Parents, Teachers, & School Board Members Have Separate Roles

In class today we discussed the Pulitzer Prize winning editorial “Boards should be invited in, not locked out” by Mark Mahoney.  The editorial basically says that parents and board members have a right to visit the school during the school day and see what their children are doing.  He argues that the elected officials who are setting the policies and paying the bills should not have to get special permission to observe classrooms like principals do.  Mahoney offers a solution: “And if a large number of citizens or board members want to see, for instance, what they’re doing in gym class these days, then schools can either designate a place where they can all watch, or set up video cameras so visitors can observe the operation later.”

I completely disagree with this.  For starters, any traffic into a classroom is a potential disruption, especially if they can come and go as they please. Besides how many junior high and high school students actually want their parents in the classroom.  It would be embarrassing and they would probably be teased.

What would parents or school board members hope to get out of these classroom visits?  They don’t know the material covered the day before or what will be discussed tomorrow.  So is sitting in on class one day really going to tell them what students are learning?  Teachers went to school and got their degree to teach, most parents did not.  So what gives them the right to try to control the classroom, the teachers, and the content?

Lets just say that your child has a problem with a specific teacher, do you really think that on a day you visit the classroom that the teacher would behave in a negative way towards your child?  Or maybe they will call out your child or give them a bad grade, but maybe that’s because they’re disruptive in class or their work needs improvement.

In class we discussed that maybe parents don’t like the content of material being covered, like a graphic book or say evolution.  I feel like those topics are covered because they are important.  They are a part of history or the progression of thoughts.  It all connects to the changes and progress that occurred to get us where we are today.  Students don’t have to believe everything they are taught, but does that mean that because an issue is controversial it shouldn’t be discussed?  Is it really right to shelter them from such issues or are they able to make their own decisions?

Honestly parents sitting in on classes makes me think of that commercial for Capri Sun where the mother does everything for her sun.  If problems exist then parents should encourage their children to talk to the teacher about it.  My high school had specific complaint policies.  Problems first had to be discussed with the teacher, then the principal, then the school board.  I understand some situations may require a little extra help or an outside perspective, but trying parents trying to fix and do everything for their children isn’t going to help them any.  They can’t follow them to college or their future jobs, so they should teach them to be responsible and either do something about their situation or deal with it.

School board members are kind of similar to parents.  They can conduct their business after school hours.  If a problem exists, trust the judgment of your principal and superintendent.  Unlike the school board, taking care of school business is what they are paid to do.  If something more needs to be done, then by all means work to resolve the issue.

School boards, administration, teachers, parents, and students all have their own roles in education, so how about we just let everyone do their job without trying to interfere.