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A letter from a teacher to parents: 'I can't do it alone."

A veteran teacher from a suburban Atlanta district sent me this note:

There are many futile attempts to remedy the ills of our educational system when a core issue to be rectified is parents. Each year, I see the positive effects of strong parental involvement on the educational outcomes of children. Conversely, I see the negative effects of parents who do not make education a priority.

I cannot effectively educate students if parents do not prioritize education in the home. It is akin to a parent bringing a child to the physician for an ailment. The parent must support the physician's recommendations, along with prioritizing health in the home, for the child to successfully heal. Parents must prioritize their roles and responsibilities in the education of their children to assist teachers in their quest to provide a quality education to students. Teachers simply cannot do it alone.

The teacher shared a letter she wishes she could send parents. Here it is:

Dear Parent,

I am an educator. I can create a safe, stimulating learning environment for your child. I can encourage and support your child through the learning process. I can teach your child how to think logically and creatively. I can effectively teach your child the required curriculum. I can challenge your child’s intellect.

I can identify your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses. I can strengthen the weaknesses and build upon the strengths. I can develop a trusting, respectful relationship with your child. I can attempt to build a productive parent/teacher relationship. I can create a positive educational experience for your child. Your child will leave my classroom with the necessary knowledge to be well prepared for the educational road ahead.

But I can’t do it alone.

I am not the parent. I can’t guarantee your child gets an adequate night’s rest and a healthy diet. I can’t make sure your child is on time to school and only misses classes when absolutely necessary. I can’t prioritize education in the home.

I can’t provide your child with a literature-rich home environment. I can’t limit the time your child spends playing with electronics or surfing through social media. I can’t instill the value of an education on your child like you can.

I can’t follow through with consequences when you are contacted about discipline issues that are impacting your child’s learning. I can’t force you to attend conferences to discuss how we can work together to maximize your child’s potential. I can’t best demonstrate to your child that you and I are a team, operating together in the child’s best interests.

Frankly, without your cooperation, I am fighting an uphill battle in my fervent attempt to educate your child. Please understand and appreciate the enormous role that you play in creating a successful educational outcome for your child.


Your Child’s Teacher

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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.