Nevada is in the middle of an official week-long campaign against bullying in schools. There is much merit to this, but I have to wonder: with all of this emphasis on curbing the harassment of young people in schools, will anybody think to halt the bullying of teachers, also?
Who bullies the teacher? Parents, mostly. Ron Clark recently noted:
Today, 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. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.
I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of this. All teachers have. Parents will contact us–sometimes diplomatically, but usually not–with a single agenda: to get special exceptions made so their child will get a higher grade. They might demand more time for work, or an alternate assignment, or something else that actually is remotely reasonable, but most often they just want some number in the grade book arbitrarily changed, and for no better reason than because they don’t like it, they don’t think it’s fair. You’d be surprised how many will quickly stoop to insults, screaming, and threats of legal action if teachers don’t immediately bend over backwards to appease every random request.
And God help you if you dare to disagree. Teachers can only hope their administrators will stand firm and support them when aggrieved parents go screaming to the office about the “uncaring” teachers who won’t change everything to be the way every parent wants it right away.
This epidemic attitude shows something even scarier than a lack of compunction about respecting hard-working professionals. It proves that the parents’ priority isn’t the quality of education–it’s merely the grades.
And students pick up on this. I fear that if I offered students and parents a hypothetical choice between getting a poor education and an automatic A, or a fantastic education and a guaranteed F, most everyone would choose the former.