So, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed (as I am so apt to do) and I came
across an article that was giving instructions to parents on how to basically get a handle teachers before they begin to indoctrinate and teach students about things that the parents don't agree with.
Basically, this letter was written in response to the push back educators and others who are believers of teaching true history. I'm not sure if you all are following the issues that are taking place with the banning of Critical Race Theory. If you aren't following this issue and your are of African or Native descent, you really should. I won't get into my thoughts on it just yet because I want to give you some time to look into it if you are unaware.
I do, however, want to direct your attention to this letter template that can be found at https://themillstone.substack.com/p/a-letter-for-parents-to-send-to-teachers
You should definitely read it... Because I have penned a response. I usually don't let stuff like this set me off. But for some reason this one really ruffled my feathers. If I were in still in the traditional classroom and got that letter, I would be fuming! I had to sit down and get myself together because on this side of things, I will never have to deal with that. But I still have friends in the system that could possibly come up against something like this. Maybe they can use my template and tweak it to fit their situation. Here is how I'd respond (please note that if you read it and it seems like I'm being a smart ass- it's definitely because I am).
Dear [parent/guardian name],
I am so pleased to have your [son/daughter], [name], in my [subject] class this term! I'm really excited, and I'm looking forward to seeing [him/her] grow this year. I'm confident that with our partnership, [he/she] will learn so much this school year. Thanks for ensuring that your child is off to a great start!
I am well aware of the concerns of many parents, guardians, and stakeholders as it relates to political advocacy and educational legislature that is being passed locally and nationally. Because of that, many concerned teachers and I have made it a point to reach out to all parents/guardians to ensure they are made aware and kept abreast of what is taking place in the classroom. I want to make sure that you know how much I personally appreciate your support because the goal, after all, is that all students achieve a high level of academic excellence. I am so appreciative of the fact that you opened the lines of communication about your expectations related to controversial topics, and especially politics, in the classroom. Now I would like to share some of my expectations for you as the role of an active parent/guardian of a student that will be in my care for this school year.
Here are my expectations:
1. Should I call or send letters home about academic performance, behavior (positive or negative), or attendance, I expect a prompt response. I want to be able to share with you the highs and lows of this journey and may need your assistance in some areas, so your input will be needed in a timely fashion.
2. All lessons and strategies that I implement in my classroom are prescribed by the district/school in which your child in enrolled and are vetted as a best practice to ensure your child masters the skills necessary to be successful in the class. I have spent many years studying, taking courses/tests, and receiving degrees in this field which supports the fact that I am very capable and highly qualified to educate your child. With that being said, all content and strategies will be pedagogically sound and scaffolded to meet your child’s needs. If you are aware of any professional developments to assist with improving your child’s performance, please let me know. We can sign up and attend together.
3. As for asking to review my lesson plans, I will gladly provide them only if you provide me with proof of a study schedule, chore chart, bedtime routine, etc. to ensure that your child has completed all tasks and is and active participant in the home and is ready to learn each school day. Also, provide me with detailed explanations of how you deal with topics and literature dealing with
o Race (we do read literature by many groups of people)
o gender, gender identity, or LGBT issues (we will be discussing history as it happens in the form of legislature and issues of rights of people)
o sexuality (many of these themes are written and expressed as euphemisms so it will be important that students can critically think and infer)
o equity (making people the same isn’t necessary when we give people what they need)
Any assistance you can provide that I can adopt and adapt into my lessons will be greatly appreciated.
4. Please know that I do not ask children for their preferred pronouns. As I am building rapport with your child, I will be calling him/her by name and ensuring that it is pronounced properly so that he/she feels safe in class. Please know that relationship building starts before the actual education of your child, and I will be getting to know your child in ways you may not. So, once again, when situations arise and I need to call you to tackle issues head on, please reply promptly.
5. Controversial topics and questions will arise in class whether they are part of the curriculum or not. This is because students live in the real worlds and are not always shielded from heavy issues and topics (students watch television, listen to the radio, are active on social media platforms- all of which are indiscriminate when it comes to censoring materials you may not want your child to witness. This is where you come in to monitor and ensure your child is not seeing things he/she shouldn’t). Please know that I will answer those questions that are posed to me as clearly and coherently as possible with responses that are age appropriate. Also know that your child has a handheld computer. Whether I answer these questions or not-whether you answer these questions or not- your child will eventually seek this knowledge on his/her own. Please be ready to have some hard conversations with your child.
6. My classroom is my home away from home and represents who I am as a person. I will decorate as I see fit. I have never come to any of my students’ homes and asked them to take down materials that represent their culture, ethnicity, or beliefs. That is just rude. I expect the same respect.
If any of these things will be a problem for you, don’t hesitate to inform me and we can have your child removed from my class. In the event that I am the only teacher for this subject, we can discuss other viable options that can be implemented to ensure that your child still gets the information needed in order to perform comparably to his/her peers and prepare for the next level on this academic journey.
If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know. Conversely, if you can help me in any way, I would love to hear your ideas to determine what can be implemented.
I know that you only want the best for all who are at stake and are eager to see everyone succeed this year. I look forward to your continued contribution and support as we all navigate this difficult season.
Thank you so much for reaching out.