Open-Letter: Dear Co-op Board, Parents, and Students
I write this open-letter in hopes that it will help you become a better environment for future teachers and participants. As a mother and home school co-op teacher, I care(ed) for each kid under my care as if they were my own. I pray(ed) for them each on a regular basis.
I pray that all who read this open-letter allow the Holy Spirit to speak directly to your heart, and that you do the work necessary to become a better version of yourself. The manner in which you treat people is a direct reflection of Christ. If you represent Him poorly, you damage the message that Jesus charges each of us with; to bring glory to Him, and win people for Christ. In that spirit, I have a few suggestions to help you, the board, and any future teachers that join your co-op.
YOU choose the curriculum: vocabulary, books, essay topics, etc.
Writing and literature are always going to be gray areas because, by nature, they force individuals to step outside of their comfort zone, challenge the status quo, and often address controversial or uncomfortable content. That is just a fact. There is a reason that Nazi Germany burned books. They made people think beyond what was prescribed to them, and helped them maintain control over their subjects. If you wish to have complete control over these areas of the subject, you are going to have to personally select all material to adhere to. Otherwise, you set the next person up for failure right out the gate and into the lion’s den.
The Co-op Board MUST change its practice of addressing concerns as it applies to its teachers.
- Be Transparent! The home school co-op teacher has a RIGHT to know exactly why, or what accusations/concerns the co-op board wishes to discuss BEFORE participating in the meeting. Our Justice system even grants criminals the right to know the charges against them before they enter the courtroom.
- The co-op board MUST insist on the teacher having a witness and advocate of their own. It is unfair and unjust to ambush a person by one or two board members, much less five. Meetings that address a teacher should ALWAYS include their spouse or a representative that they trust. It is against the law to deprive a criminal of the right to have representation during an interrogation. The board should also ensure that same right to their teachers and students. No one should be questioned or addressed by themselves. It is unfair, unethical, and unchristian. It is the way of the Pharisee’s when they brought Jesus to court.
- The teacher should receive the benefit of the doubt first. They should be innocent until proven guilty. You should assume that the teacher meant no malice FIRST; that they are innocent FIRST; and that a misunderstanding is possible FIRST!
- The questioning should not resemble a police interrogation. The goal should be to present the concerns without immediate guilt attached. Then, hear the person’s explanation without bias, and not attempt to trick them by asking the same question multiple ways/times. Do not put words in their mouth, or twist them to mean what you want to hear. A Christian community should hold itself to a higher standard than even our secular court system, yet you denied me even my basic rights as an American citizen, much less a sister in Christ.
- You should have your home school teacher’s back. They are the adult in the situation. Kids tend to perceive things incorrectly because their brains are not developed to understand the same things that mature persons do. They lack the experience, and maturity, to understand the consequences of their actions in full. Therefore, as a board and parents, we must take what our children perceive and say with a grain of salt, and give the adult the benefit of the doubt unless substantiated by evidence. I cannot tell you how many times my son has misinterpreted the actions, behaviors, or perceptions of a person or situation.
Last, But Not Least – Gossip
DO NOT involve the kids in the situation! Kids should not be questioned about the adult in attempts to dig up dirt on them.
DO NOT talk about it to people! Gossiping is stealing someone’s dignity, reputation, and credibility. The Bible references malediction several times, such as Proverbs 6:16-19. It is not a secret that you, and the kids talked about it. In fact, some students are bragging to others about how they got their teacher fired at the co-op. It speaks volumes to the validity of the claims and heart behind the event that ended in my being asked to cease teaching classes there.
I wish I never had reason to write this open-letter, and I would never put myself on the same plane as Jesus. However, the way you chose to handle the situation was much like the way the Pharisees acted in Biblical days. Jesus was arrested under the cover of night, questioned by people who wished to do him harm, His words turned against him, and He was falsely accused. They loathed Jesus and sought to destroy Him.
In the same manner Jesus was accused and questioned by the Pharisees, I was brought in under cover of night (not given a reason for meeting prior to gathering). I had no witness or advocate, was surrounded by people who had their mind made up of my guilt, interrogated, preached at, my words twisted, and then hugged (Kiss of Judas) on my way out the door.
Although, my flesh screamed out for justice, in the end, I chose to forgive any participants who conspired to falsely persecute my character. After all, it is not mine to exact. All in all, I ask Jesus to grow the areas that the involved are weak in or folly, as well as in me. I pray that He will convict the hearts of the wrongdoers to make changes so that they do not cause someone with less faith than I to stumble. I know who I am in God, and who He says I am. That, my friends, is enough for me.