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Homeschooling Parent Responds to Disney’s Teacher of the Year

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Homeschooling Parent Responds to

Disney’s Teacher of the Year

By Linda Dobson

“Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.” ~Federal District Judge Melinda Harmon
(Judge Harmon made this ruling against the parents after the parents sued a Texas school district. Their son had been questioned at school without their knowledge, and strip searched by a female Texas Children’s Protective Services worker looking for signs of paddling the boy’s parents had allegedly administered. -Wall St. Journal 10/8/96)

ToySchoolBus homeschooling

Someone at CNN thought it would be a good idea to start off the new school year with an article by Disney’s Teacher of the Year, Ron Clark. Since it’s titled “What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents,” I’m sure many parent readers thought the information therein could help them help their children have a great school year. I mean this is from the man at the top, Disney’s Teacher of the Year, for crying out loud. Let’s see what he has to say!

From the perspective of a veteran homeschooling mom, Mr. Clark outlines much of what is awry in the education system and the society it mirrors. He is a shining example of the hypocrisy that permeates both, one of the cogs so invested in an infected system that those for whom the system exists aren’t well served. (Disney and Oprah, you’re fired! Oprah chose Mr. Clark as her “Phenomenal Man,” whatever the heck that is.)

New teachers have left the system at an astonishingly high rate within the first five years for as long as I’ve researched schooling. Apparently that has now dropped to 4.5 years and, parents, you are to blame. That’s why you need to be schooled by The Teacher of the Year.

“What do teachers really need parents to understand?” Clark asks himself. “For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it.”

Which of course leads to “trust us (teachers).” Blindly. Ask no questions.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, “Is that true?” Well, of course it’s true. I just told you. And please don’t ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.

What teacher/parent partnership? The partnership where one party is supposed to take advice (shut up) and refrain from requesting confirmation of an incident (sit down)? Some partnership.

See also “School Mind and Education Mind Are Two Different Things

Parents, Are You Feelin’ the Love?

I sure hope so because next you’re told to “quit with the excuses.”

I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn’t started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.

His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they’d been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn’t help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some “fun time” during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn’t his fault the work wasn’t complete.

Can you feel my pain?

I can feel you’re a pain in the neck, Clark. Summer reading assignments = System believer’s cure to the “summer brain drain,” a system-induced disease that doesn’t exist in homeschooling circles because parents and children realize learning happens all the time, everywhere.

And o.m.g., how dare a parent decide that family issues take priority over a summer homework assignment? And that a child should…gasp…have some summer fun, especially after family issues? By the way, have you ever done something in May because somehow you intuited challenges ahead in July? Me, neither. But then I’m just a parent, too. Worse, I was one of those homeschooling parents.

 The Secret Behind Those All-Important Grades

In a section called “Parents, Be a Partner, Instead of a Prosecutor,” Clark’s talking about that very unequal teacher/parent partnership again while telling you to accept the grade your child received. (You weren’t expecting anything different, were you?)

Oh, but here’s the secret about grades Clark lets fly:

This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn’t assume that because your child makes straight A’s that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it’s the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone…

…In all honesty, it’s usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal’s office.

You know those important grades that determine whether or not your child needs to stay after school for extra help, gets on the honor roll, is able to play on a sports team, and/or get into a college of choice when his sentence schooling is over? Clark tells us the grades are arbitrary, based on whether your child has a good teacher (bad grade) or bad teacher (good grade). Gosh, a child’s future is just as chancy as playing a game of craps.

Play the Find the Hypocrisy Game

If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, “I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me.”

Clark previously advised that when a teacher tells you something negative about your child, don’t turn to your child for her “side.”  But when your child tells you something negative happened, ask the teacher for his side, for “there are always two sides to every story.” While doing so, show a total lack of respect and trust in your child by noting “children can exaggerate.” What the heck does this mean – adults can’t exaggerate? Parents are supposed to be their children’s advocates because the system doesn’t respect its “products,” either.

We know you love your children. We love them, too.

Sorry, Mr. Clark. Next year you’ll be loving a new bunch. Mom and Dad love them forever, whether or not they complete their summer homework. (Haven’t you read the new thinking on homework? It doesn’t do anything except further impinge on family time together.)

We just ask — and beg of you — to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve.

There it is again front and center – the system; the system that functions in a way that allows the teacher of the year to not even notice in his writing the double standard by which he functions. Mr. Clark, parents need you to give their children the respect they deserve. They need you to give them respect because no matter how much time you spend with their children, the parents are at the helm, as they should be.

This essay doesn’t exactly drip with respect for parents. Granted, there are bad parents out there, just as there are bad teachers. Our society has grown so narcissistic the personality disorder has been removed from the psychiatry manual; it’s no longer a disorder now that it’s been mainstreamed. I wouldn’t want to be a teacher in a classroom today for all the yuan in China.

It’s for all these reasons I didn’t want the children I love in a classroom, either.

Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.” ~Federal District Judge Melinda Harmon

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