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March 28, 2012

I pulled the "A" card....

and he hasn't even left the country.  Early, but we needed to use it.  You see, Cait has had a bit of trouble with Algebra.  She is working with a tutor and trying to fit in after school sessions, but it is still not her forte.

Peter and I are not particularly surprised because neither one of us really enjoyed it.  I know my own experience can be described as nothing short of hellish.  I had an Algebra teacher who was far more interested in spending class time discussing her kids and family issues, than, say, Algebra.  She had no use for those of us who needed a bit of extra help and sadly, I couldn't switch classes as it would mess with my other honors classes.  Thus, I was stuck with the first (and last) teacher who ever told me that I had a stupid question.  

Yes.  Not even privately, but in front of the entire class.  Needless to say, she didn't not win any bonus points with me for that.  Before anyone jumps in with, "Well, that's what you get for attending public school," let me assure you that this happened at a small, private, all girls high school. So much for extra attention and nurturing, right?  No guesses as to why I switched to the nearby public high school the next year.  My grades shot up, I was no longer bored and a far more delightful international blend of students nor would a teacher at that school conceive of calling a question "stupid."

So, given that my own history with Algebra was less than stellar, I simply wanted Cait to get through the year.  However, it was clear that even with extra help, she was still struggling a bit.  There is no shame in that, and even less so when we figured out that we already had a solution.  

A friend had mentioned years ago that when a student took a high school class in 8th grade, such as Algebra and the child did not do as well as he or she hoped, the class could be repeated in Freshman year of high school.  There is no need for summer school, and no worries about the GPA.  The 8th grade score is expunged and the child starts with a clean slate.  Our only difficulty:  reaching the teacher to confirm this information.

Teachers like email these days and so do we.  It is quicker, easier, and gives a written record.  However, we were having trouble getting information back from the teacher on specific issues.  Peter finally went a slightly different route, cc:ed the counselor (as we needed her input on the matter) and voila, an answer was had.  Unfortunately, the response indicated it wasn't clear she understood our questions.  I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but decided, especially given that the counselor had been cc:ed that it was time to pull the A-card (you know, Peter's future home country for the next year...).  I knew it was also likely that she didn't realize that we were fine with Cait repeating Algebra, as that had been left out of Peter's message.

I replied all and explained that Cait was being tutored, that we are encouraging after school sessions and that our main concern is planning.  Would she need summer school or could she not just re-take it next year as we had already planned?  I made mention of not wanting to pester anyone, but what with "her father headed 'over there' for a year beginning in May, we just want to get this settled."

We had a most excellent answer in our email inboxes this morning.  Not only did the counselor respond immediately, but said our assumptions were correct and Cait need only retake the course next year.  Her old grade would be expunged, her GPA would remain unaffected and she would have a good base for next year's class.  She then followed that up with a request that Peter "be safe in you-know-where."

Now, I don't know that my mention of his future assignment was the key, but I figured it couldn't hurt.  After all, we weren't asking for the world, just confirmation that we are headed in the right direction.  And are we worried/freaked/embarassed about Cait's Algebra issues this year?

Not in the slightest.  She is incredibly talented in so many ways and Algebra simply isn't her thing.   Why push her to take harder courses when she clearly could just use a bit more help in this subject? Given my own issues with the same course (ironically, Geometry and Algebra II were much easier for me...), I have no desire to push her when it's not necessary.  Call me a lazy mom, but I'm far more concerned with her needs than with my need to brag that she took Calculus at age 10.   And, now it's time to put the A-card away....well, at least for now.


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You don't sound like a lazy mom, you sound like a mom who knows her kids and what is best for them. Glad you were able to work it out even if you did have to throw the A-card.

use it baby ... (we don't like math stuff over here, either!)

Best of luck to Cait with Algebra! I was not a fan of it when I were her age either, so I understand. Glad you got the information you were looking for but it's kind of sad (IMHO) that you had to pull anything to get them to answer a fairly simple question. That said, if you have a card, by all means, use it! We, moms, have to resort to all kinds of tricks for the benefits of our kids and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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