Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents: CNN Article

This past week a colleague forwarded the article "What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents" by Ron Clark.  In order avoid putting my foot in my mouth, I've been fairly reserved when writing about parents- something this article addresses as teachers "walking on eggshells".  It  does a great job of explaining how most teachers feel about the parent-teacher relationship in the U.S.  

Some Quotes from the Article:
  • "New teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list 'issues with parents' as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel."
  • "What do teachers really need parents to understand? 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 you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them."
  • "...principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children."
  • "My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, 'Can you believe that woman did that?'"
  • "We know you love your children. We love them, too. 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."

I've done my best to stay skeptical about Ron Clark, the phenomenal man who founded the Ron Clark Academy.  That skepticism is based on the facts that his model is not as replicable as most assume or would like.  Things like selective admissions and the requirement for highly involved parents have a dramatic effect on a school even before the doors open.  To be honest, the skepticism is accompanied by envy about his work.

As it turns out, it seems that whenever I read something Ron Clark writes, I agree with him.  He knows his stuff.  And the more I work in the largest public education system in the United States, the less I begrudge him for starting his own school outside of a public system.  My own plan is to stay in public schools and help reform them in substantive way that will reach the vast majority of students rather than a selective bunch, but listening to master teachers like him can certainly help teachers and parents alike to strengthen and reform our schools.


  1. I am currently studying to be a special ed teacher. I have worked as a nanny and babysitter part of the time while in school, and although the kids can be challenging, the PARENTS are nightmares! I'm not surprised to hear that its the same deal in schools.