What would you do??....Teacher problem

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by TwinMa, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    My 14 yo daughter had to write an essay on "What Freedom Means To Me". She is quite a good writer, as is her twin sister. They both ended up in the top ten in their middle school for their essays.

    I want to keep her name private, so I'll just call her "Daisy".

    Daisy submitted her rough draft to her teacher, but never received the draft back. Next thing she knows, she finds out she has won 1st place in the entire school for her essay. Here's the kicker. The teacher had rewritten Daisy's entire essay. There were phrases that were the same and certain words were the same, but it was essentially a completely different essay. The "voice" of the essay was totally different.

    When I read the final draft essay, I asked "You wrote this???" It didn't even sound like my daughter's style.

    1st place gets $100, and possibly a chance to move to a higher level of competition. Daisy does not feel that she has earned 1st place because it wasn't her essay that won. She feels like this teacher completely mis-represented her.

    She is talking to her teacher today. If the outcome is not satisfactory, we will have Daisy go to the school counseler and, if need be, the principal.

    I am outraged at this. Her original essay was good as it was! How dare this teacher re-write it and pass it off as Daisy's work! How arrogant and self-serving! Plus, she cheated Daisy out of genuinely competing with her own work. I can't believe how un-ethical this teacher is!

    The essay was on freedom, and Daisy wrote particularly about freedom of speech. How ironic that this teacher took away Daisy's freedom of speech.

    What would you do??

    [This Message was Edited on 11/13/2008]
  2. fibromickster

    fibromickster New Member

    I think your daughter is doing the right thing by going to the Teacher about this. If you doesn't respond to her needs then yes, she should go to the Principal. That is just not right. I have never heard of a teacher rewriting an essay for a student.

    I thought that was the whole concept of writing an essay in your own words. That is weird.

    Good Luck!!!
  3. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    Thanks for your reply.

    My daughter talked to her teacher and the teacher didn't offer any solution. She said that all the other teachers who reviewed the essays saw both the rough draft and the "final" version. (I find that hard to believe). She told my daughter that she had integrity and understood her concern. That was about as far as it got. My daughter is quite shy and doesn't speak up easily, so she backed down easily. I don't think she truly got her point across, plus I think the teacher was doing some CYA.

    This all makes me so mad!

    My daughter is going to talk to the teacher again tomorrow. My husband may get invoved tomorrow, too. I'd like to give my daughter one more try to talk to the teacher. I suggested Daisy right down everything that happened and her feelings about it. That way she would have all her thoughts in writing (as long as the teacher doesn't change it!). Grrrr....
  4. jole

    jole Member

    What a predicament to be in! First, it simply is not right....and you have raised your daughter well to understand that. Secondly, it is not fair to your daughter after all her hard work. She wants to know how well SHE did, not the teacher. Thirdly, it is not fair to the other students to know that their work did not count because obviously the teacher wanted to be in the contest too....and the only way she could enter was through another student.

    I feel very badly for both of your daughters...neither one of them were treated fairly, and the teacher definitely needs to be sternly reprimanded (if not worse) for her actions.

    Is there any way either you or your hubby could be with your daughter at the next meeting? She's already spoken to the teacher once on her own, so I think it's time for her to have some backing by one of you. You really need to know what's being said if you are going to go further with this (and I think you should). This person is not a teacher!

    Bless all of you for your high standards. That's quite rare in today's world, and actually, this is the greatest lesson to come out of all of this for your girls....right is always right! ***Jole***
  5. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    Thank you for your support!

    My husband called the school this morning and left a message for the teacher. Hopefully she will call him back soon. My daughter is going to try to talk to her again today, too. I told DH that if there was a meeting, I would take off work and be there, too.

    My daughter feels terrible at the possible consequences of this. She said if the teacher gets fired, she couldn't live with herself. Poor thing! We have told her over and over, "This was not YOUR fault!! It was the teacher who will have to face the consequences of HER action. You are just pointing out the injustice of it all." Daisy is a very sensitive girl, and I pray this doesn't do her emotional harm. It's a tough life lesson to learn. But we have repeatedly told her she is on the side of right.

    It is possible that this essay (the re-written one) will be entered in a higher level competition, too. If that is the case, we are going to pull her (the "winning" essay) out of the contest. It isn't her work, and she doesn't want that piece to represent her. I'm hoping her own work can be entered. She shouldn't be penalized and not entered for what this teacher chose to do.

    Jole, you are right about the other kids being unfairly treated too! I hadn't thought of it from that aspect. They were actually bumped from being judged by this "teacher version" of the essay. I'm so mad, I could spit!!!

  6. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    I actually wish if there is going to be a meeting, that the principal would be there too--especially since your daughter talked to the teacher once already and got nowhere. The principal and the teacher should both be present to hear what your daughter and you have to say and that the essay submitted was re-written by the teacher and not by your daughter.

    There is a motive by the teacher and something to be gained by the teacher. Having your daughter succeed at this level reflects well on her (the teacher) with the prinicipal and for her review. But how would the principal feel if he knew the teacher was "rewriting" the essays, and if he/she is a good person, I don't think he would be proud. Good luck.
  7. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    But you are all doing the right thing. I've told my son that there will always be inequities in the world, and it is important to 'pick your battles'. Your daughter was obviously raised right, and her feelings were right on.

    I hope that your daughter is able to make headway with the teacher; however, if she should become overwhelmed again, I suggest she write her a letter, and copy the principal. After all, she's already gone through the steps of discussing this with her teacher...she needs to go over her head now, if she wants to put a stop to this.

    I feel bad for your daughter, as she obviously realizes that there are consequences for her actions. Ultimately, though, the actions which touched off this whole scenario are her teacher's actions. Your daughter's sense of disappointment in her teacher are rightly placed, and it is unconscionable that the teacher has put any of her students in this predicament.
  8. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    My take on this is a little different. I would take her current distress very seriously. I would be very concerned that she might now feel trapped in a situation which is getting increasingly heated and for which there will be consequences. I think a 14 year old could be totally overwhelmed by a situation like this. I would take seriously what she says about how distressing it would be if the teacher were fired.


  9. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    Yes, agree that her emotions and stress should be taken into consideration. If it were my child, though, I would have to be honest and say that there's no putting that genie back in the bottle. At some point, it is necessary to follow through with the events one has set in motion -- with her parents behind her, she can get through to the other side. I know so many people that stir the pot, then run when the going gets tough -- in fact, I have a friend that has, unfortunately, made a personality trait out of it...always leaving others to clean up the situation. The school year isn't even half over yet. Unfortunately as long as she's in the class, this will be hanging over her head until it is resolved. It could be a very important lesson in realizing one's personal power to stand up for what's right.

    [This Message was Edited on 11/13/2008]
  10. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    Yes, you make good sense.

    I think I would encourage the child to figure out what she felt comfortable doing and try not to push her to go beyond her limits.

    You mention your friend and how they have informed your response. We all speak from a personal point of reference. Mine is a 17 year old who was encouraged to take a stand against injustice and then took his own life. When a kid says, "I couldn't live with myself." I take it literally until they convince me I shouldn't.

    I think this is the best yet most confounding thing about asking for opinions - they will conflict but each will be informed by a different and valid experience.

    Peace to you,
  11. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    I really appreciate your input and insights. Thank you all for your support. I have heard many voices of reason and compassion here. Our own life experiences certainly do influence how we advise others. In the end, we all make our own choices and follow our own path. You have all given me food for thought.

    So far, my husband has left two voicemail messages for the teacher, and she has not responded. My daughter will be home soon, so we will find out if she talked to the teacher again.

    I, too, am very concerned for my daughter's emotional well-being. She is a very quiet, reserved child. She's very bright and very sensitive. This is a hard decision to know how far to take this. Right now, it is still between my daughter, us and the teacher. If we take it to a school counselor or the principal, we most assuredly will have set things in motion that we can't take back. I like the phrase about not putting the genie back in the bottle--too true.

    It is so hard to know whether this will be an powerful life lesson, or something that will haunt my daughter for life--or both. I agree that she could truly learn about finding and her own personal power, but at what price?

    Oh, to have a crystal ball....
  12. fibromickster

    fibromickster New Member

    TwinMa, you are right. I don't know if I would want the principal involved because they may very well fire her. I would (you and hubby) definetly maybe meet your daughter up after school and surprise the teacher about this incident and have a heart to heart talk.

    I really think your daughter doesn't want her to be fired and it she did get fired your daughter would be devastated if that happened. It should just be between you three first and it will probably be resolved. I just hope the teacher doesn't take it out on your daughter, however, if that did happen that is when I would get the principal involved, however, only if that happens. The teach just needs to know your daughters feelings on this.

    I think you are doing the right thing by entering the essay in the other contest, that way it stops here.

    Good luck and keep us informed as obviously we all care here.

    Take care and God Bless you and your family

  13. Gingareeree

    Gingareeree New Member

    I;m wondering what was the teachers' motive in re writing you daughters' essay? Did she have something to gain by doing that? Jeanne
  14. Asatrump

    Asatrump New Member

    for being honest, forthright and a girl building her own character.

    You definitely need to involve the principal, the teacher is responsible directly to that person. If this teacher has tenure firing would be extremely difficult. I would think even a beginning teacher would merely be slapped on the wrist and perhaps have a letter put in their permanent file. It is not an easy thing to fire a teacher, but action should be taken. What happened to standards in education? Lead by example? Just curious what state you live in as teaching standards differ considerably in various parts of the country.

    Remove your daughter from the situation and take over for her, she has more than proved herself. She didn't create the problem, and sending her stress level sky high is not what she should be feeling. She should be seeing a system that works correctly. Not involving the principal will permit this teacher to sweep the episode off their chart. Frankly if it were my kid I would have both principal and Superintendent of schools present. And if I got no satisfaction I would take it to the state, and probably the news media. I think this is a huge mistake that your child has walked into.

    My hat is off to you both. Honor is not something seen often from students, but should be seen from teachers in places of authority.
  15. pasara

    pasara New Member

    I would just withdraw my daughter's essay from the contest, that way you are not participating in the sham. Later explain to the teacher that you were not comfortable with her actions, without being accusatory or stating your conclusion about them (ie that they were highly unethical.) That way she has nothing to defend herself with, as in arguing that she did not do anything wrong. You are stating your feelings. It will be clear from your letter the facts of the case.

    Then cc the principal. He or she will deal with it appropriately. Rest assured, the teacher would maybe be reprimanded, but not fired unless it were a pattern. It is probably just that she got carried away with the competition. It was not right, but may be an aberration for her. She is probably embarrassed about the whole thing and trying to cover her butt. Meanwhile, let it be over with on your end. It is getting blown up to great proportions in your mind, and therefore even more in your daughter's, who has to see and relate to this woman daily. Withdrawing from the contest takes a moral stand and the wind out of the sails of confrontation. I am sure the principal will clarify for the teacher what she did wrong, and call you if more information is needed.
  16. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    Thank you all so much for your input and support. It means so much to me.

    Yesterday, one of my daughter's other teachers (not the one who re-wrote the essay) asked her for the form saying she hadn't plagiarised. Daisy said she was uncomfortable signing that form. This opened the door for a discussion of what was happening. Daisy showed this teacher both versions of the essay. The teach was completely sympathetic and understood Daisy's dilemma. She was one of the people who actually judged the contest. She told Daisy that she HAD seen both versions and that Daisy's original version was actually better and would have easily won on its own. She agreed that the second version didn't sound anything like her original.

    This teach told her to go ahead and submit her ORIGINAL version along with the signed "I did not plagiarize" form. Whew!

    The OTHER teacher (the one who did the modifications) did call my husband back. She admitted that the whole process was flawed and didn't go as smoothly as she wanted. She never did come out and say "I'm sorry" or admit to wrong-doing, but DH said she seemed like she knew that she was out of line.

    She had all sorts of "reasons" for what she did. She was on some kind of deadline, she had a family emergency, etc. I'm surprised she didn't say the dog ate her homework!

    The bottom line is that Daisy is very pleased with this outcome. She legitimately won first prize at her school. Her OWN essay will be moved on to the next level of the competition. And no one got fired.

    I think she learned several valuable lessons about conflict resolution and about standing up for what she believes is right.

    I have mixed feelings about the teacher. I think she knows she made a mistake, but at least for now there don't seem to be any repurcussions to her. Like my daughter, I don't like the idea of someone getting fired over this, but I do think she should be held accountable.

    I'm hoping that since a second teacher was involved, maybe something will come of it on a teacher-to-teacher level. I have to think that this teacher also learned a few lessons with this incident.

    In any case, it is resolved, and my daughter is happy! I couldn't ask for more than that.

    Thank you again to ALL of you! You guys are great!
  17. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    I'm so, so glad that it has all been resolved peacefully, and in your daughter's favor. As part of my job in the past, I've mentored several new college graduates in their early professional life, and this is so similar to some of the ethical dilemmas they come across. One thing we always end up discussing is to ask one's self 'What is the main problem I want to solve'. And I think that your daughter might have answered that she wanted to be rewarded for her own work. The (second) teacher was a blessing for suggesting a resolution that would meet your daughter's standards.

    I'm so happy that it turned out well for your daughter.
  18. TwinMa

    TwinMa New Member

    I appreciate your kind words.

    My daughter is definitely in a happier place right now. She did learn the "pick your battles" lesson as well as "stand up for what is right" lesson.

    I didn't tell her I posted this problem on the board (she would probably be horrified!), but I did tell her that all of the people I told about this situation had very kind supportive words for her. That they all said she was a great kid and had good morals.

    Thank you all for saying that she was raised right. That means a lot to me. I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but it's true! I heard an author recently say that by the time a kid is 15 or 16--they are like a casserole--they are DONE! You just have to trust that what you taught them will guide them to make the right choices. I'll have to check out this author's book. It was about raising teens and called "The Agony and the Agony". Pretty funny title. I actually just looked it up on Amazon, and it sounds pretty funny and pretty accurate. I may just have to buy it!

    I'll let you guys know if my daughter wins the next level of this essay competition!