Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Dear Mr. SpEd Teacher

You wanna see how annoyed I am about this damn book? Here is the letter I just sent to the freaking teacher:

The Girl came home today really deflated. She told me that you wouldn't allow her to read Falling Leaves and insisted that she pick another book. I don't understand what your reasoning is for this, but she said that you implied she was too dumb to read this book, that it was too long, that she couldn't possibly finish it, and it was too hard for her to understand.

The Girl and I talked a lot about what book she wanted to choose and what kind of book she was looking for. I have a library here at our home of over 10,000 volumes. Yes, you read that correctly. We have walls of books in every room in our house, even in the dining room. The Girl and I talked about what she wanted, looked at the available books on our shelves and then we choose several books that might possibly fit what she was looking for. In the end after reviewing several books, she choose Falling Leaves. She started reading it during vacation and was well underway with it, having already polished off the most difficult part which explained the history of the Sino-Japanese relationship before WW2.

What irks me most about this decision you made is that my child wants to stretch her wings beyond simple books, she choose a book she knew was challanging and agreed to the challange, and you basically gave her the feeling that she wasn't capable of challanging herself. I don't get it. Isn't school supposed to be challanging? Isn't she supposed to be working towards reading harder books, learning more vocabulary, and learning more history? Isn't that a good thing?

I also don't understand why you are interfering with her English work, which we have discussed before. Again, she is supposed to be working with you on MATH, not English. Nowhere in her IEP is there any stated need for extra support in English. The Girl is doing very well, she's learning content in History and Math that truely astounds me, and she's trying her best to be a good student despite her learning issues. Encouraging her, being positive, and helping her gain new skills is what I believe your job is about. It is not about discouraging her from trying to expand her horizons.

I promised The Girl I would not speak to you about this because she is resigned to reading yet another "chic lit" book that you evidentally approved. She hates that I speak up for her and wants to fight her own battles, but when a teacher tells her stuff that is so deflating, she can't handle the battle herself. But I felt so strongly about this that I needed to let you know how upset I was and how disappointed the Girl was about this decision.

Please, in the future, DO NOT discourage her from heading any book without checking with me first. The Girl has an involved and interested parent who works carefully with her on her choices. Just let me know what the reading requirement is, and we'll find a book that she *wants* to read. I'd much rather her read decent literature that might be harder than anything she's read before than to focus on garbage books that are easy to digest and have no inherent value. Content is what is more important. Please try to remember that.


The Girl's Mom

So what do you think? Was I too bitchy? Did I get the point across? Will he hate me more than he probably already does?
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Blogger Dak-Ind said...

greetings from michele.

did you know your template is a little off, with your sidebar being all the way at the top and the actual posts starting about 1/2 way down the page.

SO, i like this letter very much. I do not think it was bitchy at all. in fact, i wish all parents took an interest in their children to this extent. there are so many parents who just dont care about their children. it is refreshing to see a mom involved and caring and interested in her child. My mom was a good parent, but when i had a teacher tell me i couldnt hack a class that i had signed up for, she did nothing. i eventually got into the class and did very well, but i wish my mom had stood up and said, look, my daughter can do it, and let me try. good for you for letting her try.

6/1/06 2:52 AM  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

This letter was spot on. I hope you copied it in to the principle, her class teacher & whatever the equivelent of the LEA is over there. That's awful, awful behaviour on the teachers part. Ooo, I'm seething for you right now!

10,000 books? I thought we were doing well with 3,000 ish

Here from Micheles, but I'll be back again on my own.

6/1/06 4:47 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

First thought - who cares if he loves you or hates you. You're fighting for your daughter's best interest -- Teacher be damned. ;) Seriously, I think it was a good letter that clearly shows thought went into both "Girl's" selection and your response to his push back.

Will you share his response when you get it?

6/1/06 5:11 PM  
Blogger Marc Yoder said...

Good for you! I'm sure you bumped into the "Leave the education to the professional" mindset. Good for you for encouraging your daughter to grow. I don't know The Girl's age, but my daughter really, really enjoys "The American Girl" series.. which would clearly fit ANY American History need. Basically, it follows a fictional character (a young girl) through a period of history, detailing what her daily life and times were like. My daughter and I recently had a great discussion on what it must have been like for slave families to be separated, and the underground railroad, based on her most recent book. Hope it turns out well!


6/1/06 5:36 PM  
Blogger Mamma C said...

Great letter! I don't think you were too bitchy at all. I think you were succinct and to the point and let him know he overstepped his bounds. His loss if he hates you. . . he knows you'll stick up for the Girl so that means he should watch out and behave himself.

6/1/06 7:06 PM  
Blogger Pink Pen said...

nope. you weren't too bitchy. Shame on this idiot for not being a good teacher.

And good for theGirl for wanting to challenge herself.

6/1/06 7:33 PM  
Blogger kontan said...

i think your letter is very good and to the point. if she is willing to challenge herself then she should be let, especially if you are willing to work her through it if necessary.

as for the involvement of her sped tchr...i don't know if they were out of line or not...the resource teachers i deal with help with all subject areas despite being specifically assigned to one. for us it has to do with grade level. i'll spare you the explanation unless you are truly interested, but it is a mere logistic issue so that students receive credit for their resource class.

anyway, doesn't change that he was out of line if he discouraged b/c he didn't think she could do it and she actually could and was willing to work.

frustrating moments...great that you are so involved.

6/1/06 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Kat said...

I don't think the letter was bitchy at all. You were totally reasonable. Why is he trying to discourage her from challenging herself?! Clearly she had a real interest in reading the book and showed the type of initiative that I'm pretty sure teachers are supposed to encourage.

7/1/06 9:18 PM  

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