December 10, 2013

A Letter to Those in Charge of My Daughter's Education

Dear Principal and Counselor at My Daughter's School,

I am writing today to tell you how very disappointed my husband and I were in the meeting we had with you and some of her teachers last month.

Since the meeting, I have been trying to get over how it felt and what we took away from it, but I can't. I keep coming back to it and what a huge waste of time it was. My husband tried to say something during the meeting, but I quieted him because I didn't want to undermine you all in front of our daughter.

But we can't continue to be quiet.

We asked all of you to come together with us to help our daughter because she is struggling at school. You took the opportunity to tell us how to parent. Principal, you pointed your finger at us and said we were wrong. It was condescending and completely unhelpful.

At the risk of sounding defensive, I must say that my husband and I are good parents. We do everything in the world that we can for our children. We have tried and tried and tried to give Camryn all the tools she  needs to succeed at school. I asked for the meeting because I am worried about her ability to succeed there. You all decided that the problems were only hers and ours.

Well I disagree. You are passing the buck. You all are not willing to take any responsibility for failing my daughter. Both literally and figuratively. From the moment Camryn stepped through those doors in 6th grade, you have not been willing to lift one finger to help her.

Except to have a couple of meetings which accomplished nothing. They were just for show, to make it look like you were putting in some kind of effort.

After school homework help? Great. Yes, that's helpful, but Camryn is STILL shy at school. She still isn't comfortable asking for help. She is going (when it's not cancelled for no reason), but this doesn't help her with feeling overwhelmed by being behind and continuing to have more and more piled on her.

I am not saying she isn't at all responsible for her own school work. She is 13 and in 8th grade and of course she has to take some responsibility for these things.

However, she has ADHD and maybe you don't know this, but kids with ADHD mature slower than their peers. Camryn is not like other kids! I feel that you do not get that at all. Her brain works differently. She has a LEARNING DISABILITY. Yet that doesn't even seem to register for you.

All any of you have ever said to us the entire time she's been at your school is that she has to do this and we has her parents need to do that. WE DO all the things you suggest. She TRIES.

What are YOU doing?

You all are the college educated, trained professionals. YOU are supposed to know how to help kids learn and succeed in school. My husband and I are not trained teachers.

I was talking with Camryn last night about some school things. You want to know what she told me? She is having a hard time not feeling like just giving up.

My heart breaks for her over this. She is a good girl who wants to do well. You all tell me this! No teacher has ever had anything but great things to say about having her in their class.

Yet she's just on her own there. She gets no support from you. No one ever pulls her aside and asks if she needs anything, if she understands what's expected of her, if she feels good about things. She doesn't feel like any of you give a damn about her.

Yes, yes, I know she's not the only student. I know she's not the only kid with a learning disability. But, honestly, that's not my problem. You all should have some game plan on how to deal with these things.

There is something else I feel you should know. We have some unique family circumstances that might play a factor in the way Camryn is. Her dad and I are both legally disabled. I have bad eyes and her dad has chronic illness. He is a type 1 diabetic who is on dialysis and has heart problems. He nearly died in March of 2012.

We know these things weigh on Camryn a bit and cause her some anxiety. We got her into counseling over the summer. So she has ADHD and some family stress she is carrying around. We are doing everything we can to help her learn and grow and end up well-adjusted. But we NEED your help too!

Perhaps a 504 plan isn't good enough. Maybe it should be bumped up to an IEP. Counselor, wouldn't that be your department?

The simple fact is, my child is currently failing most of her classes. NO ONE should want that and EVERYONE should want to fix it. Do you want my daughter to fail? Shouldn't you be intervening? Doesn't it reflect poorly on you as educators when students fail?


Please stop being apathetic about her. Please step up and do your jobs. I'm begging you. What is happening here is not OK. We are angry, and we are done being polite.

Unhappy, but sincere,
Camryn's personal advocate
aka MOM

**I actually sent a version of this to my daughter's principal and guidance counselor (what guidance?), and CC'd the school psychologist. I wasn't kidding when I said I'm done pussy-footing around these issues. I stand here right now, ready and willing to rock the boat. I have read too many other blog posts written by parents of children with much bigger needs than my daughter's, who have found the exceptional educators their children need to succeed, even in public school. I hear in their words the immense relief they feel knowing that their child's teachers actually care on some level. I desperately want to feel that too! And my daughter deserves better.

Mama’s Losin’ It
5. Talk about a problem you tackled this week.

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