Back to the discussion of the parent letter here: Opting Out of Homework.
Now that I've communicated with Alfie Kohn I understand that this letter really was written by a parent, not by him. (Come to think of it, is there a man on the planet who would dream up "I respect you as my child's teacher"?) Of course, it is still a sample letter in the sense that Alfie Kohn put it on his website in the hope of inspiring other parents to write similar letters.
I certainly agree with the intent of this letter — to get a first-grader out of homework. But the tone of the letter gets on my last nerve. I am so done with the way parents are expected to address their childrens' teachers. It's beyond simple politeness; it's really subservience.
"I'm sensitive to your concern that learning be supported at home, and I intend to do this as best I can." Oh, for heaven's sake. Who works for whom here? Shouldn't we hold the teacher accountable for doing educational activities with our child, instead of allowing the teacher to think that's the parents' job?
I think all this bowing and scraping is a mistake. It just confirms the idea, already staunchly held by teachers and administrators, that they are the experts, they are in charge, and we parents are just standing by breathlessly awaiting their orders. This is why we routinely get patronized and bossed around. Let's not encourage it.
I say it's time to take back our home lives. Home is not an annex of the school, and we aren't volunteers. Our children belong to us, not the school. We should speak to teachers as equals, and not approach them hat in hand, begging for scraps.