The following is an email I just sent to a parent of a student. The young man in question was caught leaving school with some friends by another teacher on his prep period. Sadly, this kind of communication is not especially rare in my work experience: I send emails like this one at least a few times per semester, and could send several times as many more, if more parents even bothered to request “make up work.”
(This parent must have “appealed” [read: demanded, begged, threatened to sue] the school, so his blatant string of skipped classes have all been “excused.” This was the second time this week a [nominal] student of mine had such an array of ditched days excused, though the parents of the other boy didn’t have the effrontery to ask for “make up work” for two months of voluntary truancy.)
Mrs. _______, A request for make up work for your son _____ has come to my attention. Since starting to come back to class recently, _____ has shown little engagement in class work, much less motivation to discuss making up what he missed during his absences (on one vocabulary assignment that he did do–writing example sentences to illustrate the meanings of words–the majority of his sentences simply said, “________ is a big word”).
With 14 absences at this point in the semester [in my class alone], and the majority of those within the last few weeks, he has a staggering load of “make up” work to do. Add to that the fact that practically none of that work is just a simple worksheet that can be handed out; most work involves examples, class discussions, and extensive reading. Such work can be made up, but it is difficult and requires a commitment of time in here outside of school hours. Further, he has missed a few quizzes on material that he was not here to review; making those up with any kind of quality will obviously be very difficult.
That being said, he’s welcome to try, and I’m certainly here to help him do so. What he would absolutely need to do is come in with at least ten or fifteen minutes set aside, before or after school, to get started on some of this “make up” work, but that’s just a start. Hopefully he can get some of this work turned in for some credit when we return from Christmas Break.
_____ got a 50.9% first quarter, and currently stands at a 20.4%. A productive thing to do at this point is to start planning for how he will make up the credits he will probably lose this semester, especially since the long block schedule, with its two extra classes per semester, may not be available next year.
_____ has potential and doesn’t seem to have any academic problem in his way, so certainly next semester could be very successful. I wish you both good luck and look forward to seeing him in class regularly, where I’m sure he can do very well.
Clearly, I’m trying to introduce a dose of reality to this situation, without being quite confrontational enough to warrant any ire directed at me. I don’t need any more grief this close to Christmas.
I think I’ll keep this email as a form letter for future use. Please tell me that other states aren’t like this.