Inside DC & # 39; s Sidwell school where intrusive parents are obsessed with getting children to college

Dear Senior Parents,

I hope that you have had a restful break and that you have experienced the joy and peace that we seek from the different end-of-year traditions that we celebrate. In addition, I hope that you have been able to share some special time with your seniors, who have contributed enormously to the school. We are proud of their achievements and look forward to celebrating them in June.

I write in response to Patrick Gallagher's letter for the break, in which several newly implemented policy measures were discussed in the College Counseling Office (CCO). As you will remember, the letter stated that the CCO prohibits the recording of conversations with our counselors; will not take into account anonymous and / or unfounded claims about student behavior; will not respond to calls from blocked phone numbers; does not respond to a request for student files unless that request is made by the student or an approved family member or guardian.

The new policy stems from a handful of unfortunate and uninformed interactions, some of which have been unfriendly to students, others that our counselors did not respect. The vast majority of our parents naturally work on supporting and honoring all our students and staff. In addition, they value the extraordinary advice, expertise and guidance that our counselors offer, and work together to promote the interests and emotional development of their children during a stressful process. As a father who witnessed his daughter's search for school last year, I know firsthand that it can evoke deep emotions and uncertainties. The application process can push students to the limit, especially when it is raised by high expectations and external pressure. And there is no doubt that the process can stretch the patience and emotional capacity of parents.

Our advisors are well aware of this challenge. They understand that we love our children as parents, and they show enormous patience when that love blurs our vision. Understanding emotional complexities and enrollment management, they approach the task in a compassionate and strategic way and recognize that some parent and student meetings can become difficult. However, we must not forget to maintain perspective and act with respect, even in emotionally difficult circumstances.

Examples of disrespect are deviant and often anonymous, but have nevertheless become increasingly intense and unmerited. The spreading of rumors about students and / or the verbal abuse of employees contradict the values โ€‹โ€‹of the school and create a discouraging working environment. When offenders can be identified, they may be prohibited from meeting with the CCO and / or are subject to additional penalties as set out in the Community Handbook.

Regardless of how difficult the college process becomes, as parents we must not forget to use it to underline our values. We can be sure that our children are keenly aware of how our words and actions speak to our priorities. "Too often today's culture sends messages from young people who place more emphasis on personal success than on concern for others and the common good," says Turning the Tide, an exciting study commissioned by Harvard University. "All too often, the university entrance exam contributes to this problem." As a transition rite for many students and an important focus for many parents, the university entrance exam is powerfully positioned to send different messages that help young people become more generous and humane in ways that not only benefit society, but also the students themselves . & # 39;

In this new year I hope we will confirm our commitment to the well-being of our students and to the common good. I hope we will start again to help children understand that college is just the next destination for a lifelong journey, not their destiny. I hope we embrace the concept of God โ€” of goodness โ€” in every individual, and that addressing the needs of every child, not just ourselves, is essential to the health of our community. And I hope we will always treat each other with respect.

I am grateful for those of you who work in trust and cooperation with the school, and I look forward to celebrating with you as the 2019 class enters its final semester at Sidwell Friends.

Thank you, as always, for your time and attention.

In peace and friendship,

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