Monday, October 19, 2009

I have just sent this letter to my School District's Superintendent


October 19, 2009
Dr. Dale E. Mitchell
Superintendent

Dear Dr. Mitchell,

I am writing to you today as an extremely concerned parent.  I am the parent of a third grader by the name of Joseph Wilson.  He is, of course, attending Churchill School.  My experiences there, thus far, have not been positive.  I have reached the point where I am requesting my student be removed from his current classroom and  placed in a new classroom so that all parties involved (my son, myself and the teacher) can have a fresh start.

This began somewhat innocently with a letter sent home stating that my son is in the bottom 25th-50th percentile in his class in reading comprehension and fluency.  The letter also stated that he would be removed from his class for small group instruction around these deficiencies and that he would not miss any instruction.  I had huge concerns that any test determined my son had poor comprehension and fluency, as I know this to be incorrect.  I therefore called the teacher, Ms. Wood.  We spoke, I expressed my concerns, she convinced me to give it a week and that she would follow up with a phone call on Friday. I received no call on Friday.  I did,in fact, receive a call on Monday.  It was not the follow up to which we had agreed. In the call, the teacher requested I give it three weeks, that there would be no real way to see if he was misplaced because no one would be scoring his current tests as of yet (someone else besides her does that) and while he was focused, concentrating and showing understanding, three weeks should need to be given to show growth.  As I had explained, I didn’t believe he needed growth, I believed the teacher needed that small group opportunity to see that Joey has both comprehension and fluency.  So, I requested a meeting with her so that I could sit down with her to hear from her what she was seeing in the classroom out of Joey.

Within an hour, I received a phone call from the Principal, Ms. Coffey.  Right off the bat she told me I should just pull my son from the small group instruction if that was what I wanted.  What I wanted was a better understanding of what my son’s performance in the classroom looked like and what evaluations were determining his skill levels as low. Again, she told me I could just pull Joey and that the small group instruction was not needed if I did not want it.  I said fine.  At that point she wanted to know if I still wanted to come meet with the teacher.  I said yes, because AGAIN, I was looking for a better understanding of what my son’s performance in the classroom looked like and what evaluations were determining his skill levels as low. Ms. Coffey said fine, but that she would be there and sitting in on that meeting. I was speechless.

Dr. Mitchell, my experiences with the staff of Churchill have felt aggressive to say the least.  Have I felt put on the defense, yes. It begins with Ms. Coffey telling me that if all she was to deal with was the problems in her school, she might as well get a job selling shoes at Macy’s.  I’m sorry she looks so lowly at the work of retail.  Perhaps Ms Coffey should have looked in Joey’s file before the meeting and she would have known that I work retail.  I have degrees from both Northwestern University and Loyola University, where I received my Master’s of Education Administration and Supervision. However, I am quite happy to focus on my children currently and find no shame in my current line of work.  It’s too bad that your principal at Churchill feels the need to demean this line of work and cannot find a way to align with parents different from her. After that comment from her, I was told by her that I have a chip on my shoulder, that there is something “underlying” that I am not willing to discuss, and that when I am ready, I can come talk to her.  I am not sure where Ms. Coffey learned her interpersonal skills, but after being treated quite aggressively, her demeaning retail comments and her lack of empathy for where I am coming from, no, in fact, I will no longer be going to her to work on my concern’s for Joey’s performance in school.  After my description of Joey’s performance and skills in his current classroom with his current grades, Ms. Wood, the teacher, stated that she was going “slow” and that his current performance was no indication that he would succeed as the year moved on because she was going to pick up the pace and she would not provide assistance as she had been doing throughout the first month of school.  Wow.  This teacher is implying that my son would not be able to keep up.  Also, she showed NO FAITH that I, as Joey’s mother, would be assisting him at home or supporting his development during non-school hours.

Dr. Mitchell, after this meeting, I looked at Churchill’s school report card.  I need to advocate for my son. I am not being unrealistic.  Churchill’s lowest performing students in reading are boys, with only 28% earning a four versus 43% of all girls.  Also, black students are receiving lower scores in reading, with only 14% earning a 4 while 50% of all WHITE students are earning a four.  In the district’s 2009-2014 Strategic Plan, the writer states “The school and home should work together with one primary purpose: to create life-long learners”, as well as”Expectations help set the level of student achievement,” and finally, “The school should provide all students with the opportunities, tools, challenges, and motivation to achieve their potential.”

Dr. Mitchell, the only viable option for success at this point is a change in teachers.  They are learning centers, so I understand I must navigate this home-school relationship with Ms. Coffey.  However, I do not feel that Joey’s classroom placement will make him successful this year.  His teacher has already expressed her lack of faith in his abilities and in his success come her quicker pace of instruction.  Allow Joey to flourish in a less judgmental classroom with a teacher that believes he will succeed based on her expectations, that will set high expectations, that will provide Joey the opportunities, tools, challenges, and motivation to achieve their potential, even if it’s at my request.

Please call me at xxx.xxx.xxxx to further discuss Joey’s new placement.

Sincerely yours,

Angel Geden


1 comment:

  1. 10 Responses to “I just sent this letter to my school district’s superintendent”

    Damn! Way to make yourself be heard! I would have done the exact same thing.
    Anne Y said this on October 19, 2009 at 7:38 am | Reply

    Gosh that is BS Angel. I am so sorry you are dealing with that. Go get ‘Em Mama Bear! Love you.
    Jaded Perspective said this on October 19, 2009 at 7:42 am | Reply

    Wow. Just wow. Good for you for advocating for your son and not backing down. (hugs)
    Keep us posted.
    PrincessJenn said this on October 19, 2009 at 9:09 am | Reply

    Good for you! And good for Joey… What a lucky boy to have such a caring and concerned mother on his side. Love you!
    Angelia said this on October 19, 2009 at 9:24 am | Reply

    I remember my fights with teacher’s and school officials not very fondly from when my oldest was in elementary school. We actually ended up changing schools twice, ultimately with me taking a second job so my children could attend a private Catholic school. After a few years the expense became to burdensome and we returned to the public school arena. After several more years of battle and two more school changes, even with my constant advocacy the entire experience ended up an unpleasant and, if you ask me, an unsuccessful one. I ended up putting my second and third child into an independent study/homeschool program in which they both succeeded greatly and attended college. Unfortunately, the experience ruined any love of education for my oldest and I feel horrible that I didn’t do more for her earlier on.
    Your obvious intelligence and gift for communication, I feel make you an excellent advocate for Joey and I congratulate you on going straight to the top, that was very good thinking. I bet you get some good results and are much more successful than I was.
    Way to go, lady. My esteem for you just continues to grow.
    Vixen (aka ladybugsgrama) said this on October 19, 2009 at 9:25 am | Reply

    you go girl! i think you conveyed your thoughts and feelings awesomely and they BETTER listen!
    becky said this on October 19, 2009 at 9:47 am | Reply

    They have listened. I received a call from the superintendent this afternoon. Unfortunately, I was conducting interviews for new employees at my store and I was unable to answer my phone.
    The principal emailed me an apology.
    I do not want to discuss this with the teacher OR the principal until I know what the superintendent intends to discuss with me.
    The Mommy Tsunami said this on October 19, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Reply

    That’s great you’ve already received a call back. Your son deserves better and good for you taking the time to write so eloquently about a shitty situation. You voiced your concerns and I hope you get the results he deserves.
    melissa said this on October 20, 2009 at 9:12 am | Reply

    Good for you! I would have done exactly the same thing too. I hope you get a positive resolution from the superintendent.
    uthostage said this on October 22, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Reply

    Angel,
    I would go with your gut. You have a good one, trust it. If you still feel like he needs to move, you should move him. If you think it is under control keep him there. You know what is best. Sorry you have to experience this. I have been there. We switched schools the next year and it was the best thing we have ever done. It was a long year but after the meeting with the principal, it was not as bad as the beginning. Best of luck to you. Hugs to you both.
    PB and Jazz said this on October 26, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Reply

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