Monday, July 21, 2008

So Much For Relaxing.....

Sunday Evening, I sat back enjoying a magazine while Sugar Bear splashed happily in her kiddy pool teaching her baby doll to swim. I was thrilled that she seemed perfectly content to play by herself. This isn’t always the case, so I have to say I was pretty content. Kicked back in my Adirondack chair I cracked open the July 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

Before I became a parent, I was an avid recreational reader. I hate to admit that I haven’t read a “real book” in over a year. I occasionally read a photography book, or even a book on parenting, but no kick back and relax type of books here. It isn’t Sugar Bear’s fault. It is my own. I have replaced my old reading time with other hobbies. Ahem….blogging being one of them obviously. Photography takes up a large portion of this time as well. I do miss reading…..and I know I will be back to it someday. For now….I real blogs…and lots of magazines. You see, I find it much easier to pick up and quickly put down a magazine than a book. I simply do not get sucked into it. At the present time, I have entirely too many subscriptions thanks to E-bay. Sigh….did you know you can get magazine subscriptions CHEAP on e-bay? I’m talking CHEAP! I’ve gotten some pretty unbelievable deals on there, and I can’t pass up a deal. We are talking…..3 years Fitness, 3 years Self, AND 3 years Weight Watchers for………$6.44. Yup…….less than $7 I got 3 years….of all 3 magazines. WOW! My Parents subscription was 3 years for less than $7 as well. It is NUTS!

Anyhow….man, I sure know how to digress, huh? There I sat…..feet all up…..the Sugar more than happy, and I contented to do a little light reading. All was going well, I learned about the best sunscreens out this year, how I have warped Sugar Bear for life by letting her view TV before she was two, and how to tell the difference between many common rashes of summer. Great stuff…..I’m telling you. Then….(why is there always a then? )…I flipped the page to a promising article on page 90 entitled, “What Your Doctor, Babysitter, Preschool Teacher, (and all the other pros in your life) Really Want You To Know…But Wouldn‘t Dare Tell You To Your Face“. Going into to it I was intrigued by the idea, but experience has told me that I often already know what they are going to say.

The Daycare Provider opened the conversation explaining that she likes you to be on time at pick-up, pay attention to your child, not your phone when dropping off or picking up, and to follow the rules. Nothing new here…..I nodded and moved on. Next up, the Pediatrician reminded us that our children are not as fragile as we believe and that every little sniffle is not cause for concern….and definitely not anti-biotics. Again….DUH……old news. Got it!

Then the Preschool teacher took over. Here is where I need to interject that my bachelor’s degree is in early childhood education, and I used to be a preschool teacher. I no longer teach, but I work for a federally run preschool program for children of low-income families. I am very much in touch with this field of interest. As I read the first small paragraph, my nice, relaxed, moment of peace was rudely interrupted. I read with my teeth clenched . I’d like to say that the other two paragraphs authored by this preschool teacher made up for the first, but I can not. I shook my head, laid the magazine on my lap….and stared blankly in the direction of my child playing to contently in her pool. As I observed her joy, my mind raced through what I had just read, and the anger welled up in me. If my Sugar had not been in her pool, I would have immediately rushed to my computer to get these thoughts on paper, but I was tied to her side to ensure her safety. This allowed time for my thoughts to fester, and grow. I had hoped it would work itself out, but alas…here we are, hours later, and I am still worked up. What, may you ask, did this lady say? What could have riled the usually calm and carefree Corey? Let me tell you!

And I quote:




“If a parent doesn’t follow my directions, I’ll assume her child won’t either.” Basically, she goes on to explain that if a parent doesn’t follow through on filling out forms correctly, emailing instead of calling, or putting unacceptable foods in their child’s lunch it immediately “creates a bias against your child. And most teachers feel the same way.”



Sigh…….is it just me….or is this one of the saddest statements you have ever heard? Seriously? Seriously? She is saying that based purely on the parent’s ability to meet her expectations she can judge the child’s ability to succeed in her classroom? Seriously? Is that what she is saying? We are talking PRESCHOOL here. Don’t get me wrong…I fully understand the importance, as a parent, of providing a good example. I get that….I really do, but I can tell you right now, that my own personal middle age forgetfulness, has absolutely no baring on Sugar Bear’s ability to attend in the classroom. It burdens my heart to think that Sugar will be judged by MY own personality flaws. Please understand that I am not suggesting a parent not strive to follow the rules, and be prompt, and courteous, but I AM saying we all make mistakes, and it doesn’t mean our child will automatically make the same mistakes.

Miss Preschool Speaks For All, goes on to state, “the six most lethal words to a teacher at the end of class are ‘Hi! Do you have a minute?’ We hate that. Make an appointment. Likewise, don’t pretend you’re in my classroom to volunteer and then try to use that time to chat about your child’s progress. " Ugh…..again….is it just me, or does this woman not realize that as parents most of us are doing our best to provide for our family, and be a large part of our child’s education. If I innocently ask if you have a minute, I will respectfully understand if you don’t. Just be an adult and say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the time your concern deserves today. Can we set up an appointment?” How hard is that? And if I am spending time in your classroom volunteering, you can entirely expect that I might ask you how my child is doing sometime while I'm there. It doesn't mean that is the ONLY reason I came. ARGH!

Lastly……according to this particular preschool teacher she knows the biggest secret among teachers. Like to hear it? Ummmm yeah......... you have a reason to be weary, but here it is, and I quote:




“Just as you have a preferred teacher you want for your kid next year, we have preferred students we want for our classrooms. (okay….fair enough….she should have stopped here…..but she didn’t. ) How to become a preferred family? Start each school year by sending your teacher this email: ‘Please provide me with a wish list of ten things you would like for your classroom. ’ She’ll ask for things like Post-it notes, a chess set, a 50 cent deck of cards. When you spend maybe $20 on these items, it goes through the grapevine that you are here not just for your kids but for the entire class-that this is the family that cares about the community, whose child is probably a team player too. “



Okay…..I needed a serious deep breath after reading that. Is this lady seriously suggesting that the only way to become a preferred family, and have your child seen as a “team player” is to spend money in the classroom? WHAT? Again with the child being valued or de-valued by something entirely based on the parents actions. I’m sorry but my financial ability to spend $20 in her classroom should have no baring on my child’s ability to be a part of the community. And this is the biggest secret among teachers? If you ask me….it should have remained a secret.

In my opinion, this article quickly made all teachers out to be whiny, judgmental individuals that base their opinions of the children they work with on the parents ability to meet her standards both personally, and financially. SAD…..I’m telling you SAD. This is an embarrassment to the profession, and a disgusting way to look at life. I am not blind, and I have seen that some people do base their feelings about a child on whether they like the parents or not, but seriously…..should teachers be dong this? Should they actually be encouraging parents to play along with this? “You better suck up to me….or your child will not succeed!"

As a professional in this field, I can think of a whole slew of things that would have been more appropriate to share with parents. Things that would actually help their child’s success in school. Things that would help parents understand the important role they play in their child’s education. Instead, the editors at Parents magazine chose to advise parents how to behave so that their child will not be discriminated against. If this really is the “normal” thought process of the average preschool educator…..I suppose I am glad I know now. Maybe it is time to re-consider home schooling.


28 Live It or Love It:

Childlife said...

I think I read this entire post with my jaw on the keyboard, Corey! Holy cow! She's actually soliciting bribes? That is just insane!

It makes me feel better to know that there are teachers in the system with viewpoints like yours though -- you're a welcome voice of sanity, Corey. Thanks for posting this.

Gina said...

I was thinking "homeschool" with every sentence of this post and then, there it was at the end! Yep, I think so too. : )

Irene said...

Are you serious!? This is CRAZY!!!!!

The more I learn about our school system, the more I also think homeschooling may be a very real option. Right now, things are going well for my daughter. But they are moving the 5th grade to the middle school. And her school will start before 7:30 a.m. Her bus would come at about 6:45! In 5th? She is only in 1st now, but this makes me sick and I am already thinking about other options.

AnnD said...

I have a subscription to People too and read that but I guess I didn't read into it what you did. I did remember thinking that buying my way into my kids' teachers hearts seems unnecessary and way too ass-kissing for my taste. I don't kiss ass well at all.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

Wow! So glad I had already cancelled my subscription to Parents magazine.

What were they thinking?????

Mama Zen said...

That's just sad. And, infuriating.

JC said...

Lol, Corey... you asked, so I'll try to make a couple short observations.
First, the statement does exemplify exactly how most teachers feel. And it's true, no matter how you slice it, children learn by example. She probably should have used more extreme examples, though, to make her point. My sister taught little ones for a while and I can't even tell you how many times I heard her say "No wonder that child acts (like that), you should see their parents".

Next, Do you have a minute? That's probably her own experiences... my sister would have loved for more parents to take any interest in being involved and not treating teachers as babysitters when both were in her company, in and out of the classroom. Of course there is a time and place for everything, and I would think this teacher is talking about when those things happen at the most inopportune times.

Your last preferred status... oh, boy... a couple different ways to look at that. Most people don't realize that some teachers spend a lot of her own money on supplies. I don't know all the details, but it is true, for whatever reasons. Naturally, if someone is helping you financially, you will show preference. It's the way the world goes 'round. Teachers are human.

I do agree the article is poorly written as it doesn't account for a lot of the little reasons some, maybe many, teachers feel that way.

Corey, another thing... you are a rare breed in parenting. You do a wonderful job of it (from what we can see on-line, anyway) and your attitudes and treatment towards Sugar Bear are what parents should strive toward. Unfortunately, not all parents are cut out to be. And not all teachers are cut out to be.

And remember... that article is a generalization and opinion of one teacher. I wouldn't get all worked up over that... just be glad it isn't your Sugar's teacher ;-)

Corey~living and loving said...

Thank you for all the great comments. I appreciate it.

JC- I loved your comment. I want to see this from a different perspective, but I am struggling. I work with 22 preschool teachers everyday of my job, and I have not heard such horrible things from any of them. Maybe it is because we work with Low income families, and we are trying to give the children a chance to be who they can be, and not who their parents are. Maybe it is because I work with low income, I find it hard to see Parents magazine saying that you need to spend money to give your child the best chance in the classroom. It isn't the child's fault that the parents are struggling financially, right?


I am all for helping a teacher out, and I do realize they spend their own money in their classrooms, but I refuse to accept that a child's success in school should be determined by the parents ability to help finacially. There are so many other ways to help in the classroom.

I totally understand that this is a generalization, and that some of these thoughts run through the mind of teachers, BUT I disagree that these are things the PARENTS have to be aware of and change to please teachers.

Corey~living and loving said...

Oh and I forgot to say, that I am just plain disappointed that Parents magazine took the time to emphasize this particular teachers ideas of "secrets every parent should know" instead of a better spoken less bitter person.

Autumn said...

I can only imagine how frustrating it is being a preschool teacher at times. But holding something against a small child, for who their parents are... that's just unacceptable. Sorry, kids don't get to choose their parents.
I know our system sucks because teachers often have to spend their own money on supplies. So if a childs family can't afford to get extra for the class, they won't be a "preferred" student. That is just sickening.
I keep imagining my sons preschool teacher, holding things against my son for things I did or did not do. It makes me sad, so very sad.
I was one of three parents that worked full time and wasn't able to participate in the classroom. Now I wonder, was that held against him during class?
Ugh.. that thought makes me ill.

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

Two things, ebay no longer does magazine subscriptions! They changed their policy and only sell things that can be delivered within 30 days. I'm very upset about this!

I am sad that Parents decided to publish this. Although I think that teacher is probably being completely honest, I think it's a poor example and poorly worded. While I know that teachers shouldn't show favoritism at all, I know it happens. I try to help my kids make the best impression so that they aren't one of the ones treated badly. I always send extra supplies and always send papers back on time, etc. I also make them aware that once they are pegged as a bad behavior kid that it takes a LOT to get over that. And that they need to be on their best behavior. I don't think enough parents do these types of things and it makes some teachers bitter. I can totally see both sides.

Keara said...

I read this too and was shocked also. I really think you should send this blog to the editors.

MommaV said...

I am SO glad I am not the only one who was literally stunned by the remarks of that article! I read it sitting in my doctors office waiting for an appointment, and wanted to share the article with everyone waiting! Seriously.... I have a very hard time believing all teachers and preschool teachers, etc feel that way. I'm sure many do, but I am sure this article upset the other handfull that actually seem to care about children!

Groovy Mom said...

Ugh. It reminds me of the attitudes that sent my husband and I into the virtual arms of the homeschooling community. What the educational establishment needs to realize and put back into place is the idea that they WORK FOR THE PARENTS who are ultimately THE responsible parties for their children's education. Instead they seem to believe that they are the boss and the parents need to do their bidding. I realize parents have enabled this mindset because too many are all to happy to wash their hands of the whole mess and let public schools be in charge, but that is why the whole system is such a mess.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Blimey Corey, I am gobsmacked. I just can't imagine this being on the lists of the teachers I know. What an awful woman. I wonder if she knows how to 'behave' so that parents will want their kids to be in her class. I doubt it.

Lis Garrett said...

WHAT?? OMG!!! I cannot believe what I just read, mainly because I cannot believe Bridget's preschool teacher would EVER think those things. She's simply the most amazing person.

Wow - THAT "teacher" should NOT be teaching. AT. ALL. I hope you forward this post to the magazine, for sure! I cannot believe most teachers feel the same way she does, and I can't believe Parents would publish her article. Disgusting.

Kimberly said...

What kind of horrible trauma did this woman go through to be that messed up in the head?!

Veggie Mom said...

This woman wouldn't keep her job for more than 3 minutes in my school district if she told even one parent something like this. I don't know what the mag would publish her article, except to create controversy. BTW, thanks for the Comment Love, and for helping Aunt Julie plan the rehearsal dinner!

MamaGeek said...

I'm not sure how anyone can think that's right. What a sad commentary, I'm already fearing the public school system and totally feel ya.

tommie said...

Coming from a former teacher's point of view, I can't believe this was published!

Made me sad to admit that I am/was a teacher in the public school setting.

Michelle said...

I'm like you - I'm an avid reader (or used to be pre-kids!) but I don't find much time to get lost in a good book anymore, so I have way too many mag subscriptions! As if I don't have enough you just tipped me off to getting them through ebay - I had no idea! Thanks for the tip :)

Now on to that article - I'm surprised that was published too. I can't imagine that would be the opinion of the majority of preschool teachers! I would look at it the same way - she's saying suck up to me by buying me things and I'll like your kid. I don't know how all schools are, but I imagine they are similar to here - we get a list at the beginning of the year of supplies each child is supposed to bring in to the classroom...so we already are buying classroom supplies. Some of the things on Kayla's list last year included tissues, wipes, crayons, brown paper bags...

I think you should send a letter to Parents mag commenting on what this teacher had to say!

Christina said...

Thank you for posting this, Corey! I read the same article recently, and had a similar reaction. I had just the day before dropped off Nadia's paperwork for preschool this fall, and according to this I - and my daughter! - would have been prejudged for showing up in swimsuit coverups on our way to the pool, and for forgetting one of the papers in the car. How outlandish! Those things have no bearing on a child's success in school, and neither should financial doantions. They are toddlers for heavens sake! I suppose it's to be expected in exclusive, wait list preschools with extensive application and interview processes...but for the average preschool? Good gosh, that's demoralizing, and WRONG!

Jules said...

Oh Corey, I read this same article and I was disgusted too. I was late turning in our preschool paperwork by one day, I sure as heck hope Chloe's preschool teacher wouldn't treat her badly because of it. Or automatically expect that she won't follow any rules!

As a future teacher, I am totally appalled at what this lady said. If showing up with an extra box of kleenex will make the teacher pay more attention to my daughter, it's a sad, sad day.

holly said...

yes, there are so many things about this post that get my goat.

i had a whole huge comment written out. and then i just realized i was getting too worked up.

so i think i'll just go to bed early and not let this bring out the next gray hair.

but if i meet that chick, i can't promise i won't punch her.

Carolyn said...

Holy Crap. I'm FUMING right now. What the hell!?! I too, am totally dismayed by the idea that a teacher would judge or teach Csilla based on my behaviour or actions. I suppose a teacher like that wouldn't really appreciate it if I treated her like a jerk just because her mother is a jerk... but that's pretty much what she is suggesting. Talk about faulty logic.

So Cor... and I quote, "As a professional in this field, I can think of a whole slew of things that would have been more appropriate to share with parents. Things that would actually help their child’s success in school. Things that would help parents understand the important role they play in their child’s education."

Um. I know you don't have the time for a post like that, but I'd love to hear what you have to say about this in a positive light. I'm clueless when it comes to knowing how to properly equip Csilla for school and it certainly never occurred to me that any of her teachers might be thinking like the one from your article. Help me learn how to be one of the parents who does a good job of interacting with Csilla's school, eh?

Thanks for enlightening me, even if you don't have time for a follow up post. xo c

amoena said...

Times have changed. Very sad.

Kimi said...

Wow!! I have no words. Just "WOW!"

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

I hardly have the time to read anymore - even magazines, as the stack of parenting ones (and others) sitting in my bedroom would attest. Therefore, I missed this particular article - and am I glad (or not?) that I did.

Wow. I mean I can see some of these things maybe (and that's a huge MAYBE) making sense in extreme situations. But for a preschool teacher to not only discuss treating children this way - but to recommend that parents bribe their kids' teachers???!!! All I can say is WOW. See, I am the kind of parent who tends to forget permission slips and such until the last moment, and who has never been able to participate or volunteer in my childrens' classrooms, much less buy supplies. If I have the the chance to see my kids' teachers, darn right I'm going to take the opportunity to ask how my kids are doing! Teachers are there for the KIDS - not to judge the families, who may be struggling both organizationally and financially, as we are. The fact that I am a busy mom doesn't mean that I don't care about my childrens' educations - or that I am deliberately making things harder on their teachers. I try the best I can - which is all any of us can do.

Yikes. Now I'm all flustered and frustrated. You should send a link to this post to the editors over at Parents...

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