I received an email back from my tenth-grader’s AP Euro teacher in response to my note to him.  My note to him (a) asked what the point of a parent signature on the planner is, and (b) expressed my objection that I should be required to oversee a 16-year old’s schoolwork.  Oh, and (c) my objection that he should get points deducted for not getting a signature if, in fact, he actually does the work.

Here is the response I received from his teacher:

The purpose of the calendar is to keep my students organized for the week and I have them have their parents or guardians sign the calendar each week so they’re informed what’s going on. I’ve done this in all my classes for many years. I have no problem if you just sign every week if that works better for you and Kevin. Kevin should have been able to explain this to you and explain we spend the first day of each week going over the week, ie, assignments/homework, due dates, next test…

So, basically, it’s just the way he’s always done it, and that’s the reason he does it.  Huh.

My first-grader’s teacher also was displeased, as it turns out, that my daughter did not sign and return the top portion of that form concerning the first-grade performance coming up.  I first heard from my daughter, who was upset because she didn’t get her two “credit card punches” (an incentive/reward system the teacher uses) when she turned in only the bottom portion of the form.  That made me angry – why should my daughter be penalized for something that is out of her control (my allowing her to sign and return the form)?  I debated about whether or not to get in touch with the teacher to discuss the matter, and while I was still trying to decide, she sent me an email informing me that Lilah did not turn in the top portion and “is there a problem?”  I responded to her, enumerating the objections I have to requiring a six-year old to sign a form agreeing to terms that (a) she undoubtedly verbally agreed to when it was undoubtedly discussed in class, and (b) she continues to agree to by actually fulfilling the expectations she was told to put her signature to.  I also explained that I think it sends a bad message to require kids to sign things like that. “There’s nothing like making a kid sign something to say, ‘You’re not to be trusted – we don’t have faith in you,'” I said.

Well, it fell on deaf ears.  This teacher and I are apparently completely at odds at this point.  A couple more emails went back and forth, and the gist of her position is that she’s always done it this way, and it encourages the children to “own responsibility” for their behavior.  My position is that it starts from a place of “I don’t have faith in you,” instead of “I do have faith in you.”  No resolution was reached, except I did tell her that my daughter will not be signing the form, but that if she displays any problem behavior, to please let me know.

I’m really pretty disgusted by the whole thing.  Talk about critical thinking – it doesn’t seem like even the teachers want to take a critical look at anything they’re doing – even when someone raises concerns.  The message I’m getting loud and clear is “It’s my way or the highway.”  These teachers don’t want to partner with parents, they don’t seem to value any input that doesn’t jibe with their own agenda or philosophy, and they don’t even seem to realize how divisive it is.  They want support and agreement, but they seem to see that as a one-way street.  From a parent’s perspective, it’s extremely frustrating to feel so powerless and devalued.