Issue 13, Volume 113
By Finn Charest
At least once a year, Stuyvesant students expect disappointed sighs, exploitative tales of parental sacrifice, and enrollment in the occasional “scared straight” weekend retreat. Indeed, the promise of a reckoning for months of academic neglect and mismanaged time hangs over the minds of the Stuyvesant student body through the months of February and March.
Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs), an outlet for the resentments—and sometimes aggression—of frustrated teachers, are eagerly awaited by several instructors. Their mood brightens as they ominously hover around the desks of their worst students, tapping their desks, saying, “Am I talking to mom or dad on Thursday?” or “Good luck.”
One teacher, when asked about his feelings on PTCs, said, “I love them. I usually try to give myself a few minutes after each call so I can close my eyes and imagine what happens after we hang up the phone... sometimes I’ll have brownies baked to really complete the experience. Few things bring me more pleasure.”
In order to understand both sides of the experience, a Spectator reporter also interviewed a junior the week after PTCs, in a conversation that lasted almost an hour due to frequent bouts of despair-filled weeping.
“The calls were a blur. All I remember hearing were gasps, whimpers, and growls, accompanied by piercing death stares from my mother. At one point, she asked a teacher to extend their call another 10 minutes. The teacher said that she usually sticks to the five-minute cap, but in special cases like mine, she’s willing to make an exception.
“Also, did they switch up something in the report card teacher comments? Last year it was ‘always well prepared’ and ‘good class participation,’ but this semester I got ‘troubled loner,’ ‘someone has to be last,’ and ‘personal hygiene needs work.’
“Afterward, my mom wouldn’t let me eat solid food until I submitted all my missing assignments so that I could feel the pain of my elders, whom I was letting down with my 70s in physics and math. She didn’t care about my 94 in English, though: she said maybe I could write exceptional eulogies at my grandparents’ funerals, explaining how I robbed them of any hope for our family’s future in their final years.”
Rumors are now circulating that a union of teachers, led by the retired Dr. Markova, is advocating for six PTCs a year, with one for each marking period. Furthermore, each PTC date seems to be strategically located before a school break.
May God have mercy on us all.