bus. It's not a number in my phone, so I don't know who it is, but it is local so I answer it. I hear, "Mom?"

"Yes, dear what's wrong?" More heavy breathing. . .So I ask her if she's going to talk or breathe in my ear.

Eventually she spills her guts about how she is with her teacher, and she is calling me because she wrote something not so nice directed toward a boy in her class.

Should I get that phone call? Absolutely. I am super disappointed in her for what she did. Though I am grateful that she used her pen, and not her mouth to express her sentiments about this boy. I am also disappointed that she was (insert sarcasm) smart enough to turn in the assignment that the words were written on.

But I digress. My real issue is this:

1st quarter her report card showed that she was failing science. We never got a phone call, so assumed that things were fine. I ask during conferences what's going on, and the teacher pulls up her grade book on the computer and says, "Well she just didn't do very well on the test that we took last week." As in, that was the only science grade in the book for the whole 9 weeks! And the teacher goes on to say something like, "It was just the first science test, lots of them struggled with it." So we go home and tell her she needs to be more diligent and take the opportunity to retake tests if she does poorly.

2nd quarter.
We assume she's doing better--we haven't had anything tell us otherwise. My husband works for the school district too, and this teacher sees him every day when she takes her students to lunch. This time when the report card comes, she is failing social studies and language arts, but her science is grade up. The middle school principal was out on medical leave, so I talked to the counselor. I asked her, "Isn't there some policy requiring some sort of parent contact when a kid is failing?" She listens to my concerns, says she thinks there is such a policy, and promises to talk to the principal about it when he gets back because other parents are having the same issue. We tell our daughter to get it in gear etc. . .

This week, 9 days before the end of the 3rd quarter, the counselor asks me if I knew my daughter was failing 3 classes? Ummm, no. Are you kidding me? I teach in this district too, last year this teacher taught in the class next door to mine (now she's in another building). We as parents are around, not hard to get a hold of. She has access to both our personal phone numbers, and email as well as our work ones. Like I mentioned earlier, she sees my hubby every day. We even go to church together.

So after my child is done breathing heavily into the phone, and done getting around to telling me about the bad thing she did at school, I ask to talk to the teacher. We discuss today's issue, and then I ask her why, since she knows how to get a hold of us, can't she let us know that our child is failing THREE classes?!? I got responses like: "Don't you check powerschool? I can't call all 17 parents (this is a regular 5th grade class). In the 5th grade I want to let them take on more of the burden of responsibility. I need to get them ready for middle school where they change classes every 45 min and can't turn in late work. Didn't you get the note/s I sent home? I didn't know she was that far behind. I really don't know where she is (meaning academically)."

So I answer: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T CALL ALL 17 PARENTS!?!?!? They aren't all failing are they? I call parents all the time especially if their kid is beginning to fail. Obviously this kid isn't ready for this kind of responsibility. What makes you think she's going to give me a note if she isn't doing her work?" In my mind I'm thinking: BS, I turned in late work all the way up through college. If you really are keeping your powerschool grade book up-to-date, how do you not know she's failing? How do you not know where my kid (and all the others) are academically when the state tests are coming up in 3 weeks? It's her responsibility to know where they all are. Since I teach in this school I know that my daughter scores at the top of her class on the state tests. She knows the content. She just hasn't been turning things in. She's been known for hiding her homework under her bed, in her laundry hamper, behind her bedroom door, and who knows where else.

So my question is:
Who's responsibility is it to make parent/teacher contact when a child is failing? This is the first year she has ever failed a class.

O.K., internets. What do you think? I'll weigh in with my opinion in the comments.

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