As I See It
What's Really Wrong With Our Schools?
By Jill Chapin
Feb 18, 2007 - 4:46:00 PM

A newspaper recently reported on a poll showing that Americans care deeply about the quality of their schools, but nearly half the country believes students are ill-prepared for high school.  They seem to believe that the solution is getting teachers who are proven experts in their subject fields.

But exactly to what fields are they referring?  Is it science in which they most want their kid's science teacher to be proficient?  Or is it counseling, or maybe first aid, or maybe mediation?  Could they mean purchasing, as in paying for their own supplies, or housekeeping, as in cleaning their own rooms?

I read to second graders every week.  I walked into the classroom one day looking for the teacher, but I didn't recognize her at first because she was wearing a face mask, rubber gloves, a back brace, and operating a vacuum.  Why?  Because her classroom had an infestation of rats in the ceiling and their droppings were everywhere.  There was urine over $8,000 worth of new books, all of which had to be discarded.  So I'm not exactly sure at that moment how well she could could have displayed proficiency in any area besides pest control.  Could you imagine any business executives getting down and dirty to clean up their office in this way?

To those parents who deeply care about the quality of our schools, how involved could they be when they call the school asking for homework  for their sick child, and don't know what grade he's in?

How much parental control is displayed when they call the school asking for another copy of their son's report card because he refuses to show it to them?

What is the level of competency of a parent who is irate over her pre-teen son getting detention for poking scissors into an electrical outlet, and then furious because the school never taught him it was dangerous?

How much can they care about the quality of their schools when the quality of their language is as bad as their kid's foul mouth?  How would you feel as a teacher if you called a father to report that his son swore obscenely to you, and the dad replied, "What the hell can I do about this crap?"

And just what is the level of discipline of a parent who lets his kid hang out at the mall during week nights and then blames the teacher for a failing grade on a science test the next day?

Is this a top rate role model when a mother is asked to shadow her child at school because he too frequently hits other kids, and in the presence of others, she starts smacking him around?

What level of parental judgment went into a decision to allow her child to wear a shirt to school with a picture of two characters fornicating?

How concerned is the parent who, upon hearing that his child has a head injury and needs to go home, says he can't leave his meeting?

Is anyone else as weary as I am over the relentless complaints lodged against educators for not being proven experts in their subject field?

To those who chronically carp about the paucity of competent teachers, I would ask that you at least stop interrupting those who are somehow able to teach our kids, despite the raw material provided by parents who haven't been proven to be such experts in their field either.

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