A message to parents from your child’s teacher

Dear Parent/Guardian,

I am your child’s teacher.  My role as educator extends far beyond the walls of my classroom.  It is my profession, what I practice.   I have chosen to devote the better part of what will be the years that make up my life to educating your child. I take it very seriously and I should; I am a stakeholder in your child’s future.

And so are you. You take it seriously also.  You take your role in your child’s life more seriously than probably anyone else ever will.  You have spent countless hours modeling empathy and kindness, teaching right from wrong, helping your child learn how to navigate through an increasingly complicated world and spending time to understand who your child is and where he/she is coming from.   You do this in order to help guide your child down the path to who he/she will become.  So I ask you, taking all of this into consideration, how willing would you be to allow some other parent to take over this role for you –someone who claimed to know “better” than you about what was right for your child?

Think about it.

Because that is what is happening in my classroom.  And it isn’t because they know “better” than I do how to educate your child –the undertaking I have chosen to devote my life’s work to becoming better at doing.  It certainly isn’t because they have spent months getting to know the individual you have raised in an effort to better understand what your student needs to thrive in a responsive learning environment.  It has nothing to do with the relationship they have formed with your child in order to show respect and care for him/her as a person and as a learner.  It doesn’t, for a second, reflect the passion I have for the subject I teach –passion that I pass on to your student in every way I can and at every chance I get.

It simply has to do with money.

It has to do with the $500 billion dollars allocated by the United States government to children like yours.  Your money.  Tax-payer money intended to directly benefit students. Money that is being hijacked by for-profit educational management companies.  The same people who are using their voices to belittle me and my colleagues, and our schools, and your child’s performance, in order to rationalize their hidden agenda: making money.

They are spending their own money too.  They are using it to pay lobbyists who help manipulate educational policy and dictate allocation of resources towards private companies… and it is working.  The $13 million dollars they had their hands on in 2005 had already risen to $389 million by 2011.  Don’t mistake it: there exists big profit potential in your child.  Three hundred and eighty-nine million dollars…and that was two years ago.

So today I ask you this:

My life’s work.  The countless hours I spend with your child presenting new material, creating on-going formative assessments that are authentic and based on your student’s individual needs at a given moment in time, the active learning and knowledge-construction happening in my classroom on a daily basis, the time I spend creating lessons which require students to build upon and re-evaluate prior knowledge and the work that reflects the relationship that I have worked diligently to foster with your student:  is it worth putting all of this hard-won expertise on the back-burner so that someone can divert money intended for your child?

The person your child is and how he/she learns and grows cannot be gauged by an answer bubbled onto a sheet of paper.  Your student deserves my full expertise, not a narrowed curriculum and hours devoted to my teaching to the test.  My colleagues and I deserve to be freed from the negative impact that the calculated teacher-bashing and union-bashing is having on our profession…because it is calculated, and by this point I don’t think I need to tell you by whom.

So please, educate yourself.  Have a voice in this issue.  Talk to teachers and administrators about what is happening in your child’s school as a result of America’s education reform; support teachers you know are there for your student; question media reports that claim there is a simple answer to so-called underperformance; and be aware of what is happening on a local and national level.  It is affecting your student . . . and it isn’t going away any time soon.

Sincerely,

Christine McCartney

To learn more:

https://www.facebook.com/networkforpubliceducation

http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Privatizing_Public_Education,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/01/03/get-title/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/02/private-firms-eyeing-prof_n_1732856.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/pearson-education-profits_b_2902642.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

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About christine mccartney

I am a teacher, a wife, a proud aunt, a dog rescuer, a person who has been rescued by my rescued dogs, a hiker, a three time (phew!) cancer survivor, a runner, a tattoo addict, a vegetarian, an advocate, a friend and a happy traveller. Enjoy!
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159 Responses to A message to parents from your child’s teacher

  1. Thank you, as a former educator I am appalled at the cuts and invasive techniques that are forcibly being ushered into classrooms without parents noticing.

    Thank you!

  2. Yoshiko says:

    Great to have it in video :-)
    Thank you for following on behalf of Daylight Tune Ministry :-)

  3. Pingback: A message to parents from your child’s teacher | marievie30

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  5. Pingback: Another Reason to Homeschool | loricamper.wordpress.com

  6. sugarbush43 says:

    I sincerely appreciate not only this post, but also all of the teachers who are sticking to teaching despite the battering it’s been receiving for so long now.

    I initially went to school to become a teacher, but quit when I realized that teaching had changed swiftly in the few years following my high school graduation. It changed from that of inspiration and knowledge to that of testing, scores, and government interference. I bailed and of that I am not proud. I knew it would lead to a lifetime of frustration. I taught later in a private school and the difference was amazing. We have so many kids transferring to our schools simply due to the extreme focus on tests in the public schools.

    I fear for my child’s academic future. To me, education is not about grades or test scores. My favorite classes were those where my teacher had a passion for the subject and instilled a passion for it within us. Teachers are now being told not to be that way. Instead, the test scores must be there. We must memorize and regurgitate. I still work in the world of academia. I see the seniors, undergrad, and grads. I see their grades, I see their test scores, and I also see their writing and thoughts. It’s sad, because those who have the best grades don’t always carry with them a solid education. They don’t even realize that they’ve been cheated. I’m blessed to have just barely missed this new way of “teaching” enforced by the politicians. I can only hope that the school in which I’ve enrolled my son who is soon to begin Kindergarten will be one which focuses not on tests, but on passion and knowledge. I’m so glad that we have been able to enroll him in a school that is not bound by those silly rules.

    More power to you, teachers. Although the government and big wig politicians don’t see it, YOU are the most valuable resource we have here. You deserve so much more and most certainly deserve the freedom to use your talents rather than follow a script.

  7. changeme10 says:

    This was really good. Thank you for this post. I am a teacher as well and I try the best I can every day. I spend weekends grading papers and creating lessons, calling parents and scanning additional practice pages on the weekends to send home to parents. The job never ends. Thank you.

  8. Mrs. Ralf says:

    I am one who left the system for teaching abroad in International Schools. I applaud those of my friends who stick with it day in and day out. Yet even though I left this system, I still feel connected to it, protective of it, etc. It is heart breaking to watch our schools be run by a business model rather than what is best for kids.

  9. noshalicious says:

    Great post! As a recent high school graduate I can say I was lucky enough to have teachers that wished to invest not only in student’s education, but in their lives as well. Thanks for sharing :)

    http://noshalicious.wordpress.com/

  10. fabfoodfairy says:

    As a public school teacher myself, thank you! All of your points are so well made and eloquently spoken.

  11. Well said. This attack against teachers has become terribly demoralizing, at the legislative level and in public comments. My quality of life has been affected by the relentless negative attacks, many of which are unfounded and hurtful to teachers. You are right – political gain is driving most of this rewriting of what teachers do and how they will be measured. Very scary in Michigan….

  12. I am going to college to become a teacher and sometimes it terrifies me. The changes that the educational system has gone through, just during my time in school, is ridiculous and downward spiraling. Something I really have a problem with is the fact that our government is trying to train A+ Honor Roll students with all Advanced on their tests and at least 30 on the ACT. I can be that kid, but so many others can’t. It’s not their strong suit and they know it. That realization brings them down to where they don’t even want to try, which harms everything even more.
    I believe you can achieve 99% of the things you put your mind to, but it isn’t necessary. That B+ student doesn’t need to be more than that. He is better than the A+ student in another area.
    I pray for the educational system regularly. I hope it takes an upward turn before I get into it.
    You did a fantastic job talking about this and I hope your message reaches many. That’s why I’ll be sharing this on Facebook and Twitter.

  13. pachanwalks says:

    Reblogged this on Pachanwalks's Blog and commented:
    An amazing and powerful piece that sums up many of the travesties that are occurring as a result of our reformed educational system. Definitely worth a read or listen if you get the chance.

  14. pachanwalks says:

    Beautifully written.
    This article and the sources you have cited only reassert what I have been saying and thinking the entire time. NCLB has facilitated private educational companies to profit from our failing education system. Rather than allowing the educators who know there students best to work with a curriculum that they develop from the classroom up, educators are given one option; to force feed students a purchased ‘data-based’ curriculum that is developed by a corporation seeking profit. What then happens when the said curriculum does nothing to increase test scores? A new curriculum is then purchased, handed over to teachers, and blanketed across a very diverse student body.
    I often think what if this is how other industries operated. If, for example, we were to purchase a new car, only to have the wheels fall off after a number of years, simply because of design flaw, not that of the owners. When we returned the car, the manufacturer would tell us that not only was it our fault, but now we must buy a new model for the same price, knowing that the same problem is most likely to occur again.
    I was in education for 4.5 years before deciding to take a step back and revaluate what was going on in the system. This does not put me anywhere near the expertise and knowledge that I saw from many of my peers who worked incredibly hard each day to create a magic in their classroom that can only be seen to be believed. I only have the upmost respect for people in this system, and can only hope that soon the public eye is opened to the travesty that is hindering their ability to educate America’s youth.

  15. Drew Habura says:

    Fantastic Christine, beautifully spoken!

  16. kldawson says:

    As a veteran of the American education system elementary through university I find the pomposity of so many teachers outrageous. They fail and blame the parents. Never did a teacher press me to think for myself, but only to learn by rote. And when I graduated high school at 17 and went into the military I soon discovered that most of what I had been taught was nonsense, the Great American myth of brave, honorable Pioneers, savage Indians and stupid brown people. Today I try to teach my daughter to ignore what she’s taught and find out for herself. She’s bright and good hearted, things I never found in my teachers. In my opinion based on my experience as a student and as a parent dealing with teachers, they are glorified, ill-tempered slugs just putting in time until retirement and never an originals thought among them.

    • I am sorry that is the experience that you had…and, even worse, that you see your daughter having. That being said, you should be even more incited about the direction that education is moving in our country in regards to the overuse of testing if you think that teachers are forcing students to “learn by rote.” The overuse of testing will make that even worse, in my opinion. I am interested in what part of my urging parents to be informed about education reform and some of the more insidious forces behind it prompted you to react so negatively towards teachers? I strive everyday in my English Language Arts classroom to help my students become aware of the socio-political realities in our country and around the world; I also push them to look at different perspectives and become independent thinkers. By no means was any of this an attempt to be “pompous” or belittle parents, just an attempt to help parents understand an aspect of what is happening in their society.
      all best, Christine

    • I didn’t find this pompous at all. She wasn’t telling you how to raise kids, she wasn’t saying who to vote for, she wasn’t saying she has the answers. She was encouraging engagement and intelligent thought- two things that good educators and education systems try to do. I’m sorry that you feel you had no good teachers, but simply going to school does not make you an expert on education. It’s also important to note that you you were taught is going to by very different from your daughter’s education, so have hope and while you’re teaching your daughter to find things out, remember to instill hope in her too!

      • kldawson says:

        I understand what you mean and I know things are ‘different’ now, but I would say this is mostly if not all superficial and at the core of our ed system, which generally sucks. I don’t claim to be an expert but simply an aware observer commenting on their observations. If you’re worried about my daughter she is always on the A honor roll just as her brother was before her. Her brother also won a full ride scholarship to UCLA. But I still say that our schools suck largely due to an educational establishment that values test scores over actually learning.

  17. Reblogged this on One Shepherd's Stance and commented:
    As a parent, grandparent, and school board member, I found this article very well worth the read. I highly recommend it to anyone who knows a child!

  18. Odhran O'Mahony says:

    Every parent should be told to read this.

  19. mrsron says:

    I love this. We’re in the UK, so it’s not technically our fight, but it’s so important (and your piece is written so compellingly) that I can’t help feeling passionately about it anyway.
    X

  20. lexiesnana says:

    I have a daughter that is a teacher and have heard her say the same things. I hope you prevail in getting people t o open their eyes and care.

  21. Jessica says:

    Yup. I hear you loud and clear. Have been a teacher. Your letter is beautiful. And true.

  22. Reblogged this on thewordpressghost and commented:
    Friends,

    I would like you to read this blog by Christine. Then I wonder if she, or you would answer these questions for me.

    I appreciate your dedication to teaching. And congrats on being freshly pressed.

    Ok. Now for my questions.

    (1) Since public education now costs taxpayers 4 times more in inflation adjusted dollars than it did in 1970, are we getting 4 times more for our money?

    (2) Since private education costs less than public education, and gives students better opportunity, should I send my children to public or private school?

    (3) Since for profit education (magnate) schools seem to cost less than public schools, why are public schools so expensive?

    Ghost

    • Hey thanks, I’ll have a go at them, but I have to admit, it is a few hours after I should have eaten dinner, so I might not be at my best:

      More money spent on education does not equal better education. I would imagine that more money is being spent (and rightfully so) on special education students and high poverty students than in the past. However, I also know that it costs my district an exorbitant amount of money to process Standardized tests (we are talking figures in the millions for a pretty large district)…just wait until the new exams, which happen in almost every grade come out. There is also a great deal of money going to private companies (as I was attempting to point out in this post.) Everyone involved in education (taxpayers, community members, parents, teachers, administrators, policymakers, etc.) should be aware of where taxpayer money is going, but that is not usually the information most of those stakeholders are getting… they are instead receiving flashy and misleading rhetoric about failing schools, so that the people in a position to profit from that money can sweep in and do just that. Don’t get me wrong, I see plenty of changes that need to be made, but the resources need to be going to the right places, which they are not, in my opinion.

      I would imagine that public schools are mandated to provide many programs and remedial services to learning disabled or high-poverty students that are not as much an issue to students in private schools (at least, certainly for the latter). By services, I mean subsidized meals, state mandated academic intervention services, etc. Also pubic schools provide transportation to and from school for students. Public schools also offer health coverage to teachers and often have a higher average salary than private school teachers; I think I am very fairly compensated for the work that I do, but if you try to argue that I am overpaid, I implore you to spend a week with me and really see what I do before going there…
      Also, although the cost per student might be lower in private schools are the price parents actually have to pay really lower?

      I think your third question is sort of answered in my last two paragraphs. By no means do I claim to be some authority on the educational system in America, however. I am simply a public school teacher, who attempts to keep myself, my colleagues and my students curious and informed about what is happening in the world we share. I am sure you can find tons of more academically-minded responses to these questions and will be sure to check your blog post of this to see what others have to add to the conversation. But now, I must eat… :)
      christine

    • mamacardinal says:

      I have been a teacher for almost fourteen years… a parent for seven…

      1. Your money is paying for standardized testing – a very costly endeavor.

      2. Why do you think private education provides better opportunity than public? Private schools are not held to the same standard as public. As a member of the public, you have a say in what those standards are. Some private schools have high standards others do not. With public education, you (a member of the public) have a say – a voice in education. A private school does not have to educate your special needs child. They can just kick them out. A private school does not need to provide resources or support for a student with behavioral problems, they can just deny them education. The public school can deny no one. Whoever walks through our doors, must be taught.

      3. Magnet programs and charter schools get to choose whom they educate. They cherry pick the students they consider to be the best. Whether or not it actually costs less, I am not sure. What I do know is that magnet programs and charter schools still receive public funds, and yet they get to decide which members of the public they want to educate. They take my money, but will now admit my daughter because she is an ESE student. They don’t have to deal with her, so they won’t.

      • I officially take your answer to number three as my answer as well, thanks (she says as she happily scarfs down an overdue dinner) …and thanks for joining the conversation and adding these great insights!

      • mamacardinal says:

        Forgive my mispostings.

      • OK.

        3. You TAKE MY money. And students like myself are placed in a corner with a dunce hat on our heads. All because the teacher was not that smart.

        Going backwards.

        2. I am a Christian, and I am a Pastor, I have little or no say in Public Schools. And all the money is still spent upon the agenda of special interest groups who do have a say against what I believe.

        3. Yes, standardized tests do cost. But, they are not the reason for a four fold increase in spending since the 1980’s.

        The taj-mahal mentality of building mega schools, air conditioning, teacher pay raises, smaller class sizes, computers in schools, AND testing have ALL added to the overhead.

      • mamacardinal says:

        Teacher pay raises? What are those? And if you are a pastor, etc., why do you think you have no say? You do every time you vote. You can attend school board meetings, you can volunteer. I think it is unfortunate that you had such a negative experience with your teachers. Obviously, you have been biased.

      • No.

        I have been honest. Covering up the bad in public education is bias, not speaking the truth.

        As for say in the matter, the mayor of San Antonio just raised sales taxes, again, for education.

        I just blogged on how low our taxes are at 54.5%

        I wish I could make just 40% profit on cash flow ….
        :)

      • mamacardinal says:

        My pot should have read the the charter school takes my money and does NOT admit my child because she is ese.

      • OK. I agree in part.

      • mamacardinal says:

        Post! Curse you iPad! Sorry

      • It happens.

        So, does the States lowering the perception of actual education costs.

        They ‘pay’ private educators a fraction of what they collect. So, my brother really thought, Ohio only paid $3,500 a year per student.

        He was really surprised when I showed him the REAL costs of education.

        “HOW much?” was his startled reply.

    • Katie says:

      Question #2…”private education gives more opportunity”? Stated as fact rather than opinion. It’s an interesting thought, and I wonder where that data comes from. There are a few reasons that may seem to be, but remember that many times “private” or “charter” are for profit endeavors whose stakeholders are very interested in making as much money as possible. They choose who they educate. Public education does not. Low performing students are not asked back. Special need or learning disabled students are often excluded. English language learners? Behavior challenges? Forget about it. Think about how that changes the performance data for a school! A school that is not required to teach national or state required curriculums or to participate in required testing. Some do and some do not. Again, they choose. Public schools do not. True, there are tons of excellent private schools that beat the pants off of public schools. The opposite is also true. Just remember its hard to compare the two very different systems fairly when they have such different rules they have to follow.

      • Public education chose to not educate me many times. So, I educated myself.

        Further, as public education has become huge business, class sizes have grown. That gives fewer students the opportunity to be Valedictorian or Salutatorian. Both of those positions gain the student scholarships …. Go from 80 students per class to 800, and you reduced the real opportunity by 90% …..

  23. People don’t really understand the devotion that most teachers have for their students and their work. Thanks for setting them straight! :) (I’m a former college professor, so I know that a few “lazy apples can make people think all teachers are like that. Oh, how I resented those colleagues who lost their passion.)

    • Katie says:

      So true. It makes be sick the way 99.9% of educators are good, honest, passionate teachers….but all we hear about on the news are those few bad apples that makes us all look like cheaters, or bullies, or child abusers, or just plain lazy and incompetent.

  24. vishalbheeroo says:

    Ive started my career as a teaching before moving to journalism. I fully agree with u since parents must be willing to assume their responsibility rather than leaving everything on the teacher.
    Cheers
    Vishal
    http://www.vishalbheeroo.wordpress.com

  25. sassytalk says:

    While I am only at the earliest stages of teaching (I am a pre-school/daycare teacher) I do believe that my work with “my” children is the very foundation of their future. I applaud you and support you and am happy to report that although my own children are in university (one is still in high school) I have always been involved – but not so deeply that I am doing all the work – but completely involved….and have been blessed to have a husband who feels the same way. Teachers are the modern-day saints in my world! (oh my – I believe I’ve just given myself my next blog inspiration! ;) ) Thanks for the wonderful article.

  26. Silas says:

    I am grateful that my teachers still open their students’ eyes to the truth, and remind the students of what’s important. In a classroom where the teachers are regulated so rigidly and have to teach what the school paid for instead of what they want, it can be hard to try to inspire students to question and voice their thoughts, which I think is more important than memorizing things for a mundane test. I’m glad there are teachers like my English teacher, and I’m glad there are ones like you too. It makes me sad to see such a respectful and loving profession mitreated for cash. I love my teachers, I wish all teachers could get the treatment they deserve.

  27. Betsy Marshall says:

    @Bespoke… why would you believe that most teachers are any different than Christine? Propaganda is a powerful tool in the hands of the wicked and the wealthy.

  28. lovenmama says:

    I’ve been teaching for 12 years…tears streaming Love doesn’t even explain how precious your post is to me.

  29. yvonne114 says:

    Thank you for your advice Christine. As someone who has chosen education as a career I am currently devoting my time to a club that I founded for boys that will help support the efforts of teachers and administrators.

  30. Very thought provoking. It makes me sad to think there are people out there who are willing to sell out our children’s future in the name of making a profit. Here in New Zealand we are considering creating more charter schools (privately run but publicly funded). Your post makes me think I should look into this more and what it means for me as a teacher and my son as a student. Thanks!

  31. arollinson says:

    The most honest, beautiful, and well-placed video about the American education system I’ve seen. Continue with your noble efforts, I implore.

  32. Hear, hear! I have many friends who work in public education. It is heart breaking how the public schools are being undermined by people with agendas driven by some combination of arrogance, ideology, and greed.

  33. mirandagnes says:

    every parent should read this

  34. Hats of to you..had thought that we have left teachers like you far behind. but glad to hear that there are people/teachers like you for our kids. Thanks :)

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