Dear School Board,
I understand that some parents complain to you about the way their children are treated in your school system. They feel unheard. They want more control over their children’s education. They loudly remind you they are taxpayers. Maybe they are entitled and maybe they have legitimate concerns.
I am also a frustrated parent, but my child is not a student. My child is a teacher.
HH and I were not helicopter parents but we were always involved in our children’s public school education. We always volunteered for Teacher Appreciation Week. We attended Parent-Teacher Conferences. We joined the PTA. But when a teacher gave our kids a lower grade than expected, we didn’t threaten anybody. We didn’t call the Principal or the Superintendent. When teachers told us our kids weren’t turning in homework or were spending too much time chatting when they were supposed to be reading, we believed them. Not all of their teachers were stellar. But we trusted them
As the parent of a teacher I’ve heard stories about “those” parents:
- the ones who demand a passing grade for their child even when that child hasn’t shown up for a single class much less turned in any assignments.
- the ones who demand an A so their child can be valedictorian when their child’s grades have been solid Bs.
As the parent of a teacher I’ve heard about meaningless “in-service trainings” offered by people who’ve never been educators. I’m aware that the teacher in our family makes suggestions that would save the school system money but instead contractors are hired to do what teachers and students (with teacher supervision) could do for a fraction of the cost. I also know about extra-curricular projects that have been assigned to the teacher in our family without asking for input or paying extra compensation.
You have got to be aware that your school system is hemorrhaging teachers and those leaving are your best educators. They are frustrated, sometimes to the point of leaving professional teaching.
What really bothers me is that – because you are not trusting, appreciating, or valuing your teachers – you are playing into the hands of politicians and white supremacist neighbors trying to dismantle public education in our country. If enough excellent teachers leave, our schools will close and our children will suffer.
I am asking you to fight for your teachers. I’m asking you to consult with them before making decisions that make their lives more difficult. I’m asking you to stop kowtowing to entitled parents. I’m asking you to treasure excellence. (Note: I know about the time when you “treated” your faculty to a single unwrapped tea bag placed in each teacher’s mailbox to “show your appreciation.” Wow.)
The teacher in our family is beloved by students. That teacher keeps up with them when they check in from college. That teacher has initiated fundraisers to help them during their own difficult situations. That teacher has found paid internships for many kids. The teacher in our family says the kids are not the problem
The problem lies with parents who are barely aware of their own children’s lives, administrators whose roles are often unnecessary and/or are filled by people who are not educators, and state leaders who won’t let the teacher in my family talk about systemic racism while sending their own children to private schools that teach the 1619 Project. Come. On.
Happy First Day of School for those starting today. An excellent education is a priceless gift. Please make this happen for our students by listening to their gifted teachers.
Thanks, One Teacher’s Mom
PS In states with no union, there is no protection for teachers who try to do the right thing (like refuse to change a grade for an angry parent.) If they complain, they don’t get fired; they get relegated to teach a subject they aren’t trained to teach until they quit. It’s a shame that we need unions because administrators and elected leaders can’t be relied upon to back them up.
How very true!
I am eternally grateful for 21 years of teaching in a district with a strong union. That union went to bat for me, without my even asking, to make sure the four months I taught as a long-term sub was actually counted towards my retirement. I always, and still do in retirement, have really good insurance. I tell anyone going into teaching, go work for a district with a strong union.