March 26, 2020

Teacher seems to have meant to text this to another teacher: "I want to reach out and slap them through the phone!"

But she texted it to a parent of one of her students, according to a Madison police report, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

More details (and a screen shot of the texts) at Madison365.
Tyeisha Ivy-Willis said she was trying to get her daughter, a fifth-grader at Hawthorne, connected to online learning and enrichment opportunities after schools were closed statewide, but was having trouble doing so. She also thought other students were getting packets of homework or learning materials and wanted to make sure her daughter had everything she was supposed to have.

She said she called Hawthorne principal Beth Lehman, who said she should speak with her daughter’s classroom teacher. Ivy-Willis then asked the teacher to send login information by text message. Even with that information, her daughter had trouble accessing the school district’s online resources, so Ivy-Willis texted and emailed the teacher once more. She said she didn’t want to get on the teacher’s nerves but is “very strict on my child’s education.”

Tuesday morning, she found several missed calls from the teacher on her phone, but wasn’t sure why. Then she looked at her text messages, and found two messages from the teacher: “I’ve had emails from dummy (student) and her mom. What is my lexis password? What is the library portal? How do I get on the home page?” And in the next message, “I want to slap them through the phone!”
This is very sad. Parents are challenged to get their children on line and they need gentle, patient tech support. Are teachers expected to provide that support and to do it through texting? Then a teacher gets exasperated — with all the stresses on her — and sends (or mis-sends) a text expressing her feelings. The parent is also under stress, and she needs to rely on the teacher and to believe that the school is dedicated to helping her child. Would you call the police on the teacher in this situation or would you accept the profuse apologizing from the teacher? Nerves are frayed, parents and public servants are overburdened, and everyone is called upon to do more.

125 comments:

David Begley said...

Sad, but not in the least unexpected.

Mattman26 said...

I sympathize with the teacher. It’s like accidentally hitting “reply all.” Dumb but it happens.

Calling the cops is ridiculous.

Owen said...

Schools have marketed themselves as sanctuaries, safe spaces where only kindness and soft words are found. So of course this parent is in shock. The mask slipped. There are real humans running the place.

How about everybody taking a chill pill and then. —deep breath— adultin’ a little bit?

Kay said...

An honest mistake. It could happen to anyone.

YoungHegelian said...

Massive & complicated remote access application gets stress-tested for first time with untrained, non-technical staff. Chaos ensues.

I'm honestly surprised that it's gone as well as has.

Mattman26 said...

“ Would you call the police on the teacher in this situation or would you accept the profuse apologizing from the teacher?“

I would consider bargaining for sexual favors. Depends.

Greg said...

I assume since teacher is still expected to work, they are still getting full pay despite not being in the classroom. Probably annoyed she was interrupting her watching "The View"

Birches said...

That parent is just milking her victimhood.

Ann Althouse said...

Disrespectful comments will be deleted. These are real people, and they are all struggling.

Jamie said...

Obviously calling the police is foolish. The teacher didn't do anything illegal.

I feel for the mom (a little less than I probably should, given her reaction) as I also try to help my kids navigate online "school." And boy, do I feel for the teacher, while at the same time rolling my eyes at her so hard I'm afraid they might get stuck up there. School yourself, woman - you are supposed to be a professional. I've been listening to - sometimes inadvertently eavesdropping on - my mom talking about her students and their parents all my life, and my dad since he retired from the USAF and started teaching. My sister has been a school psychologist for more than two decades. I have never heard them say anything remotely like this, even to one another in the privacy of our home.

I hope that at least the mom didn't tell her daughter what the teacher said. She's in fifth grade - she might idolize that teacher who called her "dummy." Ugh.

Shouting Thomas said...

My daughter, a school teacher, is home with the three grandkids.

We're have a hell of a good time. The grandkids love having mommy home. Nobody has to get up in the morning, get dressed and go somewhere. Extended play periods with grandpa outdoors.

I wouldn't say we're stressed. I don't think it's particularly important that the grandkids keep getting stuffed with school work for the next few months. Give it a break.

I'm streaming music online for Sunday services. I assume complete tech ignorance on the part of my users.

School teachers (and I know a lot of them) are almost all tech illiterates, although they think otherwise.

Jamie said...

YoungHegelian, hear hear - I was picturing Lord of the Flies by this point.

Roger Sweeny said...

You accept the profuse apologizing from the teacher. Impolite question: is the kid actually a "dummy"? Teachers are supposed to pretend they can teach anyone just about anything. It isn't true, and frustration some times sets in.

rehajm said...

I can relate - being forced into the IT department in normal times is harsh enough, much less in a crisis.

It doesn't come easy for many but these things are tools and you now have a responsibility for some basic competence...

Shouting Thomas said...

I hope you won't think this is irrelevant, but... here goes...

This break from school illuminates the real cause of all the crying and screaming in the morning while the kids are getting ready for school.

It's about anxiety and fear in the grandkids caused by mommy separation. They don't want mommy to go away.

Next year, mommy won't be driving any kids to school. She'll be leaving them with grandpa and I'll put them all on the bus.

I predict that the crying and screaming scenes will cease completely.

tim maguire said...

I'd probably do nothing, but can understand a parent calling the principal. (If anything, I'd call the teacher and laugh my ass of at her, because, let's be real, it's hilarious.) The police? Outrageous.

Browndog said...

According to the police report, Ringelstetter told police she was frustrated with the school’s closing, that the text was meant for someone else and that she never meant to slap the parent or her daughter.

Attempted cyber-slapping is a very serious crime. Punishment needs to be more than a cyber-slap on the wrist.

Fernandistein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"Impolite question: is the kid actually a "dummy"?"

It is completely irrelevant. Children have different levels of ability and those with less do not deserve to be disparaged. It's completely unprofessional for a teacher to call a less gifted student a "dummy" and it's a failure of empathy for *anyone* to use the term "dummy" on someone who happens to be intellectually deficient.

chickelit said...

It was wrong to call the police.

Jamie said...

My youngest, a sophomore, is taking all this in stride; his interactions with friends have largely been gaming since he started high school. But my middle one, a senior - she had just bought her (non-returnable) prom dress, was looking forward to an Easter visit from her best friend from childhood, had already paid for a senior trip after graduation to Disneyworld... Plus, is there any doubt that all the AP tests kids will be taking soon will have an asterisk next to them? That has consequences for college. I'm surprised she gets up in the morning at all.

Someday she'll have a great story to tell. But right now all she can see is that the last couple of months of her pre-adulthood, and the only fun part of a high school career that she's worked extremely hard on, have been ripped violently away.

If one of her teachers had accidentally sent me a text like this one, I wouldn't call the police - I'd make sure that teacher felt the full impact of what s/he said for the rest of his/her career. Which would be short, if I had anything to say in it, because s/he would never want to risk such a mistake again and would seek work in an Amazon warehouse or something where personal interaction was not part of the job.

john said...

My wife, a high school teacher is going through an identical process right now. Her frustration level with quickly learning a new online teaching tool, creating online content, notifying more than 100 students and their parents, repeatedly, on how to use a brand new system she is barely understanding herself, is very high. Not a very pleasant time to be quarantined in our household. Everyone needs to chill, but few are it seems.

Richard Fagin said...

Call the police? Apparently younger people use the acronym "AYFKM" to describe such situations.

Leland said...

I'm neutral about this. I understand the teacher is frustrated and made a mistake. However, they are suggesting an act of violence on another person. I'm fairly certain if we reversed the role and the parents had sent the message, then there would be acceptance to calling the cops.

rhhardin said...

It's a #MeToo effect. Women having a mental breakdown.

Earnest Prole said...

Anyone who has not wanted at some point to reach out and slap a child through the phone has never had a child.

Meade said...

"It was wrong to call the police."

Better than calling the teachers' union.

Shouting Thomas said...

My son-in-law, daughter and I bought a house an hour drive from the school where my daughter teaches.

We could have bought a house a few blocks from the school. My daughter vetoed that because she didn't want to run into parents in the supermarket and stores, or have snitches reporting her behavior back to the school.

I get the same shit in my job as a church musician. For some reason, people expect me to be a saint. I'm glad my church job is a 45 minute drive away from home. And, I quickly depart any online conversation or site where people get pissed at me and could know much about the details of my life.

The threat of doxxing is constant. This online shit has made people utterly ruthless.

Teachers (and church musicians) are ordinary people... sinners... who have crazy opinions, screw up, do crazy things and sometimes blurt out shit they shouldn't. Everybody should cool out.

Meade said...

I agree with Leland.

gspencer said...

"She said she didn’t want to get on the teacher’s nerves but is 'very strict on my child’s education.'"

If true, the child wouldn't be in public school in the first place.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

All the officials who rushed to close schools are to blame. If schools had taken two days to train teachers and students to use the online modules they could have avoided so much confusion, frustration and wasted time. The ad hoc reactions and rushed decision making is a sign of the panic that has dominated the “leadership” during this crisis.

Retail Lawyer said...

"The parent is also under stress, and she needs to rely on the teacher and to believe that the school is dedicated to helping her child. "

In California, only pathetically naive parents believe that the school is dedicated to helping the children.

Biotrekker said...

1. Teacher was out of line.
2. "Tech" issues, even minor ones, can seem simple to those who've already figured it out, but exasperating for those who have not and are not tech-savvy.
3. Never, ever text anything you wouldn't want publicized, printed out and notarized with your name on it.
4. They all deserve each other.

Annie C. said...

What did she expect the police to do? Somewhere she missed a step.

Teacher insults her

Call the police

???

Profit!

Shouting Thomas said...

With all due respect to school teachers, the real reason this shift to online is happening with only a couple of months of school left is so that the teachers' union demand that teachers continue to be paid can be justified.

Bob Boyd said...

The teacher calling the daughter dummy without any other specifying info is the most hurtful. Obviously it isn't the first time. She clearly expected the intended recipient to know who she was talking about.
Still, I think the mother missed an opportunity by not just keeping it between herself and the no-doubt mortified teacher. She likely could have gotten a lot of help for herself and her daughter from this teacher going forward if she'd handled it differently.
She definitely shouldn't have told her daughter the teacher's nickname for her was "dummy". That could do lasting harm.
Calling cops was way over the top.
I wonder if race played a role.

Michael K said...

This sounds a bit like what my ex-wife saw when she returned to teaching briefly about 20 years ago. She had been laid off in a bank merger and had a lifetime teaching credential. California was going through a class size excitement so they hired a bunch of new teachers, She said things had changed so much from the time she had last taught 50 years ago. The teachers ridiculed the kids in the teachers' room, nobody cared much about what they were doing.

When we were married she was a big public school advocate. After this she said she would home school the kids.

Kai Akker said...

"dummy" versus intellectually deficient

The latter is cold and sounds like you're describing, if not labeling, a different species.

The former is recognizably human and people refer to themselves that way all the time.

Your preference is backwards, IMO, Althouse.

CJinPA said...

The mom CALLED THE POLICE and sent the screen shot to the media??

Both steps were absurdly out of order.

What the teacher said was wrong, but I would bet that:

This mom and student have long ignored instructions on accessing information online, and are now way behind other students/parents when it's really crucial.

This should have been handled by the principal if the mom thought that necessary.

bagoh20 said...

How about we just decide we don't need a bad guy in every single situation.

Bob Boyd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

The best thing would have been for Mom to have sent the text back to the teacher, and say "how about we just help get this done for both if us."

bagoh20 said...

Teachers who care about their own kids send them to private school. At least the ones I know.

Bob Boyd said...

Well, it was all
That I could do to keep from crying'
Sometimes it seems so useless to remain
But you don't have to call me dummy, dummy
You never even called me by my name

You don't have to call me Albert Einstein
And you don't have to call me Sigmund Freud
And you don't have to call me Stephen Hawking anymore
My momma would like to see you unemployed


And I'll hang around as long as you will let me
And I never minded standing' in the rain
But you don't have to call me dummy, dummy
You never even called me by my name

Eleanor said...

This mother has probably said, "This teacher is too stupid to teach my child." Well, maybe she is, but the mom is too stupid to teach her child how to log in to school." Online teaching platforms are designed to be easy to access and to use. Like too easy to even need any instructions.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I remember reading a Russian novel many years ago. Might have been Crime and Punishment. I was struck by a passage where two men are arguing on the street and one of them threatens to call the police because the other man insults him. Being very young and naive at the time I thought, "Thank God that can't happen in the United States."

mezzrow said...

@Bob Boyd wins the internet today.

Shouting Thomas said...

Online teaching platforms are designed to be easy to access and to use. Like too easy to even need any instructions.

I put up some of the first corporate online courses and programmed one of the first content management systems way back in the early 90s.

I interviewed and consulted at quite a few colleges about their online course systems.

Those systems were almost always a terrible mess, from conception to content. The reason was the awful ass kissing and quota system that dominates the schools. People aren't hired for competence in school IT. They're hired to fulfill quotas.

JES said...

It's a new world. Don't hit send on anything you don't want the entire universe to see.
My DIL, a public school teacher, is having a staff conference call today about the school program for the district going forward. Sixty percent of the students in her classes do NOT have internet. This will be interesting.

robother said...

My law career spanned the transition from IBM selectrics to computer word processing and shared document editing. My firm had a growing IT department who we called whenever secretaries and then lawyers themselves had problems. When I retired, I became the default tech guy for my household. Only then did I appreciate what our firm's tech guys went through every day. By definition, you're called on only when someone is already frustrated that the damn thing won't [print out/connect/download...]. All it takes is one failed first fix, and you're part of the damn thing that won't work..

Add to that the cabin fever both teacher and mother were experiencing. That said, no teacher should ever call one of her kids "dummy' in writing. The internet is forever and who knows to whom that shit gets forwarded.

Meade said...

Those who can, do; those who can't, call others "dummy."

Ann Althouse said...

""dummy" versus intellectually deficient The latter is cold and sounds like you're describing, if not labeling, a different species. The former is recognizably human and people refer to themselves that way all the time. Your preference is backwards, IMO, Althouse."

You are acting as though I was deciding between 2 things to *call* a child. But what I said was that it is obvious wrong to call a child who happens to be intellectually deficient "dummy." I didn't say go ahead and *call* the child "intellectually deficient" when talking to the child or the child's parent. I was describing a hypothetical child, not recommending a term to be used. I chose those words because I wanted something clinical, or as you like to say "cold." "Dummy" is, I guess, hot. It's not warm in the sense of humaneness. The fact that people call *themselves" "dummy" is irrelevant. I'm saying that there are levels of aptitude, and some people have very low aptitude, and you know very well that when someone does have mental deficiency, it's wrong to call them "stupid," "idiot," or "dummy." You would never call a child with Down syndrome or brain damage "dummy."

Shouting Thomas said...

Those who can, do; those who can't, call others "dummy."

My daughter, the schoolmarm, is adamant that the kids should not call one another names.

A hell of a lot of good that does.

Shouting Thomas said...

Another reason why the online stuff is being trotted out, in addition to the need to satisfy the teacher's union demand that teachers keep getting paid.

Families of more than one kid are rare where I live, so all those single kids are stranded and lonely.

We've got three kids in our house. They are so fortunate to have playmates around all the time.

And they fight a lot and call one another names. They're rowdy as hell. It's great!

Breezy said...

We're 2/3 through the school year - did these two people have other interactions before now? What's their history?

I think we all need to chill out during these strange times. If the teacher called and apologized profusely, surely the parent can cut her some slack and expect the best quality interactions and support for her child going forward - it would be worth accepting the apology, even if she felt affronted.

Can the parent claim she has not had similar experiences, where she was in the teacher's place? Honestly.

Ken B said...

Parent is being an ass hat. This is where the “zero tolerance” mindset leads. Teacher should make a pro forma apology. Cops should have a stern word with parent. Forgive and forget.

MadisonMan said...

It's unfortunate that the parent didn't handle this herself -- that would have been very instructional for the daughter -- rather than going to the Police.

I've sent one misdirected text this year. None of my texts are interesting or inflammatory though. That how it should be for everyone.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

What are the races, sexes, and preferred sexual activities of the parties involved? Also ages and net worth. Information is needed in order to adjudicate this matter.

RichardJohnson said...

Mike K
She said things had changed so much from the time she had last taught 50 years agoThe teachers ridiculed the kids in the teachers' room, nobody cared much about what they were doing.

Things had changed- administration and parents no longer supported disciplinary methods, resulting in much higher stress levels for teachers. Higher stress results in teachers saying things "out of school."

I taught 8th grade math for a year at an "inner city" school. In the teacher's lounge, a fellow math teacher (who was black) repeatedly referred to his students as "knuckleheads." He was also a very good teacher, who taught at the school for 2 decades. No one lasts that long at such a school unless one is a very good teacher.

rhhardin said...

It's a new world. Don't hit send on anything you don't want the entire universe to see.

That's always been my rule.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

what we need is a "call the bureaucracy" hotline

Martha said...

My public high school principal told my lovely mother right to her face that she bugged him when she and I met with him in an attempt to change my scheduled stenography class to a Spanish class. For some reason the Principal thought I should learn stenography and he won the argument.

That was 50 years ago.
Not one of my three sons attended a public school ever.

rcocean said...

OMG, little susie or johnnie got insulted. Just deal with it.

rcocean said...

Teachers are people and they make mistakes. Why is every one getting on their high horse?

Freeman Hunt said...

"What are you in for?"
"Being a big meanie."
"Really? Me too!"

wild chicken said...

Teaching K-12 is awful. Students, parents, admin, stupid, lazy, entitled, violent.

I wonder how many introverts got into teaching during the last recession for job security and found they hated everybody involved.

Maybe I've been reading reddit/teachers too much. But I hope going back the classrooms isn't too terribly awful for them.

elkh1 said...

In better days, the mom should not call the police. Better days are days when teachers teach not b*tch and call students dumb.

Btw, who is "dumb": the person who couldn't send a text message properly, or the person who needed help in an unfamiliar confusing situation?

Caligula said...

"Nerves are frayed, parents and public servants are overburdened, and everyone is called upon to do more."

And then it's time for triage. Some students (and/or their parent(s)) just consume far too much time and effort, and teaching resources are not unlimited.

But, if you're a resource practicing triage you'd best keep it to yourself.

Caligula said...

"Nerves are frayed, parents and public servants are overburdened, and everyone is called upon to do more."

And then it's time for triage. Some students (and/or their parent(s)) just consume far too much time and effort, and teaching resources are not unlimited.

But, if you're a resource practicing triage you'd best keep it to yourself.

David-2 said...

Here's a seemingly unrelated anecdote - which in my mind actually is related, about some of these "easy to use" systems. This happened yesterday in fact!

Wife was helping a friend to log in to the social security administration site to get his records. He had failed twice already to validate himself and been locked out for 24h each time. So she was helping.

The validation consists of one of those "did you ever have an address on: street A, street B, street C, none of the above" and "did you ever have a loan from: bank A, bank B, bank C, none of the above" quizzes that are driven by the credit databases from one of the three major credit rating companies.

So she answered the questions with him and he was locked out again. (This time it's permanent until he calls a phone number at SSA and gets them to unlock it: Good luck with that at any time but especially now.)

So she asked me about it (and gave me special dispensation to "solve" the problem instead of just listening) so I said: Pull a free credit report for him and see what's on it.

So it turns out one of the questions was "do you apply for credit last year from: bank A, bank B, bank C, none of the above" and he/they were answering "none of the above" because one of the options was "JPM Finance".

He has a new Chase credit card, got it last year.

Didn't recognize "JPM Finance" = "JPMorgan Chase" = "Chase".

Did you?

Anyway, why should he have to?

Point is, these systems seem pretty "simple" to the guy who designed it, the guy who implemented it, the program manager and to all the execs who approved it, who all had nice simple test cases to look at, but it turns out it doesn't scale well to the general population (especially, in this case, considering the actual data stored in the databases).

Francisco D said...

My wife is a high school Art teacher here in southern Arizona. I have been help her physically organize her huge classroom (up to 40 students per class) so that it can be cleaned. She had very little notice and has been working her ass off. She had two days to get all the students projects out and handed back to them.

What really annoys her is that she had little notice to set up on-line learning. She figured out how to do it, but a lot of kids do not have computers (they use cell phones) and a surprising number do not have email addresses.

No one was well prepared for this pandemic, but it is a learning experience.

Rick said...

Ivy-Willis called Madison Police, who took a report, deeming the message about wanting to “slap them through the phone” as a threat.

Sounds like your police are terrible also, and what would the parent expect them to do? It's absurd to conclude this is any kind of a threat.

Most likely motivation: creating a paper trail for a lawsuit.

elkh1 said...

Teachers make mistakes, calling students dumb is an insult, not a mistake. Sending the insult to the mom is a stupid mistake. The teacher is paid to teach eventhough she is "teaching" from home. A mom as a taxpayer who pays her salary has a right to hold her accountable.

Phidippus said...

You're just now realizing that teachers often aren't the best and the brightest?

Oh wait...

Anyway, given how mouthy, bratty, and ill-mannered many children are these days (but all with very positive self-images) I'm not surprised at all to hear that some of them might benefit from a good slap (virtual or real).

I'm willing to bet that this is not a problem with the Asian kids. Most of them have been getting extra work from Kumon, etc. since they started school, courtesy of Mom and Dad, so home schooling is nothing new for them.

Owen said...

Major props to Bob Boyd! What an excellent song. Can you set it to music? I'm thinking C&W here.

Owen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Smith said...

*FSBA candidates

Bob Boyd said...

@ Owen

It is an excellent C&W song. Don't miss the last verse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAOVRkSCWmg

Jupiter said...

"Tyeisha"? Got it.

Jupiter said...

Althouse, if I am not mistaken, the students you taught were very carefully screened before they were allowed into your classroom. Those rejected may not have been called "dummies", but neither were they offered any assistance in dealing with what your employer regarded as their intellectual inadequacy.

Leslie Graves said...

Anger is one of the stages of grief, and everyone is experiencing grief. Anger is an energizing emotion. It gets you going when if you allowed your sadness to take over, you'd lay on the couch staring at the ceiling not doing anything.

I think a lot of people unconsciously turn up their inner anger thermostat a bit in times like this to get them through the day.

When people do that, they find themselves snapping and acting out out of their anger (frustration, irritation, intense annoyance) when that would not otherwise happen.

And that's what appears to have happened with both the teacher and the mom. I pray for peace for both of them, and everyone else, including me.

Freeman Hunt said...

Call the principal, not the police. Or send a screenshot to the principal without comment. Let the principal and teacher work it out between themselves before talking to them.

Charlie Currie said...

Remember when those parents let their kids walk home from the park all by themselves.

Yeah, screw the establishment, any and all. Let them feel the jackboot on their neck.

Bob said...

Excess reliance on texting is part of the problem here. Texting and email have some flaws in common. They can be sent to the wrong recipients, and they are forever, so you can't "unwrite" them.

Many issues could be resolved more quickly and with more incentive to stay cordial by just talking on the phone!

Ironic that texting has value in reducing confrontation (because you have to think about what you're writing before you hit "Send"), yet it can easily end very badly. Catastrophically.

And, yes, the police have better things to do. Or should.

Char Char Binks said...

Children don’t need schools or “professional” teachers; they need parents. Teach your own.

Ray - SoCal said...

Teacher was going way beyond her duties by giving out her personal cell phone #

Legal Threats are a HUGE issue for teachers and administrators, in our highly litigious society. When I was subbing, I was told one kid's parents loved to do lawsuits and complaints, and stay away from them. Kid was a terror. Another time a teacher was spending her own time to help out a student that was not doing well with free tutoring, parent then had a conference with the principal and accused the teacher of racism.

For teachers having to communicate, I suggest look into getting a burner # for $4.99 on IOS Devices (I don't know about android), it can load onto your smart phone, and this way you separate your personal from professional.

And as mentioned above, never send anything electronically, via text or email, that you would not want published.

The parent should be the one shamed by over reacting, but a lot of parents are drama queens and believe they have an angel, that is the most brilliant, precious snow flake ever, that does not wrong. And any accusation against said "saintly child", is due to issues that teacher has.

This type situation, where the parent makes a small issue into a huge one, is why so many teachers burn out in the first couple of years and leave the profession. Or some that have burned out, if they stay in, they are seat warmers.

Jack Klompus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Klompus said...

"With all due respect to school teachers, the real reason this shift to online is happening with only a couple of months of school left is so that the teachers' union demand that teachers continue to be paid can be justified."

Really? You know that's the "real" reason why we're teaching online? News to me and my colleagues. I'll have to check back with you to correct my mistakes.

"People aren't hired for competence in school IT. They're hired to fulfill quotas."

Again, this would come as news to the highly capable tech department at my school that has been working tirelessly to ensure the transition to the online platform is a smooth as possible.

Learning so much from you today, ST. You're at lot more multifaceted in your talents which I previously thought consisted of railing on feminism and how much AA is supposedly obsessed with gay people.

Temujin said...

Police? I'd call the National Guard.

Seriously- apologize and then move to help. I completely understand the parent's frustration and admire that she is fighting to get her kid what is needed to stay on top of things and not fall behind. It's hard. I know a number of people who's work is suddenly gone, that find themselves home schooling. Something they never considered previously. And I think it's giving them a new found respect for teachers.

Michael said...

If an employee at a private company texted this to a customer, they'd be out on their ass by the end of the day. Public schools not so much. Zero accountability.

stlcdr said...

AA said: '...it's a failure of empathy for *anyone* to use the term "dummy" ...'

But is it a crime (in the literal sense)?

robother said...

Now that I consider it, though, hasn't the mother done far more repetitional damage to her daughter by making that police report and having it all go on the internet as news, including her last name? Two angry women, lashing out tit-for-tat, but the fifth grade girl pays the price.

Huisache said...

A teacher who casually classifies some students as dummies is probably not all that bright or competent themselves. Good teachers try to figure out why they're not reaching students. Bad teachers write it off as stupidity. I teach teachers for a living. In my experience, the teachers who think students are dumb are the teachers who get angriest when they don't understand something themselves.

I'm fortunate in that my wife, who taught kindergarten until recently, can home school our three kids while I teach from my new virtual lecture studio. We live in a low-income area where most people aren't so lucky. We have kids calling us for homework help because mom and dad have to work all day. It's a tough time for parents right now, even with all the online support.

The idea that teachers are teaching online because of unions doesn't make much sense to me.

Iman said...

Is there a potential payday?

Iman said...

Just forget this and do better next time.

Achilles said...

bagoh20 said...
Teachers who care about their own kids send them to private school. At least the ones I know.

Bingo.

stevew said...

No shortage of stress for everyone. All made worse by having to adjust to a new model of engagement and delivery. Most people do not do well with change, especially change that is forced on them.

The teacher made a mistake and should apologize. The parent should understand that and so long as the apology is sincere, accept it.

Move on to what you were trying to do in the first place: educate the child.

Roger Sweeny said...

"Impolite question: is the kid actually a "dummy"?"

It is completely irrelevant. Children have different levels of ability and those with less do not deserve to be disparaged. It's completely unprofessional for a teacher to call a less gifted student a "dummy" and it's a failure of empathy for *anyone* to use the term "dummy" on someone who happens to be intellectually deficient.


I disagree. It may not be a failure of empathy but a simple statement of fact. Now, of course, if you have any sense, you don't use words like that to a parent (there's no reason to cause unnecessary pain) or in anything that comes from a school account ("don't send anything that you wouldn't be okay with the whole world reading"). Some times a teacher feels for the student, knows the student can't achieve what the parent expects her to, and knows the kid is suffering and will continue to suffer. "Dummy" can be black humor.

Some times language like that is a reaction to the pervasive euphemism of K-12. One quickly learns to never tell a parent, "Your son is lazy and doesn't do shit." It's, "Your son is struggling and has a problem with motivation." Which would be fine if the student was actually struggling. But all too often he's not struggling at all. He's just not trying (or doing the work).

Kai Akker said...

The fact that people call *themselves" "dummy" is irrelevant. I'm saying that there are levels of aptitude, and some people have very low aptitude, and you know very well that when someone does have mental deficiency, it's wrong to call them "stupid," "idiot," or "dummy." [AA]

I will go this far -- the teacher is not the first choice for informing a child of his or her aptitudes, skills, or relative lack thereof by using the word dummy.

But her friends will do so. Her brother will do so.

The world has a way of letting us know some truths about ourselves. We all have a variety of intellects, strong in some areas and weak in others; or perhaps in some cases, weak all around. But her (can't remember if gender specified; whatever!) other aptitudes and skills could be terrific in particular applications. If she is "intellectually deficient" she will sooner or later discover that that is not one of her strengths.

In some ways, beating around the bush to avoid it is worse. Kids can tell. Using technocratese is such an adult dodge.

I'd rather you call me dummy than "intellectually deficient." I got your point that that was not your choice of alternatives -- still, the point holds, I think. Dummy has a certain tenderness to it. It shows you like me.

We used to call a kid in my grade "zerobrains." It apparently did not deter his ambitions. He eventually became Governor of our state.

OK, well, not governor. Senator. In fact, he's running for President. ; )

Marc said...

I had a text the other day that had been sent to multiple people-- the first time I've been in that situation, perhaps. Anyway, I replied to it, and was surprised that the reply went to everyone who had gotten the original text. Happily, I didn't indulge my sense of irony because while it might have been entirely appropriate in the context of the original text I'm willing to bet that at least one of the other recipients wouldn't have understood (at best) or would've been offended (at worst).

Teachers behave quite foolishly, and parents over-react. People have various levels of experience of and comfort with technology. An uneventful news day thus far.

Roger Sweeny said...

Owen said, "Major props to Bob Boyd! What an excellent song. Can you set it to music? I'm thinking C&W here." The music already exists. It's from the perfect country and western song.

Kai Akker said...

Jamie @ 8:08 am:

School yourself, woman - you are supposed to be a professional. I've been listening to - sometimes inadvertently eavesdropping on - my mom talking about her students and their parents all my life, and my dad since he retired from the USAF and started teaching. My sister has been a school psychologist for more than two decades. I have never heard them say anything remotely like this, even to one another in the privacy of our home.

These are the old days, I fear, Jamie. Professionals; and most were, back when they were NOT considered professionals nor did they have spectacular benefits and higher-than-private-sector salaries. As someone else commented, maybe Michael K, teachers feel free to say anything now that they are all unionized, permanently protected staff. (Is this change due entirely to teachers' enhanced status; or partly to our society's crummy degrading?)

I hope that at least the mom didn't tell her daughter what the teacher said. She's in fifth grade - she might idolize that teacher who called her "dummy." Ugh.

But you know very well that someone who called the police over this is the kind of drama queen that probably did let the child know, intentionally or no, what she was so outraged over. Chances are, at least.

FullMoon said...

Generally kind of interesting to read the articles linked by Althouse when she posts, and contrast with many of the comments by some dummies who did not bother reading the story before commenting.

Happens pretty much every single time. Even do it myself once in awhile.

FullMoon said...

I hope that at least the mom didn't tell her daughter what the teacher said. She's in fifth grade - she might idolize that teacher who called her "dummy." Ugh.

Read the link, there is a subtle clue in there..

Leora said...

Calling a student a dummy to another teacher is unacceptable.

Michael K said...

Things had changed- administration and parents no longer supported disciplinary methods, resulting in much higher stress levels for teachers. Higher stress results in teachers saying things "out of school."

I taught 8th grade math for a year at an "inner city" school. In the teacher's lounge, a fellow math teacher (who was black) repeatedly referred to his students as "knuckleheads."


Oh, good points,. She taught in east LA when I was in medical school. Lots of kids who were Spanish translators for the parents. I saw them in the medical clinic. She learned quickly that she could not tell the parents at back to school night that the kid was goofing off. The kid would come to school the next day black and blue. Those parents wanted their kids to "Americanize." Not any more.

RichardJohnson said...

Kai Akker
As someone else commented, maybe Michael K, teachers feel free to say anything now that they are all unionized, permanently protected staff. (Is this change due entirely to teachers' enhanced status; or partly to our society's crummy degrading?)

Teachers' unions were strong back in the day, also. I suggest you research Albert Shanker and the 1968 teachers' strike in New York City. In addition, the incident discussed occurred in Madison, Wisconsin. Teacher union membership in Wisconsin- and thus the power of teachers' unions in Wisconsin- has declined drastically since 2011.Wisconsin Teachers’ Union Leads Nation Again in Membership Losses(2018).

Nearly 54 percent of active union members left the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) between 2012 and 2017, according to data from the Education Intelligence Agency. That’s the largest drop-off in the country over the last five years. The union now stands at just 32,130 active members.

The trend is even more stark when compared with the union’s pre-Act 10 heyday. Before the passage of the landmark collective bargaining reform law that gave public employees the freedom to decide whether or not they want to join a union and pay dues, WEAC had 98,000 members. That means its member rolls have declined by 67 percent since 2011.

In just the last year, WEAC’s membership drop was 4.9 percent, continuing a trend of educators choosing to walk away from the union.


Given the greatly reduced membership and thus the power of teachers' unions in Wisconsin, it doesn't make sense to blame teachers' union[s] for a teacher's indiscreet statement in Madison, Wisconsin.

As an indication of the increased stress that teachers deal with, consider the following. 10 Things Teachers DID NOT Have to Deal With 10 Years Ago. (Though it could have also been written "20 years ago, 30 years ago....")

#1: The Inability to Punish Students
#2: Cell Phone Addiction
#3: Online Bullying:
#4: Pep Rallies for Standardized Testing
#5: Constant Student Anxiety:
#6: Fear of School Shootings and Lock-Downs
#7: Heroin, Opioid Epidemics#8: Politicized Schools
#8: Politicized Schools
#9: Era of “feelings” where students are never wrong
#10: Naked Utilitarianism in Education


There is more detail at the link. One may disagree with some specific points, and also point out that many or most of the 10 were trending for the worse more than 10 years ago- especially #1 the inability to punish students.

That list of 10 has a lot more to do with teachers' indiscreet statements than belonging to a teacher's union.

Wikitorix said...

Rick said...

"Ivy-Willis called Madison Police, who took a report, deeming the message about wanting to “slap them through the phone” as a threat."

Sounds like your police are terrible also, and what would the parent expect them to do? It's absurd to conclude this is any kind of a threat.


The sentence you quoted is false. The police officer made no such determination. Your conclusion that the police are terrible is mistaken. The article contains a link to the police report - you can read it for yourself. A police report makes no determinations of anything. The police officer just writes down everything everybody says. The only reference to a threat in the police report is where the officer wrote down that the mother said she felt threatened. The police officer offers no opinions in the report whatsoever.

Always remember that journalists are people who have no actual knowledge of anything. Pick any university - the journalism school will be the department with the second lowest average SAT score among its students (the education department will be the lowest). Journalism teaches SJWism, not anything about intellectual rigor, or how to ask good questions, or how to know that there is even a question to be asked.


RichardJohnson said...

Kai Akker
I will go this far -- the teacher is not the first choice for informing a child of his or her aptitudes, skills, or relative lack thereof by using the word dummy.

But her friends will do so. Her brother will do so.


Yes, indeed. I am reminded of the two fifth grade teachers who decided to combine their class rosters and sort out the students according to ability. The teachers said nothing to their students about why they had changed the composition of their classes. Nonetheless, the students caught on very quickly, as they referred to "the dumb class" and "the smart class."

gpm said...

>>the perfect country and western song

Better to go to with the guy who actually (co)wrote it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TZPt2Iin0I

Tried to do a hyperlink but it didn't work.

--gpm

JAORE said...

" ould you call the police on the teacher in this situation or would you accept the profuse apologizing from the teacher?"

Of course neither.

You set fire to the teacher's home. Shoot anyone trying to escape the flames. Survivors would have their throats cut. Send videos to the other teachers and school administration with the warning, "You are next if you hurt the feelings of my precious".

RichardJohnson said...

Wikitorix
Always remember that journalists are people who have no actual knowledge of anything. Pick any university - the journalism school will be the department with the second lowest average SAT score among its students (the education department will be the lowest)

I am not going to argue about journalists, but will point out that for teachers passing the Praxis teacher certification tests, their SAT scores compared to other college graduates are not quite what you claim.The Educational Testing Service's report Improving Teacher Quality in a Changing Policy Landscape: Improvements in the Teaching Pool, compares the SAT scores of those who passed the Praxis tests for teacher certification with the average SAT scores of other college graduates.

We find that for all college graduates who took the SAT-Verbal, the average score was 543. Teachers in the following specialties had an average score below the average SAT Verbal of 543: Physical Education, Special Education, and Elementary Education. Teachers in the following specialties scored above the average SAT Verbal of 543:Art & Music, Mathematics, Social Studies, Foreign Languages, Science, and English, in order of increasing scores.

Reading from the bar graph, I would estimate that certified English teachers averaged 573 on the SAT-Verbal. No, not top-of-the-line, but far from bottom of the barrel.

We find that for all college graduates who took the SAT-Math, the average score was 542. Teachers in the following specialties had an average score below the average SAT-Math of 542: Physical Education, Special Education, Elementary Education,Art & Music,English, Social Studies, and Foreign Languages, in order of increasing scores. Science (570) and Math ( 595) teachers scored above the 542 SAT-Math that college graduates averaged. (I am estimating from a bar graph) Not bottom-of-the-barrel, but instead above average.

While bottom-of-the barrel may be applied to Elementary Ed, Special Ed, and Phys Ed, other teaching specialties are far from bottom of-the barrell.

RichardJohnson said...

Figures 20 and 21
SAT Verbal Scores by Licensing Area for Those
Passing Praxis Tests (20) and SAT Math Scores by Licensing Area for Those
Passing Praxis Tests (21)

Page 22, for 2002-2005.

dreams said...

Accept a sincere apology, we all have messed up at something.

Kai Akker said...

Richard Johnson, thank you for the data re Wisconsin teachers unions. I do remember Albert Shanker, as I grew up near New York City. My memories of the teachers in my suburban district are not union-heavy. That is, some of the teachers disparaged the union, when they mentioned it, and while there were some contract battles, it never seemed to reach the scale of the modern NEA, which seems to hold many superintendents in thrall. But on the point involved, what caused the relationships within so many schools to decay, your answer is the degradation of some of our social standards and understandings. Yes?

Teachers when I went complained about their low pay and low status. But, while many still complain about it, their pay is above-average and their benefits are usually great. I think there is an inverse relationship between the higher compensation and the loss of respectful relationships. Perhaps I am wrong to think it causative, but I do.

The Vault Dweller said...

I was one hundred percent on the parent's side, until I found out she called the cops. Parents should realize that it is guaranteed their kid can be annoying. I'm not saying that as an excuse for the Teacher's behavior, but just that an understanding that it isn't crazy that those kinds of emotions can exist. Contacting the teacher directly, or even an administrator at the school would have been appropriate. But what crime could have possibly been committed? Negligent threat making?

However, if a teacher called my kid a dummy, I don't think I would want my kid to be taught by that teacher. Not that I would expect the teacher to mistreat my kid, but rather I take that confidential admission, as a sign that the teacher has probably given up on teaching my kid.

Kelly said...

When my daughter was in high school they began online learning for snow days, and e-learning days one day a month. It took the first year to work out the bugs. After that things went smoothly, so this transition has been easy on both students and teachers in our district.

What this teacher didn’t take into account is everyone is not tech savvy. Calling the police was stupid, but if the situation were reversed, the poor teacher would be made out to be a martyr instead of a privileged government worker still lucky enough to be collecting a check for half the work she usually does. .

AllenS said...

Althouse, you were a teacher, correct? Your pupils were paying a shit load of money to attend your class, correct? What kind of teacher would you have been if you were the only white person in the classroom? Would the instructions have gone smoothly for you? Or, would you have threatened to delete?

What do you think that Tyeisha Ivy-Willis have thought of you and your threats to delete?

Phidippus said...

The dumbth abides. Especially amongst the teachers' administrative class. They are the worst, and seek to impose their mediocrity on the rest of us. I am in mind of our local PhD's of education here in southern NJ. Us dumb Pineys what didn't go to E-school just can't wrap our simple minds around some of their newfangled notions of no standards, no grades, and no recognition for achievement.

Well, if it helps the NAMs in the statistics, it's all good, right?

Phidippus said...

Now I feel like running over a duck. That's what I get for thinking about "government-run education" in the United States.

Can any of us imagine the writers of The Federalist Papers signing up for an idea like that? Ye gods, people used to be more jealous of their liberty than they are now. What happened?

Chris N said...

I got a text from a few years ago for some high school girls swim group. Against my better judgment I responded to the text in the same spirit. Go girls! Do your best! a few times.

Then I started to have more devious thoughts (which I never texted): Thoughts like: 'I can't believe the whole 'pissgate' thing with St Mary's. That's one way to win I guess'

Then I got more and more texts and I felt creepier and more guilty and just replied 'sorry I'm not part of the group, but DO YOUR BEST!

Chris N said...

I live on the edge.

Tom said...

Heck, my parents would have helped the teacher out and gave me a smack.

Kirk Parker said...

Mike (MJB Wolf)

"If schools had taken two days to train teachers and students to use the online modules..."

Go ahead and pull the other one! No way any of the schools even knew what the online modules were at that point, and it surely took more than a mere 48 hours for them to figure it out.

No, what's working is teachers self-training with what tools they have available, not waiting for the administration apparatchiks to "schedule a training".


Joanne Jacobs said...

Oregon won't let virtual charters teach existing or new students for fear parents will transfer their kids -- and their state funding -- to a school with online expertise and a full curriculum. The Oregon Dept of Ed memo actually said that. ODE also won't let traditional public schools try to teach the curriculum online because it might not be accessible to all students, though they can post supplemental material. Schools will get full funding, as long as they keep paying staff and provide free lunches.

Pennsylvania school groups are trying to block virtual charters from enrolling new students. School administrators' group: "It’s not fair" to let online charters say, "We are open for business." https://bit.ly/2WLAvaM