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.


Christine McCartney

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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 four 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. an eye opener…hail to the teachers like you…thank you and good luck.

  2. Bill says:

    Reblogged this on BillsPlace and commented:
    Take a minute…well worth the time.

  3. Great article. We have always lived in a system that distinctively defines our social classes. It begins with education. I am not trying to be some sort of conspiracy theorist here, just explaining the obvious. This system has been around since the middle ages and will stay for eternity. Where as parents do we draw the line? My sons education is by far-most the most important thing in my life. I want him to get a good education in order to understand and enjoy our world. I thank people like you for giving my son the opportunity to have this. Thanks again.

  4. Thank you so much for this!! I have several friends who are teachers and they are always talking about how the system we are currently using to educate our children is failing. I know they feel helpless, and I often wish I could help in more ways than just encouragement, or prayers. I still don’t know what I can do personally…except maybe home school my child…but I will educate myself further on the topic so as to make the best decision.

    May I just say on a personnel level, ( I know I don’t know you) that your life is not being wasted! You are doing something meaningful with strength and perseverance. Something that takes courage and deliberate thought, action, and forwardness. I will pray for you in this en devour.

  5. This is absolutely brilliant. It has made me feel weepy. What happens in the US happens in the UK shortly after, and I am devastated by what they’re doing to education over here. I will share this far and wide. Thank you.

    • wanderer1954 says:

      UK does not follow USA, neither does the good side of politics in Canada or Australia. In fact, all nations could learn from Australia, about regulating banking and setting limits for ungirdled capitalism.

  6. teresakay6 says:

    Scary but true. It bugs me that no matter what their performance “everybody wins”. There’s no consequence for being an under achiever and the kids that do excel aren’t recognized and lifted up for fear of insulting the rest.

  7. whalka says:

    Thanks for this. I have been an art teacher in public schools for 25 years. The system is so broken, it makes me sad and frustrated. Now they are even trying to standardize art, and collect data on student performance. It makes me so crazy! You just can’t test higher order thinking skills on a multiple choice test. I still love being in the classroom, but all the external stuff that has nothing to do with teaching is so pervasive I am really thinking about getting out. I hate to be a part of a system that I think is messing up kids.
    Sorry to be a gloomy Gus, but I don’t see it changing anytime soon. We are producing a generation that can regurgitate information, but doesn’t really know anything. It is alarming!

  8. lightznme46 says:

    Well said! Thank you for your voice. From another fellow teacher!

  9. perrykj says:

    This was a wonderfully, brilliantly, and beautifully put together post about our broken educational system. Right now I am a recent college grad who is studying for my certification to be first year teacher. This was really educational to me to let me know what I am getting myself in to. I truly believe that parents do play a big role in their child’s educational future. I also believe that the proper education of young people is vital to our society and our economy. Because properly motivated students who go off to to college and make something of themselves are the ones that can be the business owners or job creators that can hire others to work and keep our country afloat. But all this beaucracy is just another means of oppression to our youth and fighting back against the lobbyist who control Washington is the way to go! Keep up the good work! God Bless! 🙂

    • I am glad to have provided some inspiration. Thanks for taking the time to check it out. Please don’t be discouraged though; you seem to have the right mind-set and you will see, despite everything that is happening, you will have the power to foster in your students a love of learning, an awareness of how their society functions and the desire to make it a better place. All best to you.

  10. segmation says:

    Well said. Sounds like students are lucky to have a teacher like you! Enjoy your blog as well.

  11. woahbamalam says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Absolutely agree with this.

  12. As an R.E.C.E. (Registered Early Childhood Educator) in Canada, I applaud you for your commitment and integrity for the sake of your students. Education can fail when politics prevail. That is a sad truth. Stay strong. Everything you do is bringing light and positive change to your students.. I commend you for taking a stand and I hope that your words are echoed throughout your country. Beautiful post.

  13. hdfloyd73 says:

    “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” –John Steinbeck
    Great post!

  14. Greg Ward says:

    Your post is extremely well-written and passionate, and you sound like an incredible teacher I would love for my children to have. We all remember great teachers in our lives, and I know my children have been and continue to be inspired by some very dedicated and talented professionals.

    I also agree 100% that the profit motive should be removed from public education, and that bureaucracy and endless testing are extremely detrimental.

    That said, there are also very bad teachers, and indifferent teachers, and poorly trained teachers. Just as in all professions. The frustration of parents includes the fact that none of these poor teachers (or poor administrators) are ever held to account. Parents don’t feel that the unions are as passionate about educating the kids as you are – that they are an obstacle to reform, resisting all accountability.

    I would suggest that the success of the profit driven groups you mention, and the other undesirable changes we both reject, is due in large part to parents and citizens and legislators feeling as though they have no other choice because the unions will not become partners in reform.

    Thank you for your post. I continue to be amazed by the work of you and your fellow passionate teachers, in my life an in the lives of my children.

    • First of all, Greg, thanks and thanks. …And thanks again for reading my blog. 🙂 I just wish there was a way to help to policy makers understand that the way to motivate and impassion “indifferent” teachers is not by creating the climate of fear that is happening now. It is making most educators worse because measuring teachers by formulae based on test scores is an unbelievably unsound practice that is detrimental to both students and educators. Teachers need to be evaluated by other, experienced professionals. I welcome my colleagues and administrators into my classroom, in fact, I think it is a crucial part of my profession to reflect on my, and other teachers’ work. I think that kind of thinking is what nurtures and cultivates teachers to be passionate in the first place. As for the unions, I understand your frustration and it is a shame that is how the unions by you are making you feel. I wonder though, if the unions are resisting the accountability measures for teachers because rely on Standardized tests as huge component of that measurement –which can be detrimental for a number of reasons, including narrowing curriculum, encouraging “teaching to the test” or worse, encouraging cheating, etc. It is a difficult path to navigate, however, I do know one thing: having parents who are involved in the conversation is certainly an important step in the right direction… so thank you again. I cannot express how appreciative (and humbled) I am for all the kindness and interest this video has sparked. All best to your family for the holiday weekend. -christine

  15. Thank you for informing us. I see an increasing amount of shady things going on with the education system in my state at the moment. Being an advocate for my son I seem to be constantly battling these issues and I know his teacher/aides are too. I plan to look more into this thanks to you. 🙂

  16. belle says:

    Thank you for such an insight on our education system these days. Some people are so busy with everyday events that they aren’t willing to pay attention much less be an active advocate for our kids educations. You have hit it right on the nail and I commend you for speaking up! The more people get enlightened- perhaps they would be more willing to take action. Thank you for doing your part!

  17. I’ve heard great things about Finland with regards to their education system. Enjoy your time there!

    • Thanks! I am. This is a very extraordinary and eye-opening experience for a small town girl like me. I have so much to take away from what I have learned about the Finnish education system already… and I am only in week three! Also, thanks for taking the time to check out my blog.
      *all best

  18. andy1076 says:

    Thank you so much for this post, As a parent myself of a 12 year old daughter. I have to say, It is people like you who bring children to the next level and guide their way. Cheers! 🙂

  19. Gardengirl says:

    Reblogged this on Crazywonderfullife and commented:
    I thought this was worth everyone having a look at, especially all you parents out there.

    • Thank you for helping me get the word out there. I very much appreciate it.
      *all good things, christine

      • Gardengirl says:

        It’s a very important issue and most parents just take it for granted that the money is going where it belongs. On the other hand, a lot of them also expect the teachers and schools to do the raising of their children. Either way, it’s important that parents get involved and know what is going on with education. Thanks for being proactive.

  20. Great post. Your passion for teaching shines through.

  21. Thank you Christine. this was a tremendous post. I was a public school child and I taught in the public school system for nearly a decade. When I first began teaching, I discovered that I had found my calling. Then I became a stay at home mother for a time and have my two kidlets in private school. I sometimes feel guilty about this, but I think it is the best place for them right now. When I return to teaching soonish, I’ll return to the public schools. I look forward to it and dread it in equal measure. I worry about testing and funding and homelessness and apathy and parent involvement or lack there of and so much more. It helps to know there are fellow teachers out there with a grand passion for the profession. I plan to share your post with my FB circle. Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you so much for the encouraging words and a huge THANK YOU for being willing to help me spread the message. I agree with your concerns about “testing and funding and homelessness and apathy and parent involvement” wholeheartedly. I have been having interesting conversations about accountability, and how it only really works when all parties involved agree on what needs to be happening (this includes parents, communities, educators, schools, policymakers, etc.) I teach in a Title 1 school, so I see first hand the detriment that poverty and lack of parental involvement can have on a student’s education. I am appreciative of your adding to my thinking about that. Have fun with your little ones this Easter holiday.
      all best, christine

  22. annesquared says:

    Thanks for writing this post. There have been issues with our educational system for a long time and they are only getting worse. There have been professional educators in my family since 1920, several of my siblings are early ed teachers w/ Masters degrees. My kids were in one of the “best” districts for early ed and I put them in a small private school because I disagreed with teaching to the test. (Among other issues.) A huge financial sacrifice.
    I find it pathetic that I hold my daughter’s high school education to a higher standard than the education system does – and she is in the AP classes. What is this with giving the kids the entire semester to make up late homework for points?
    The teachers? I find most of them to be dedicated and I support their efforts. The system? I am embarassed that my children are receiving an education in this system.

    • First of all, Anne, thank you for reading my post and for joining the conversation. I am sorry that you have had such a negative experience with public schools, but I fear that more and more students are being shortchanged by the direction we are headed. I also fear that parents are going to begin pulling students out of public schools, which is a shame because, as you implied, why should you have to be beholden to yet another form of debt in your life? We have the capacity to make public education better than it is in this country, but until the policymakers start recognizing what the real issues are, it will only get worse. Okay, that just went in a negative direction, so let me turn it around: THANK YOU for being so involved in your child’s future and have a wonderful Easter holiday 🙂

      • annesquared says:

        I understand what you are saying. I work very closely with educators and administrators, the policymakers and legislators regarding education and welfare of students and the employees of the school system. It has been an exhausting battle. My children both had excellent grades but special needs that were ignored. My son was bullied and at that time the school refused to acknowledge that bullying was anything but physical. He ended up thriving in a small private K-12 where he gained the support and confidence he needed, and now is a talented, leader at a public university, a year from graduating. He is 19 years old. My daughter is back in the public system because the private one was too restrictive for her creativity. I have worked closely with the professionals at the school to get them to understand that she is special needs in spite of the fact she has top grades due to the fact of circumstances prior to her adoption. It is an ongoing battle. On paper she is a wonderful minority shining star. In real life she needs a lot of assistance. And this needs to come from not just home but from the educational system, also. Strict guidelines.
        I consult my sisters that are professionals and they tell me the best way to deal with things. I have to advocate for my children. But I also work to make the system better for everyone else. I know what is happening is impacting the entire generation of children. I don’t like what I see. I have been in the school as a volunteer to assist, gave up my career for many years to be “mom” and this put me in the schools.
        I believe our goal is the same. Yes, I am the squeaky wheel :). I had to get my children through. Now I can go squeak at the policy makers… which gives me great pleasure.
        I have had some state legislation changed in the past quarter. I like to work behind the scenes. I will leave the teaching to the talented peopled.

      • How inspiring, Anne. I have recently been doing a lot of thinking about accountability and how it only works when all stakeholders are involved (i.e. parents, communities, schools, teachers, policymakers) and only, then, when they agree to some extent on how they are defining accountability. It is so motivating to me to see a parent who is doing so much to help not only her own children, but others’. So I applaud you for that and am appreciative of the inspiration you have given me. Keep up the good work! “Squeak” it up! 🙂

  23. fredphillips says:

    Fantastic post! Perhaps this issue will become the catalyst for education system reform in North America. The current system is based on a premise of control, conformity and economic gain and does little to foster a child’s innate curiosity or nurture their unique interests and skills. Nor does it teach kindness, compassion or acceptance. With bullying reaching epidemic proportions, we are in dire need of change. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Fred. And thanks for adding your insights to the conversation. I am in Finland right now immersing myself in their educational system and that is one of the biggest differences I see. As young learners, the concern is not the test, it is “how can we get the students to think and problem solve?” …seems so simple.
      *all best to you

  24. mommao says:

    While we are doing this, can we also find a way to get “teachers” who are just teaching to the test for funding out of the classroom? Every person who calls themselves a teacher is not as passionate as you – and some are just downright in the wrong profession. Perhaps if we actually taught children how to think – and not what was State sponsored learning, our children would actually do better on their State sponsored tests.

    Thank you for encouraging your classroom and being passionate – now let’s find all the unmotivated educators and get them out of the system. Starting with all the freaking administrators who suck up more money than they are worth; money that is kept from our children and your salary.

    And oh – congrats on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

    • First of all, thanks and thanks. …And thanks again 🙂 for reading my blog. I just wish there was a way to help to policy makers understand that the way to motivate and impassion unmotivated educators is not by creating the climate of fear that is happening now. It is making most educators worse. It is doing so because measuring teachers by formulae based on test scores is an unbelievably unsound practice that is detrimental to both students and educators. Teachers need to be evaluated by other, experienced professionals. I welcome my colleagues and administrators into my classroom, in fact, I think it is a crucial part of my profession to reflect on my, and other teachers’ work. I think that kind of thinking is what nurtures and cultivates teachers to be passionate in the first place. Maybe if that’s the culture we pursued, more “unmotivated educators” wouldn’t even have to be gotten “out of the system” …maybe a lot of them would stay …maybe a lot of them would rekindle that passion that drove them to enter teaching in the first place.

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  26. Honie Briggs says:

    Excellent post, very well done. Many of my friends are public school teachers at middle and high schools.THIS, this is exactly the same thing they are saying. My children are adults, one still in college and at one point he thought he wanted to become a teacher. He would make a great one. It is a special individual who devotes their life to educating children. I hope we do being to see parents and teachers partnering to prevent the hijacking of our education system. Thank you for being a positive influence in this fight.

  27. kodonivan says:

    Reblogged this on kodonivan and commented:
    I also wish every parent understood that they are their child’s first teacher!!

  28. S.C. says:

    I can’t like this hard enough. I’m currently working as an after-school tutor/teacher and as a temporary teacher/sub at my old high school. After some thought about getting a certificate and a master’s degree towards teaching, I instead decided on law school. One of the reasons for my decision is exactly that frustration you describe, that feeling of being chained and not being allowed to truly teach the kids. I see the same feelings among a lot of the school’s regular teachers.

    I wish you all the best in your fight.

    • Thanks! …and thanks for reading it. I feel your frustration and am afraid that the sentiment towards teaching is going to drive other people away from the profession… It is a shame that is the direction we are headed… best of luck to you in law school!

  29. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Reblogged this on Ohm Sweet Ohm and commented:
    This teacher is making a difference. I applaud her efforts and passion.

  30. Allan Smorra says:

    Thank you for this post. You are right on target with your points.

  31. Luv2Teach says:

    WoW! Everything I feel! Thank you so much for this! Your words speak the truth and the video is beautiful! Enough is enough! I just want to TEACH, and GUIDE and INSPIRE and ENCOURAGE my students. All this “reform” is taking us farther and farther away from that! It’s the PASSION we are losing as teachers… And if we lose our passion for teaching, our kids lose their love of learning! And every kid I know LOVES to learn! This destruction of public education is a travesty! I hope we can hang-on while also fighting for what’s right!

  32. I’m a new teacher still trying to find my place. For now, I’m substitute teaching. Talking to other more experienced teachers, it’s been eye opening how difficult it really is to be able to run your own classroom! Standardized tests, admin disputes, budget cuts… it’s pretty exhausting. Good teachers deserve so much more support than they get.

    • My husband is actually at home in New York filling in for my leave replacement while I am on this adventure and is in the same sort of situation you are. I definitely understand your frustration as you navigate through all of these new changes. I also see those frustrations reflected in my colleagues who have been in the profession for decades, so I can imagine how it is for a new teacher. I am only in my sixth year of teaching, but am grateful to have gotten my feet pretty securely under me before this sweeping reform really started to affect my classroom and pedagogy. Hopefully you can feel some solace in the fact that you have the support of your colleagues and teachers all over America, who are beginning to recognize the deleterious effects that these reforms are having on teacher morale, narrowing of curriculum, etc. Keep fighting the good fight and try to remember why you entered teaching in the first place… that’s what I do. Thanks so much for reading and joining the conversation. All best to you!

      • I was an expat for most of my childhood so the only standardized test I ever took were the SATs since I planned to attend university back home. You can imagine my surprise when I learned about with state tests, benchmarks, etc. There was a lot of things I saw for the first time as an intern!

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  35. Dawn Alef says:

    Thank you, Christine, for your amazing insight into teaching. I have been teaching for 16 years! I was born to be a teacher and absolutely LOVE IT!! I would love to read this to the parents of my students. Thank you again for “getting it.” With so much negativity towards teachers, we need all of the support that we can get. Thank you, again!!!!!!

  36. Nina says:

    Hi Christine,
    You are talking about such an important issue: educational awareness. I wish we could equip all parents with knowledge and understanding of collaboration possibilities between the parent and the teacher!

  37. Sue says:

    Well done. We are fighting the same battle in New Zealand and it is a heartbreaking fight! Everything you say resonates.

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  39. Keira Thrasher says:

    A big thank you from a parent of kids in the American public school system. You said it very, very well, and I am sharing this message as widely as I can among other parents. Please never forget that your voice, your time, and your efforts make a difference. In true teacher style, you are extending your dedication well beyond your day-job to improve things for our kids collectively as well as individually. I just cannot understand why more parents don’t get that. Again, thank you.

  40. Bonnie sent me here, & I wanted to say well said. I work in an independent school without those pressures, but am so worried about my grandson who is so anxious about the testing, instead of about his learning. I know his teachers try, but they are hobbled by new expectations themselves. Thanks for your clear, strong words!

  41. Thanks for shouting it out there!

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  43. Retired teacher says:

    Most teachers wish that a message like this could be sent to all parents. Teachers are in the profession because they care. Any creativity is stifled because of teaching to the test. Students and teachers hate it.

    • AND, it is getting worse in these past few years, that is for sure… but I am (cautiously) hopeful that people are starting to really recognize what is happening. I just hope it is not too late!
      Thanks for reading this, btw 🙂

  44. blkdrama says:

    Let’s send it flying…:)

  45. paxgirl says:

    Well done, and thank you. It’s heartbreaking to see how the creativity and love of learning is being drained from the innocent and eager minds of our children–by people who are no more than profiteers.

  46. Gemma says:

    Amazingly written and well said!

  47. Mike Harris says:

    Awesome post!!!!!!!!!

  48. paula wetzel says:


  49. Warren Williams says:

    You are doing what every teacher in America should be doing – thank you.

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