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The Enemy in the Classroom

What happened to the bond between parents and teachers?

by
Bonnie Ramthun

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January 31, 2014 - 9:00 am
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Our culture is so used to the adversarial conditions in education that most people don’t know that before the 1960s there was a deep and respectful relationship between parents and teachers.  Then a disturbing trend in education started. Educators started to blame parents for the problems in the classroom. The students aren’t responsible for poor test scores and dismal graduation rates. The teachers certainly aren’t. Of course not! Parents are to blame.

funny-parents-grades-teachers-comic

Parents are the ones who refuse to vote for tax increases to fund schools and pay teachers the salaries they deserve. Parents often don’t check homework, don’t attend parent-teacher conferences, and don’t provide healthy food and a positive home study experience for their children. When their precious little Johnny or Sue gets bad grades, parents erupt in outrage and blame the teacher. Parents used to be co-educators with teachers, united in a common front to teach children, but now they are villians.

How did this happen? How did parents suddenly turn into the enemy in the classroom?

The answer is clearly the National Education Association. In 1959 Wisconsin passed a collective bargaining law for public employees. The National Education Association, with only 766,000 members in 1961, is now a labor union with more than 3.2 million members today. The NEA’s purpose is not to educate students. Their purpose, as in all labor unions, is to increase membership and to keep their members employed. In order to keep the money coming in, they need an enemy to keep their members frightened of what will happen to them without the protection of their union.

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Top Rated Comments   
I really agree that the role of parents are taken away by the 'experts'- but not just the teachers, by the government over all. When school districts put their hands out for the hand out, well, they all of a sudden lost local control. If we want the government off our back, we have to take our hands out of their pockets. But if the NEA was gone, that would help. As well as the government sponsored lunch program. We are not allowed to sell homemade food at lunch time because it competes with the school program. Which is breaded chicken patties 3 days a week. Lettuce salad brought once a week, and too bad on Friday. Our school district is proud to be in the 'black' on lunch, and it is aweful. so kids go and get a 1 lb bag of doritos at the gas station and that is their lunch. And the same with the teachers, but there is nothing we can do. When we went to teacher conferences for our High School Boys, when we said, 'you are right, they are wrong', like in your cartoon, they were BLOWN AWAY. Now they are employed, and work hard. So you are right. I hope all the parents of small children start getting a clue- from you! Take responsibility and stand tough. Good Luck!
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Parents used to be co-educators with teachers, united in a common front to teach children, but now they are villians."

They funny thing is that on the way to cash their bigger paychecks the teachers convinced the parents to just go to work and pay the bills because the teachers were the Professionals and would educate the children. Now that the hubris of that kind of thinking is exacting a pound of flesh the teachers want to blame the parents for the problem the teachers caused.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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To be fair, it is partially parents' fault. In my childhood, we all behaved around everyone's parents because any parent could discipline any child, within limits. One could certainly expect another child's parent to embarrass one for misbehavior, if not giving an outright scolding and sending us home in shame. Nowadays ... need I elaborate?

I agree that the NEA needs to die fast and bloody death. Working for individual rights, a la killing the automatic deduction for union dues, etc, is a start.

I also think that too many levels of government have their hands in the education pie. I'm skeptical of state level involvement, let's not even mention the feds. Subsidiarity is key -- keep education local and let people set it up the way the local community thinks best. The dissatisfied can vote too, with their feet.

Full disclosure: my children have been educated in public, Catholic, and home schools at various times and places. We are not ideologues, just looking for what's best for the individual child.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I really agree that the role of parents are taken away by the 'experts'- but not just the teachers, by the government over all. When school districts put their hands out for the hand out, well, they all of a sudden lost local control. If we want the government off our back, we have to take our hands out of their pockets. But if the NEA was gone, that would help. As well as the government sponsored lunch program. We are not allowed to sell homemade food at lunch time because it competes with the school program. Which is breaded chicken patties 3 days a week. Lettuce salad brought once a week, and too bad on Friday. Our school district is proud to be in the 'black' on lunch, and it is aweful. so kids go and get a 1 lb bag of doritos at the gas station and that is their lunch. And the same with the teachers, but there is nothing we can do. When we went to teacher conferences for our High School Boys, when we said, 'you are right, they are wrong', like in your cartoon, they were BLOWN AWAY. Now they are employed, and work hard. So you are right. I hope all the parents of small children start getting a clue- from you! Take responsibility and stand tough. Good Luck!
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
As bad as the NEA is, I'm doubtful they're the problem. No, I think education itself IS the problem. I live in Georgia, where Unions and the NEA have absolutely no power over the education system, yet its broken here, in both the public education system and in the college/university system. I know this from experience.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the U.S. half of all teachers leave the profession within five years. I don't defend the NEA, and think that overall the union has been detrimental to schools. But I'm afraid we have additional systemic problems with our schools that too often make teaching unsatisfying and learning much harder than it ought to be.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Parents used to be co-educators with teachers, united in a common front to teach children, but now they are villians."

They funny thing is that on the way to cash their bigger paychecks the teachers convinced the parents to just go to work and pay the bills because the teachers were the Professionals and would educate the children. Now that the hubris of that kind of thinking is exacting a pound of flesh the teachers want to blame the parents for the problem the teachers caused.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I couldn't agree more.

Anecdotally, a friend received his teaching degree and got a job at a local school. He was very excited and motivated, but admitted to me that within a couple weeks of starting in his new position he was approached by two different teachers who told him he was making them look bad.

His exuberance, his work ethic, and his behavior was making established and experienced teachers look bad. Clearly, they were the ones who made themselves look bad, but I think point is made.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"within a couple weeks of starting in his new position he was approached by two different teachers who told him he was making them look bad."

I have a friend who moved from the private sector construction industry to working for the county building department. Within a couple weeks of starting in his new position he had that same conversation.

Hmmmm.

46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Momma always said, "Labor union is as labor union does."
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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