Subject: Poetry extra credit
[English teacher’s name],
My [child, Child’s Name], is in your English class.
I appreciate that there is an extra credit opportunity, and I like the way it is structured, but I am concerned by one of the websites that was suggested.
This site: [not sending any blog traffic its way]
Its first recommended theme is “The negative effects of communism and socialism on the West.” It makes propagandistic claims about communism, as though the Cold War is ongoing, and it makes incorrect statements about socialism.
Unsurprisingly, the “trending poems” appear to also be full of propaganda, e.g., ‘Poem for the Second Inauguration of President Donald J. Trump,’ and ‘On the Main Stream Media’s Fake News.’
I would prefer that what seems to be a far-right, inaccurate, propagandistic website not be presented to my [child] as part of [their] education.
December 16, 2020 at 5:16 am
So many different realities in this country
Anon in mass
December 16, 2020 at 6:55 am
Can he escalate? Or are you guys in such a minority down there that it isn’t worth it?
December 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm
“…and talked a lot without really saying anything.”
OMFG, I read this and immediately felt my blood pressure spike. Other people’s bullshit vacuous verbal diarrhea will be the death of me, I swear.
December 16, 2020 at 6:45 pm
ME TOO. He even tried DH’s patience which is a non-trivial task
I was on a grant zoom put together by an amazing woman last week in which the only white dude on the call proceeded to mansplain gender discrimination to three women including a WOC. He was at it for about 30 min, long enough for me to turn off my camera, get up, go to the kitchen, make a pot of tea, and complain to DH about the guy. I am going to miss zoom– it keeps me from saying nasty things to distinguished professors.
December 16, 2020 at 7:04 am
UGH. I’m so annoyed by teachers who refuse to reply to polite and reasonable emails. *Looks at both the English teacher and JB’s kinder teacher*
Will you need to escalate to admin if they continue to not reply?
December 16, 2020 at 7:10 am
You know what’s (not) funny? I remember very similar topics for essays from my teenage years in Latvia. Except flipped 180 degrees. (Even though this was after the breakup of the USSR, our teacher was very … old-fashioned? conservative? Something like that.) I don’t remember exactly, but it would be something along the lines of “Discuss the negative themes of capitalism in Gogol’s Dead Souls” or “Explain the influence of decadent west on Yevgenij Onegin”.
Ha. Very amusing parallels here between hard-core Soviet teacher and whoever wrote that website.
December 16, 2020 at 7:12 am
Propaganda is the same everywhere.
December 20, 2020 at 4:48 pm
At one of the large companies where I have worked, a colleague from the former USSR said a lot of internal company stuff about our plans, our Mission Statement, etc., reminded him of Soviet propaganda.
December 20, 2020 at 5:20 pm
December 16, 2020 at 7:11 am
We didn’t want to escalate to the principal—this could have been an accident if the teacher didn’t look at the site. After some time and thinking we contacted DC1’s counselor who contacted the English department head who called DH and talked a lot without really saying anything. Basically the gist from both was “We see how someone could find that offensive.” The site is still up on the assignment list and the assignment window is over so we’ve given up.
I’m going to start on the market again next year I think, though I will want to let DC1 finish high school. (There’s also work reasons I haven’t gone into.). I am beginning to think I would trade off snow for raising DC2 in a blue state.
December 16, 2020 at 8:30 am
In my freshman year of (public) high school, our English class textbook was a survey of world literature. In the poetry section, there were the inclusion of a few psalms, which, as an adult, I don’t object for them to be studied as contributions to the poetic canon. What I object to is that our teacher made us stand and read them out loud “like we do in church.”
December 16, 2020 at 9:50 am
I don’t think “didn’t look at the site” would be a legitimate excuse. It would just be a different form of wrongdoing.
And I also think that it’s unlikely that it wasn’t a deliberate inclusion. I can think of several teachers from my high school who were like that. They had their own agendas and they weren’t opposed to promoting them. I still recall the extremely conservative, pro-military history teacher going off on his beliefs about women in general and what women should/shouldn’t do. Nothing to do with the topic, but he was determined to use his platform the way he wanted. He would be very pro-Trump in this day and age.
December 16, 2020 at 10:11 am
There’s a slight complication I didn’t mention about the woman in question having recent medical leave (which is one reason we ended up talking to a counselor when we couldn’t talk to the long-term substitute because of school policy). And so many of the assignments are canned wholesale from teacherstoteachers and so on, that I wouldn’t be surprised if she just didn’t look. Also there are two honors teachers, and they have the same curriculum, so it could be from the other teacher. But also it could be deliberate– they are only reading books about obnoxious white boys coming of age this year. (DC1 didn’t realize they would be on the final so we had to sprint to get them from the library when zie realized!) Basically, we don’t know what is going on, but try not to cause trouble until we know something wasn’t an innocent mistake.
December 16, 2020 at 12:41 pm
FYI, my sister (in the both red and cold state of Indiana) has had some success with similar letters. So your student’s next teachers may be better.
December 17, 2020 at 6:50 am
Wow. Just wow. Definitely not okay in that context. Maybe another context (with critical analysis of reality) might be okayish?
We are in a red county of a blue state. We are navigating carefully with teachers for our kid. You can bet I jumped on requesting the teacher who got a grant to buy diverse books for the school. Our oldest got that teacher and is having a great experience! I am reminded that research shows teachers matter more than the school. Our district is fairly cognizant of diversity, which somewhat explains why a full 50% of kids in our town aren’t enrolled in the school district. A lot of enrollment in the two parochial schools in town.
December 17, 2020 at 7:12 am
We don’t even find out who the teachers are until the week classes start. We do have DC2 in dual-language which helps a lot.
December 19, 2020 at 5:30 am
We only find out a little in advance. The teachers here send welcome letters to the kids a few weeks before classes. But we can request specific teachers, and they honor the request if possible.
December 17, 2020 at 7:58 am
December 17, 2020 at 9:49 am
Oh please tell me you encouraged DC1 to write about how the most tragic consequence of communism on the West was to stimulate the paranoia of the John Birch Society, who subsequently went out of their way to undermine democracy, demonize Eisenhower, and pave the way for the Koch brothers to become fascist puppetmasters inflicting wicked and selfish policies on the masses, triggering climate catastrophe and killing all the babies?
(the latest Behind the Bastards episodes on the John Birch Society are excellent, by the way)
December 17, 2020 at 9:52 am
No, zie submitted hir poem about nature to one of the other listed sites. DC1 isn’t particularly subversive…
December 18, 2020 at 8:01 am
Probably for the best, for DC1’s sake. Still, the teacher DESERVED to grade at least one such type of response!
December 18, 2020 at 8:35 am
Well, the poems had been submitted for a grade long before the extra credit assignment. Basically the extra credit assignment was to submit the 40 point poem from their poetry portfolios to one of the following websites (first listed being the creepy ultra-right-wing site).
April 7, 2021 at 1:09 am
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