Kids, school, parenting…and trying to stay nice

Here is a little glimpse into our daily family life. An email I had to send out today and still feel funny about. An incident in my daughter’s school, she is a freshman. Should I have let the issue slide, ignored it? Could I have been more compassionate in the email? I do not know, but it felt true and it felt good. And for whatever reason I wanted to post it here, I am sure will be fun later looking back at this. (naturally, I changed all the names)
Awaiting the reply from school now…

“Dear Ms. Down,
Thank you for your reply. Yes, I most definitely still have questions and from the sound of your email, the whole point of my reaching out to the school about this issue is unfortunately missing. I am sure it is due to a fact that you and I did not speak directly. So here it is.
Please do not take what you read below too seriously, although I realize it may be hard for most. These are just my observations and comment on what happened.
Tessa just got home and told me about your after school conversation regarding this. Sounds like you have closed the subject. So in short from your conversation – you do not change grades, you do not give out extra work for students trying to improve a grade. You still blame her for your website malfunctioning and apparently she should have come to you about it – although she had no way of knowing the assignment did not go through and it was the first time students used the site to submit an assignment, so they had no way of knowing what to expect. On top of this now you are bringing up another classroom assignment that Tessa forgot to bring on the due date, you do remember her asking to bring it the next day, and she did, but you do not remember THAT part and somehow there is no record of it?
So she did do the work both times and yet being penalized for your blog glitch and your forgetfulness… debatable I know as it is her word against yours. From your email: “Her grade breakdown is as follows:
Classwork: C-
Homework: A-
Writing: C
Final average – 78, C+”
So both C’s could have been avoided!
Now, I do not see the need for a phone call at this point, I would have much rather come in and meet in person, but sounds like it is not something that is encouraged, or at least not an easy thing to arrange with an additional teacher. Why exactly does Ms. Smith need to be there? Is that a requirement I am not aware of? Two teachers to be present in a meeting with a parent?
I also would love to explain why I have even raised this issue. Please understand, I am not some controlling mother who is simply not happy with her little girl getting a first C ever! I could care less, truly, I know Tessa is a great student, a wonderful kid, and already a very accomplished well-rounded person and no grade will ever change that! I am raising this issue because I do not believe it is fair to give a lower grade to a student who in fact did the work! And I try to teach Tessa to stand up for what she believes in, speak up and speak her mind (in a most respectful manner possible).
Tessa came to you yesterday to find out what assignment was apparently not turned in and cause her grade to slip to a C. When you told her, Tessa immediately knew which one it was. She even remembered how many questions it had, explaining to you and recalling the exact date it was turned in online and that she actually got a confirmation from the website, but could not see the assignment on the website assuming it takes time to show up in the system. (next time she’ll sure know better!)
You have told Tessa that the assignment never came through. And this is shocking to find out now, why did you not tell Tessa before the end of the quarter?! When Tessa would have had a chance to take care of the problem? Tessa has not once in all her years in over 10 different schools had an assignment or even homework not complete or not on time (unless she was sick or something serious like that)! Why was there no detailed progress report of any kind ahead of time?! All other classes had one!
Tessa asked you, how can she fix this and you told her that there is nothing to do, just move on and forget about it and that it is only the first quarter. Well, this is not good enough! Tessa has never had a “C” and she truly in her heart felt that she would get an “A- or B+” she was working very hard and the only reason she did not do the one and only extra credit work, was that it was given for the weekend along with additional homework, and Tessa simply did not have time. Now knowing this, I understand a “B” may be sufficient and this is okay.
What is NOT okay is 1. to be penalizing/punishing a student for a website glitch, 2. not making a student aware of a missing assignment which was due on Oct 26th with a whole week before the quarter closed, 3. refusing the student an opportunity to correct a grade lowered due to a system error, and finally, 4. telling a student who cares about her grades to just forget about it and that this is just the first quarter – am I to understand that that final grade will not be affected by a “C”?
I have not gone to school in the US, in fact, Tessa is the first in our family, so I am not as school savvy as most moms, but this simply does not sound fair to me. I have never even looked at Tessa’s homework, she takes care of it all by herself, she always has and this is so strange to be involved in something like that.
After all you yourself say in your email: “For homework, Tessa is consistent and does well with those assignments” so if you know that, why not make a little nice gesture and say to a kid, “Hey I know you have had some health problems and missed some classes, so I just wanted to let you know, that couple of your assignments have not been turned in, please take care of that or let me know if you need help”…. I mean – it probably is too much to ask, you do have many students, but that is where a detailed progress report would suffice.
But Hey, you are teaching her a valuable life lesson – life isn’t’ fair and in Tessa’s case, it starts now 😉
Please try not to take it out on Tessa, this is just between us adults, but that may not be a fair request either.
Thank you,

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