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Author Topic: Distasteful Letter?  (Read 1613 times)

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Offline SilverTopic starter

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Distasteful Letter?
« on: November 25, 2013, 05:31:32 PM »
Earlier this month a preschool teacher in New York State sent home a letter to parents of their students. While what was said was not wrong per say; it was the matter in which it was addressed and delivered.

Quote
"It is a health and safety concern. It also makes it difficult for me to be close to them or even want to touch them. Enough said."

That line really came come across very harshly and almost makes it seem as if this teacher is rather judgmental; could she  be giving preference to the children who she wishes not to touch or be around. There us no way that they could possibly know the backgrounds and life stories of every single child in that class. Yes I believe that we all can agree that children should be sent to school clean and kept, that is without doubt but no one knows their home life or true story. That letter should have been cleaned up (not hand written and have gotten approval of the principle) and sent home with the children in question; not every single child in that class turning this into a public shaming more or less.

The Letter

Offline Oniya

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 05:47:51 PM »
First off, Pre-K's get dirty.  To quote... someone... 'Enough said.'  If I received a letter like this, I would also red-pen it out of spite, because the word is 'unkempt', and she forgot a period at the end of her sentence.

Snarking aside - the little Oni goes to an urban, 'Title I' school.  We had a parent at the PTO meeting make a comment about some of the kids wearing uniforms that were 'showing everything the good Lord gave them', and the principal - didn't exactly round on her, but made mention of the fact that many of our students only have one or two sets of uniforms to last them between wash-days, and how he will (when donated, 'gently used' uniforms are available) take the ones he sees in need aside and finds something that will fit them.

This - not a semi-public shaming - is the way to make a difference.

Offline SilverTopic starter

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 05:54:45 PM »
First off, Pre-K's get dirty.  To quote... someone... 'Enough said.'  If I received a letter like this, I would also red-pen it out of spite, because the word is 'unkempt', and she forgot a period at the end of her sentence.

Snarking aside - the little Oni goes to an urban, 'Title I' school.  We had a parent at the PTO meeting make a comment about some of the kids wearing uniforms that were 'showing everything the good Lord gave them', and the principal - didn't exactly round on her, but made mention of the fact that many of our students only have one or two sets of uniforms to last them between wash-days, and how he will (when donated, 'gently used' uniforms are available) take the ones he sees in need aside and finds something that will fit them.

This - not a semi-public shaming - is the way to make a difference.

Indeed it is. As not this teacher's actions are under fire and I do hope that something happens to them. The way they went about it was so poor and really a handwritten letter without the approval of the principle of the school.

If it had been me, I would have been down there, politely asking for a sit down meeting with the teacher in question as well as higher staff of the school to request a town-hall style meeting to voice my unhappiness as well as giving other parents the chance to do the same. It's stories like these which make me feel better at times about sending Mini Me to private school even when some months it's a struggle but I know my state and the issues the school began to have back in 2006; such as losing accreditation and other things. I simply refuse to do it and want to do what is in my power to try and give her the best that I am able too. (sorry that got long winded)

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2013, 05:58:43 PM »
Considering the age of those kids - they are three to four years old - it's really obtuse to make them carry that kind of a letter home and into the faces of both the kids and their parents (and soon enough, some of the neighbours:word travels around fast). It's certainly a method of shaming some of the kids and their parents, without the preschool or the teacher who wrote it taking any real responsibility for the act of finger-pointing those children to some of the other kids, to older kids in the area and in front of the parents who have kids at the school.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 06:01:41 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Haloriel

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2013, 06:32:42 PM »
Why is she teaching Pre-K if she doesn't want to be around children that get messy?  It's part of growing up.  Did it occur to her that it takes less than five minutes for some children to make a total mess?  Also - that's the age when they are still learning how to properly clean themselves - plus adjust to being in a new environment.  This is the kind of thing that you privately speak to the parents about individually, because at that age they really don't know better. 

What a foolish and unkind woman with such a lack of grace and consideration for the child.

I really feel for the poor little ones in her classroom, as I have one of my own (son, 5) and another on the way.

It's why I always sent my boy in with extra cleaning supplies, and other things - even it wasn't asked for.

Offline Shjade

Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 06:45:25 PM »
Why is she teaching Pre-K if she doesn't want to be around children that get messy?

While not defending the letter or the woman writing it, there's a difference between getting messy and being dropped off messy. The latter has more of a "here, you take care of this" connotation, making the teacher not just their teacher but also their maid.

A teacher for that age range no doubt is expected to be able to deal with messiness, but that's a little different from being expected to clean up after the parents, too.

Offline Haloriel

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2013, 07:20:22 PM »
While not defending the letter or the woman writing it, there's a difference between getting messy and being dropped off messy. The latter has more of a "here, you take care of this" connotation, making the teacher not just their teacher but also their maid.

A teacher for that age range no doubt is expected to be able to deal with messiness, but that's a little different from being expected to clean up after the parents, too.

True - but she still handled it terribly.  If that is indeed the case, its something you speak to the individual parent about, and don't involve the poor kid.

Offline SilverTopic starter

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2013, 07:22:26 PM »
True - but she still handled it terribly.  If that is indeed the case, its something you speak to the individual parent about, and don't involve the poor kid.

And do the public shaming of the whole class as well.Because this could lead to bullying in some cases as well.

Offline Shjade

Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2013, 08:20:30 PM »
True - but she still handled it terribly.

Indeed.

Offline Haloriel

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 08:33:15 PM »
And do the public shaming of the whole class as well.Because this could lead to bullying in some cases as well.

Yeah - there's already enough that going around.  The ones that are smart and cruel enough to bully at that age truly don't need a helping hand.

Offline Question Mark

Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 08:38:17 PM »
While not defending the letter or the woman writing it, there's a difference between getting messy and being dropped off messy. The latter has more of a "here, you take care of this" connotation, making the teacher not just their teacher but also their maid.

A teacher for that age range no doubt is expected to be able to deal with messiness, but that's a little different from being expected to clean up after the parents, too.

I read about this earlier, and I agree.

In addition, I think this is getting way more media attention than it deserves.  The teacher was being an asshole, big whoop, move along everyone.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 08:40:00 PM »
I read about this earlier, and I agree.

In addition, I think this is getting way more media attention than it deserves.  The teacher was being an asshole, big whoop, move along everyone.

I agree.  Only issue here was that she did not approve the letter with the principal (at which point, it would probably have been written far more professionally).

From the tone of the letter, it seems like this is a persistent and troubling issue in her classroom, so I don't want to downplay her concern with children coming in soiled.

Offline Koren

Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2013, 09:50:42 PM »
I think the thing that gets me is that she expects the child to have read the letter as there is space for the child to sign it, and those poor children who will now think that their teacher finds them disgusting and doesn't want to touch or deal with them, that's potentially going to cause some serious damage.

I think its also the dismissive tone that gets me, that its all about what she wants and needs to be able to participate with her class instead of whats best for the children

Offline Shjade

Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2013, 12:09:37 AM »
Yeah, the child signature bit's kinda wtf at that age.

Offline Imogen

Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2013, 04:17:31 AM »
I agree.  Only issue here was that she did not approve the letter with the principal (at which point, it would probably have been written far more professionally).

From the tone of the letter, it seems like this is a persistent and troubling issue in her classroom, so I don't want to downplay her concern with children coming in soiled.

This.

The letter suggests that this is a recurring problem rather than an incident. It still could have been handled better, but all we have to go by is that letter and we do not know how bad the situation was that prompted a veteran teacher (according to the linked article) to write this.

Offline kylie

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2013, 04:41:09 AM »
         Some people here seem to be upset that she wrote anything to parents without the principal approving.  But is it really common practice for all letters from teachers to parents to be vetted through a principal?  I don't think so...  All the article says is that since there were complaints about this particular case, the school is having the principal check later letters by this teacher.  That is, it appears to say that the principal is not normally so  involved otherwise (see my bold below):

Quote from: Huff Post
Now, the veteran teacher is being barred from sending letters to parents without the principalís approval. Parents are also pressuring the school to take further disciplinary action against Dunnigan, according to the outlet.

         It's also not certain that she intended for children to sign it.  I imagine sometimes teachers simply want to be sure they have all the letters accounted for, by whenever they expect them to come back.  It may be simply because the teacher may not immediately remember the name of every parent and which child is theirs.  Or perhaps a formality for school record keeping.  The school may wish to be able to show later that each student's parent signed, regardless of where a particular teacher is when they need to present that information.

          All that being said, yeah, it's a pretty messy letter and I'm honestly a little surprised she's writing by hand (is this a poor school, or a teacher without an office she can use there?). 

          Unfortunately for her it's also one of those things parents tend to take personally -- whether they actually "did it" or not.  So at least in part, she's taking fire for raising something sensitive as a public issue, without asking for administration advice or support first.  Then...  If it were actually about more than a few kids -- the letter says "several"? -- would the administration back her up or would they tell her (in effect) it's her job to deal with whatever comes in the door?  Who knows.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 04:45:18 AM by kylie »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2013, 05:10:22 AM »
First off, Pre-K's get dirty.  To quote... someone... 'Enough said.'  If I received a letter like this, I would also red-pen it out of spite, because the word is 'unkempt', and she forgot a period at the end of her sentence.

Unkept is also a word, meaning what she wanted it to mean.

 
That letter should have been cleaned up (not hand written and have gotten approval of the principle) and sent home with the children in question; not every single child in that class turning this into a public shaming more or less.

Would sending the letter home with just the relevant children not be even more of a public shaming though?  Singling them out in that way?  Little Tommy got the letter, little Bobby didn't?  I dunno, I think sending it home with every child (assuming it had to be sent at all) is a way better way of doing it.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 05:12:27 AM by Kythia »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2013, 11:16:36 AM »
Unkept (which spell check oddly doesn't recognize) usually refers to properties, not people.  Besides, I did say 'out of spite' - so I'd be nitpicky like that.

Offline Torch

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2013, 01:16:42 PM »

Would sending the letter home with just the relevant children not be even more of a public shaming though?  Singling them out in that way?  Little Tommy got the letter, little Bobby didn't?  I dunno, I think sending it home with every child (assuming it had to be sent at all) is a way better way of doing it.

Not necessarily. When my Demon Spawn were in nursery school, all written communication from their teachers was received by me in the form of letters in their backpacks. Letters that would only be seen by me, not anyone else. A veteran teacher would certainly have mastered the art of communicating a private issue to a parent without the entire class being privy.

I personally don't see anything wrong with a teacher addressing personal hygiene issues that pertain to her students, especially at the age of 3-4 when many students are barely even potty trained. I question a poorly worded handwritten note as opposed to a professionally typed letter on school letterhead, but I can certainly appreciate her efforts.

And I agree with VE, mountain out of a molehill, etc.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2013, 01:22:44 PM »
The 'letter to all' method is a bit worse because then everyone knows what's in the letter, and so the only thing left to determine is who 'deserved' the letter.  Individual letters could be anything from 'Your child is struggling with topic A, B, and C,' to 'Your child has made great progress in topic A, B, and C,' or even 'You filled out the volunteer form for the December party snacks.  We have a child in the class with a peanut allergy, so please be aware of that.'

Offline Torch

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2013, 01:24:13 PM »
The 'letter to all' method is a bit worse because then everyone knows what's in the letter, and so the only thing left to determine is who 'deserved' the letter.  Individual letters could be anything from 'Your child is struggling with topic A, B, and C,' to 'Your child has made great progress in topic A, B, and C,' or even 'You filled out the volunteer form for the December party snacks.  We have a child in the class with a peanut allergy, so please be aware of that.'

Exactly. *nods*

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2013, 07:14:53 PM »
The 'letter to all' method is a bit worse because then everyone knows what's in the letter, and so the only thing left to determine is who 'deserved' the letter.  Individual letters could be anything from 'Your child is struggling with topic A, B, and C,' to 'Your child has made great progress in topic A, B, and C,' or even 'You filled out the volunteer form for the December party snacks.  We have a child in the class with a peanut allergy, so please be aware of that.'

When the school is aware of potential health hazards among some students, it is best legal practice to inform all parents of the matter.  Not informing all parents of health concerns in the school environment, such as some students routinely coming in unwashed and smelly, is a recipe for a lawsuit - if indeed one of the "clean" students contracts some sort of illness due to children coming in wearing soiled clothing.

A parent would have a very strong argument in seeking damages, if he/she says they would have transferred their student to a private school, or another school district, had they had prior knowledge of health conditions in the school.  The teacher handled this in an extremely poor manner, we can agree on that.  But the school board itself sending a professionally-written, polite letter about this issue to all parents is imperative without doubt.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 07:19:51 PM by ValthazarElite »

Offline ladia2287

Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2013, 08:35:16 AM »
Seriously? A teacher wrote that letter? My first impression upon seeing it is that it was a nasty child who had put it together, given the really messy handwriting, poor spelling and punctuation, etc.

I'm pretty sure in my country a teacher could be fired for doing something like that without getting the go-ahead from the Principal first. There are some things that simply are not done. If it was such an issue, why couldn't she just call the parents in for a private chat? And if there is proof of lack of cooperation from said parents, call in Child Protection services or the local equivalent, for crying out loud!
« Last Edit: November 27, 2013, 08:40:32 AM by ladia2287 »

Offline kylie

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2013, 02:55:24 PM »
          This is for pre-K, right?   It does make me wonder a little how they are recruiting -- and also, whether they are really training OR supporting -- teachers at that level.  I'm not clear whether all schools have very sound procedures for pre-K. 

           Where I grew up, it felt to me (as a child) like a very separate institution and from what I fuzzily recall, it was more like a fluffy, perhaps kind of volunteer-ish, community outfit.  At least, it was in a different location and it all felt very informal.  So personally I'm not used to thinking of pre-K as being part of a hugely formal "school" system with long manuals and principals intervening in everything.  Though if that were even the case where I was, I never would have known as a child.  I had no idea what a principal was at that age.  Even in elementary, they were really distant, weird figures to me.  I think I knew the teachers were sort of "afraid" of them, and I always just wondered why and whatever that was about.  (But I was never the focus of their attention either for anything bad, hmm.)

           All that being said, yeah, if the pre-K is actually integrated into a larger formal school and they're responsible for it...  I would expect them to have some higher standards for who is in charge and just how it's run.   And I would expect them to give those teachers resources and support, such that they wouldn't need to send letters off by hand.  But did they?
« Last Edit: November 27, 2013, 02:58:31 PM by kylie »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Distasteful Letter?
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2013, 03:09:42 PM »
Pre-K when I was a little Oni was actually done mostly by churches, and when my daughter was about to start school, it seemed like church-affiliated options were the only ones out there.  I distinctly remember that 'toilet training' was a criteria for kindergarten, which also leads me to believe that Pre-K is probably accustomed to dealing with the occasional malodorous munchkin.