Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hallelujah? Part II

I hope you don't mind if I vent for a minute about something that is not gay-related. This blog is one of my best venting outlets. I have such good friends here. :)

My daughter and I had a wonderful time participating in the Messiah last Sunday. Before the performance, she told me that she needed to be sure to get a program because she could take it to her English teacher and get extra credit for attending some sort of performance.

I asked her, "Do you get extra extra credit for being in it?" She didn't know, but said she would ask her teacher.

The next day after school, I asked her if she gave the program to her teacher. She said that the teacher wouldn't accept it because she was IN the performance instead of just attending it.

What the F? (Sorry, that is just what I thought at the time when I heard what had happened. Some of my high school student's language is unfortunately rubbing off on me. Fortunately, I do not say that word when I think it.)

The next morning as I was getting ready for school, I composed a scathing email in my head, but I didn't have time to write it. I mentioned it to my friends at lunch, and they helped me figure out what would be appropriate to say to this lady. A few days later I composed the following email:

Ms. _____,

It is my understanding from S____ that you will give extra credit if a student attends a cultural event and brings you the program. Correct me if I am wrong.

S____ was excited to bring a copy of the Messiah program she attended to get a bit of extra credit. But then she found out that because she was in the program, it does not count.

I would like to ask you to reconsider this policy (at least in this case) if possible. If you would even like S_____ to write an essay about her experience to get the extra credit, she can do that.

Let me tell you a little about the production. It is a church/community production that is consists of an orchestra and choir of volunteers. I decided I wanted to participate, and S_____ CHOSE to participate with me. It was not auditioned, not paid, no fees involved. There was no cost for anyone to attend the event. We attended rehearsals every Saturday morning from 8 to 9:30 since the end of October. S____ gave up sleeping in on Saturday mornings so that she could participate in this great cultural experience, hanging out with mostly adults (there were only 2 or 3 kids her age) and singing extremely difficult classical music.

I don’t understand why her choice to do this instead of just listening to the program as part of the audience makes it so that she does not have the same opportunity for extra credit that another student might have. Please consider an exception in this case. She is working hard to get her grades up in [her honors classes], and any extra little effort you are willing to allow for her could make all the difference to her self-esteem (and possibly also her grade, I hope.) Please let me know your decision. Have a wonderful day and a great Holiday.

Thank you,

Sarah N______

She responded fairly quickly with this:

I understand why you believe that S____ should receive the extra credit for her participation in this program, but if I give HER that credit, then I must give almost every student in [the honors program] extra credit. This has been my policy for as long as I have allowed extra credit, which is not something that I am obliged to do. As a teacher, you know that there is a line for all of our rules, and this is where I draw the extra credit option. I would be happy to discuss other ways S_______ can get extra points; she is a darling girl, and I don’t want her to lose self esteem.


Mrs. _________

I was in the middle of a class, and realized by the first sentence that the email was going to make me mad, so I stopped reading it, forwarded it to Scott to do with as he wished. He wrote this response:

Ms. ________,

Sarah has forwarded me her exchange with you regarding S____'s attempt to receive extra credit for her participation in the Midvale community production of The Messiah. I understand your determination to strictly maintain the guidelines you have set for extra credit, and I agree that adherence to set policies is important in maintaining order in any group situation.

I wondered if you could explain the parameters of the allowed extra credit to me so that I can better understand your position? At the moment all we have to base our perceptions on is what S____ has told us. As we understand it, a student may earn extra credit for attending an extracurricular cultural event (concert, play, etc.) by turning in the program for said event. It's unclear to us why /participation/ in the event (which requires a greater investment of time and results in a greater understanding of and appreciation for the work being performed) should be seen as less worthy of credit than mere /attendance/ at the event.

Your assertion that granting S____ the extra credit would oblige you to "give almost every student in [the honors program] extra credit" does not do anything to clarify the issue--surely not every student in [the honors program] has participated in an extracurricular cultural event?

It's obvious that we have been misinformed or underinformed and that we are missing some piece of the puzzle. Any information you can provide that would help us to understand your position better would be appreciated.

Scott N_______

We haven't heard back from her. She is choosing to ignore the question. I understand, because I have done that with parents. I tried to be kind because I hate confrontational parents more than anything else.

But honestly, can you even believe this lady's policy? Bah. Thanks for letting me vent.


Alan said...

Well Sarah I'm with you on this one. My first response was WTF? LOL.

I think Scott has backed her into a logical corner and that's why she hasn't responded. If it were me, I would simply assert that she DID fulfill the requirement. She attended. She was there. She turned in the program. End of analysis. The fact that she also participated should be irrelevant according to this teacher's own criteria.

Maybe you could pitch it that way, if you REALLY wanted to back her into a corner. Good luck.

LDS Pride said...

Although I'm not one to promote lieing, you should just tell the teacher that you were mistaken before and that S____ didn't actually participate. Whoops! How could you have been so silly to think she had participated?

If nothing else, I think the teacher's reaction would be priceless.

Pieces of Me said...

OH MY GOSH, I can't believe this!!! I am totally on your side. The emails you and scott sent were beyond nice, and then she does not even respond to scott's questions, HOW RUDE. What more she knows you are a teacher, and who could be more sympathetic than you to her plight of crabby parents, of which you are not one. I would think she would welcome a well reasoned, NICE email, as opposed to what she probably gets.

I want to be MAD with you!

Sarah said...

Thank you all so much for getting angry along with me. I'm mostly over it now, just shaking my head at the lack of logic in the policy.

We thought of sending her with a program for a concert she DIDN'T attend to make up for it, but I am such a firm believer in honesty...

Jen said...

It's unfortunate that she has not responded yet but maybe the other parents are sending silly notes to school and she has a lot on her desk at the moment. It's her policy (which means she gets to choose who to give the credit to and since it is not a democracy she can discriminate all she likes however the policy makes sense. The participation requires that the child attend the performance. She would be there no matter what. She is not going out of her way to attend another performance which is what the extra credit is for.

Anonymous said...


Wow. Some people just want to be difficult. I immediately saw your point even before I read it.

Performing a piece is much more beneficial than watching it. And it is interesting that extra credit can't be given for understanding and appreciating more.

I think this is a case of "it's not going to count as extra credit because I said so."

For heaven sakes, take S____ to see a different freaking cultural event. At some movie theatre's they show the Met Opera live. So go to that. But check with Mrs. Doubtfire to make sure that it'll count if you bring a ticket stub!

It seems silly that she's going ito choose this to battle over. Does she really believe that every student in class is in some sort of cultural production?

I guess it's Utah and if ward choir practice counted then maybe. I can see why you'd be frustrated.

Good Luck and Merry Christmas!

Bravone said...

This kind of nonsense really gets me going. It is like my son's track coach who makes him do make up work for missing his class to run track. It makes now sense.

Jami said...

I'm usually just a stalker on your blog (my husband was one of Scott's mission companions) but I had to come out of "stalkerland" to comment on this one.

I'm so irritated with your daughter's teacher, I can hardly stand it! I'm glad that you are getting over it, but as someone who just read this and hasn't had time to cool down, I'm really ticked about it.

I guess you're a much better parent than I am because I think I would have gone to the principal by now. Ugh!