Parents' Complaints --- Arrogant Public Schools Turn a Deaf Ear
By Joel Turtel
Editor's note: We've included this article here, not because we agree with it, but because it's important to understand that there are some parents who hold extreme views about schools and teachers, and sometimes those views need to be understood, even if they are expressed in unpleasant, and insulting ways. If you are a teacher, you'll probably find this article offensive, but it does reflect, albeit in an extreme way, some of the parental attitudes out there.
School authorities continually claim that they want more parent cooperation and participation in their children's education. They complain when parents don't show up for parent-teacher conferences or push their children to do their homework.
Yet this constant cry for parent cooperation is often a smoke screen pretense to make parents think they have some control over their children's education. In most cases, parents have no such control. Teachers and principals may placate parents or ask for their cooperation, but they rarely make the important changes parents ask for.
For example, most parents want their children to learn to do basic arithmetic without using calculators as a crutch. A poll by Public Agenda found that 86 percent of parents want students to learn arithmetic by hand before they use calculators. However, the math-teaching policy for most public schools today is that all children beginning in kindergarten have access to calculators at all times to do math problems.
Most school districts make important teaching-method or curriculum decisions in secret, without parents' knowledge or approval. A parent's only recourse is to complain to principals or school authorities after these authorities have dictated their curriculum or teaching methods, and the parent sees the damage to their children. Unfortunately, such complaints are often futile.
Most parents don't realize that school authorities don't want their opinion. Too often, school authorities ignore parents' suggestions or complaints because they truly believe they are the experts and parents are just annoying amateurs. As a result, some teachers, principals, or administrators feel insulted when parents make suggestions or complaints. Many school officials believe parents should not have any real input in their children's education. That is one reason why school authorities hold their committee meetings in secret.
Another reason is that school authorities fear that parents will complain about certain classes and curriculum subjects. For instance, many public schools have introduced classes and books about homosexuality into elementary and high-school sex-education classes. When parents find out about these classes, they frequently complain to the school principal and local politicians. To avoid these complaints, public schools often try to keep secret from parents what they teach in these sex-ed classes.
Moreover, teachers, principals, and school authorities don't have to listen to those amateur, irritating parents who complain that their kids can't read. Public-school employees get tenure after a few years. That means, in effect, that it's almost impossible to fire them, no matter how bad or even mediocre they are. If you couldn't be fired, would you care about parent's complaints? That's why they don't, and that's why public-school teachers or principals can be arrogant or indifferent to parent's legitimate complaints.
Parents, the solution is to stop hitting your head against the brick wall of arrogant public-school employees. Just walk around the wall and don't look back. That is, consider taking your children out of public school and find real education choice and control in the education free-market. Consider homeschooling or some of the many quality, low-cost, K-12 Internet private schools listed in the Resource section of "Public Schools, Public Menace."
Joel Turtel is an education policy analyst, and author of “Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children."