Teaching interrupted

A few persistent troublemakers can disrupt learning and drive teachers out of the profession, says Teaching Interrupted, a study by Public Agenda.

Teachers in particular complain about the growing willingness of some students and parents to challenge teacher judgment and threaten legal action. But both teachers and parents support a variety of remedies, including stricter enforcement of existing rules of conduct, alternative schools for chronically disruptive students and limiting parents’ ability to sue schools over disciplinary decisions.

Nearly 8 in 10 teachers said their school has students who should be removed and sent to alternative schools. Teachers blame parents who fail to teach their children to behave, wishy-washy administrators who cater to assertive parents and lax colleagues.

More than 6 in 10 teachers (61%) and parents (63%) strongly believe that strictly enforcing the little rules sets a tone so that bigger problems can be avoided. Another 30% of teachers and 25% of parents support this idea somewhat. (Total support: 91% teachers; 88% parents)

More than half of teachers (57%) and 43% of parents also especially liked proposals for establishing alternative schools for chronic offenders, with another 30% of teachers and 32% of parents liking this idea somewhat. (Total support: 87% teachers; 74% parents)

Teachers would love to be able to hold parents accountable for their children’s behavior. Parents worry about misbehavior too, blaming other people’s children, of course.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. While I agree with the concept of tougher enforcement of the little rules I don’t think it has a chance. This is an education freindly blog and think back to last week and all of the people who thought that the school has no right to ask a student not to wear a Dam t-shirt. I am not saying either side was right or wrong on that issue. I am just saying that if we can’t even tolerate the school administration making small demands such as that then I don’t see how the administrators and teachers have a decent chance of doing their jobs.

  2. Tom West says:

    My question is that (1) Who is going to teach at the school for chronic offenders, and (2) Will it be considered acceptable if the school’s inhabitants don’t reflect the social makeup of the environs from which it draws, and (3) Will it be considered acceptable if the school’s standardized scores are very low, or will the school be considered failing and the teachers accordingly penalized?

  3. Tom: All excellent questions. I’ll try to give my responses.

    1. Don’t know, but it’ll sure be tough to find able, qualified individuals.

    2. No. We see that in my district. We are a desegregated district but most of the two “alternative” schools are minority. Many minority voices see this is, unfortunately, as some sort of racism.

    3. Uncertain. Certain segments of the student pop. are exempt from standardized testing. But it’s unlikely that mere behavior problems alone would warrant an exemption, so yes, it seems likely that there would be penalties.

  4. There is no way teachers will ever be successful without parental support. The parents have gone from believing everything the teacher says to believing only the children. Teachers who get torn down by parents have a snowballs chance in hell of success. Student disrespect has grown to approximately a 95% rate. Rolling eyes, backtalk, threat to get a teacher fired, and I don’t want to work today, so I don’t have to. “My mother will let you know how things go”, are often remarks by students. Sadly, this is true. If we were allowed to use tape recorders in class, parents would hear there little darlings and there mouths grotesque remarks. Too bad for the student of the parents who refuse to know the truth. Your children’s education is at stake, not because the teachers don’t want the children to learn, but, because the parents remarks are heard by the students and take on a negative and hateful attitute toward all teachers. “Welcome To Reality!” I do not know if there are enough fast food restraunts to hire all of these wonders of the parents who believe their child should be allowed to pass without knowing ‘diddly sqwat!’

  5. Tim from Texas says:

    The children, adolescents, and college students are doing exactly what our society allows them and even wants them to do. We say we are the adults. We say we want change. All who are, or who think they are the intelligent,and successful are in my opinion the most to blame. We are the citizens who vote and because of our success, we are the citizens with the power. We are making money from it,if not directly, then indirectly. We must love it and I’ve come to believe that complaining about it and then not really doing anything about it, is just evidence of our societies’ pathological behavior.

    This “monster” has been created by us over the years. The “monster” wasn’t devinely created, or created by “nature” so, it can be changed, modified, turned around and/or vastly improved.

  6. I agree with Tim from Texas. “The trouble with a democracy is the people get exactly the government they deserve.” Paraphrased from someone, can’t remember who.

  7. lindenen says:

    They should start recording the classes and actually using monetary fines for kids who are chronic offenders. Punish the parents as well as the kid and stick to your guns. Also, get the kids and parents to sign stuff at the beginning of the year that prevents lawsuits (a ‘social contract’) and pass a law to limit them as well.

  8. Gregory Koster says:

    Dar Ms. Jacobs:

    Conceded, many parents and students have a enough chips on their shoulders to put Intel out of business.

    But: remeber the school in one of the Carolinas where the principal called the cops in becuase he suspected drug use? Cops arrive, everyone on the floor, dogs sniffing, scene out of an old prison movie, kids legitimately scared half to death. Whups, no drugs, that’s the way it goes.

    Should parents not have the right to sue in this case? I think they should. So what principle do we use to limit lawsuits/protests by students & parents? Should this principle vary from elementary to college? What about the legitimate grievances against teachers who aren’t worth a dam but can’t be fired? I think everyone agrees that there are hideous stories on both ends of the spectrum. What I’d like to see are the principle(s) used to a)limit lawsuits but b) allowing bad tteachers to be slapped down too.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster

  9. andursonne says:

    It seems that any teacher or principal using the threat of force or physical assault (unless breaking up a fight, self-defense) would be decent grounds for a legitimate lawsuit. If a teacher cusses at a student, this should be grounds for censuring the teacher, not a lawsuit. Perhaps smaller issues, like a teacher who gives a student an F or a suspension, should be dealt with at the school or by an arbitration board, with the chance of monetary reward nonexistent. If recordings are kept, arguments and lawsuits regarding student behavior would be non-starters and the issues would be quite clear because instead of he said/she said, there would be actual evidence.

    They should also make it easier for teachers to sue students and the administrators who don’t support them.

  10. Teachers would love to be able to hold parents accountable for their children’s behavior and parents would love to be able to hold teachers accountable for their children not be able to do the three R’s.

    Teachers in particular complain about the growing willingness of some students and parents to challenge teacher judgment and threaten legal action: parents as taxpayers, who pay the teacher’s salaries’ have every right to challenge teacher judgment. Teacher judgment is the correct and only way?

    Teachers blame parents who fail to teach their children to behave, wishy-washy administrators who cater to assertive parents and lax colleagues: once again, parents are the number one culprits to blame. It can’t be anything that teachers are doing wrong?

    Teachers talk to your wishy-washy administrators and lax colleagues. Oh, they can’t be your administrators or colleagues, it has to be the other administrators and colleagues.

    I understand now.

  11. andursonne says:

    No, there’s undoubtedly lots of blame to go around as well as buck-passing, but when it comes to student behavior, the buck stops with the parents.

  12. Joanne, thanks for the link. Interesting reading!

    The threat of lawsuits has a huge impact on everything we do in schools today. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “We can’t do that, we might get sued”. A huge number of the cases I’ve been involved with or read about are totally baseless..golddigging. The school’s insurance company often settles because its cheaper than going to trial.

    Honey, your comments are way off base. To answer your question: yes, the teacher’s way is generally the only way. How exactly would you have it otherwise? Grade the essay by a vote of students or parents? Arbitrate who gets to start at quarterback on the football team? Perhaps you, Honey, could make a decision that its ok for someone to disrupt class. Perhaps a community forum could decide if little Johnny really deserved that “F”. Lets call in a judge to decide who makes the cheerleading squad!

    Parents do have a voice. I welcome phone calls, emails, or conferences with parents. If they don’t like my decisions they can always appeal to the principal or the superintendent. They can make their voice heard at school board meetings.(how many people do?) They can volunteer at the school and become involved in parent organizations.

    If you eviscerate the teacher’s control of the classroom any further than it already is, you are asking for trouble.

  13. Fuzzy Rider says:

    If school choice were a viable option, instead of a lawsuit, a parent could always find a school more “philosophically consistent” with their own views.

    With my own two boys (who are both highly successful, academically) I always made it clear that in the event of a conflict with a teacher I would always back up the teacher. If I believed that the teacher was off base, I would make my opinions known to them (in private), but I would not allow my boys to attempt any kind of ‘power games’ and have any hope of victory.

    It has been my observation that the biggest difference between “public” and “private” schooling is that prvate schools expected the students to adapt to the institution, weeding out those unwilling/unable to do so, while public schools attempt the task of adapting the institution to each individual student. Although the goal of adapting the institution to the student sounds noble, given the heterogeneous nature of school populations and the limited nature of education budgets, it is a practical impossibility. Students who find themselves on the fringe in a public school are left to then ‘fend for themselves’ and either drop out, zone out, or become disruptive. I maintain that many (though not all) of these problems would be ameliorated if students/parents had serious school choice.

  14. Tom West says:

    private schools expect the students to adapt to the institution, weeding out those unwilling/unable to do so, while public schools attempt the task of adapting the institution to each individual student.

    A very nice precis of the situation.

    Unfortunately, public schools are charged with the responsibility of teaching *all* students, not just those who conform to the desired model of “child wishing to obtain knowledge”. The school is in the unenviable position of not being able to eliminate those students for whom education is difficult (if not impossible).

    In the context of the current article, school choice only works if there exists a school for those who are terminally disruptive. I’m not so certain such a school can be created in our current environment.

  15. Tom: I think Fuzzy’s point is that adapting to a teacher[‘s style] is essentially what one faces in the real world. No one expects an employer to adapt to you; you’re expected to follow company policy, and if it doesn’t suit you you seek work elsewhere.

    Granted, the current public school system doesn’t allow students much wiggle room to “seek elsewhere,” although this does vary from state to state and locality to locality. And even so, usually if there’s a conflict with teachers’ styles/methods, it is only one teacher out of six, seven or eight.

  16. Rita C. says:

    The alternative schools already exist.

    And, as a matter of fact, my judgment is what counts in my classroom. You pay me for my professional judgment and expertise, not to enter letters into a computer.

  17. The alternative schools already exist, along with private and home-schooling.

    And, as a matter of fact, my judgment is what counts in my classroom. You pay me for my professional judgment and expertise, not to enter letters into a computer.

    Yes, I pay the teachers even when they don’t follow an IEP or teach Johnny or Jill to read. We are presumed to accept the expertise in that.

    Teachers are the “professionals,” and I’m just one of many parents who you complain about, though we are expected to pay our taxes into a system that hasn’t worked in years. Statistics have proven that. Hence, now we have NCLB, and all the others before that.

    We are to listen to you complain about us, though we are thee product of the public/government education system.

    Brian,

    Parents do have a voice. I welcome phone calls, emails, or conferences with parents. If they don’t like my decisions they can always appeal to the principal or the superintendent. They can make their voice heard at school board meetings.(how many people do?) They can volunteer at the school and become involved in parent organizations.

    In answer to how many do, we all know that the districts cover their own. It’s in the news and all over the net on any given day. You are an exception to welcoming phone calls, etc. I’ve heard many teachers complain that Mrs. So and So called. I have volunteered at all levels of the system.

    As for disruptive children, it starts in Kindergarten with the learning centers, which is total chaos. It continues with the children not learning so that they are bored and become troublesome. It continues with teachers talking about their personal lives and being called by their first names. It continues on and on. It’s a two way street.

    With complaints on both sides, there comes a point in time when something that is broke and can’t be repaired is to throw it away. The current system doesn’t work, its time to privatize the educational system. Private schools cost less per child that what public schools get per child, with better results.

  18. Tim from Texas says:

    We are all to blame. The only humans innocent are the children. Innocent, that is , when it comes to assessing fault for their poor education. It’s just about the only innocence we’ve allowed them.

    One more thing,because it raises it’s ugly head again and again, it wasn’t better in the good old days. In the good old days the economy was good to booming. There were plenty of jobs available for anyone who wanted to work. Drop out rates, failure rates, you name it, existed then in just as many categories and numbers. We didn’t have much competition from anywhere then. A poor education system didn’t stand out then, but it sure will now.

  19. And Tim, in the “good old days” blacks and women weren’t even deemed educable.

    Lest we lead this thread to doom and gloom, I want to add that I’m very fortunate to work in a public school where parents are overwhelmingly supportive, and where teachers routinely stay late to help. I’m in an upper middle class suburb where the property rates are rising fast. Why? Blame the reputation for good schools.

    The kids act up and have their share of problems, but we make lots of calls to check up. And we almost always get backup from home.

    It’s the best combination I can think of.

  20. I wonder how many of you who leave comments on this blog have actually volunteered in a public school?

    I spent today at my children’s elementary “field day.” Inside and outside activities (balloon toss, wacky-banana slide, inside gym activities, etc.) as an end-of-school-year activity.

    There weren’t enough parent volunteers, so the teachers were left marshalling their students from one activity to another — having to sort through a multi-page activity sheet to gather the ins and outs of working that particular circuit. This was hard work — and I mean *hard* — for the teachers, who are simultaneously faced with recording end-of-year grades and closing out their classrooms.

    I’m a mother of three, and it took all my energy to monitor FOUR BOYS IN THE THIRD GRADE. You may very well say that the problem is with irresponsible parents — but that “problem” is placed squarely at the foot of the education system.

    When one boy slapped another, I stepped up and said, “That is NOT acceptable; and I don’t EVER want to see that again.” And I said it in what many, I’m sure, would consider a very “mean” voice. I’m not sure I could get away with that as a teacher (the meanness factor).

    If more parents volunteered, they might just witness for themselves how out of control some of the students are. And thus, they might just start a grass-roots movement for more discipline in classrooms; they might vote more intelligently regarding mainstreaming developmentally-disabled students that consume a massive amount of teacher intervention; they might participate more in parent-teacher organizations to have influence in their children’s school environment; they might be more engaged in mandated and top-down decisions that have negative outcomes in the classroom.

    (In fact, that is, de facto, what charter schools and voucher systems do. Why are we willing to ‘throw out with the bath water’ the whole public educational system?)

    And they might appreciate teachers a helluva lot more.

    So, if you haven’t been to a public school lately, please consider taking one hour of your blogging time to devote to volunteering in your local public school.

    It might just be educational. And you might just make a difference — on so many different levels.

  21. 6070 http://www.slots-w.com click here to play Slots online

Trackbacks

  1. r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

    the main culprit here. The parents. Too many parents take too little time to assist their children with their homework, and fail to give them guidance on basic life skills. Many students do not