Curriculum - Languages, School Climate February 2007 Madison West High School Memo to Freshman Honors Parents February 13, 2007 Jim Zellmer 13 Comments From a reader and parent. Full size. West High’s website.
13 thoughts on “February 2007 Madison West High School Memo to Freshman Honors Parents”
I guess proofing the letter was not part of the process.
I hope they didn’t/don’t waste money and resources correcting it.
Too funny! But really, what’s the point? Yeah, I know, it just goes to show the utter incompetence of the MMSD, the sky is falling, West High has gone to the dogs, add your own put down here.
I appreciate the posting, as I too have seen so many grammatical errors on correspondence from our schools. In all fairness, sophomore is spelled correctly!!
I’ve recently started to read this site and have been very upset about some of the things I have learned. I need to edit my previous comment. I just realized that the parent who posted this was pointing out that the letter was for freshmen students not that sophomore was spelled incorrectly! Sorry, I didn’t think this through thouroughly. I’ve been incensed lately by the deterioration of our School District and completely flabbergasted by the spelling…mistakes that I’ve seen.
I heard a parent say that the family’s children edited MMSD correspondence, like this memo, to sharpen their writing skills. And who said that the MMSD doesn’t teach writing?
Perhaps before people criticize letters that go out with typos, or in which someone forgets to change sophomore to freshman, they should spend some time in the shoes of our district’s increasingly overworked office staff. The needs in our buildings are non-stop, and it is our administrator and our office staff who have their “to do” lists interrupted every thirty seconds by a ringing phone, parent arrival or teacher question. Even under the best of conditions, errors get through. Picking at what was obviously a cut and paste oversight seems…unnecessary at best.
I understand and respect Teacher L’s comments. I think that parents are being critical due to frustration and concern about the quality of our kids’ education. I know that some staff members are overworked and overburdened. I have the luxury of being a parent that is at our schools on a daily basis. I can see the results of budget cuts, ever increaing ESL and Special Needs enrollments.
I’ve been a parent, in this District, for many years now. I’ve known teachers and other District personnel that were fantastic and some that ought to be ashamed of themselves! There are some that pride themselves in doing the best that they can and try to overcome all of the political obstacles. I’ve seen way too many that use these issues as an excuse for why they give little if any effort.
My kids have had teachers that have been great. We have had entire school years that were spent in classrooms where they learned little or nothing. In my earlier posting, I made the mistake of thinking that the person who posted the memo was trying to point out that sophomore was spelled incorrectly. I later realized that the point was that the memo was for Freshmen not Sophomores. When I was reading this, I was thinking about our own school having a similar ceremony for both Freshmen and Sophomores. I didn’t make the distinction between the two classes. I read this on a District calendar. Parents haven’t been notified of this, as yet. It is next week!
There are too many parents that don’t care enough to be involved. Unfortunately the ones that do, are receiving incorrect information or none at all! Maybe it was unfair to criticize the overburdened secretary that didn’t read the memo before sending it. We all make mistakes. Our schools are deteriorating. Our focus can’t continue on trying to place the blame on our government…for all of our ills. Our kids and our future are at stake. There is TOO much at risk!
Perhaps instead of making excuses for subpar performance the district should raise their expectations. What about proofing the letter? How much time would that have taken yet the results would have been fruitful in so many ways AND it wouldn’t have cost any money. To me it boils down to expectations and accountability. What do you suppose happened to the person responsible for letting this letter out the door?
What do I supposed happened to the person responsible for letting this letter out the door? I suppose they came back to work and picked up the next thing on their endless pile of work. Maybe they were chastised, maybe not. I suppose they also thought for a moment about how they have they have less and less paid time to get through that pile. Then, I suppose, they began another day of solving problems, answering questions and fielding complaints from people who want perfection but don’t want to actually pay for it.
I don’t think anything happened to the staff person that issued the memo, nor should it. It was just a mistake. It pales in comparision to other problems that plague our schools. It is just a tangible example of what is wrong with our Distict. I’m sure that, that staff person’s workload is increasing, as it is for others in the School District. That is the reality for most of us.
Most companies, whether in the private or public sector, expect more of their employees. Due to the quality of their childrens’ education, parents have to spend much of their time after work teaching their children. It may be due to a teacher that expects their students to do a considerable amount of work at home (because the material isn’t going to get covered in the classroom) or due to a teacher that assigns work or gives tests on material they have neglected to cover! I know some First Grade students that are expected to do two hours of homework a night. I know of High School students that do homework for 6 hours a night! That is unscionable! Parents are now faced with homeschooling in addition to sending our kids to school. The problem is that we don’t know what we have to supplement. Many of us, with elementary kids, don’t know what our kids are learning in the classroom. The methods now are so different from what we may have learned and we don’t have the materials that we would need at home to teach them.
There is a great lack of communication. I used to get upset with my elementary aged child, when I would ask, “What did you learn today?” The response I would usually get is, “Nothing!” I now realize that, too often, that is the case!
I’m not sure I agree that students are learning less today–I think about that a lot now that I have a child in elementary school. When I think back to my own elementary school experience, I remember doing a lot of reading out of basals and answering short, find-it-in-the-story kinds of questions. We did very little writing. The occasional 3-4 sentence story and a lot of handwriting and punctuation practice was the norm. The first time I was taught about developing an argument in writing was in high school. It seems to me that:
a) our expectations are higher
b) we are significantly more involved in our childrens’ educations than our parents were involved with ours (something my mother will attest to)
c) we want our children to have all the “basics” that we had, AND we want them to be able to do all the things that we weren’t given to do until much later in our school careers
I do not have blinders on. I am aware that there is variability in teacher quality, but I don’t think that this is new. My 4th grade year was appalling both in terms of lack of instruction and in terms of classroom climate. My middle and high school years were a mix of excellent, mediocre and disgraceful instruction.
Despite that mix, and without my parents providing me a bunch of supplemental instruction, I graduated with honors from UW Madison (twice 🙂 ). My point is not that parents should not be involved with or concerned about their childrens’ education. Nor am I suggesting that we do not need to be concerned about the students who are not achieving at grade level. Rather, I would suggest that critiques need to be grounded in reality. Just as the “good old days of family values” are a distortion of the past, so, often, are the “good old days” in our schools.
Whether our intense involvement in our childrens’ education is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. Personally, I am disturbed both by the willingness of too many parents to run down the schools in front of their children, and by the willingness of too many parents to make excuses for their childrens’ choices.
I tend to agree that communication could be improved in many cases. I would love to see it be policy for every teacher to send home a request for information at the beginning of the year (to get the parent perspective on each child’s personality, interests and academic levels).
However, I also think that communication breaks down for multiple reasons–not all of them the school’s fault (more than a few students accumulate back packs full of notes and work that no one ever seems to check). My own child gives the “nothing” response every night too….but I never allow that answer to stand, and it doesn’t hold up under specific questioning (e.g. what did you do in math? What kind of worksheet? What kind of multiplication problems?). Sometimes, that questioning leads me to the conclusion that work she is doing is at the wrong level. That’s when it’s my turn to initiate the communication, check in, share what I am seeing at home, and collaborate with the classroom teacher to make a change for the better.
I believe the goal of the original post was to point out the irony of the memo. Here we have an event to recognize excellence in Freshman performance containing both grammatical and date related errors. I have little sympathy for the over-worked Administrator argument. Expectations have increased in both the private and public sectors.
Most of us have to deal with increasing pressures to produce more with less. That said, this is not a question of time. This is a question of quality. The Administrator’s job in this case was to create a communication that was accurate and complete. This was not done. Given that this was a Freshman English assignment to create a memo, what grade would be received?
Some of the comments above make me think that the importance of quality ends at High School graduation. After that, there are lots of excuses for performance we would not accept out of our students.
We now have two “concerned parents” posting. Mine was the earlier post. TeacherL is correct, some of the lack of communication is due to kids that don’t empty backpacks. I know it is hard to find the time to fit it all in. As parent’s, we have to ask if the backpack has been emptied and empy it ourselves, in some cases! In response to my child telling me that nothing was learned, I don’t just accept that answer, either. The second concerned parent made statements that I can echo. It was ironic that a memo commemorating students’ Honor Roll acievement contained errors! It is true, if teachers were graded, as their students are, some would not be passing!
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