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Time, February 21, 2005, cover story...Teachers and Parents

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
As a parent and teacher I read the story with interest.

Anyone else?

Any reactions you would like to share?
post #2 of 18
Is this on-line?

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
O.K., I give up.
post #6 of 18
I got the beggining of the story, but I can't get it without subscribing.

But the point was made. And now I too am remembering many a "discussion" with parents.

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Yes, me too.

As a parent, I can remember a teacher telling me that my daughter was not motivated to learn. I thought to myself, "Isn't that your job, to motivate children to learn?" I put her in another school, and tried to motivate her myself. No way. She is still very stubborn. She has this problem in life all the time.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
As a teacher, I can recall sending home a notice that told a parent her son had no self-control. The notice was supposed to be signed and returned. The parent refused to sign it or acknowledge that she received it. The school re-sent a copy certified mail to her, and she signed it with the statement:

"WE do not believe this to be true."

While I do believe I probably did not handle her little boy and the situation properly, she was put on notice that her son was hurting his opportunities to learn.

It was the policy of the school and I simply thought I was being communicative about a difficult situation.
post #9 of 18
The story cannot be accessed online with subscribing but I am going to find it at the library this week. I do have some comments to begin with. There are good and bad teachers out there, those who are good at communication and those who are not. Some teachers need to work on how and what to say to parents in difficult situations. All that is a given. However, I used to work in an affluent suburban school district where there were a lot of stay at home moms with time to visit school, a lot of parents with very high expectations of their children's schooling experience, and a lot of parents sending their child to the "good" public schools instead of private schools, which they could afford. In other words, there were a lot of parents very involved in their kids education. More than I have now in an urban school district.

Note" I have worked in private and public schools, in suburban school districts with wealthy familes and now in an urban school district in a very poor school. I now there are all kinds of families and I am not making generalizations. I am only citing my experiences.

Anyway, in this affluent school district, parents were more involved in their children's school than in the private schools I had worked in. They often visited and volunteered and helped in many ways. For the most part, it was great. I know work in an urban school where most parents cannot afford to take time off to help their children's classrooms and many don't speak English as a first language, so I miss this.

Back to my point: There was a small fraction of parents in our school district who thought they could bully their way into getting what they wanted for their children. If there children were misbehaving, they would argue with everyone, including principals, to get their children out of the consequence. I saw this even for a child who had written a note threatening to kill another 5th grader! If their children were struggling in school, they argue that it was all the teacher's fault, even if their child really needed a special program, like they were maybe dyslexic or extremely gifted and needed more than the classroom teacher could give. There have been cases of parents calling teachers and leaving threatening voicemails, screaming into the phone. Teachers have felt threatened enough by a parent at times to not want to meet with them alone. It got so out of hand, the school board convened a special committee to write communication guidelines for parents and got the PTA to hold special meetings to train families how to talk to teachers in times of conflict. Of course, it was only a very small percentage of parents doing this and teachers needed to learn how to handle it respectfully, but it was a serious problem.

This is, I think, the type of situation Time is writing about. It is a relatively new problem and a rare one. Nearly all parents are nice to deal with. It is the rare individual who is just trying to defend and take care of their child the best he or she can and gets out of hand. Unfortunately, it can get scary.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
When dealing with parents, I always try to keep in mind that we both have the same goal for their child in mind - the very best and I really try to work with the child.

I try to communicate with the parent any difficulties and I try to be fair.

I am not the best teacher for EVERY student I have had. I am not that arrogant.

Honestly, I have tried.

I had one student who would change the answers on a test after I corrected it; I actually would draw a line with red ink through the wrong answer - she would erase the wrong answer and write in the correct answer. Her mother twice told me in writing that I made the mistake in checking and grading the test and need to change the final grade. I have been xeroxing all of the tests I grade and evaluate for this little girl, keeping a file in case I need to present evidence to the mother.

I am not looking forward to this meeting, should it be necessary.
post #11 of 18
It's hard for me to comment intelligently, because I couldn't really read the article, although Time did permit me to view a photo essay. (Honestly, I don't think I've every come across a website that was more stingy with its information than that one.)

I agree that there are PIA parents out there, but from what I could see of this article, it was totally slanted against parents.This is a quote from a teacher:

The parent doesn't know what you're giving and accepts what the child says. Parents are trusting children before they trust us. They have lost faith in teachers
(Yes, some of us have lost faith in some teachers, and for good reasons.)

And this is a quote from a parent:

You get so angry that you don't care what the school"s perspective is. This is my child. And you did something that negatively impacted my child. I don't want to hear that you have 300 kids.
They quote this guy as a representative of a typical parent? That makes it appear that all parents are a bunch of jerks. And isn't it natural for parents to want to advocate for their children?

Another quote that makes it appear that parents are totally out-of-control:

I called the parents on a discipline issue with their daughter ... Her father called me a 'total jerk' Then he said, 'Well, do you want to meet someplace and take care of this man to man?'
Come on!!! How many parents are really like that? One in 500?

I respect the hard work that teachers do and I don't think it's OK for parents to insist that their child is a perfect angel, no matter what the teacher says, but as a homeschooling parent, I view this article as of a piece with Time's former article that's critical of homeschooling--essentially warning America that parents are getting out of control, that they need to be reigned in and given less control over what's happening in schools. Mighty convenient what with the federal government now trying harder than ever to control our schools.

Our school district got a new superintendent this year and her "I'm in control and I don't give a crap about what the parents think" has caused a *huge* parent uproar and I'm proud that the parents in my community are willing to fight what they see is wrong.
post #12 of 18
Originally Posted by daylily
Our school district got a new superintendent this year and her "I'm in control and I don't give a crap about what the parents think" has caused a *huge* parent uproar and I'm proud that the parents in my community are willing to fight what they see is wrong.

Sing it, daylily!

I was raised to have total respect for teachers and, as a kid/adolescent, I did. Since becoming an adult, though, that respect has become much harder to maintain.

I totally get that some parents have their heads so far up their, ahem, bottoms that they can't see light but this is true of any given category of people - including teachers and administrators. On the other hand, I really believe that schools have been pushed out of true educating and into activities better suited for numerical expediency. Parents *have* to be vocal and tough advocates for their kids because no one else is going to step up - particularly if it might jeopardize one of the statistics the schools rely on so much.

Tangentially, I think this is one of the reasons that so many kids are on drugs to smooth out their behaviour - consistent response across a classroom/student body makes it much easier to manage the resulting statistics. If no one sticks out, no one has to be pounded (i.e., intensively managed according to his/her personality) back in.
post #13 of 18
O.K., I just go onto time.com using bugmenot.com so I'm going to read the whole article.

Once I have some coherent thoughts, I'll be back!
post #14 of 18
oooh! bugmenot.com is really cool. I read the article and found it right on. As a parent and as an elementary school teacher (for 10 years), I think the article was very fair to say that teachers have a hard time, that it is not all parents doing the most awful acts, that most parents just want the best for their children and are increasingly willing to fight for it.

From the story:

"The parents are not the bad guys," says Nancy McGill, a teacher in Johnston, Iowa, who learned a lot about handling parents from being one herself. "They're mama grizzly bears. They're going to defend that cub no matter what, and they don't always think rationally. If I can remember that, it defuses the situation. It's not about me. It's not about attacking our system. It's about a parent trying to do the best for their child. That helps keep the personal junk out of the way. I don't get so emotional."

This is a good quote. There are a rare few parents who get really aggressive but for the most part, this teacher is right.
post #15 of 18
I'm still trying to sort out my thoughts on the article so this is incomplete and choppy. Don't say you weren't warned!

I remember not too long ago an article in a major newsweekly an article bemoaning that parents weren't involved enough in their kids lives and not paying attention to education in favor of jobs, social lives, personal dramas, etc. The point was clearly that parents are too selfish to really engage in the kids' schools and that they are trying to get the teachers just to handle it.

And then there was the article mocking parents for trying to enlist teachers' help in determining the best methods for supervising homework, disciplining, limited TV, etc. The author of that article made the point that parents shouldn't look to teachers for so much guidance and if they were just more involved and parent-like, these dumb conversations needn't happen.

And now there's this piece.

Although one cannot really connect the dots on these three and claim that they represent any single agenda the global message seems to be: Parents, sit down until we tell you to stand up. Stay away until we tell you to get involved. We'll tell you what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Until you hear from us that we want to see/hear you, don't call us, we'll call you. Remember: we're the experts in child development and know what's best for him/her unless you have a question. Then you can work it out yourself because it's not our job to raise your kid.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
I agree.

When I was in teacher training, it was always something of a joke as to what to do with the parent who is there to help.

The answer was usually to give them something menial to do - far away.

I half resented this. I do understand not wanting someone there watching every move I made, but as a parent who came to help in the classroom myself, I resented being made a fool of.

As the parent of a middle school student ten years ago, I actually went to school with my DD to be sure she went to her classes.

I consider myself very involved; I was not a joke.

I can see every side to this.

I appreciate your input chalupamom. ITA
post #17 of 18
yes, i read it. it was fine . as a teacher i see so many parents who want miracles worked with their children when it comes to motivation,Remember you had your children befor i did....it all starts at home
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
A teacher once told me my daughter, then in high school, ninth grade, had no motiviation.

I took her out of that school, and homeschooled her for the next semester and put her back in another school.

At the other school, my DD was caugh† smoking a pipe right in front of the dean. I put her in another school, and she had problems there. I had her take the CHSPE, and she passed it on the first try...she legally finished high school.

Then my DD refused to get out of bed, and I ended up being investigated by CPS, losing all of my children on paper.

Later, she brought home hordes of strange friends I did not know, she stayed out late at night, I found a man in her room at midnight. I went to Toughlove and followed their program. The LAPD did not believe me. They thought I was making all of this up. The police woman who did this to me later commit†ed suicide on the network news.

Today she is 24, and has not finished a two year college.

My DD was certainly motivated. She was motivated to make problems for me.
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