Have you ever noticed that when a kid does well in school, the parents get most of the credit, but when they're failing, it's the teacher's fault?
So, in a "bold" move last week, my union proposed the novel idea of radically reforming education in Wisconsin. This reform will include three steps, one of which is moving to a merit pay system. This means they are suggesting that, in the future, teachers not be paid based on years of experience or education but rather on how successful our students are on state tests.
Okay.....I'll do my best, but what I want to know now is...Are parents ever going to be held accountable for how their kids do on state tests??*
If I happen to have a student whose parents say they would just like him to "have fun" at school and they really don't care whether he's passing classes or not. Can I report them to the Bureau of Responsible Parenting? (Oh, wait--there isn't one. )
What about a student whose parents think homework isn't fair; junior should just play outside when he gets home from school, because they "just can't get him to do homework."? If he gets behind in his work, they would like me to keep him after school to help him catch up**. Can I bill them for that? Should I "Just Say No" and suffer the consequences?
What if I have a student who doesn't have any parents at home (because they are both incarcerated) and his 18 year-old brother is in charge? Can I just give him the answers?
Some kids fall asleep in class on a daily basis because their parents are fighting half the night and they can't sleep. Should I invite them to sleep at my house?
I once had a student whose mom's idea of "quality time" was taking him out to a bar 2-3 nights per week, where she played in pool and dart leagues, got drunk, and had him (age 14) drive them home. He complained to me about this regularly (just wanted to stay home) and refused to do homework as a sort payback to his mom for being so selfish. (Yes, I called Child Protective, but I couldn't tell them which bar they frequented, so they couldn't do anything.) Maybe I should have met him at the bar, helped him with his homework, and offered to be the Designated Driver?
Then there are the parents who do the work for their kids (It's just easier that way, I guess.) Will I be able to have such parents take the state tests for their kids?
Of course, I'm a special ed teacher. I'm not even going to get into the challenges of that!
I think the best I can do is squeeze every second of learning I can into the school day itself, even moreso than usual.
Something tells me 6th grade is going to become a lot less fun.
*I'm not saying that all students who don't make the grade have terrible parents; I'm just referring to the ones we all know should be taking part of the responsibility but aren't. (And of course, I currently have NO parents like this.)
**Yes, they actually have the nerve to ask this. And yes, I have actually consented. ( know-- I'm a sucker.)
**And for the record, I've never been a fan of tenure, so I don't really object to this on principle; I've just always wondered when someone is going to do something about the parents who think educating kids is only the job of the school.