SUCKERS WANTED

Sometimes I write about the difficulties and annoyances involved in teaching at the college level, and certainly there are many. Nonetheless I like to remind myself, as many of my colleagues do, that we have it easy in some respects. More accurately, we realize that things could be worse. We could be high school or grade school teachers.

Don't misunderstand; I am not belittling people who are. My opinion is that they should get medals of some sort. Whatever they make, it isn't enough. It might be the most thankless job in an economy that is lousy with thankless jobs. There are few other jobs with a worse ratio of compensation and status relative to the workload and challenges. In recent years, the job has the added bonus of being the most popular punching bag for right wing politicians and AM radio addicts.

My job has a few advantages. I have less classroom time, with the trade-off of expectations of high research output that K-12 teachers do not have to worry about. Second, my students are adults – legally if not mentally. I can speak relatively freely to them. There are no limits on the topics I can introduce in class. I do not have to tolerate disruptive behavior or coddle them when they are lazy. Lastly, there are no parents to deal with. Helicopter parents do contact me with some regularity, but I can end all such conversations before they begin. "Sorry, FERPA. Your child is an adult and has rights that I have to respect. Bye."

For the K-12 folks, there is no such luck. Mom and Dad are on them like flies on a shit picnic.

This commentary from an award-winning K-12 principal occasionally veers into whining, but overall it is an excellent snapshot of the real problems facing the educational system. Parents act as defense attorneys for their children (or increasingly hire real attorneys to bring to parent-teacher conferences). When teachers tell parents "Billy is a disruptive little bastard" the first reaction is to argue with the teacher. They defend their child – and, of course, by implication they're defending themselves from the charge of bad parenting. Some parents would rather try to get a teacher fired or file lawsuits against the school than accept the fact that, you know, maybe Billy isn't a brilliant, perfect, and special little snowflake.

This all takes place against the backdrop of a job with mediocre compensation and a new wave of politicians attempting to eliminate job security, benefits, and what little discretion teachers have by instituting testing-based, mandatory curricula. Where do I sign?

Seriously, who do we expect to do this job? What is the sales pitch supposed to be? "Become a teacher today, and tomorrow you can be screamed at by soccer moms while Glenn Beck tells his listeners to lynch you and the state legislature requires you to teach creationism!" True, I still see college undergraduates majoring in education in droves, possibly for lack of better alternatives in other professions. Is that what this is all about – making every alternative in the economy so distasteful that people will meekly accept whatever their employment situation throws at them?

The sad part is that the most common reaction among teachers is resigned cynicism. Just give everyone an A so I don't have to listen to the parents bitch – the parents are always "right" in the end anyway. Don't worry about the fact that the kids aren't learning anything – just play along, teach to the state tests, and try not to get fired. Don't show any initiative, because initiative can only be punished.

And then we wonder why teachers aren't doing a better job. Why aren't they magical alchemists who can turn these ingredients – severe budget cuts, uninterested students, aggressive Pageant Moms, and constant political and rhetorical efforts to make public school teachers villains – into gold?

49 thoughts on “SUCKERS WANTED”

  • Well said, Ed.

    My mom left teaching after a 14 year career for precisely these reasons. She had the additional pressure of teaching at a low-income school, where many of her students' parents were in prison, on drugs, did not speak English, or were migrant laborers whose students would disappear for months at a time. She received for these difficulties very little help and saw what little help there was (in the form of aides, bilingual assistants, librarians, and even people to watch the kids during recess and lunch) increasingly cut. Oh, and stagnant, mediocre pay, some of which had to be spent on classroom supplies.

    And this is in California… I can't even imagine what it is like for the teachers in even worse off states.

    I've long since come to the conclusion that any serious improvement in our overall education system can only come when there are drastic, Roosevelt-level sweeping reforms to our social policy in general. This includes everything from healthcare to drug laws to immigration, the latter being especially important in border states.

    (fun fact: a fair portion of immigrant children actually speak one of the Indian languages of Mexico as a first language, and Spanish only as a second– learning English for them is akin to us learning Chinese by way of French!)

    Of course, this would be hard, and it would cost money. And why would we spend money on something as useless as school, especially when we can get high quality schools for FREE?

  • This is exactly why I am not teaching today. I have a degree in History & English, and wanting nothing else than to teach.

    But when I got into the classroom, I found it wasn't like the small country school I'd grown up in.

    I had the administration against me, I had the teachers against me, and somewhere in the mix I had the students against me.

    After being assaulted by one student, I pressed charges against him and was the hero of the teacher's lounge. But in reality those cases were very rare, and I could tell the administration was not happy with my decision.

    I finally just gave up and at this point am in default on student loans I can not afford to repay without the teaching job I thought I'd have. It just isn't worth it.

    Somewhere in there, I might have actually taught a kid. I'm not sure – I spent most of my time defending myself either physically or against administration/parents/whatever…

  • So what happens when white suburban helicopter parents spend 18 years worshiping their precious little snowflake? Megan/Josh moves to Brooklyn or some other hip urban locale to "find themselves", subsidized by the parents back in flyover country. This journey will last well into their 30's, and it will be comprised mostly of playing kids games and talking about 80's-90's cartoons, drinking PBR, and making shitty handicrafts. See for yourself: http://diehipster.wordpress.com/

  • I teach in the high school from which I graduated, which is all kinds of weird and depressing. It's a tiny school in a tiny, depressed and dying logging town in the rural PNW whose residents don't farm trees anymore so much as they cook meth and peddle generic vicodin to their neighbors.

    I do have some overbearing parents who demand the unreasonable for their kids, who may or may not be suffering from terminal cases of assholery, but for the most part, the biggest problem I encounter as a teacher is the fact that the majority of my students' parents don't give a shit about anything. They're unemployed or underemployed, dealing with substance abuse, dealing with their kids' substance abuse, or dealing with a spouse who is incarcerated, and having an educated child is one of their lowest priorities.

    I know that I should be careful what I wish for, and that my situation is much different from a lot of other teachers in places where citizens impose local taxes on themselves to make sure that their kids' school has enough fucking chlorine in the fucking swimming pool, but I wish more of my students' parents would advocate for their kids, even if they were in the wrong. My job is hard enough without having to be a kind of surrogate parent to these poor abandoned bastards.

    I'm guilty of lowering standards and handing out Ds when Fs were deserved, sure, but a lot of the time I feel that the best thing I can do for these kids is to get them the fuck out of this town, and if graduating from my school can help them on their way–even if it is only 30 miles away and over the hill to the nearest McDonald's–I'll keep passing out Ds like candy.

    But don't worry, Ed. Only a few of my graduates will ever find their way beyond a JuCo, and if any of those ever make it into one of your classrooms, I guarantee that you'll never, ever, hear from their parents.

  • The dismantling of our public school system makes a lot more sense once you realize that our Galtian overlords have no intention of providing the workers of tomorrow's America with any sort of non-menial jobs, so why bother to educate them? All that does is waste money and raise unrealistic expectations.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    I have little to add except two points. There are districts with excellent schools, hard working students and decent parents. My kids were fortunate to pass through such a system and benefited from it. What percentage of schools happen to be in such districts we will never know because "we have a terrible education system" is communist style truth the way that "we cannot continue with such deficits" is.

    The second point is that we should not expect education to be different from our other systems. Examples are: dysfunctional media, clueless president, cruel congress, criminal banks, etc.

  • Roboteating, you're so right. The economic "right-sizing" of America has been endlessly destructive of home life, dwarfing the problems (Some quite real.) the right likes to go on about. My worry is that the root problems will not be dealt with before intemperate solutions become inevitable..

  • When I taught high school in America (never again) I definitely erred on the side of giving better grades than were warranted in order to avoid certain parents.

    Certain parents whom, I had been told early on, were prominent donation-makers to my school (private), and that to save myself a world of trouble I'd be better off just letting them have their way. (Granted, Ivy Leagues do this as well.)

    And on top of that, at report-card time (we wrote a paragraph for each student) the principal stayed up 24 hours editing our comments so that they were palatable for the precious fee-fee's of the parents.

    Ed, it's a generational thing. I'm 37 and old enough to have had parents who simply told me "respect your teacher" or "the teacher is always right" even when they kind of knew they weren't. My parents both grew up poor and made themselves semi-wealthy through the American Dream of educating yourself in public schools and later, PhD programs at public universities.

    These days, your average lawyer or banker or dentist (upper-middle class, so to speak) is breeding kids who are the most precious of little snow flakes. They are always right. It is _always_ the teacher or the school or the curriculum's fault, never the kid's. They must always be cocooned in thick layers of self-affirmation, psycho-edu-babble, and money.

    And I'd lay a large amount of blame at the feet of the bullshit Ed. School PhD's out there, which have to come up with a new "educational paradigm" every three years or so in order to justify their bloated salaries as university professors.

    I mean let's be honest — if you really just want the doctorate go to Ed. School, or Religious Studies.

    And god forbid you'd ever want to stay a lowly _teacher_ when you can eventually worm your way into administration of, that most coveted of positions, a tenured Ed. school faculty member who teaches how to teach but hasn't actually been in a high school or elementary classroom for decades.

  • Oh, and let's not forget drugs.

    There is no medication these days that can't be used to solve what a semi-decent teacher could have solved with some open shaming followed by positive reinforcement a few years ago.

    But alas, what principal wants the headache of a bitching parent?

  • Almost everyone, politicians, parents, etc. agrees that we have a serious problem with how children are educated in this country, and that we, as a society, have watched the standards and results drop over the years while other developed and developing countries produce better results than the United States. However, the chosen solution to this problem is to cut public education funding, continually push for unproductive, unsound standardized testing, and blame teachers for the diminished results. So many are determined to make an often thankless and underpaid job, even more thankless and more demanding, not to mention ensuring that teachers receive worse pay and less security.

    I am unsure of when and why teachers were raised up as the epitome of selfishness and greed in this country. I have yet to find a retired teacher that has multiple homes and Benzes in the driveway, yet the benefits package that provides them a modicum of security after retirement is a bigger outrage than the billions of dollars given to Bear Sterns and AIG. It is confounding.

    Excellent schools are available for the priviledged. The divide between the haves and the have nots continues apace.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    As a former customer service trainer in the telecom industry let me tell you, the young people entering the workforce today are far different from the ones entering it in the early 80's, when I first started. For all of the reasons that Ed and the commenters mentioned above, and the rest I'm sure you can figure out.

    About the only thing I never experienced in almost 20 years of training was having someone's Mommy or Daddy call me when we had to discipline or fire someone. Spouses – yeah! Parents, no.

    And yes, we did get a few requests from prospective employees that their parents be allowed to accompany them on the interview!
    The first time I heard about this from our HR interviewer, I told her to tell them that's fine if you want me to hire their Mommy or Daddy instead of the – since the job requires independence, and if they can't provide it, maybe their parents can.

    I shudder for the future of our country.

  • Just a scenario: I was a teacher in the Baltimore County School System, while maintaining my "while in college job" as a cashier at Giant. I made more money & had better benefits at Giant.

    & I did not have to hear, "I have to deal with Johnny at home, at school he is your problem."

    Nor was I made to feel inferior as I sat across from a Doctor/Lawyer mom/dad.

    "Ya'll can keep your kids."

  • Even through the '80s, when their circumstances were visibly deteriorating, I always considered teachers untouchable cultural heroes. It never occurred to me that one day politicians and worthless libertarian pundits would score points by disrespecting them and their work.

    I wonder how much more of this teabagger bullshit people will sit still for. They're running out of scapegoats. Certain talk-radio hosts in California are already attacking police unions.

  • This is why I applied to graduate school a second time–after not getting in anywhere during a first round of applications–and literally wept with relief when I was accepted to a program with an excellent tenure-track job placement record. Plenty of my peers want to teach elementary- and high-schoolers, but it's because 1) they're martyrs like that, or 2) they themselves came from difficult educational backgrounds and want to be "that teacher" who inspires other kids to go to college.

    I can't even express how depressing it is that teachers are shat upon the way that they are. I went to a wealthy old Southern high school and had some INCREDIBLE teachers, but even at a school like that they didn't have it easy and they weren't rewarded as they should have been. It is a hard hard HARD job.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    Oh, bleh, beh blah!

    Make those teachers do the Patch Adams thing. That'll get the scores up!

    Common sense! Blam! Blammer! Next issue!

    Hit Hitler in the face with a pie! All those Jews'd still be alive!

    Blam! Blammer! Next issue!

    A gallon of gas can be bought with one thin silver dime!

    Blam! BLAM!1

  • And when these dipshits grow up… they enter the workforce and can't understand why they aren't treated special. A co-worker was recently complaining because the supervisor never tells him "good job." He's putting in about a 60% effort because any time now he thinks his father will "pull some strings" and get him on with the union.

  • In the handbook of human cultural warfare there's a whole chapter on how to demolish cultural groups and institutions with a combination of material deprivation, finger-pointing and up-spiraling contempt. Perfected in the US with Blacks, Indians and poor people, the general principle is to deny people the resources they need to exist as full, responsible human beings, then rail against their failure to be successful adults and call for more discipline and fewer handouts. When denying people even more resources fails to result in improvements, the cycle can be repeated as often as necessary. What worked against ethnic groups so well, has been turned successfully against public education.

  • My mother was a teacher, and one of the members of my local Mensa group is a teacher, but for the most parts, college students who are planning to become teachers have below-average intelligence and grades. That's why they accept such thankless jobs at what seems to those of us in the IT field to be low pay, but in reality, it's better pay than they could get in any other job they could actually get.

    When I was going to school in the 70s and 80s in Maine, teaching was a respectable middle-class profession, and I liked and respected my teachers a lot. But it's not the 80s anymore, and I'm not in Maine. Though I suspect things aren't that great there, either.

  • None of this is happening by accident. Conservatives hate and denigrate education, just like they hate and denigrate science. FMguru got it right. They only want a population smart enough to do the menial tasks assigned to them by their betters.

    Remember the cornerstones of conservative mental processes: ignorance, prejudice, magical thinking, and generalized negation of reality. Education is contrary to every bit of it.

    Union busting, the decades-long economic war on the middle class, every child left behind, granting personhood to transnational megacorporations, stealth war that enriches the MIC while directly involving less than 3% of the population, underfunding education while demonizing teachers, destroying the national economy – it's all working together. And damn, it has been a rip-roaring success.

    Next stop – 12th century.

    WASF,
    JzB

  • When it comes to parents bringing lawyers to teacher conferences, I think zero-tolerance policies have as much blame as oh-my-child-is-perfect parents.

    My brother was expelled from a public school based on a rumor that he planned to bring a gun to school. When the principle couldn't work out who started the rumor or why he would supposedly do such a thing, he was just expelled. None of his teachers supported that move, but they had been saddled with a system where their only options were to ignore misbehavior (and risk their jobs) or inflict serious consequences. The author of the CNN article is right that kids should fuck up, get into trouble, and get over it, but I can't blame parents for fighting back hard when 'trouble' means expulsion or arrest rather than detention or suspension.

  • Certain talk-radio hosts in California are already attacking police unions.

    Well that just ain't bright. Cops have guns.

    My brother quit being a teacher after 2 years. He had been a security aide until the principal at his school convinced him to get his license. So he did and started teaching. He went back to being a security aide because he a)ended up making more money, when considered against the hours he put in as a teacher; b)didn't have to deal with parents. Once the kids were in his purview, they'd already been put in detention by the principal and it was only his job to babysit them in detention "class." He said he didn't mind the children at all, but the parents were a total nightmare.

  • A lot of people react very outraged when I say this, but I believe in a unified, strictly centralized, federally controlled school system. Locally controlled education isn't the source of all of America's educational problems, but it is certainly behind many.

    Governments get increasingly more reactionary and extreme the further down towards the local level you go. True, there are terrible politicians at the center as well, but as a general rule, they have to appeal to a wide demographic. With schools being run on a district system — which is to say, village-by-village, town-by-town, and (in large cities) neighborhood-by-neighborhood — they are much more vulnerable to wingnut assault than they would have been under federal management. And, localized school systems means that imperious parents run the local school board and can apply a lot of pressure to the district whenever that proverbial little Billy gets slighted in some shape or form. Idiot parents would have a much tougher time brow-beating some high-level bureaucrat in Washington.

    I think teachers and school administrators would actually retain more authority if they answered to the federal or at least State government, instead of the local district and school boards; while religious zealots and village idiots would have far less power to mess with the curriculum.

  • I'm not sure the higher levels of government are any more wingnut-proof – you just can't do much damage there without a really good hairstylist.

    But I see your point.

    Maliciously fucking with local school boards is the pastime of many otherwise impotent moondoggies, and occasionally incubates a Bachmann.

  • I still remember going to a parent-teacher conference when our older son was in third grade. The teacher began her spiel in such a way that I realized, 'she assumes that, in any interaction with a parent, she must establish that she is not a lying bastard'. I interrupted her and explained, 'we understand that you are a highly trained and experienced professional, and want to help our son in any way you can. To do this, you need our help and support. On that basis, let us proceed.'

    She was visibly relieved.

    Oh, and Wetcasements – my son spent the first five years of his life in foster care, and has been under psychiatric/psychological treatment for the nine years since. He was diagnosed with ADHD, clinical depression and anxiety disorder. Nothing there that a little 'open shaming' couldn't fix, I'm sure. Thanks for no longer teaching school in the USA.

  • I am trying this again.

    Is that what this is all about – making every alternative in the economy so distasteful that people will meekly accept whatever their employment situation throws at them?

    Of course. This is how we enable the military to meet quotas of future body-bag stuffers. This is how we get people willing to sacrifice their health in coal mines. This is how it happens.

    I do thank God (or the FSM, if you prefer) for the teachers who work with my son. Ben is autistic, and we have had some wonderful, caring people working with him.

    (And yes, Ed, it is autism. I am not looking for an excuse for my snowflake.)

  • GlassHalfFull says:

    I taught High School for a semester (long story how that happened).

    In the first 5 minutes of my first day I had a confrontation with a child who had been a behavior problem for the past 2.5 years. With the support of the principal, that child was immediately removed from the class and sent to an alternate program. A month later I repeated the process with the next worst offender.

    It was easy for me I didn't have a career to worry about. I just did what I thought right everyday.

    If I had 20 years on the job and a pension to protect, I'm sure that I would have behaved differently. But you can beat the "snowflakes" if you want to. You are smarter and tougher than they are.

  • Where are the resident conservatives to educate us (see what I did there?) about how teachers really ARE the enemy Rush and Glenn say they are.

    Something about all of my experience in education and the experience of my teacher wife seems wrong. PLEASE COME AND SET US RIGHT, CONSERVATIVES!

  • Surly Duff said "Excellent schools are available for the privileged. The divide between the haves and the have nots continues apace."

    I teach in a small, public charter school where a significant percentage of our kids qualifies for free or reduced lunch. Despite some pretty serious funding issues, our school provides some pretty rigorous education. We're bucking the dumbing down trend, and though it's a day-to-day siege with some of the parents, I think we're succeeding in turning out better-than-average thinkers. It's not all lost, and I'm proud to be a part of the solution, even if I'm only making a difference in a tiny section of my insignificant corner of the world.

  • "Who do they expect to do this job?"

    NOBODY. School districts everywhere are trying to get rid of as many teachers as possible as they get the shit beat out of them with the austerity bat.

  • My son started kindergarten this year and I knew I was going to be having many parent-teacher meetings. I'll save you all my circular-logic-wheel-spinning as to what about our unstable journey to a functional environment has influenced my son to be such a challenging kid in a classroom setting. He's fairly chill at home, but at school he can be pretty extreme. I knew this going into kindergarten after having him at an awesome preschool, so I took the lesson I learned there and applied it to the new school: let the admin and teachers know you are on there side. It's made a huge difference in how they handle his outbursts. I let them know how much I respected their limitations and that I would do what I could to emulate their discipline policies so my kid would see that I support what they're doing at school. They're a lot more patient than they would be otherwise, too. I know that job's tough. I'm in a room with a handful of five year olds for two minutes and I start to get panicky and nervous.

  • "Of course. This is how we enable the military to meet quotas of future body-bag stuffers."

    I just completed two years of Drill Sergeant duty training these "future body-bag stuffers." Before that stint, I spent two years as an ROTC instructor at a University of Georgia school. It's simply amazing to see the products of this country's primary and secondary education systems. I'm sure those of you who recruit employees below of the age of 25 can attest to that. By the way, military training and life is not like "Full Metal Jacket" or nearly any other military movie you've been watching….

    The change in the demeanor of our young recruits over the past decade leaves many of our career NCOs and officers scratching our heads. Our issues with trainees seem to parallel what many of you are posting about – disrespect, apathy, emotional and behavioral problems, overbearing parents, and administration at odds with their teachers. And if things are too difficult or stressful, they just shut down and quit. I won't even get into the cases of mental illness and suicidal behavior that are growing in frequency. The non-citizen immigrants that I have trained more often than not have a higher literacy level than the U.S. citizen recruits and almost never quit.

    By graduation day, we are generally able to turn one half to three quarters of them around, but we know that not all the graduates will necessarily go on to become careerists. They simply don't have the drive or the willingness to let go of "perfect little snowflake" syndrome. Our takeaway is the knowledge that if they continue on the path we have set them on, they won't become "body-bag stuffers."

    It is also amazing to see how many older recruits that are joining these days. Then again, we are about the last institution in the U.S. that offers health care and a retirement package….

  • Hey Andrew, fuck you. No wonder they keep the IT guys in a closet. Minimum GPA to get into U-WI school of education is 3.9, and they're turning lots of people away. To be IT 'experts' I presume.

    Amused: you're right, though I fear another huge, unproductive bureaucracy, which education is famous for. I have a friend who teaches in VA where the school board is controlled by the wealthy benefactors, who all send their kids to private schools. Their interest is in keeping their taxes low. A national standard would force those school districts to step up what's offered and then the compensation for the teachers, like forcing the south to integrate during the '50s and '60s.

  • I have taught in Georgia schools for 22 years. I do not consider myself an expert on EDUCATION.

    The issue is so vast, so full of nuances and exceptions and singularities, that anyone who claims this expertise is an ass. There where, according to the Dept. of Ed., 98,706 public schools operating in this country in 09. Almost 100,000 schools, operating within a spectrum of different communities, circumstances, motivations, freedoms, and restrictions.

    How many teachers? One estimate states over 3 million. But according to Andrew, most of these people are sub-par, unable to reach the lofty heights of the IT department. (BTW, Andrew, fuck you with a rusty chainsaw. You sound just like an insufferable acquaintance who worked IT here in Atlanta; we quit inviting him into our home because he kept shitting all over the toilet.)

    Teachers are at the mercy of culture. The past twenty years have seen an explosion in youth culture in the US, encouraging varying levels of disrespect, laziness, and self-centered assholery. I find it ironic that Fox Network is one of the leaders in crass, fart-fuck-shit shows, while its "news" constantly bemoans the failure of morality in America.

    There is no point here. I'm ranting. Sorry, Ed. I know that's your gig. I am also aware I'm a day late and a dollar short for this post. But I was working from 8-8…like many public school teachers do every day.

    (Did I mention: Andrew, go fuck yourself with that dog-eared Mensa game magazine that you keep under your soiled, sticky pillow.)

  • If work wasn't work, it wouldn't be called work.

    Still, if we gave a shit about our future, we'd make *teaching* a more desirable job, so that people beyond "true believers" and "no other choicers" took it. (My own mother fell into the first category…)

    And as awesome as Ron Clark appears to be, I don't agree with all of his points. The fact is, there are some "no other choicers", and we should not forget that teachers are human beings…They have feelings, and they have failings.

    So, while I had the English teacher who would discuss non-curriculum books with me, and really encourage me to appreciate and analyze what I read,
    I also had the teacher who'd gone through a painful divorce, and who appeared to take it out on all of the (no-joke) elementary school boys.

    I had the math teacher who would use his own lunchtime to try to stump me with puzzles. But I also had the math teacher who told my parents I lacked skills in mathematics fundamentals, because his ego was threatened.

    And when I taught 1st graders in Pomona on "Teach for America Day" back in the 90's, it was rewarding, exhausting, exciting, and frustrating. All in one day. I am not a good enough person to take that job, for the pay I'd have gotten. I'm glad that some people are.

    But I'll *always* be my son's advocate, first and foremost. Sometimes that means I provide discipline. But sometimes, that means I question the completeness of the truth I'm getting from school officials, some of whom would not have that gig, given other choices.

  • @Hazy Davy – I agree with everything you just said, expect for the part about how you are your son's "advocate." I think part of the problem is that parents view their interaction with teachers as an adversarial process. Parents and teachers are supposed to be on the same side in raising children. Now, we both know that's not always true: some teachers are bad at their jobs and some parents don't really care if their children learn or not.

    I guess the take away from this is that even the parents who say they are pro-teacher still believe that they have to defend their children from the teachers. If teachers have comments or criticisms about your child, take the teacher at his/her word rather than automatically defend your child.

  • @Scott. Why does being my son's advocate necessarily imply conflict with teachers, or an adversarial relationshiop?

    Nope, I'm my son's advocate. And when the teachers are on the same side as me, it's a good thing. (Note: sometimes being on the same side as me *will* mean being critical of my son's actions.)

  • @HD – About anything having to do with your son's education. The point I'm driving at here is that when you and the teacher agree, there's no problem, but what happens when you and the teacher disagree about something (your son's ability, your son's behavior, your son's grades, etc.).

    How you and the teacher deal with disagreement is what matters. And how those disagreements are handled is what can make a teacher's job rewarding or maddening.

  • @Scott…I suppose it matters whether the point of disagreement is one of opinion, or one of verifiable fact. And I suppose it matters how important that specific issue is. So, speaking in abstracts is as inaccurate as presupposing that abstracts are "what matter".

  • …college students who are planning to become teachers have below-average intelligence and grades…

    My precious snowflakes attend a public school in an ordinary suburb. To a person, the teachers have been excellent. The school system has weathered some serious budgeting challenges due to the geniuses hard at work dismantling our society. Nevertheless, the parents, teachers and administrators have been fairly well united in balancing fair compensation for teaching staff, programs for the school system, and the political hassles of obtaining community acceptance of increased levies to pay for it all. 98% of the kids graduate, and of that body, 96% go on to attend college, and the marching band was good enough to go to the Rose Bowl.

    Not bad for a bunch of resolutely middle-class suburbanites.

    I conclude that jeffteaches has the right of it: go fuck yourself, Andrew.

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