Emailing your child’s teacher about Dr. Seuss

Hey you! So it looks like we’re starting off the month with an email to Zavi’s teacher! Very often, I get direct messages from moms who aren’t sure if they should say something about the lack of diversity in their child’s classroom or in the curriculum. The question is always, “Should I say something?” My answer is usually “yes.” If this sounds like you, and you need help constructing emails to your teacher, keep reading.

March kicks off the national campaign, Read Across America. Read Across America uses prompts from Dr. Seuss’s books to encourage reading. I will be honest in sharing that I have not always thought that Dr. Seuss’s books were racist. I grew up on them. My mom collected them at one point. She even saved them and gifted them to me to give to Zavi and Zara. But they never made it past my car trunk. Because by then I knew better.

Dr. Seuss’s books are riddled (pun intended) with racist stereotypes and imagery. And given that I am a veteran educator, and always maturing as a parent, some things don’t get a pass. So even though I was not sure if our district or campus was participating in the Dr. Seuss activities this year, I didn’t wait to find out. So about that email???

Because I am an educator myself, I understand how emails can really trigger teachers.  I really try to keep things professional, to the point, and always make sure that it’s clear that my first priority is my child, not anyone’s feelings. In the same breath, I do think it’s possible to approach challenging subjects with teachers/schools/administrations without attacking the teacher. 

Before I show you my email, here’s a general rule of thumb for emailing your child’s teacher. 

 

  1. Use a pleasantry at the beginning of the email. No one wants to be attacked out of the gate.
  2. Share your concern clearly. Don’t ramble. Don’t talk about what you heard. Base your concerns on your experience. 
  3. Be transparent about approaching the teacher. 
  4. Be clear that you are a lifetime advocate for your child AND also a support for the teacher. Teachers or admin want to know that the student’s education is a partnership. 
  5. Offer a reasonable suggestion or solution.  ALWAYS come to the table with an answer to your own question.

Example Email

 

[Start with a greeting] 

Good morning Mr/Mrs, 

Are you ready for the weekend like I am? 

[Mention problem immediately] This may seem random but will your class or campus be doing Read Across America/Dr. Seuss books? I am only asking because Dr. Seuss’s books are filled with racist stereotypes and imagery and I do not support the use of the books as a resource. 

[Your desired outcome] If so, I just want to be able to offer my child* other resources/books at home that support diversity and inclusion during the week. 

[Be transparent about approaching the teacher] It’s highly uncomfortable for me to ask [Affirm that you are advocating for your child] but I am my child’s die-hard advocate and fan so this comes along with the title. 🙂 

If the campus/district has no plans to participate in using Dr. Seuss’s books to support Read Across America, then it is fine. 

[Offer a reasonable suggestion] Please let me know if I can help with other books/resources that support diversity for the week while keeping with the theme. I don’t mind him participating in the week at all. It’s just the actual use of Dr. Seuss’s books as the resource I find challenging. 

[Let the teacher know you are here to help] Feel free to call me or email me. I am here to support you in all ways. 

Sincerely

Parent

Now that you’ve seen one of at least a handful of emails that I send to school in a year, remember, you never have to apologize for being a parent to your child! This post is not to tell you to hate Dr. Seuss. This is for you if you want to voice your concern but don’t know how to address it. It may not be a big deal to other parents. and that’s okay! P.S. Zavi’s teacher replied to the email saying that I had no worries and that she wasn’t into Dr. Seuss anyway. Crisis averted. 

Here’s a great resource from Carlos Whittaker to help you decide if this your battle. 

 

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A post shared by Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit)

Feel like it’s too late to contact your school about this? Bookmark this post for next year! You can also find me on Pinterest for easy access to ALL my resources.

 

*my child – I will be replacing all names in emails shared on this blog, because you know, crazies. Also, unless stated otherwise, all matters referred to in these posts have been resolved with our school/teachers.

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