Why is there so much parent bashing on these boards?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by TiffanyL, Apr 9, 2011.

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  1. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    I often read about so many negative attitudes towards parents on these boards....parents who don't care about their kids, don't show up for conferences, don't follow through. And, boy, if they dare to express a concern to us or make a complaint, it seems they win the idiot of the year award because there is no way we could actually consider using their insight constructively.

    Why are we as teachers (not all, but many) so non-empathetic with all parents face these days? I know, I know....they chose to have kids, they need to raise the kids.

    But I struggle to raise my own and I'm an educated, well rounded adult. Being a parent is tough work. I told myself after spring break that I would insist on balance between home and work. I would practice softball every day after work with my youngest. If one of the kids texted me because they were having a teen "crisis", I would STOP whatever I was doing at work and tend to their needs first for a change. I would leave early to make it to every one of my son's varsity baseball games on time.

    I was successful for maybe the first two days back. Hard to follow through when an emotionally disturbed child is having a meltdown or the police are on campus for another matter or a struggling teacher is in tears because she is not sure if she chose the right profession and really just needs someone to talk to her.

    My kids often don't get the time and attention from me that they would if I was able to stay home.

    And I'm not dealing with a husband who is incarcerated. I have a wonderful, supportive husband. I'm not dealing with a drug addiction because that was all I knew as a child. I'm not dealing with being forced to move for the umpteenth time out of my residence because I'm a single mom or a single dad with a limited income.

    I guess it really bothers me how we can be so disrespectful to these parents, and often to our views on the kids these days as well. When I have a parent who never shows up at school, I know that an experience has led them to not trust the school system. Or their personal life prevents them from wanting to show their face and be Patty PTA Mom. I have just a few chances to try to change that for them and make them feel welcome and supported...harsh judgment towards them because I am obviously so much better would never accomplish that.

    Uggghhhh....sorry I sound so bitter. I've received no sleep at all due to a terrible stomach virus and so I'm probably pretty edgy.

    I choose to believe that the kids are wonderful and I am blessed to be in their life to mold and shape them. They may not be the same kids we saw 30 years ago....big deal. I choose to believe that the parents need us and they need schools who don't buy into this holier than thou attitude.
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Wonderful post, Tiffany!
     
  4. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Tiffany, I love most of my parents each year. They are great people trying to do the best for their child. But it is difficult when we have some parents who do not respect common courtesies. Just as I would not yell or swear at a parent, I do expect these civilities to be present when I am meeting with a parent. I understand that for a parent to come to this point, something must have happened. But I also truly believe that when a parent/teacher/administrator is to this point, nothing truly useful will come out of the meeting other than hurting feelings on all sides.

    Much parent bashing may also come from administrators who are not supportive of teachers. When administrators allow a parent to dictate how many spelling words their child should have, how long a class should be, if the child should have multiple gym periods, etc; as the years go on, parents really think that their child should be entitled to this as well.
     
  5. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Nice post Tiffany.... (I agree with MrsC)

    Just a side note: The teachers I've met over the past few years of "guest teaching" seem to be professional, mature, strong, capable, etc. And yet I read a lot about teachers here in this forum being in tears or near tears.

    " or a struggling teacher is in tears because she is not sure if she chose the right profession and really just needs someone to talk to her."

    Why is that? (I don't recall this happening during my business career.)

    Anyway......... you made some excellent points...... Take some Pepto for the tummy....... Major.........:)
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Major, I remember teachers when I was younger who were stressed and in tears. A few times, teachers actually needed to leave the classroom.

    However, I think that today, the stress on teachers is different. There is more data, more accountability, more pressure. I also think that forums like these (which I truly love) allow teachers to see that others are in the same boat. Then it becomes okay to be in tears, question your judgment, etc.
     
  7. LouiseB

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    Many of the parents I deal with care deeply for their kids and usually these meetings/dealings go very well. It's just a few parents that make things very difficult. No one is asking for a perfect parent. I totally understand the difficulties in raising children and working. But some of the parents I deal with aren't even equipped to be raising children for whatever reason that is. Then it becomes an issue of the teacher having to "teach" the parent how to parent! Now, for me, this type of parent doesn't come along very often but when it does, it is extremely difficult.

    I really don't think there is parent bashing here. This is a forum to share difficult issues and how to handle things most of all. Dealing with parents is a difficult issue many times. Some of the problems could be addressed if the parent would take care of some issues at home. Maybe some of the issues that are seen in 7th grade should have been addressed a long time ago.

    And, right now, teachers are taking a LOT of heat because of issues at school which consequently are just a reflection of society right now. I also don't think that teachers blame parents for most of the issues either. Teachers are dealing with what they see day in and day out. It's difficult to see the "whole" picture of education in any other place than what that teacher deals with all the time.

    There are MANY teachers who have administrators who aren't supportive or play favorites so it can make a teacher want to reach out to others for support (this site).

    I'm sorry that you think there is parent bashing...and you see it from an administrator's perspective. Just remember we are seeing it from the teacher's point.
     
  8. TiffanyL

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    I did teach as well for many years. I respect that you believe there is an attitude of support and compassion towards parents. I stand firm on my own observations, however.
     
  9. TiffanyL

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    Thanks Major. I always appreciate the wisdom in your posts. :hugs:

    As for teachers crying, I usually only have one or so every couple of years. Typically, it is because teaching is such a tough, demanding job.

    Just like I am claiming to be supportive of parents, I feel the same way towards teachers....they work extremely hard, it is a high burnout career, it is not for everyone. Every once in a while, there is a teacher who just isn't sure they can keep up with the demands.
     
  10. EdEd

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    Hey Tiffany - I had an all-nighter a few weeks ago - still have bad thoughts about that :). Anyway, I was somewhat surprised to read your comments, because in a few recent threads I've been surprised at the support that has been given to some parents of cases in the media - even when I didn't think such support was warranted.

    I agree with two overall comments that have been made:

    1. Some parents really are tough to deal with, just like some teachers! Most are not.

    2. Parents are being empowered in ways previously unseen - they are being allowed to air grievances on national television, not questioned by administrators, etc. While some of this empowerment is good, and does help to fight corruption and politics in schools, I believe it has gotten out of hand, and any parent with a "shocking" complaint - pepper sprayed child, facebook comments about one's child - can get national media attention, a public spotlight, and a chance to earn millions through a small unfortunate act.

    I am a huge believer that our system of education can do better, and of holding every single educator to the highest possible standards, but this shouldn't mean giving every and all power to parents to say and do whatever they want. Administrators and teachers are afraid of the media being called and lawsuits being filed, so they cater to parents. Sometimes this is justified, sometimes not. But, the net result is that an appropriate balance of power in schools has been lost, with everything now falling on the backs of teachers. As a result, I believe negative comments about parents/administrators on this forum are partly a backlash against this practice of blaming teachers for everything.

    Until our society moves beyond blame, and toward understanding and problem-solving, we will all be crabs in the bottom of a bucket trying to get out.
     
  11. TeacherApr

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    exactly. And I chose to call it "complaining" not bashing. I would never bash my parents but I will complain about some who I now know are helicopter parents (thanks to this board for educating me on this term!).

    i am a parent too. Do I take it personally when I read and hear of teachers that are frustrated because some parents chose to hover over their child, don't have their child take responsibility, or come to school with such low values that they cause HUGE discipline problems for us? No, I don't because I know that I am a good parent and my child doesn't do this.
     
  12. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Tiffany, I think it's a growing trend in America. We rarely comment about the wonderful that do happen or the wonderful parents we have each year... but we unload our problems with the few difficult parents we have, because THAT is the issue pressing on our minds and hearts.

    Just like with teachers: You rarely hear about a wonderful teacher, but the news is full of the bad eggs.

    Is it fair? No, absolutely not. But how do we go about changing the mindset of a nation more interested in bad news than good news?
     
  13. JustMe

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    I've been answering questions related to parents honestly. Most of the parents I work with who don't participate, don't sign papers, skip scheduled meetings, and things of that nature—I'm disappointed but I don't disrespect them. I know about some of their lives and they're terribly sad. There are few parents, though, who have been outright rotten. Poor parents, poor people. People who seem to contribute nothing at all positive to this world. There are such people—no denying it, no need to pretend otherwise—and some happen to be parents, and some happen to be parents of children I teach. The only positive that comes from it is that I love their children a little more...
     
  14. LouiseB

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    Thanks Ed and TeachApr! You added what I also think. I believe that all teachers should be doing whatever they can reasonably do to help the kids they teach...always!
     
  15. TiffanyL

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    Mopar, you bring some good points to the table. It is imperative to have an administrator who knows what to do when a parent escalates to attacking behavior. If the administrator does not know how to handle that, the teacher leaves frustrated and the problem is unresolved. That could lead to a venting session...I totally get that....we all need to vent sometimes when the outcome was less than desirable.

    My real issue, however, is not cussing parents or a specific negative experience that one may have with a parent. My real issue is the blanket, generalized beliefs.

    Not the issue where someone says, "A parent greatly mistreated me and nothing happened." I get the frustration there.

    Its the more insulting, generalized opinions that some seem to make about parents. Rather than reaching out and taking a non-judgmental approach, its more of a.....parents don't know how to raise kids, parents don't care about their kids, my job would be easier if only for these horrific parents, there is little to find positive in the children of today as well as of their parents, the children are spoiled, unappreciative. I don't even want to be in this profession but I can't go anywhere else. I only have an occasional day that I look at these kids and see positive things. These aren't quotes from anyone here but we all know these teachers and it saddens me.
     
  16. TiffanyL

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    I hear what you are saying, JustMe. I really do. And I want to clarify that I'm not referring to just that occasional rant....we all need that from time to time. And I know there are some parents who, no matter what you do, they just aren't ever going to contribute to our society in a positive way.

    I totally hear you there. I guess I just always tend to be an eternal optimist. I love helping people, particularly people in need. I'm the person who will walk up to the unkempt mom who is wearing her slippers and pajamas to school with a scowl on her face. I'll approach her with a welcoming hug or hello. I'm like a magnet to those people. Then, I know when she escalates and begins to have a meltdown at some point in the year, when she sees me, she will have trust there. I can easily de-escalate her and remind her of how important her concerns are but we can't communicate if she is insulting us and we certainly would never insult her (and she knows that to be true). I have found it to always work...so far....and we have one of the roughest clienteles in our district.

    It guess it just really bothers me when I hear other teachers (and, yes, I still consider myself a teacher...always will be) who just take such a negative view towards education, towards the parents, towards the children.

    Again, not just one experience here or there, JustMe, their overall attitude....why don't they just leave the profession if they are going to continue to insult it?

    At this point, I'm not referring to anyone on these boards....just teachers out there in general.

    Maybe sleep deprivation is also a truth serum with regards to what's really been on someone's mind lately...LOL!! :lol:
     
  17. LouiseB

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    Tiffany, I appreciate what you have to say because no teacher should make comments like that and I don't like that as well as those who don't make an effort to help kids. But I do believe that it is the job of the administrator in that building to find out why those teachers are saying this or what can be done. I would do anything NOT to have to deal with my principal if I could. I feel like she doesn't even care what I do. I even had a meeting where the parent pointed right at me and said that I was wonderful and her child was succeeding because of me. This was said in front of several teachers and the principal. (Wow, was I surprised!) Did the principal ever say a thing to me? No. I really believe that this principal should have said something to me ( or any teacher) after the meeting or the next day to at least acknowledge that she heard it. Sorry to hijack this thread but maybe you can see how unsupported teachers can feel to even backlash out about parents.
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree with every word, Tiffany.
     
  19. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I think rash complaints like those stated above are a backlash from a culture that seems to expect teachers to cure any and all ills of society within their classrooms (and kowtow to the blowing winds of decrees from above at the same time). This just makes no sense at all, is impossible to achieve, is disrespectful of the teaching profession and its teachers. It is an undue burden on the backs of people genuinely trying to do a great job of teaching children who they value as individuals and the future of our society.

    Now, nobody here would paint all parents with the same brush, I'd guess. And, probably most would agree that parents also face an extremely difficult task of parenting in today's complex society. Everybody wants somebody else to somehow be more responsible for making this whole job of shaping responsible citizens more viable. Who wouldn't be frustrated? Who doesn't want this task to become more manageable? Of course, blaming all parents won't make it any better. But, at the present time, parents seem to be getting less of the attention for solving these difficulties than do teachers.
     
  20. Major

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    That's too bad, chebrutta. I've become very close friends with the teachers I've met while working as a "guest teacher." I love them to death and would do anything for them. I've written many complimentary letters to principals, and the superintendent as well, about teachers I consider to be extraordinary. I know that's probably rare for a guest teacher (aka, substitute teacher) but I do it anyway. I'm on a first name basis with the principals and the super. We share a lot of mutual respect.

    I agree with you....... teachers do not get the respect they deserve... Hopefully that will change.....

    Major........:)
     
  21. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I am really lucky to be in a private school, where MOST of the parents are really supportive and on-board with their child's education. I say "most" because I don't know all the parents at the school, but if I had to judge, I would say most of them are. Personally, my parents are so active in their kid's lives, and they support what I do as a classroom teacher, so I really have no need to complain at this point. One of my moms, who is a speech therapist, even took this whole year off of work to assist her son, who just joined our school this year. This is how dedicated our parents are. Now, parents certainly are not perfect, but then again neither are teachers, or schools, or anyone or anything for that matter. It's the working together that makes it successful.
     
  22. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I'm a fairly unhappy teacher and have said so on A to Z. There are certainly aspects of education I'm terribly unsatisfied with, parental issues that bother me to the core, and concerns about my students that make working less enjoyable. However, I still pour (probably too much) energy into my profession. I still love my students. I'm still a good teacher. And I still have some hope that something better for me in education will present itself. Actually, I ask that you all "cross your fingers" for me for something in particular...

    This said, I know that some unhappy teachers adopt a "screw it all" mentality (pardon me). Those people should leave, I agree. But while many here have suggested those who no longer enjoy teaching do just that, it's simply not reasonable. There are many, many people who so much as hate their careers...their hatred could be negatively impacting those they work with or the cause they work for. Advising them to just quit might be the best solution for the whole, but it's not necessarily possible, especially with our economy.
     
  23. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    And I think that's the issue - PARENTS aren't getting the respect they deserve, either. Anyone who is consistently bashed, over and over again, needs to have an outlet. Teachers are the current dog in the news; they retaliate against the parents.

    I'm not a parent, but I imagine it's hard today, with parents who need to work 2 and 3 jobs just to put food on the table and keep a roof over everyone's head. Or parent's whose single job demand a lot of time. A little understanding and mutual respect would go a LONG way in helping repair teacher/parent relations.

    PS, will you come sub for me? :)
     
  24. TeacherApr

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    Exactly. If a teacher is insulting and is negative more than half the time they probably aren't happy with their job or at least the location of their job. Yes, I have been negative and have complained about some things but I am doing something about it by moving to another area. Hopefully, the teachers that act like this either 1) get out of the school they are in or 2) leave the profession if they truly hate teaching.

    Personally, I LOVE the overall aspect of teaching. I enjoy discovering things and passing knowledge onto others.
     
  25. TiffanyL

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    I agree with what you say, Upsadaisy. But sometimes, not always, but sometimes...its a case of who sees the glass as half empty and who sees it as half full.

    You can have two teachers at the same site....one who sees everything as rosy and another who sees everything as doom and gloom. One who finds the career very rewarding while the other can't move on beyond what's wrong with the career.
     
  26. LouiseB

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    This doesn't have to be teachers but people in general who see the glass half full or half empty. These same people would see any job and probably any situation in this way.
     
  27. TiffanyL

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    Very true, TeacherApr, sometimes just finding a different school makes all the difference between loving to go to work and despising it.
     
  28. TiffanyL

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    Absolutely
     
  29. scmom

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    Well, I have taught parent participation preschool for 15 years and I tell them they give me hope for the future - a generation of young families dedicated to nurturing and supporting their children and each other and to volunteering in the community. Obviously, I live in a bubble of wonderful parents but I sing their praises all the time. They work in my classroom several days a week, helping me create a great emergent environment for their children - their hard work and creativity is remarkable.

    Off the top of my head here are some of their other accomplishments:

    -Cooked meals for months for a family who had a child with cancer.
    -Formed a team to so the Susan G. Komen 3 day breast cancer walk and have done in 5 years (I joined them one year).
    -Organized and ran a walk/run to benefit another local child with cancer and raised over $30,000.
    -Cooked meals, shopped, transported kids, did laundry, etc. when one of the moms broke both her ankles.
    -Opened their arms and hearts when a mom lost a baby, supporting her and organizing everything that needed to be organized.
    -They are the coaches, volunteers, PTA presidents, Little League officials, church volunteers, etc. of our community.

    Yes, I am blessed to know such wonderful parents and they aren't all perfect, but I try my best to be a good model and realize I can't reach everyone, but I will try to make a difference to as many families as I can as long as we have the funding to do it.
     
  30. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Took the words right out of my mouth. The tears and near tears post always make me wonder about their capabilities as teachers. It's just not professional and to cry in front of the students is bizarre!
    Not sure if they've chosen the right profession is another matter. I'm not saying that someone "shouldn't" change professions if they're that unhappy...in fact, they "should" for the benefit of the kids in their care everyday!
     
  31. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Exactly! Well stated.
     
  32. Grammy Teacher

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    I know first hand how teachers talk about the parents It's just awful!
     
  33. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I don't think that it is all teachers who talk this way. I really think that some teachers might do this more than others (and maybe those teachers shouldn't be teaching), but we all have our days. Just because of one class or one school year, doesn't mean you think this of all parents.
     
  34. TiffanyL

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    I agree Mopar, it is definitely not all teachers.
     
  35. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Of course it's not ALL teachers! :dizzy:
     
  36. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Of course I will, chebrutta........ Just let me know what WINTER month you want me there. I know "winter" is a strange term for you Floridians, but I'm talking about Dec, Jan, Feb ........ I rarely do summers in Florida........ Major....:lol:
     
  37. smithereyenes

    smithereyenes Rookie

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    Tiffany,

    I have not read all the posts on here as there are quite a few, however I am curious as to the composition of the families at your school. I did all my field experience and student teaching in highly educated upscale areas where there was tons of parent support. When I started my first teaching job, I moved 800 miles away to an area where 75% of our kids are on free/reduced lunch. Talk about shock! Some of my kids have no idea who their fathers are, let alone see them. The number of families at my school where each child has a different last name from their siblings AND mother is huge. Right now, I have a little boy who was removed from his mother because she showed up at a doctor's appt completely drunk. The children were soon returned to the mother. This week, he came in with an enormous scab on the back of his neck where the stepfather beat him with a belt. (on his neck!!! Thank God his neck was not broken and he was not paralyzed!) (Another side note...this child stutters severely which only started recently with all the abuse. I cringe when I think of this beating and realize he would not even have been able to get the words out to say, "Stop!") Yes, we called CPS and I do not currently know the outcome. In this situation, how can I NOT be angry at these people for their poor efforts as parents?

    On the other hand, I have parents who live in less than ideal circumstances and absolutely do the best they can. Do I get frustrated at times? Yes. Do I also realize and see that they do the best they can? Yes.

    No one will ever be perfect as a parent, educator, or anything. But I DO have many wonderful parents and I do have parents I would like to shake and say, "Your child needs your help at home at night. Turn off the TV and read to him!"

    Sadly, at my school, we also often have parents tell us, "I deal with him at home. You deal with him at school." A few years ago, we even had a parent tell a teacher flat out, "My child doesn't have to respect you." As an educator, I love these children and I work hard to ensure I am giving them what they need in the classroom but I also realize that if I treated these kids the way some of them are treated at home, I would lose my job.
     
  38. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Tiffany, I agree about the basic nature of being a half-full or half-empty person. It definitely affects our interactions at work, that's for sure.

    I think almost all of the parents I had over 11 years of teaching were good ones; it was a private school and the hardest thing to deal with were the defensive helicopter parents. Overall, though, they obviously loved their children and showed it.
     
  39. Cerek

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    Apr 9, 2011

    Tiffany - I hope you are able to get some rest and feel better.

    In the meantime, I'm interested to know which threads prompted your original post. You eventually stated you weren't quoting any teachers on this board, but your very first line in the OP stated "I often read about so many negative attitudes towards parents on these boards.', so it seems obvious you were referring to comments made here.

    I'm asking only out of curiosity because I've not seen these examples of parent-bashing myself. Maybe I'm not reading the same threads, so I would be interested in knowing which ones led to this feeling, unless it is just an amalgamation of individual comments made over the last several weeks or months.

    Aside from that, I think excellent points have been brought out on both sides of the issue and I've enjoyed reading everyone's perspective.
     
  40. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Apr 9, 2011

    We have 82% free/reduced. Our district segregates kids, unfortunately. There are parent choice schools that focus on a theme (arts, etc.) with much lower free/reduced rates. The highly involved parents typically enroll at those schools. The rest of the schools, such as mine, are "neighborhood" schools.

    I am at my school by choice. Its where I want to be and I'm certainly not lacking the understanding of what its like to work at a school with a disadvantaged population.

    Pretty sad, though, that your post seems to suggest that we are justified to have these negative attitudes towards families as long as they are only geared towards the families who are disadvantaged and therefore struggling to get through.

    These children were born into these families...they had no choice and their parents were also born into these families. Some of them end up doing great things amid their challenges (that's the constant message we send at our school) but most of them struggle to break the cycle. Doesn't mean we are better than them. We have no idea how we would handle their life if it were our own.
     
  41. TiffanyL

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    Apr 9, 2011

    That brings up a good point, Upsadaisy. Sometimes, helicopter parents are even more difficult to work with than the disadvantaged parents.
     
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