As a footnote to Finn’s school saga, I contacted his former teacher (and cc’d the principal) earlier this week, inquiring about Finn’s classwork. Nothing had ever been sent home with him – not a single writing assignment, coloring page, or art project. Nothing. I had been aware of it as the weeks and months wore on, but I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I kept expecting a big pile of stuff to come home with him. But nothing ever did – not even when I officially requested his cumulative student record when I pulled him from school a couple of weeks ago. So I sent an email earlier this week briefly explaining that nothing had ever come home with him and asking that any and all of his schoolwork be gathered together and left in the front office for me to pick up. It took twenty-four hours to receive a response, and it was from the principal and not the teacher. It informed me that Finn’s classwork was ready to be picked up in the front office.
I picked it up yesterday. There was a fair amount of stuff – not nearly as much as you would expect from half a school year from a “typical” first-grader, but a fair amount. Stuff dating back to the beginning of the school year. A pumpkin art project obviously from October.
And this little gem, with my annotations:
I’ll be honest: I don’t much care about the actual contents; it’s water under the bridge at this point (and most of it was worksheets that his aide had clearly had a big hand in doing). It was the principle of it: why the fuck hadn’t his work been being sent home with him all along? Why wasn’t he treated like a student instead of a problem? I wanted to force their hand and get an explanation.
None, of course, was forthcoming. I responded to the principal’s email asking her why Finn’s work had not been sent home at regular intervals all along, and asking if they ever had any intention of making sure we received his work, since it took me pointedly asking for it two weeks after he was disenrolled in order to actually get anything. No response has been forthcoming, and I have no doubt that none will.
So, I’d just like to say to anyone who has ever hassled me for not falling all over Teacher Appreciation Week, for not buying into the whole Teachers Are Martyrs and Saints mindset: piss off. We’ve had our share of negative, and even downright painful, teacher experiences. Some teachers are truly wonderful – we’ve had those, too. And some are damaging, or at least complicit in a system that is damaging.
So, I wash my hands of it. I know that I need to find a way to let go of my anger and disappointment and move on, and do the things for my kids that school couldn’t or wouldn’t.