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Home » School days, Stop Wasting America's Time

A SWAT for mocking parents instead of talking to them

Submitted by on Thursday, 4 February 2010 No Comment
I get that some parents are a total pain in the rear. I'm sure I am at times, though I try hard not to be.

And I know that a sarcastic diatribe can be cathartic.

Unless, of course, a subordinate hits "print" on the email and distributes it to her second-grade class, leading the writer's suspension.

That's what happened to Litchfield Elementary Principal Ron Sterr after an email he says was written as a joke wound up in the hands of parents. The Arizona educator has been placed on "administrative leave" with "further disciplinary action pending." That's usually not a good sign.

But, then, Sterr's was an unusually over-the-top letter.

Dear Parents,

Turn off the TV for once and pay attention.

Regarding math:

The math we do is really easy. If your child is either too lazy or too stupid to finish it in class, I'm sending it home so that you can work with them and judge for yourself whether it is laziness or idiocy that inhibits your child's progress.

It gets worse from there, as Sterr tees off on the food allergic, children with disabilities and students whose puppies have died.

Sterr now says the attitudes are not his, but those of a "difficult colleague." Earlier, he said the letter was inspired by a difficult parent he'd dealt with in the past.

Yes, the famous "difficult parents."

Some of us do watch too much television. And, yes, some of us question why our kids have so much homework piled on - mostly, I wonder if it really accomplishes anything.

And I also wonder what Sterr's vent accomplished, particularly since it was done in such a way that virtually ensured it would travel beyond the intended recipient. Hasn't he ever heard the old axiom about never committing anything to paper (or pixels) that you wouldn't want the world to read?

And doesn't he understand that if he is to succeed, he needs the support from parents? I wonder how many of them will wonder the next time they walk into his office - if he ever has an office again - if their questions are being taken seriously or if they're being dismissed as a "difficult parent."

There actually are some areas where I agree with Sterr. Congratulating a kid on finishing school work is indeed "the equivalent of a twenty-year-old wanting to be congratulated for knowing how to tie his shoes." But, then, I'm not big on gratuitous praise when a kid does what he's supposed to do.

For the most part, though, Sterr - and other "educators" who think it's cute to vent before you think - need to Stop Wasting America's Time and learn to value dialogue over catharsis.

We all have to work with difficult people, with folks we disagree with. Sometimes, even, they get on our nerves. Grade-school principals do, too.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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