Feb. 7th, 2017

rackmount: (mad)
So, we met with A's principal, who insisted we also meet with his teacher. Here's a letter I wrote to her after our meeting.

Dear Ms. U.:

I've taken some time to try to understand your position regarding our last conversation, but I have some questions that are preventing me from getting there.

My main points in our conversation:

1. Since there is disagreement about Asa's capabilities, let's test him and find out.
2. Acceleration is one way to put no more work on the teacher while also meeting Asa's needs.
3. We are also willing to brainstorm other ways of meeting Asa's needs.

The following is what I heard (though it's possible I misunderstood, so please do correct me if I've misunderstood):

1. Asa has been tested, but the school plans to do nothing with the results.
2. The school is against acceleration, even if testing showed that his needs are not being met.
3. The school is unwilling to discuss other options that are not acceleration.

My questions:

1. Why test if the results are not intended for use?
2. Why is acceleration off the table? I did some research, and it appears that a) acceleration is not for all kids, but b) it works very well for those for whom it is appropriate. I'm not an educator, so I may be missing something. Please do let me know what I'm missing.
3. If acceleration is off the table, are we also unwilling to talk about the possibility that better options are out there?

I assume you do not have a one-size-fits-all view of education. And while I understand that it is theoretically possible for Ms. A to meet his needs, what I actually heard her say was that she was unwilling to do anything differently or talk with us about what he's doing in a serious way. We've spoken to her a few times now, and we've gotten the same response every time: I will not change anything. And when I see that Asa has spent days at a time working on, for example, hundred boards (which he did extensively in pre-k, it's a well-known work in Montessori), I am frustrated by how little she is listening to us, or apparently him; and so he's spending days on end doing work he did years ago. I try to believe what people tell me about themselves. She said that she would do extensions of the work, but that if mastery had already been achieved, she would not accommodate him.

Please advise. As this may require long-form conversation, we can do it in a meeting if you'd prefer. I will not however have another conversation with the teacher. I have no interest in calling her methods into question, I just want to make sure my son is getting what he needs.

Best, etc.

This all happened. I was furious and wrote a much more inflammatory letter a few weeks ago, but then sat on it and rewrote it entirely. This is as emotionally neutral as I could get. How does an educator tell someone that they refuse to test to find out what is appropriate for a student?

On the plus side, L's teacher is great, and he's having a fantastic year. He could also be challenged a little more, but at least the curriculum is within his ballpark and he occasionally learns something new.

This is a top-10 school in NJ. I am horrified by what other kids must be going through.

To be fair, the school does have an amazing science teacher. And the writing program for both kids has been great. But 1/10 of the day doing real work and 9/10 doing busy work? I practically had a rage stroke after that conversation.

April 2017


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