Two full days after I sent that email to the Second Grade Team, I had not received any response. I was irritated – as a parent, my questions and concerns surely deserve the courtesy of some kind of response, even if the “team” disagrees with me, right? And surely if the project actually has value and merit, the teachers should be able to tell me what that value and merit is, right? I sent a second email on Friday morning asking again that my questions and concerns be addressed.
Early Friday evening, I got an email from my daughter’s teacher apologizing for not responding sooner, but it had been a very busy week (teachers can be too busy to respond to parents’ emails, apparently, but parents can’t be too busy to do ridiculous projects), and if I wanted to chat about my concerns, I was welcome to stop by the classroom one day the following (this) week.
Really? Now this warrants a face-to-face meeting? Can’t you just respond to my email? Tell me what’s so educational about this project?
I waited the weekend out, respecting that everyone deserves a break over the weekend, and sent her an email Sunday night telling her that it was not going to be possible for me to schedule a time to come to the school to chat with her this week.
(By now, I was onto what was really going on: I’ve learned enough in our dealings with the school district pertaining to our son, Finn, who has Down syndrome, that there is an unwritten policy that admin and school personnel will avoid written communications when possible, because written communications leave an inarguable record.)
As expected, I received a phone call from my daughter’s teacher early yesterday evening. Let me just say up front that this teacher is an extremely nice lady, and she’s pretty non-confrontational. The conversation was fine: I again raised my questions about the value of dressing a large paper turkey in human clothing, the difficulty of completing such a task by the average second-grader, and my concern that my daughter was being asked to undertake a research project when she has not even been taught how to conduct research. I explained that the entire project places too much of a burden on parents, and I said to her, “You do realize that probably 90% of these projects that are turned in are actually done by the parents and not the kids, right?” She chuckled and said, “Yes.” “What’s the point of that?” I asked. She really couldn’t come up with any real value to the project except to say that the team thinks that it can be a fun way for kids to learn a little bit about their heritage.
In the end, she said that Lilah is doing well in class and that she’s a conscientious student, so she’s really not concerned if Lilah turns this project in or not. I told her that I would leave it up to Lilah.
On the one hand, I feel validated that I took a stand on this. I really do believe that projects like this should be done in class with the teacher’s guidance. If an assignment or a project is going to be sent home, it’s absolutely valid for parents to question its value.
On the other hand, I feel frustrated that I expended this much time and energy on such a silly, pointless project. I could have just done the damn thing myself in less time than it took to engage in this back-and-forth with the “team” about it. And there are undoubtedly lots of people out there who are rolling their eyes, wondering why I bother – the teachers know best, just do what you’re told – or something like that.
All I can say is: nothing will ever change if people don’t speak up.