A few years ago, I did a post on how I think most parents consider their children to be accessories. Unfortunately, I still think that way. However, now these parents are apparently casting off their accessories because they're too much work.
Case in point. I had a student last year who had a lot of severe mental problems, bi-polar being the least of them. Biological dad was in jail somewhere in another state, he lived with mom and sister. He spent time during his sixth grade year in a mental institution, and did a return visit during the year I had him. He was spending most of his eighth grade year in our Behavior Adjustment unit but I noticed recently that I hadn't seen him around which was unusual. I mentioned this to the BA teacher the other day and she informed me that his mother had washed her hands of him and turned him over to the state and he was now in foster care and attending another school. The BA teacher was in court (called as a witness) when this happened and basically said that his mother told the court that she didn't want anything to do with him any more. I'm sure hearing that must have made this kid's day.
Another teacher, Mrs. Strawberry, was summoned to court last week to appear as a witness in a custody case involving a student. She mentioned that while she sat in the court waiting for her case to come up not one, not two, but three parents were there turning their kids over to the state! And that's just one day in one court in one city.
And of course last week we had the President trot out his first education policy speech laced with buzzwords like accountability. Of course, he means, like every other politician out there, teacher accountability.
What I want to know is when in the bloody hell are parents going to start to be held accountable?
I get a number of education-related email newsletters every day and one this week had an interesting blurb about a study done by Henry C. Berliner and published jointly by the Education and Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Arizona State University's Education Policy Research Unit that described seven out-of-school factors that play a role in a child's educational success. (For those of us in the classroom this is a big "duh" moment as we already know this - apparently most policy makers either don't or they don't care.) The factors include prenatal care, health care, food insecurity, environmental pollutants, family stress, neighborhood characteristics and extended learning systems.
I firmly believe that before any legislator, and that includes the President, makes any sort of law or policy in education, they need to walk in our shoes. This does not mean going to a high achieving elementary school with freshly scrubbed, well dressed, well fed cherubs who sit at your feet while you read a picture book to them and you get your photo op for the networks. How about working as a substitute teacher for a few weeks? Spend some time in the behavior adjustment unit with the kids with mental issues. How about some time working as the in school suspension teacher? Try to set up a parent meeting with a parent that not only didn't provide us with a working phone number, but all the other emergency contact numbers are bad as well. And then when you get that meeting set up (should that miracle occur) how about standing in the office for fifteen minutes waiting for the parent to not show up? How about enjoying that parent phone call where they tell you that "what happens in school is not my problem, you deal with it!". Sit in on an s-team meeting, a 504 meeting and an IEP meeting. Get all your paperwork done, your lessons planned, and then teach, teach, teach kids who aren't fed, washed, or cared for.
It's a tough thing to Not Leave A Child Behind when parents, such as they are, don't parent and are doing their best to drag their children down.
P.S. I haven't read the report cited above. I'd like to, but as of yet I haven't found it, just articles about it (and I'm not paying for any article, thankyewverymuch.) If anyone finds it, let us know.