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An Urban Myth
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An enduring urban myth is the putative automated telephone message of one of our high schools:

The outgoing message:

Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:

To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1

To make excuses for why your child did not do his work -Press 2

To complain about what we do - Press 3

To swear at staff members - Press 4

To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5

If you want us to raise your child - Press 6

If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7

To request another teacher, for the third time this year - Press 8

To complain about bus transportation - Press 9

To complain about school lunches - Press 0

If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework and that it's not always the teacher's fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!

I post this because it's funny, but also because of what it says about teachers' and administrators' perceptions of parents and students. Some of these perceptions are based upon bitter experience; some are extrapolations from more benign situations.

There's an element of reality in all of them.

(Thanks to Planck's Constant for reminding me of this one.)

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