High School Showdown. Student to Principal. (in Off-topic)
I wrote the following letter to my principal. Before I pop it in her box, let me know if I will get in too much trouble or if she will care. I figure this game has enough cynics to mimic that of a high school principal ;)
TO: Mrs. McMillan
FROM: James Binion, 12th grade.
DATE: December 7th, 2006
SUBJECT: Welcome to Cross Keys
Hope youre ready. This is a school like no other. We dont have drug problems, we dont have a particularly large amount of fights, and we are reasonably respectful to the teachers. Yet, we have some things most schools dont have.
Many of us cant speak English, yet we all must take the standardized tests. Many of us cant pay our bills, yet we are expected to have everything more privileged children have. We are expected to stay in school while our siblings go hungry and we cant get a job to keep them fed. Why should some of us stay in school?
I have attended over 20 schools throughout my life. I love this school more then any of them. It has decent students, good teachers, and a faculty that cares. But they grow callous towards the suffering around them. We arent normal students, our greatest concerns are not the SAT and they are most certainly not when the next dance is. We are teenagers like any others, but we are steeped in reality. I sincerely hope you can keep that in mind when you make decisions for our school.
Technically, this was not my assignment. I was supposed to write to you about a project. But, I feel that this is more important then anything else. You need to understand, from student to teacher, what this school is. I have done a poor job of getting the nature of life at Cross Keys across, but I tried. I hope this helps. I hope it helps you hear every students need and not turn a deaf ear to it.
Thank you for your time.
Get back to me guys.
December 7 2006 10:56 AM EST
Your principal is going to try to do her job. What are you trying to get across here?
"Many of us cant speak English, yet we all must take the standardized tests."
Do you want tests in Espanol?
"Many of us cant pay our bills, yet we are expected to have everything more privileged children have."
Do you want financial help?
"We are expected to stay in school while our siblings go hungry and we cant get a job to keep them fed."
Do you want workstudy availability, help with basic needs?
"We arent normal students, our greatest concerns are not the SAT and they are most certainly not when the next dance is. We are teenagers like any others, but we are steeped in reality."
Other teenagers don't face these difficulties?
My question is simply this: What are you trying to accomplish with this letter, keeping in mind that duties that being the principal implies?
Note: I'm not trying to say your situations are not bad; I'm not saying something shouldn't be done; but are you appealing to the correct person? Are you placing undue responsibility upon a person already working to help you academically?
I just don't see what Mrs. McMillan is supposed to do in response to your letter here. And I really hope you didn't entitle your letter "High School Showdown".
Of course not lol.
But, the main thing this letter is supposed to do is remind her that this isn't another one of her old school were everyone has money.
When I say concerns besides dance and SAT, I mean making bail for a parent, having a baby, not getting stabbed in next gang fight, feeding housing and clothing family. She should already know it, but I am trying to remind her of it from a students point of view. I only tell her what is going on so she doesn't go along thinking this will be easy. She needs to know the real situation.
She has taken the job at your school, she is more than likely to know the complete
situation of the majority of students at your school and it would make her job
a lot easier if you sent her the letter about the project rather than one about
things she knows, if she has only recently joined then she does not need a
Maybe many months down the line if she seems to be doing a bad job then this
letter may be a good idea but for now it would just be spamming her mail.
Lol, I understand where you are coming from. But I won't be here in several months. She needs to help these students now. If they fail again every teacher here gets fired, and it won't have been their fault that the kids failed.
The project is lame and won't affect anything.
At the very least you're indentifying yourself as an ally for her should she chose...
I think it's a good idea, even if she's well aware of what she's getting into, a request for compassion and intelligent action can't do much harm, I don't expect you'll find any trouble with her...
It's talking about situations like this with people in power than can change things, who knows, your new principal may be a thinker as well...you might find she is ready and willing not just to understand, but to help as well.
An apprenticeship program, bringing kids together with skilled workers from different fields, so that instead of an afterschool job working retail, you can work and learn at the same time. The institutional nature of high school today may not always encourage people to participate in their own education, but it makes a lot of difference if you do.
So you are saying that if the students fail then it is her fault?
Sorry, but it is mostly down to the students who don't put the effort in and
the teachers not doing a very good job finding the best way to get through to
The headteacher/principal is there only to organise certain functions of the
school and to promote a good image to the community, they would prefer good
grades to be gained but how students get them is not her concern.
How is she supposed to do anything about the financial situations you have?
She can't even let you have easier exams because there has to be standard tests
to actually give people a level playing field, if your school had easier exams then
you could come out having done better than someone much brighter and harder
working than you.
People with family issues and finacial problems need to find their own way of
balancing their life I'm afraid, I'm at Uni and have ran out of my first amount of
government support while having to support myself because my parents cannot
afford to do so. I live in a flat which I have to pay fairly high rent for and I'm
currently looking for a job to fit around my schedule and I'll still be putting in 100%
effort towards my degree.
Agreed, I don't have the same problems but even if I did I couldn't write to the
Dean of my Uni and tell them that he needs to be reminded that there are people
like me in the Uni.
Luckily for us we get government support for being from a poor background
and for things like
having children, but those are the people you need to get in touch with, your
principal has no power over these things and you will just be wasting her time.
I think you should probably get "then" and "than" right, when writing to school personnel.
Zoglog = kind of person that believes our school failing is because the students are lazy and teachers are bad.
Bast= I spell how I want. If the new principal is worth anything she will get over it. Unlike some people....
I believe getting a grade is down to students and teachers because it is.
A principle cannot do a lot about it.
I didn't say that outside factors aren't a problem just that students should try and find a way to make them less of a problem.
I have seen many young mothers carry on though school and still do well, I've seen people who are near destitution complete a course and get somewhere.
The thing is, these people found that one thing to lighten their burdens and it was not at any time sending letters to their school teachers telling them that life sucks.
As I said, you should be directing this letter towards your local government, set up a petition etc. even get your teachers to sign it. Aim for the support from the people that can give it, don't put the responsibility on one person who has only just taken a job which involves the running of the school and not the needs of individuals.
I don't know what this letter is supposed to do.You want her to care? Hey shes a female probably she does.You want her to do something? Hey shes a teacher not a leader,politician.My too old take on this is you are young and have hit a stage in life were you see "life sucks and then you die".I doubt your caring about the crap in life will help fix it.Can these problems be fixed ? Sounds like your beef is with lack of affluence .May be you could go Bill gates on some invention and start a nice clean Mc'jobs factory.Not likely I know .This is a political thing if it can be fixed and I doubt those types will do much because what you seem to want is harder than most people will admit.Of course maybe I just missed the point .
December 7 2006 11:59 AM EST
Bast - also "student's need" if you mean each individual student
which I think you do.
Knowing a couple of principals, I think this woman probably know what she is getting into. Most of them do care about the students
and the teachers too. On the other hand, she may be brand new
and sent to your school because nobody else wanted to have to
fire all the teachers if the students fail if what you're saying is true.
I'd say, do your project too. Maybe there is a good reason for it that
you are not aware of, but slip her the letter too. It's true that in a
standardised world, everyone has to pass the same tests but for
some, life is easier. She knows that school is important. Leaving
school now to work and put food on the table is an honourable
short-term idea, but if it leads to a life of unemployment or
minimum wage, who has been helped in the long run ?
Your letter lets her know that the students are challenged but that
at least some are willing to work to overcome that. Some may not
have the option unless she can find a way to help. That's part of
her job; can she run get-ahead sessions at lunchtime or get
scholarships to help students balance money against learning ?
Help her help you; do both.
I think your letter is respectful in tone, and your principal won't have a problem with it. I think your opinion of your school being "like no other" is inaccurate, as is your opinion of your teachers' perceived shortcomings, but only because you're young, and these are the typical misperceptions of a high school student. But really, change "then" to "than". If you want to be taken seriously, give people a reason to do so.
Do you have an EAL (English as an Additional Language) department at your school? I work in a school where 99% of the students don't speak English as either their first, or home language.
Also, do you have FSM (Free School Meals)? Back when I was a student, there was a stigma attached to getting lunch in the school canteen. Students were allowed out, off site, for the lunch break.
Only those whoes families were too poor to afford giving thier children lunch money eat in the school canteen. So you avoided it like the plague.
Now, kids will do anything, from nicking other kids tickets, to bringing in falsified documents, just to get a free meal.
Truants will routinely escape the premisis to 'bunk' lessons, only to break back in at lunch time to cliam their free meal (then skip out again straight after...)
My how times have changed! ;)
December 7 2006 12:45 PM EST
"I spell how I want. If the new principal is worth anything she will get over it."
That attitude shows a lack of respect.
December 7 2006 12:46 PM EST
Because I came from a single parent family - my mum and dad divorced when I was six - I was one of those free dinner kids!!!!
Mr B: I dunno if it is different in the US, but teachers and head teachers (the UK equivalent to your principal) are all very very aware of the needs of their students, the circumstances their students come from and what they should be doing to help. Unfortunately most have their hands tied by the system they are a part of. Budgets and spending is dependent on results and an increasing focus on running schools as business.
Several friends of mine are teachers and very good ones at that. But they are forced a lot of the time to make their focus the school rather than the students. Even though it tears them up to do so.
December 7 2006 12:55 PM EST
LOL...I don't see how a high-school principal is responsible for anything you mentioned in any way. None of these are problems she has caused, and none of them are problems she can solve. So you can write her this letter, but it is a waste of hers, and your time.
I don't mean for this to sound rude, but it is certainly going to sound that way being it is written online rather than spoken in person: this seems to me like just another attempt to get attention or recognition. From all that I have read (or refused to read) written by you, Oleander, it is nothing but "Oleander's rant on this" or "Oleander's feeling on that". I know nothing about you so I have nothing to go by except for what I read, but I would suggest you chill out and focus less on how the world revolves around you.
It'd be just a little less annoying.
Oleander, you seem to "want" the world to change, but you have to DO things to make it change, making these statements, however good in nature they may be, are not helping anyone. You are not an important decision maker, so the onus is on you to offer up suggestions on how to fix problems, not simply reinforce the idea that there are problems. You should send a similarly worded letter to your congressman and CC a copy of it to your Principal to let her know that you are concerned about the state of things.
It wouldn't hurt to suggest a few general solutions to the problems you mention. I would try to think "big picture" solutions. Remember you are not the only person who tries to solve problems, a lot of people do that same thing, try to bring some ideas to the table that they could use.
hilarious if you were to send it, wouldn't work, i love it
What do you mean you have kids that don't speak english in school? English is the national language here. How can you have kids that don't speak english?
wait we didn't actually pass that asinine law did we...
December 7 2006 6:39 PM EST
Uh oh, FLAME ON!!!!
At what point in our history have we been a monolingual society?
What possible good could come of legislating a language?
Don't we have enough stupid laws already?
Aren't we aready far enough behind in the race to be able to communicate in the real world?
Nov, I'm told it makes everything so much cheaper -- we wouldn't have to have multiple automated phone options for language nor multiple options on any forms. Also, everything is easier when you can ignore large segments of the population. :)
ahh nothing like saving money to excuse the legislation of xenophobia...
December 7 2006 7:57 PM EST
"ahh nothing like saving money to excuse the legislation of xenophobia..."
Are you kidding me?
If someone immigrants to a country, they should be expected to adapt to their culture and language. Not only to become a part of that society, but also to survive.
In the part of the US that I live in, there are many illegals that come here to work and retain their lifestyle and culture. Because of that, they are not afforded the same opportunities to succeed.
This is my country and I should not have to select 1 for English. They must adapt and assimilate to my culture and traditions and not the other way around.
Anyone who thinks different, look at the European countries and the problems they now face with their immigrant problems.
Which native American language do you speak?
jerktardic from my summation...
I could have sworn you are using our language.
'Tis a sad, sad day when an American calls English 'his' language.
December 7 2006 11:24 PM EST
Funny how narrow minded you all are. Pick one small argument and run with it. I love it!
And nowhere did I say English is MY language. Read more carefully next time before you get diarrhea of the mouth/keyboard.
Offer one sane solution...
DD or edy, what do you seriously propose doing? Denying public services based on language? Canceling ESL programs in school. What are you talking about doing here? The idea of a standard language in this country is offensive, period, this country is way too culturally diverse to claim that we don't need to respect and account for non-english speaking peoples.
December 8 2006 2:25 AM EST
"If someone immigrants to a country, they should be expected to adapt to their culture and language."
I think the word you're looking for, in English, is immigrates, not immigrants.
I guess you haven't yet adapted to the language.
"They must adapt and assimilate to my culture and traditions and not the other way around. "
Hunter S had a great word for your ilk, I'll prefix it with stupid and end it at that....
December 8 2006 3:01 AM EST
Anyone ever seen the end of the movie "Bullworth"? I think it was his last public speach he said something about this (mixing race and ethnicity until we're all the same) We would still be our own people, but things like this wouldn't happen... It was a fictional movie, but the point is still just as true...
If England had just assimilated all cultures Borg style, there would be no Chicken Tikka Masala!
I'm surprised G_Beee hasn't already corrected you GL that the Scottish invented
Unless you mean that Scottish people make our country multicultural ;P
Well they surely ain't English! :P
Yet we still have Irn Bru and deep fried mars bars! ;)
December 8 2006 4:19 AM EST
"Yet we still have Irn Bru and deep fried mars bars! ;)"
Deep fried mars bars? o_O
December 8 2006 5:03 AM EST
Don't get me started on the deep fried mars bars...
December 8 2006 5:12 AM EST
Back on topic and re. the original letter to the principal at school.
Take 5mins to correct grammar and spelling. It's attention to detail that shows you really care. I'm terrible at spelling but I always take an extra few mins to run it through a spellchecker. It's not hard...
You don't want to confuse the recipient into thinking it's a rant rather than a constructive attempt to get a point across.
"Yeah sure, this kid is preaching to me but he can't even take the time to get his spelling right..."
Presentation, presentation, presentation.
Agree or disagree, many people judge others on first impressions and things like that matter. She's also the principal of the school, you don't want to sound condescending or over critical. You want her to buy into your positive approach. Be nice.
OK, this thread has got over serious...
I also suggest you tie your letter around a brick and throw it through her office window. You are bound to get your point across that way. Hell, you may even make the local news :)
Would be called a gang thing and would be prosecuted as an adult, but point well noted lol.
Okay, I did always mean to go back and do grammar. Only reason I snapped on Bast is because I didn't need to be told to do that and as I don't treat her stupid she shouldn't assume I don't know how to use proper grammar. I just don't care on the rough draft of something.
Secondly, to answer a few question, this is a poor school. We do get free food (most of us actually need it).
I will give her the letter, despite everyone saying that she -probably- already know. I not sure if I haven't been able to get it across or you all just don't get it (probably my lack of ability in explaining), but I really do doubt she gets the seriousness of the issue.
Also, because alot of you advised it, I will add some general suggestions and see about sending the letter higher up. Board of education and stuff like that. Not sure though, this county is... interesting.
Thanks for the suggestions, and I apologize for getting upset about the than then thing. It was immature of me. Sorry.
Thanks for all the advice everyone.
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