The New Normal in Education

As a veteran educator, still in the classroom after 40+ years, I completely understand the importance of working with the parents of my students in order to provide their children with the best education possible. Parents have always been willing to share tips and possible strategies that will help me work more effectively with their children. After all, we share the same goal, we want their children to graduate with the skills to become accomplished citizens.

In the spirit of a number of new laws being passed, or considered in several states, I am contemplating sending the following letter to my current group of parents. Since parents and state legislators are now being seen as curriculum and classroom specialists, based only on the experience of having attended school and spent some time in classrooms, I think it is only fair for me to ask the relevant questions. I can bring to our discussion not only my experiences in the classroom, and my knowledge that all of my decisions impact every child in the room, not just one, but my experiences in raising two successful children as well.

If, like parents or state legislators, I find any of the answers unacceptable to me, I can take advantage of a phone tip line to report my concerns. So if any of my parents are contacted by a child welfare or law enforcement agency, I am sure they will understand that I am merely doing my civic duty and fulfilling my obligation as a mandatory reporter.

What follows is modified from a shared social media post, so I cannot credit the original author. I apologize for my failure of academic due diligence.

Dear Parent,

As your child’s teacher, I have reason to be concerned about the appropriateness of what your child is learning outside of school. Because children spend only 33 hours out of 168 each week in school, your child’s life at home and outside of school has much more influence on the person that your child will grow up to be than anything that happens in school.

So that we teachers can be more responsive to your child’s needs, please provide us with the following information per week:

• A detailed list of television shows that your child watches.

• A complete list of the video games that your child plays.

• A complete list of the social media your child uses, including links to all of their TikTok videos and Instagram posts, and a list of their friends on SnapChat.

• A list of slang terms (including swear words racial epithets) that are used at least once daily in your household.

• A thorough description of how the relationships among the adults in your child’s life are displayed in front of your child.

• Tallies of the number of times an adult in your household has said something uplifting and motivational to your child (e.g., “I’m so proud of you!”) and the number of times an adult in your household has said something judgmental or demotivational (e.g., “You’re a disappointment to the family!”)

• Pictures of the quiet space set aside for your child to do school work.

• A complete list of the books you will read to your child or list your child will read.

• A detailed list of activities you plan to do daily for the remainder of the year.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to showing that you love your child by providing us with the information that we need in order to adequately provide for your child’s education. This information is vitally important, so we will be sure to follow up with a telephone call or set up a meeting with you at the school if we don’t receive it.

This may seem like a lot at first, but I’m sure it will become a routine after only a few weeks, and we really need this transparency to ensure that your child receives the education that they are entitled to.

Best wishes,

And so it goes…