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Teachers vs parents: Round two

By Linda Petty, CNN
updated 1:43 PM EDT, Thu September 8, 2011
Teachers and parents sound off over who is to blame for education problems.
Teachers and parents sound off over who is to blame for education problems.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Essay written by teacher Ron Clark outrages some parents
  • They disagree with his statement that parents need to trust teachers
  • Some say teachers don't respect students or parents

(CNN) -- Some parents and teachers have no respect for each other. A few apparently hate the other side. Both sides started firing off heated comments after Ron Clark, a teacher who started his own school, wrote an essay for CNN.com asking parents to work with teachers for the sake of their kids.

Clark wrote it was insulting to teachers when after they tell a parent their child did something wrong the parent asks the student, "Did you do that?"

Bandynose disagreed, writing, "I will never take the word of a teacher or any adult at face value when it comes to my kids. I will ask them straight out if it's true. If they say no, I'm going to ask you for proof."

Mikeshreve said he thinks parents blame teachers for their kids' bad behavior. "After 33 years of teaching, I've seen it all. My favorite is the parent I called about her child's disrespect. 'What did you do to make my child disrespect you?' "

Saxman1919 wrote that some parents are desperate to blame anyone but their child.

"I was a teacher for 12 years and recently became an administrator. All that I have done in my new job is deal with angry parents. I call to tell them that their precious angel did something and the first response is, 'How do you know it was him?' ... Today, it was the bus driver's fault that a child brought a dangerous weapon on the school bus. Really? Yesterday, it was a teacher's fault that a student stole something from an empty classroom."

Pbrannum said some parents want teachers to discipline their kids. "It may surprise you to know a few real instances from a 20-year teaching career. I had a parent call me at school and put her son on the phone so I could get him up to come to school. Just today I had a parent complain that I needed to do something because her son was missing too much school. "

But Dfafadf said his own experience tells him that parents can't trust every teacher. "I had many nasty, vindictive teachers as I was growing up. Not all teachers deserve the automatic trust that this author desires, so I will not give it to them."

And some parents feel it has gotten so bad, they've removed their children from public schools.

Darcy62 wrote, "No wonder so many people are turning to home schooling. I don't care how many awards this guy has won, I sure wouldn't want him anywhere near the school my children attend. This garbage is straight out of the NEA handbook. 'Parents are idiots. They shouldn't be allowed to raise their own children. Let us do it instead.'"

And SueMc thinks reaction to Clark's essay is another example of the problems in education. "All of the arguing reminds me of why I removed my kid from school and took on the job myself. I decided I don't really care about the bureaucracy, teachers unions, disruptive students, or annoying parents taking all of the teachers' time. I just wanted my kid to get the best education he could get. "

A few commentors like Rtfh suggested corporal punishment would bring an improvement. "I remember a run-in with 'Sister Mary Smack Your Knuckles' and my parents defended her. I stopped screwing off in class. Parents need to parent and stop being a best friend. "

Homework was another hot issue for many parents.

Steph310 wrote, "Maybe if the assignment was clear and concise and the children had access to everything they need to complete it, there wouldn't be a need for this. Don't expect us to see one thing written down on the assignment and expect us to know what you really meant. Don't be vague and make sure your instructions don't contain multiple meanings and we're left to figure out what you meant. (Oh man oh man. How many times my daughter has failed your assignment because of this. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm in her classroom fighting for the grade for my child. You bet your hind end I'll fight for what's right. You won't screw over my kid.)"

Parents also demanded that teachers show them more respect

ValenzMom wrote, "When my husband and I were involved in our son's education, many teachers would treat us as just two additional kids in the room. They'd talk to us as though we did not understand the words that were coming out of their mouths. One teacher even went so far as to tell us that the homework she was assigning might be 'over our heads since things have changed since you were in school' because she did not want us to help him with it. Needless to say, I let her have it."

Several parents balked over the idea of summer reading assignments.

Scb1106 commented, "To answer one question posed by this author: No, I don't feel your pain when a parent insists her kid enjoy some of his vacation instead of focusing on 'summer reading assignments.' I bet the Christmas vacation assignments are killer at your school, too. "

Elmore6, agreed, writing, "My kids get a 'summer reading list' every year. ... we throw them out. Summer is to be enjoyed without the nagging of academics!"

But wfrobinette argued it was their loss. "Spoken like a true underachiever. Kids need to learn and do things they don't necessarily want to do so they can learn. You, sir, are part of the problem, because you certainly aren't part of the solution."

Some parents also felt teachers were too eager to drug kids.

Rosie724 wrote, "From the time my son was 3, I had teacher after teacher insinuate the need for ADD medication. I was reticent to go that route as I didn't see the behavior at home, and from my reading, children with ADD behaved that way regardless of where they were. I agreed that there was an issue, but I didn't think THAT was the issue. They didn't really want to discuss anything else other than medication. I did, after the fifth teacher suggested it, talk to my child's pediatrician, who said NO, he didn't fit the bill."

SFreader said teachers can't recognize normal children. "I have an active 6-year-old and so far our experience includes kindergarten and first grade. Both years the teachers kept pushing us to test for ADHD because our 5-, and then 6-year-old couldn't sit still for 45 minutes, said he prefers to play, wanted to talk, etc. Well, we finally gave in, spent our vacation money on three sessions with a behavioral therapist and our kid was 'diagnosed' with being a 6-year-old kid."

At least one commenter blamed the parents.

Techsupp0rt wrote, " You are the problem. If they're acting up in class, it's because you're not doing your job at home, and expect everyone to put up with 'kids being kids.' Meaning that you expect them to smile and coo while little Billy throws screaming tantrums when told he can't do something or bites another child or swears at the teacher.

Lostnabook said she doesn't expect teachers to put in the extra time she has put in to help her own ADD daughter. " I also have a gifted ADD student who is a constant trial to me, but I love dearly. She is brilliant, but gets bad grades usually and we have really had to work with her to keep them halfway decent ... and I think about these kids in my high school, inner-city classroom who are completely nonreaders. And I'm really sorry to all you who think teachers need to take responsibility here, but this is the parents' fault. Parents need to step up to the plate and work with their kids. Give them rules and consequences. If our kids can't read and can't score proficient on standardized tests, then it is the parents' fault, not the teachers."

There also are disagreements over whether parents are too involved or not involved enough.

Derek312 wrote, "Ummm, no one knows MY child as well as I do, so butt out, teachers. Also, if you have a special needs child it's even more difficult to fight the bureaucratic school system and the IEP team who are always saying NO NO NO to your requests. The teachers put just as many demands on the parents as they do on the kids. I'm not interested in going through school AGAIN or contributing to making my child a commodity who is used solely for putting $$$$ into teachers' and principals' pockets!!! If you don't enjoy being a teacher, find something else to do! Parents are here to stay."

Really33510, the husband of a teacher, wrote, "I wish I could count the number of hours my wife spends working on the problems that parents refuse to address. Parents have electronic means of watching their students progress, calling the teachers or even reports from the school, but are still surprised when their student fails her class."

"My wife teaches advanced math at a local high school and she demands that the students put forth effort. And in return my wife works on her vacations grading papers and creating tests to better the students to excel to new levels (way past the last bell of the day). Every year it happens, a parent cries out, 'Why is the work so hard?' ADVANCED MATH, you think Joey or Suzie should be there if they are failing?"

One woman was outraged over what a teacher told her about her son's abilities. ValenzMom wrote, "When my son was in second grade, I met with his teacher at her request regarding his lack of progress in school. I already knew that he was not understanding the lessons and was trying to find ways to help him. In trying to discuss with the teacher what options there might be, she instead told me that my husband and I 'just needed to resign ourselves to the fact that our son would probably just be an artist' when he grew up. Those words 'resign ourselves' made me furious." The mom had her son transferred to another classroom. "Now, 20+ years later, my son IS an accomplished 3-D computer artist and modeler with a college degree because of the commitment and devotion of his parents."

Some parents and teachers wrote about education issues landing in courtrooms.

"It is a terrible thing that teachers have to look at each part of their job as a potential legal battle," ReneeCK wrote. "My in-laws graduated with teaching degrees in 1969 and it took them four years. My program, at the same school, was going to take five in 1991. They couldn't understand why. It was because there were added classes to learn school-related laws and how to follow them. "

But one parent blames the schools for the lawyers' involvement.

FlyGuyInSJ wrote, "As far as the teacher's complaint about parents who bring lawyers to meetings goes, it was the education system that went all legal on us first, so I can't blame anyone who responds in kind. Then they started pushing standardized testing and teaching to the test. Any teacher who claims they don't is a liar. My kids spent many class hours every year practicing for the STAR test that could have been spent on actual teaching."

But Willard12 disagreed. "Who started pushing standardized testing? Teachers? I assure you not. Try talking to the know-nothing politicians who have made standardized testing the new end-all, be-all of education. States and the feds have mandated this, and when a teacher's livelihood is on the line for their political games, they'd be stupid to ignore the tests to satisfy your concerns."

Solongthanx wrote that it wasn't Clark's message, but the way he delivered it that bothered her. "Why the rant against parents? Does the author really think that will help? If anything, the parents need to be respected as the experts about their child. Teachers are getting paid to do a job, and parents have every right to and responsibility to make sure their child is being treated and taught properly."

Former teacher GloriaBTM agreed."If I had behavioral problems with a child, the first thing I did was to ask the parent what they thought would help and what they thought was going on. You might want to try making allies with parents instead of enemies."

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