On any given day, I receive a lot of dumb phone calls. Today I received a down-right frightening phone call. It was the 1,987th thing that has happened since I started working at the school that I makes me fear the future.
We sent out letters last week to all the students receiving an F at midterm. Out of about 1500 students, there are 500 students. There could be 1,500 actual Fs. Included with this letter are all of the resources that students should have been using all semester, but have not.
A father called in today to ask if he could speak to someone about the letter that came to his house about his son's failing grade. His wife opened it, even though it was addressed to his son. This man somehow made that sound like it was the school's fault. I had to explain to him three times that we sent the letter to the most recent address his son left with the school, and to his name. In some cases, students leave their parents addresses even though they live in the dorms or in apartments because that is a more permanent address. This student, however, still lived at home. Sooooo what is the issue?
The issue did not seem to be that the student is failing. His father asked why he was failing and I told him I don't know and until someone checks his FERPA, I couldn't tell him if I did know. No, the big question that this man had for me was, "How do I show him the letter without him know my wife open it?" That was not poor grammar on my part; that's how he asked, in a thick accent.
Why are you asking me, a single 27-year-old, how to run your household? I almost said "Just put it in another envelope" but that wasn't really the issue, and I'm not getting involved. I could tell you that it seems like you married an overbearing, intruding, distrusting woman back in the '80s, but that is not really helpful. I could tell you to stop paying for your son to go to school if he's wasting your money and everyone's time.
The thing that puts fear in me is the lack of fear for this kid. His father is concerned that he will be mad about the letter being opened. Understood, we used to get pissed if my mom opened mail, particularly admissions letters and report cards. Admissions letters should be opened by the children because it is their life and their dream. Usually, our report cards were given to us to bring home. Why? Because we could be trusted. And if our parents found out we were hiding anything, they would kill us.
This kid should be afraid that his mom is going to kill him and his dad is going to call him an idiot, and threaten to send him to the army. Instead his dad is afraid of him. Who is afraid of their kids? They were afraid of Macaulay Culkin in "The Good Son." His mom dropped him off a cliff.
No wonder kids today do whatever they want, go wherever they want, and talk to everyone however they want. They're not afraid of anyone. A lot of our students seem to be a little afraid of me. Why? Because I don't make idle threats, or buy into their excuses, or let them blame other people when they are the one with the problem.
All these parents need to say is "I brought you in this world, and I'll take you out!"