Mea culpa--I'm so sorry school is interfering with your child's life.
I recently got the most charming email from a parent, asking me to postpone a test in one of my college credit classes (which has been on the class schedule since the first day of school) because his son is in the orchestra for the school musical. And BTW, this parent sent me the email the day before the test was scheduled. This person noted that his son had chosen to be involved in this project, and of course he should take responsibility for his choices and make sure he can handle them, but, and I quote, "isn't it really a teacher's job to encourage students to be involved in activities outside of school?" He concluded with the suggestion that if I couldn't move the test, perhaps I could shorten it. The parent also stated that he had talked this over with other parents, and they agreed. So he was sort of carrying the standard, if you will, for a groundswell of opinion.
Kind of like Pickett's Charge.
Now frankly, I think the first part of his initial statement actually answered his own question, but he still decided to push on with the email, so I responded.
Being a prudent person who doesn't just shoot her mouth off without counting to ten in several languages, I gently responded to this parent's email with a firm answer in the negative accompanied by my reasons why. But here's what I really would have liked to say:
Dear Mr. J. L. Seagull,
I am so sorry for any distress that the scheduling of the test caused you, although your son has not said a word to me himself. The test has already had to be rescheduled once due to a school closing for inclement weather, and it is impossible to reschedule it again barring another Act of Nature. I would love to consider moving the test simply to accomodate your son, but I need some help accomplishing this scheduling deviation, since in the last three weeks your son has handed me eight (and this is no exaggeration) permission slips for field trips or activities which will necessitate your son missing my class over the next six weeks. Today he handed me yet another one, as I was pondering your emailed request.
He is going on a three-day band trip to Indiana, two track meets, one student government symposium, one trip to an amusement park allegedly to do physics experiments while riding roller coasters (upon my honor!), one trip to a Mexican restaurant with his Spanish class, one to a yearbook convention, one to schedule appointments at a blood drive, and one to excuse him from class to assist with Special Olympics. The one he gave me today was to go to a local museum. Some of these are worthy causes, and others are just inane wastes of instructional time. Nonetheless, I can see no time to reschedule the examination during a class period long enough to complete the test when your son will actually be here except for the date upon which it is already scheduled, which is why it is scheduled for that date.
Further, as a teacher yourself in our district, you doubtless understand that I have other students to consider besides just your son and the four other students taking part in the school play. These other students also have numerous other activities and field trips scheduled from now until the end of the school. Moreover, as you are also aware, the standardized tests required under NCLB will begin soon, and we are not to give any tests nor homework during the testing days.
Nonetheless, the problem here is beyond the disregard for my instructional time and my professional judgement which is evinced. The real problem here is that you and your son are unable to prioritize. You have allowed him to be severely overscheduled, and now you want me to enable and facilitate your error.
Additionally, while I find being in the orchestra for a school musical to be a fun activity to do, having done it myself, I am going to disagree with you about one other contention. It is actually not my JOB to encourage your son to participate in the school play, any more than it is the job of the drama teacher to encourage your son to do well in my class-- indeed, if that was the case, we would not be having this discussion.
I am employed as a history teacher, not as an activities coordinator. It is my job to prepare your son for not only this assessment, but to prepare your son as much as I can for the advanced placement test-- a job which frankly is made nearly impossible by the amount of instructional time he is going to be missing in the next few weeks. I wonder if you plan to write to the College Board to demand that they move and/or shorten the AP exam, since it will occur four days after his trip to Indiana? If so, please cc to me your email and the response of the College Board to your request, as I am curious as to the outcome of such a gambit.
Since we are on the subject of jobs, here is a key point thus far overlooked, although crucial, nay vital: it is YOUR job and the job of your son as a burgeoning adult to take on only as many activities as he can comfortably handle. As a student with high aspirations for college, he needs to learn this lesson now. Your son chose to take my class, and yet, of all his activities, he has shown the least dedication to this class in terms of priorities.
Finally, respectfully, I must say that the day I make decisions as to the scheduling of assessments or any other regular instructional activity subject to parental consensus is the day I look forward to you giving me veto power over the quantity, quality, and timing of your son's activities.