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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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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ok, I lied. So sue me.

I promised just a couple of days ago that I wasn't going to bitch anymore about the whole school thing. And I even skipped a really ripe post about the screaming math teacher because I did promise, after all. But you know what? It's not going to happen. I have to say something. I have to say what I'm feeling, first because I know that my blog has been the biggest thing to hit the educators of our school in a long time. I guess they're not familiar enough with blogging to realize that I know who comes to visit. So hi, all you educators! Happy to see you, even if it's not under the best of circumstances. I hope that maybe by reading the thoughts of a parent with a child in the system you'll get the idea that all is so not well within our public school system.

We've got big troubles here in river city, and by acknowledging that things aren't working very well, we can improve the system. Or, in the case of a certain math teacher, we can call our kids liars for complaining to parents about her constant hissy fits. How's that working for you, Mrs. Math Teacher? Because it's so not working for me or the Girl. By the way, if you think that my child is the only kid that complains about you constantly, think again. I've heard this from every friend she has, over and over, complete with pretty damn good imitations. You're only fooling yourself if you think that claiming that "The Girl only hears what she wants to hear" is going to hold any water.

So anyhow... on to my rant of the day. Or, to be more factual, all of my rants of the day. I got a letter from the school today listing who is going to be at this upcoming meeting. You just won't believe who isn't going to be there. Ok, guess. Give up? Why, the teachers. THEY weren't invited. We've got administrators coming out of my ass, but no teachers. Who did I request to meet with? The teachers. I don't really want to hear any psychobabble admin speak, I don't want to hear that everyone is so upset because I'm confrontational. and I so do not want to hear about how my child is doing great and C's are a good grade, especially when she deserves better. So I'm pissed off. No, I'm frothing at the mouth. I am so not happy. Tomorrow I have to make the phone call to say that I want to speak to at least two teachers face to face. I believe they know who they are. If not, and they're reading, it's you Ms Math Teacher and you Mr English Teacher. Both of you are on my blackest of black lists right now.

So let's break down why I'm gunning for bear. Ms Math Teacher, the one with the daily hissy fits, last Friday went ballistic on my kid and her friends C & B in team time (the New Study Hall). She claims that they were (gasp) talking, and started in by first telling them to move, and then, as they were moving, threatening the Girl and her friends with failure on the next math test for talking in study hall (like what does one have to do with the other?) and then, when they argue and claim that this is unfair, she threatens to fail them for the year. I heard this from more than just the girl, and I know she's prone to exaggeration, so I email the teacher and tell her that she is NOT to threaten my kid and if she has any problem with her, than call me, but NO MORE THREATS. She sends me back this email:
The Girl has heard what she wants to hear.
I am not happy with her lack of work at team time and her consistent
talking while others work.
Her test grades are one part of her grade. Homework, participation,
complete corrections also effect the students over all performance.
Ummm, did this answer my point about threats? It did not. Did it address that she has no right to threaten the Girl with failure in math because she was talking in study hall? Nope, it didn't. I bet you can now figure out why I want to talk to this woman face to face. I think we need to get a few things clear, and I'm not going to accept any excuse for threatening kids with failure. She doesn't like me kid, fine. The kid isn't always the most likeable person on earth. There are days when I have trouble liking her, but I don't threaten to toss her out of the house when she talks out of turn.

Now, lets turn to Mr English Teacher. He cannot, under any circumstances, give the Girl anything but a C- on any paper she writes. Today she got a paper back and I looked carefully at his 'corrections'. Almost every single mark on her paper was subjective. He would rewrite sentences they way he wanted them to sound, and then mark her off. Not that the sentences were wrong, because they weren't. But because subjectively he didn't like the way she put something and thus said it was wrong. Now, in my working life, I taught writing for 10 years at a major University in Boston. I am a professional writer, and have written many books, none of which anyone in their right mind would choose to read, but whatever. I know about editing, and I sure do know about writing. I understand subjective editing, and I know that in ALL cases, an editor suggests but the author has the final say in how a sentence is written. Everywhere on earth except in this teacher's classroom, evidentally. So I went over every mark he made on the paper, and I corrected his corrections*. I also have the previous paper she wrote, and I will be doing the same thing with that one. I want to talk to him about this, because it is just wrong to mark off on a subjective basis. He didn't grade for content, in fact he only made two small comments on the content. He looked for grammatical errors, typos (yes, he marked off for typos) and for sentence structure that he didn't like. What really pissed me off is that he didn't even know how to use the common marks of an editor, instead using question marks, which mean absolutely nothing to a writer. In other words, ineffective editing. How disappointing to my kid who tried so hard once again, and was let down by this guy who told me to my face that he doesn't give higher than a C. But that's not true either, he only gives MY kid the C. She got the lowest grade in the class again. Her paper wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad. It was definately B work, and she was one point away from a D. This so sucks.

I'm so at a crossroads here. I just can't stand these two teachers. Her other teachers? No problemo. They seem professional and caring and nuturing and they know their subject matter. But these two bozos... I don't know if I can stand 4 more months of such unprofessional behavior from adults. They are TERRIBLE teachers. Both of them do nothing whatsoever to encourage students to love learning. In fact, my Girl who used to love math has learned to hate it from Mrs Math Teacher. She used to love English. She's a published writer. She loves to write. Now, not so much. She's so discouraged because she knows that no matter what, Mr English Teacher is going to give her a C-. Why should she bother?

I want to pull her out so badly. I want her to feel good about her work and as long as she withers away in these two classrooms, she's only going to learn to feel badly about herself. Isn't that just want a girl in middle school needs to learn: self loathing.

Great Job, Mrs Math and Mr English Teachers. You suck. You really really suck.

(and you have no idea of how much I wanted to name you by name)

* Did you know that contractions, like didn't, aren't allowed in book reports? Neither did I, nor did the Girl. But she got marked down for it. Now you tell me that's not subjective. And stupid. I'm sure the NY Times Book Review, which I read religiously, would be most surprised to learn this rule. Moron.
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