"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Is this Teacher's Response the Main Reason Parents Home School?

...Or do they?

From Diane Ravitch's blog, Do Parents Always Know What is Best?.

The State Commissioner of Education John White memorably said in defense of school vouchers: “To me, it’s a moral outrage that the government would say, ‘We know what’s best for your child,’” White said. “Who are we to tell parents we know better?” 

Ravitch printed a teacher's response to the superintendent's statement:

I am  tired of this attitude about parents knowing what is best for their children. Parents are easily swayed by politicians, talk show hosts and preachers.  They rarely understand how schools work unless they are teachers themselves or have relatives who are teachers.  If their child broke his leg they would not try to fix it themselves even if they did not have health insurance. They would take the child to a health care professional.  So what in God’s name is wrong with taking your child to an Education Professional?  This debasement of teachers and deprofessionalization of of K-12 education has got to go before we get a whole generation of uneducated, dysfunctional adults.

Certainly they should  have a say and be part of the decision making about the child’s education  but parents also starve, beat, tie up, and rape their children.  They also spoil them rotten and don’t expect them to do anything and teach them that they are “entitled”.You have to have a license to drive a car, for your dog, and to practice most professions.  No license is required to be a parent.  I have also seen parents demand inappropriate programs for their child and not accept the truth that a child with a 30 IQ should not be mainstreamed into a college prep program.  I had a parent swear that her multihandicapped son could rollerskate when he could not even turn over on his own.  But I had to clean dried feces off the little boy’s butt.

I agree that some school programs are bad.  They have no vision for the children’s success. They think poor kids are in a pipeline to prison. I have known some bad teachers, some lazy, some incompetent, some functionally illiterate, two drunks and some just not bright enough to teach.  But at least 95% of teachers do their best and are competent and do better as they get experience.  Some of the best teachers I have known started as paraprofessionals.

Programs may be inadequate or inappropriate for some students but that is not the fault of the teachers but of the politicians and upper administrators.  That is part of why I stayed in Severe/Profound.  I could pretty much do what I wanted because most people thought my children could not learn anything.  I could keep away from the politics pretty well until I came to Louisiana.  But this place is a mess from hell.

So who DOES know best for children?  Is it parents, state employees, or educational consortia controlled by private corporations unaccountable to taxpayers?  There are thoughtful readers' comments and it should be noted Mr. White, the superintendent, has connections with Joel Klein, who promotes school "choice".  However, Mr. Klein is silent on common core standards and other federal mandates ensuring that this "choice" is not really a "choice" at all.  

Conversely, are teachers never swayed or directed by their union policies?  Are teachers considered professionals any longer?  TFAers can enter the classroom with a 5 week training period.  Would you send your child for medical treatment to a doctor with a 5 week training period? 

Several readers understand this "class warfare" between parents and teachers does little for education and children and only creates division.  Below is Warren's comment (a teacher) on who knows best.  This might be the teacher to avoid and may embody the main reason some parents choose not to utilize public education for their children:

Parents don’t know jack about education or schooling. If they did, there would be no need for schools and schooling.

Teaching and education is best left to us, the professionals. We spent many years working and learning, and yes, mr. white, we DO know what is best for kids, in terms of education.

 There you go, parents.  In Warren's eyes, you exist to pay his salary and provide him the children.  That's your function.  You don't know "jack" about education and schooling and what's best for your child.   Someone needs to tap the home schoolers on the shoulders and tell them how uninformed they are in terms of directing their childrens' education.

 Does anyone else find Warren's attitude rather chilling?


  1. It's unfortunate that some educators have disdain for parents even in the light of years of poor performance in our education system. Many of these same teachers have disdain for other colleagues who don't agree with their progressive vision of education. The truth is that, as a profession, educators tend to push forward by ignoring all valid criticism and following bogus research.

    What is the cure? Break the monopoly in K-12 education!

  2. I think this teacher making the comparison between the education level of physicians and teachers refects an astonishing amount of hubris. I understand that teaching is not easy and I have several friends who are teachers who are also frustrated with the system. As with my profession, nursing, bureaucrats keep adding paperwork and regulations that cut into the time with the client. And some parents are overdemanding and don't understand why their little sweetums isn't getting 100% of the teacher's attention. I've known homeschool families who got it right and those who condemned their kids to a life of minimum wage unless the kids do years of community college remedial courses so they can understand freshman level classes or basic trade school courses. If I encountered teachers with these attitudes I would be at the very least getting my kid into a different class and would be looking at alternatives...whether private school, home schooling or moving to an area with public school choice. Sadly, I do understand the frustration level because I've been there myself as a nurse. And it's possible we just caught these teachers venting and that they are very professional in the classroom. I hope that is the case.

  3. ‎{This debasement of teachers and deprofessionalization of of K-12 education has got to go before we get a whole generation of uneducated, dysfunctional adults.}

    To think that only teachers have the ability to educate your child is utter nonsense and shows how much that this teacher overvalues the ability of public school in general.

    We have six children ranging from 5-20 and have homeschooled them all except for one year in 1st Grade for our oldest, which afterwards took us almost a year to convince him that it's okay to be smart. He had a thirst for knowledge and wanted to read, so we worked with him and he was reading well at 4. But in school he was routinely penalized for getting his work done early and pleas to his teacher to provide him extra work went on deaf ears. So they sit him next to the trouble makers in class so he can be a good influence on them. He still got done first with As and then routinely got in trouble for talking, made fun of for being smart, and made to stand in the corner all the time. So how did he turn out? He started taking college courses while still in high school and was the only one in the class to get an A.

    {I have known some bad teachers, some lazy, some incompetent, some functionally illiterate, two drunks and some just not bright enough to teach. But at least 95% of teachers do their best and are competent and do better as they get experience. Some of the best teachers I have known started as paraprofessionals.}

    I agree that there are some good and even great teachers out there in the public school system. Yet the likelihood of having one of those through each grade or an entire public school is probably more rare than the norm. It seems to me that parents can and do excel in the same manner in homeschooling as they become more adept in the techniques that fit their child's learning style. I also think that more options and choices are better in the long run. Public schools should compete for the right to teach your child instead of it being the monopolistic system that it has been.

  4. Diane, please use your same reasoning with homeschoolers as you do with public school teachers. (BTW, I have been involved with home education for close to 30 years and I have a severely handicapped son. And I was a public school teacher before I homeschooled my children, so I have lived on both sides.) Let me just take a quote from your article and change it up a bit to show you what I mean:
    "But at least 95% of homeschoolers do their best and are competent and do better as they get experience."
    I also find that homeschooling parents who are doing a crummy job do not last very long--they hate it so much that they quickly put their children back into school. Public school teachers at least have a salary that is incentive for them to keep at it, even if they hate it.
    Bottom line is that ALL parents are human beings and humans are not perfect. So both the homeschool parent and the public school teacher are going to make mistakes. There is good and bad in both realms and I think you are wrong to bash the homeschoolers when you only know a handful of them. I'd be thrilled to have you meet some of the most wonderful parents on the face of the earth--just come to one of our homeschool support group meetings!

  5. I homeschooled my son last year for the 5th grade and I am so thankful I did. It was not easy, but it was so rewarding because I grew really close to him and he to me. He learned things about history that I know are not taught in the Public Schools. He is back in the public school system this year, but I really do envy my friends that do homeschool; their children are so open and well adjusted and smart and confident!

  6. I agree with one point and that is lack of parent involvement . One of the reasons we decided to homeschool was all the baggage other kids brought with them to school. One comment I get a lot when people hear I homeschool is " I could never do that because my child would never listen to me". If kids do not respect their parents as authority they will not respect teachers. Instead of just teaching math or English teachers have to parent.

  7. Well, whattaya expect when you have all these teachers believing the constantly-fed hype about teaching being "the most noble profession"? There's a reason the saying came about: "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Just sayin'...

  8. It takes specific specialized training (not to mention an expensive X-ray machine and sometimes surgery) for a person to be able to set a broken bone. Such serious training is not required for education. A parent is perfectly capable of teaching their children how to read and write as well as the stories of history and how to think logically about science through a series of questioning. It does not take a surgical genius to TEACH. It does take research and hard work. It takes time. It takes time management. It takes a boat load of patience and perseverance.

    I taught Algebra 1 in a private school and have never had an ounce of "Education" education. In order to teach Algebra, one must know their subject well AND be able to deliver it to the student.

    On that same note, I know Math geniuses who have no business lecturing in a classroom because they can't teach to save their lives.

    To say that only Education Professionals know how to educate is to be in gross error. And to be perfectly frank, our public educational system as a whole is not delivering. Not only that but the atmosphere of peer pressure to do drugs, have pre-marital sex, get drunk, etc. as well as bullying is detrimental to kids and I applaud parents who decide not to subject their children to "the system."

  9. As a public high school Spanish teacher going on my 19th year on Thursday and one who reads and comments daily on D. Ravitch's blog, I cannot agree with what a couple of the commentators, especially Warren, have said about parents. As an educator I view the parents as the ultimate authority, both legally and logically of their own children. How can I begin to know as much about my students as the parents know? Well, I can't plain and simple. I try to learn as much from the parents about the student as possible, they are the ones that have been with the child day in and day out.

    However, when it comes to a parent telling me how to teach my class or even their child that is different as I am the one with the pedagogical knowledge of what works best in my subject area overall for all my students and not just the one student that the parent is concerned about. I have to balance my time and effort so that all have an equitable opportunity to learn.

    Now as far as teaching being the "noblest" profession, I say hogwash! If I had to rank from the most important professions on down I would start with those who supply our daily food, second would be the sanitation sector, third the medical profession and then probably the education sector.

  10. Andrea

    I met that math genius almost 50 years ago in a unified Algebra II & Trig Class-

    Reading the statements from the teachers, I'm not at all surprised.. Even less surprised since yesterday I happened to to read a number of the resolutions the NEA has passed over the last few years..

  11. "This debasement of teachers and deprofessionalization of of K-12 education has got to go before we get a whole generation of uneducated, dysfunctional adults."

    This posting should have occurred several generations ago! Our reading, science and mathematic proficiencies have declined steadily for years now!

    As a homeschooling father, I cannot disagree more with the entire posting of this teacher.

    A recent study by a major university took a look at their teacher's college. They found that of all of the various colleges on their university campus, the teacher's college had the lowest average ACT scores of incoming freshmen. This same study showed that the teacher's college also had the highest GPA of graduating seniors on their campus. So we have the least intelligent students (per the national entrance exam) attending the program with the lowest standards (reflected in the high GPA).

    This is the formula for educating those who will in turn educate our children! No thank you.

    Let's then take those new teachers and place them in a classroom with 18-25 children with as many different learning styles and nuances and keep our fingers crossed. I will pass.

    If the teacher can tough it out, in most states they begin preparing for tenure. The magical date that in essence makes that employee untouchable. Then you factor in the various government programs, both local and federal, and a parent can easily become lost in the bureacracy, which is exactly what it is designed to perform.

    Apart from that a public school parent has to be on guard for GLESN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Alliance) and a national day of silence, or the latest attempt to indoctrinate our children into the latest liberal fad of the day. Keep my share for yourself if you don't mind.

    It is a blessing to have the care of a child in your posession. God will require of each parent an accounting for the influence you exerted or handed off in relation to the nurturing of that child. Public school is a poor choice. If you are able, at all to stay at home and rear your children, please do so!! NOBODY in the whole world, not the most well-intentioned teacher ( I am sure there are many) will care for your son or daughter like you will/do.


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