Saturday, March 21, 2009


I'm a parent in the NYC public school system as well as a teacher, and I'll tell you here and now that I don't want any more information about my child. I have enough as it is. Report cards just came out last week, and I was very happy with the results. My wife and I spoke with the teacher. There were no surprises. My daughter does her homework, studies for tests, and is respectful at all times. As parents, we make sure of that. I don't need to see her teacher more than twice a year, because I deal with everything properly at home.

Nevertheless, her teachers and school keep giving me too much information, or TMI as my daughter would say if she every said anything rather than IMing it. Aris, Acuity, report cards, personal goals---I don't want to know anymore. I don't need an $80 million computer system to know which way the wind blows.

As a teacher, I give even more information than I get. We have to post assignments online, and communicate with parents through DOE email. Which is actually OK, as I have to make WAY fewer phone calls. There's something about impersonal communication that is right up my alley.

Some parents, however, take this too far. They write me about every little thing. I hear stories about Johnny's absence due to constipation. I hear about how Cindy wanted to hand in her homework, but somehow it was inadvertently mailed to Tibet. I'm told how little Martha is suffering from extreme anxiety because she has ballet lessons and 4 girls scout badges to earn including advance knitting so would I mind putting off my test next week so she can practice her stitches instead?

Another problem is that it's too easy these days for parents to fire off an email asking something that I've already answered 50 times (Does homework have to be handed in on time? Yes. Can you send me Clarissa's assignments for the next six months as we're going to the Pyrenees tomorrow? No.)

Luckily, I've mastered the art of being snippy and sarcastic in email. I often begin with, "As I stated in my last 14 emails to you...." So far, I've heard no complaints, and I doubt I will. Being a rather bloodless communication form, I can get away with snarkiness in email that I could never manage in person or on the phone. Sometimes I purposely answer questions in a vague manner calculated to cause an apoplectic fit in the overly anxious recipient. I'm thinking about adding emoticons to my most sarcastic letters, just for fun. What do you think?:

Dear Parent:

I regret to inform you that your child has missed 172 homeworks.

On the plus side, we have installed new air conditioners for summer school!

Best regards,
Mr. Talk

No comments: