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  1. #1

    The Rewards and Frustrations of Education

    Okay, gotta start by saying that most parents are great. I have had the great pleasure of having some fantastic parents in the past, who appreciate the education their kids get, who frequently thank me for being their kids' teacher even years and years later, and who talk about how much their kid loves having me as a teacher and how much (and in how many ways) I influenced their lives and had a lasting impact on them. My district passed their budget, thank god, despite the idiot governor of NJ trying to get everyone to vote down their budgets (nothing helps property values and the future of the state like making sure your public education system crumbles) and I am so glad my town supports education.

    Having said that...

    Holy crap. Some parents are such morons.

    I have one... the boy is now in sixth grade. He has been a mess since he was in kindergarten... a MESS. Mute for years, couldn't do any of the work... and every time the teachers try to do something, the family goes crazy. The mother has sued the school twice when we tried to get him classified as special ed (I would think that not talking for six years, not hearing a single instruction, not being able to do any of the work, and literally having NO emotional reaction to anything might be a clue...) and cost us a TON of money, money the school simply cannot afford. Every year teachers gathered material to try to get the kid help, tried to show that the kid desperately needed more support, but every year the parents fought us.

    This year we spent months and months on it, as the boy failed EVERY subject and literally could not do ANYTHING... trying desperately to get this kid tested to see what is wrong, to get this kid officially recognized as having a problem so he can have some help come middle school, and again, the parents refused to sign anything or get this kid help. Now, this kid is DEAD in the middle school with no paperwork... he won't get any sort of kiddie glove treatment, no special services, nothing... the first day he won't do anything and the teachers will just bomb him. We've warned the parents OVER AND OVER about this, and they just don't give a crap... they insist there is nothing wrong.

    And on top of that, they constantly harass the teachers about creating special modified assignments and study guides and private lessons and all this other crap for the kid. NO!! You idiot, if you FIGHT us EVERY STEP OF THE WAY when we try to have THIS EXACT STUFF put into the kids educational program, why on EARTH would we then go ahead and do it for you anyway off the books? Do they REALLY think they are going to get this stuff in middle school and high school, that teachers will do all the WORK for special education but not actually classify the kid? How on EARTH does that help anyone?

    Just moronic.

    My wife (who is an elementary school counselor) had a good one too... there is a fourth grader in her school who is, frankly, a sociopath. Violent, abusive... has hurt a number of kids... suspected of killing two cats in the neighborhood... defecated on the bathroom floor (although they cannot prove it, three different times he has come into the office with this smirk and reported "Someone made a mess on the floor." Yeah, three times you happen to find it?) And he has NO empathy... no remorse... a totally flat affect. The classic "Holy cow you are going to be a serial killer."

    And what do the idiot parents do? Nothing. Well, no, they fight the school NONSTOP, sue the school for trying to get the kid help, scream and curse at the principal when the kid is removed for the school bus for punching a second grade girl in the face "because he didn't like her voice." You idiot parents... YOUR KID IS REALLY DISTURBED AND NEEDS HELP, and because you are too into your own careers and pretending everything is fine, you are hurting him even more.

    It is insane how many crappy parents there are. The kid who is failing everything, and then cuts school constantly (he plays sick) and mom lets him stay home... only to have him skateboard past the classroom window an hour after school starts. And then they have the gall to call up and ask that we give up our lunch to give him extra help? Are you kidding?

    Or how about the kid who cusses in class, who pushes kids on the playground, who talks back and draws dirty pictures on the bathroom wall? Mom walks into the Parent-Teacher conference, the teacher says "We have grave concerns about his behavior" and mom says "Oh, it isn't grades? So what?" and WALKS OUT.

    Or how about the kid who doesn't show up for school, and no parent calls, and when the school calls home at 9:30 panicked that the kid is not there and we don't know why the mom, being awoken by the phone, says that she thought it was a snow day because there were a few snowflakes that fell the night before. IT IS SUNNY AND 50 DEGREES OUTSIDE, not a FLAKE of snow in sight, and NO phone call about a snow day... and you thought it was a snow day? And do they bring the kid in from four blocks away? Nope. And this is a C-D student who needs all the time in school he can get!

    Or how about the CLEARLY autistic fifth grade girl, who literally stands in one place and stares at the wall and drools, who takes THIRTY MINUTES to unpack her backpack, and who cannot do one single thing in the classroom? Nope! Nothing wrong there! Mom won't even HEAR the word autistic, and won't let the school do anything about it... in fact, she FORCED her out of special education for the one subject she got it and into the regular classroom, where she is failing everything. Come sixth grade, she is dead, and the middle school? Phew, forget it.

    Oh, and forget giving them modified assignments... well, that isn't true, the parents ALL want modified assignments, but you CAN'T put that on a report card, or they can sue us (as they have in the past.) Yep... the A that the kid who drools on himself gets for putting his name on his paper is the same as the A that the honors kid gets as far as report cards go, because if we say ANYTHING otherwise, we get sued.

    Or how about the kid who plays touch football at recess, gets pushed over a bit too hard (not hard enough to go to the nurse, not hard enough to even tell the adults who were on duty) and the parents SUE THE SCHOOL. Yeah, because the school isn't already strapped enough for money... getting caught up in some moronic lawsuit is TOTALLY the way to go.

    Oh, and in that case? The other family SUED THE SCHOOL also. Yep, because a voted-down budget isn't enough to deal with.

    It happens constantly. F'ing constantly. I have so many hundreds and hundreds of stories... I hate people sometimes, and I am often reminded that the most idiotic people that I hate are often also idiotic parents.
    Last edited by Newton_14; 02-18-2011 at 11:08 PM.

  2. #2
    Please hang in there. The world needs more teachers like you.

    It is unfortunate that parents can't remember to put their kids first. A child in special ed is no reflection on the parent. Rather, it shows that the parent cares about their kid and getting the best for them.

    And the kid that stays home "sick" but still gets to play outside, I really don't get. That is my sign that I'm old. If we stayed home sick, even if we were better by the end of the day, we didn't get to play with our friends when they got home. We tried very hard not to be sick on a Friday because then you didn't get to go out to play until you returned to school on Monday.

    Personally, I'd like judges to be given the right to start laughing out loud when some cases come before them. You can really find some ridiculously asinine lawsuits out there.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Seoul, Korea
    Well, if you want to look on the bright side... you made my concerns seem rather insignificant.

    Teaching math in Asia, I just get to deal with the parents who wonder why they kid is doing so badly, because he only has a 95 average. Of course, my current source of frustration is the IB program. I teach IB Computer Science as well as Mathematics. And in their curriculum review, they decided to recommend out of the 150 hours or so of recommended class time, the time that needs to be allotted for teaching programming... 11 hours. So by fiat, one of my courses is about to become, well, useless.

    On the plus side, as if I needed any more reason to bask in the glow of a championship, among the colleges that came to visit Seoul last week... Duke.

    But anyway, yes, parents can be morons and I'm sorry you are dealing with such hassles. Hoping and praying that it will sort itself out for the best.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Deslok View Post
    Of course, my current source of frustration is the IB program. I teach IB Computer Science as well as Mathematics. And in their curriculum review, they decided to recommend out of the 150 hours or so of recommended class time, the time that needs to be allotted for teaching programming... 11 hours. So by fiat, one of my courses is about to become, well, useless.
    Yeah... I got an IB degree in 2000 from Canada, and higher-level computer science was an incredible waste of time. I am now a software engineer at Google and not one things I learned from IB computer science is relevant or useful. It was a frustrating class to take - I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to teach.

    I thought IB math was fine, although too rigid to compete with the strongest US math programs in high school.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    My district passed their budget, thank god, despite the idiot governor of NJ trying to get everyone to vote down their budgets (nothing helps property values and the future of the state like making sure your public education system crumbles) and I am so glad my town supports education.
    *biting tongue*

    Just a few facts:
    The average NJ resident spends just north of $3,000 per year in local taxes, the 5th most in the country (as of 2007-2008, courtesy Forbes.com).

    On average NJ spends slightly more than $15,000 per student to educate K-12 (pretty sure that ranks top 5 as well, # courtesy of NJ DoE).

    To say that the public education system will crumble due to what amounts to a 5% cut in education spending at most (less since much of it will be made up w/ increased property taxes) is extreme to say the least.

    No doubt there are a bunch of parents who never should have had offspring but to say that NJ or it's Governor doesn't care about education is misleading. NJ is a very messed up state and it needs a lot of fixing.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Seoul, Korea
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    *biting tongue*

    Just a few facts:
    The average NJ resident spends just north of $3,000 per year in local taxes, the 5th most in the country (as of 2007-2008, courtesy Forbes.com).

    On average NJ spends slightly more than $15,000 per student to educate K-12 (pretty sure that ranks top 5 as well, # courtesy of NJ DoE).

    To say that the public education system will crumble due to what amounts to a 5% cut in education spending at most (less since much of it will be made up w/ increased property taxes) is extreme to say the least.

    No doubt there are a bunch of parents who never should have had offspring but to say that NJ or it's Governor doesn't care about education is misleading. NJ is a very messed up state and it needs a lot of fixing.
    Not trying to make this too political or anything, but as I understand it, the state changes that are causing the uproar is not the cut in overall expenditures, but rather the severe cut that the middle class and wealthier districts are getting in funding to keep the poorer districts at a similar level to what they were before. I was reading about one district where(and I'm making up numbers because I forget the extend of funding itself, but percentage wise this is pretty accurate), last year they received about $19 million in state funding, because of the economy they budgeted on receiving a cutback to $14 million in funding, and then the state came out with its numbers and they got $5 million. I'm not trying to argue for/against the equity of which districts should receive what, but the severity of the immediate change, without any warning or ability to preplan has caused a great deal of havoc.

  7. #7
    Lord Ash, I hope you at least feel better after your statement.
    Sounds like a nightmare. What's the deal with the school system lawyers and the judges in your state? Can't anybody put together a coherent argument against these parents? Is your superintendent a moron, too?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Sullivans Island, SC
    Quote Originally Posted by weezie View Post
    Lord Ash, I hope you at least feel better after your statement.
    Sounds like a nightmare. What's the deal with the school system lawyers and the judges in your state? Can't anybody put together a coherent argument against these parents? Is your superintendent a moron, too?
    Indeed a nightmare, but the lawyers and the State are the problem. Spending more money in a labyrinth of bureaucracy already strapped by unsustainable finances sounds awfully counterproductive to me. Just ask California which provides an excellent example for the direction in which the rest of country is following.

  9. #9
    The cuts that were made were a percentage of the total budget (not a percentage of the state aid). So if a town got 5% of it's budget from the state... they could lose their entire state funding. Whereas if a town got 40% of their budget from the state then they would only lose 1/8th of their state funding. Both districts would face making up a different of 5% in their total budget (which could be accomplished with raising property taxes). And yes the 40% vs. 5% difference is a reality (which may be another problem in and of itself).

  10. #10
    As far as teacher-parent interactions go, my roommate is teaching right now, and my mother was a teacher for many many years, so I have some funny and some depressing stories, but I agree with the OP.

    People talk about America's failing schools, but bottom line is the home is as important as the school environment. My roommate has stories of of parents who are concerned and involved and their children tend to do really well.

    She has many students though with almost no home support, and generally they are doing terribly. Some parents care and try, but are simply too busy or overwhelmed supporting their families (especially a problem with single parents and multiple kids). Others generally don't care and are just lousy or lazy parents. There is another segment that just has really, really bad or messy home lives....kids going through really difficult situations and as a result they act out or become disinterested.

    Nothing is as important as parent involvement in education.

  11. #11
    A few things

    Yeah, that is one thing that kills me, Kansas... we teachers don't push for a child to go to special ed because we are angry or don't like them... we push because they need that extra attention or that modified program. Now that I teach the oldest kids in my school (the sixth grade) it is amazing how many kids we refer to special ed... probably 5x what the fifth grade recommends, because we see the kids, and we see how doomed they are in middle school without formal "protection" in the form of modifications and allowances. It is tough, too, because so many lower grade teachers, even when the students are not classified, still go SO far out of their way to help the kids. While the thought is kind and the motives genuine, in the end this just hurts the kids, as some parents say "But wait... my kids was getting Bs in 4th and 5th grade... why are they failing in 6th?" That is, in some ways, the fault of the school, which is afraid to make waves, but in some ways the parents have to accept some responsibility too; new teachers literally get threatened when they refer a kid to special education, and older teachers come under ENORMOUS pressure from parents when they do. Terrible, I know, but...

    And I'm with you; when I was sick, I was SICK, and I was not allowed out of bed until the next morning! The worst part is that kid I wrote about is a great kid (who is getting Ds) and I ADORE the family... I've had all three of their kids, and they are a loving, caring, wonderful bunch... but the kids all get Ds and Fs in school, and the parents are always wondering why?

    Des, funny you should mention Asia... we have a HUGE Korean population in my school, and I'll tell you what; they take education awful seriously! It is quite nice, to be honest

    Weez, honestly I don't know a ton about the outcomes of these cases, but the problem to me is simply the school has such a hard time affording it. We already cannot buy some books, we struggle to get supplies, there are teachers who run out of paper... heck, our district has run out of money for the year, so if you need something, it comes out of your pockets... and on top of that, the sheer amount of work involved when a parent sues is insane and ties up teachers and administrators for countless hours... hours needed for other, more legit cases.

    Bear, I agree. Schools cannot educate without support at home, and unfortunately we as a society seem to have stepped away from that a bit... we've gone from "Do what your teacher says" to "I believe anything my 10 year old says about their mean teacher." I cannot tell you how many times a kid will go home with some bizarre story and the parents straight up believe them. An old teacher joke is parents should only believe about 10% of what their kids report to them. And another change from "my day?" My parents would not have called the principal unless someone was MURDERED. But now, parents hear bizarre stories from their kid and IMMEDIATELY call the principal. What happened to talking to the teachers, and figuring out if a story is true? That seems to have done the way of the dodo. Respect for teachers is, unfortunately, disappearing.

    Now Spade, I did want to save you for last, and I don't want this to turn political

    However, a few notes...

    First, I cannot speak for too many districts. However, I can tell you that my own small district had a $14 million budget last year. The state told the school it would lose $250,000, and we did. Then, two days before the budgets were due to the state, the state cut another $750,000. Our district, which is run about as responsibly and carefully as you can imagine with no fat, suddenly had a massive hole that they had no reason to expect, and which was, frankly, devastating. We faced cutting computers, foreign languages, art, sports, and a host of other things. In the end they had to raise town taxes in these tough economic times by 6%, which enabled them to save some things, but still computers, languages, art, music, some sports, and a host of other programs were trimmed or cut. My wife's district, named one of the Top 25 in the nation by Forbes just this year, lost something around 4 million, had to cut over thirty positions, elective course, instrumental music, and more, and just had their budget voted down as well, so I don't know how they are going to manage frankly... massive cuts, I suppose.

    What angers me the most is that NJ Governor Christie has attacked teachers so viciously and unfairly for his own political good.

    He has taken advantage of tough economic times, has chosen teachers as the villains, and has attacked us relentlessly. He accuses us teachers of being a major cause for the budget shortfalls in New Jersey. He accused us teachers of being like drug dealers, of using our students as drug mules to get teacher propaganda into homes. He has accused us of being greedy, of putting our salaries ahead of our students needs. He has threatened our contracts, our pensions, our salaries, our benefits, when he promised in the election that he would not. He has made bizarre connections between freezing teacher pay and lower taxes, and called on all towns to vote down budgets where teachers did not volunteer to freeze their pay, which would further cripple our education beyond what his cuts already have... and lo and behold, the towns where teachers agreed to take a salary freeze still voted down their budgets. The state budget offices have actually openly said that freezing teacher pays would have no impact on teacher layoffs and tax increases, but he has ignored this and continued his political attack. Christie has attacked teacher unions (which are not some faceless vampire, but are myself and the 60 year old 1st grade teacher and the 26 year old 5th grade teacher) as being engines of greed, of trying to do nothing but milk the already-suffering citizens of NJ (which, of course, we are) for money. Christie has engaged in a disgusting attack on among the most important, most vulnerable, and lowest paid professionals around... and all while he has hired his wife a $150,000 secretary and increased the size and salary of his own office many times over.

    As a teacher, I will never make more money because times are good. I will never have my contract opened so I can get a pay raise. I contribute thousands to my pension every year, and unfortunately I'll never get it back because the state, illegally, and for years, did not match and spent my money on pet projects for politicians so they would get re-elected. So now thousands and thousands of my hard earned dollars just disappear each year, and I have no recourse... after all, legally we have gotten nowhere, and if we strike we get arrested. I have eight years of teaching experience and five years of professional experience of a high level, my last non-teaching job being running three minor league sports teams. I have three degrees from Duke University (and I graduated in '97, when we were #4 in the country undergrad) and a Masters from Columbia. I get to work at 7:30 AM, and leave between 4:30 and 5:00 PM, only to go home and grade for hours. My students regularly test well, and more importantly to me come away from my class with a diverse education, an enthusiasm for learning, a drive to be better students, and an understanding of and appreciation for what it takes to be both a good citizen and a good person.

    And for this I make $50,000 a year, which is about $30,000 after taxes and pension money are taken out, but before I have to pay my mortgage. I know of no one else with my experience and education, both of which I am sure are appreciated in this place of intellectual honesty and rigor, who makes so little. And still I am attacked by my governor for being greedy, for not caring about my children, for not caring about my fellow citizens, for being a major cause of the budget problems of New Jersey. "I cannot accept this unfair criticism myself, cannot stomach the cutting of such important educational programs, and cannot believe that this will bring our best and brightest to one of our most valuable positions. Hence, the gradual crumbling of education in New Jersey."

    /rant

    Last edited by Bob Green; 04-21-2010 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Requested by poster

  12. #12
    The average teacher in NJ makes $58,000+. In addition they get 28 cents on the dollar in benefits which brings the total w/ benefits to over $70,000. Again this is an average (many make more, many make less). This is for 10 months of work. If you think that compares poorly with other professionals... then who are you comparing to? Doctors? Lawyers? It probably doesn't compare favorably to other Duke grads but teaching doesn't pay more based on where you went to school. You know how the system works better than I do I'm sure.

    The pension thing is a disaster. NJ has been run terribly poorly for a long time and the pension fund has suffered. I do think the whole thing is somewhat unsustainable. We pay $15,000 per child per year and we're not even funding the pension (as you know). If we funded the pension what would that become? $17,000? How much is too much?

    Teachers pay something like 5% into their pension? The state would have to basically double that in match to fund the pensions. It is already billions of dollars behind... I don't see how it will catch up. It is a time bomb that will eventually blow up. Atleast Christie is trying to address this. Corzine ignored it for 4 years. I'm sure teachers won't like the solution (lower salaries, cut benefits, etc.) but it's better than just letting it run out and dealing with it when it does.

  13. #13
    out of curiosity, how did the student who was mute for six years advance grade to grade? cant he be held back for not meeting some sort of standards?
    My Quick Smells Like French Toast.

  14. #14
    The average teacher in NJ makes $58,000+. In addition they get 28 cents on the dollar in benefits which brings the total w/ benefits to over $70,000.
    You're misusing statistics there. Having an average salary of 58K is different than saying the average teacher makes 58k. The average bonus at Goldman this year was around 500k. I guarantee the average worker at Goldman got nowhere near that amount.

    No doubt there are a bunch of parents who never should have had offspring but to say that NJ or it's Governor doesn't care about education is misleading.
    heh. Since this is a thread on primary education, let's count the grammar mistakes.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    You're misusing statistics there. Having an average salary of 58K is different than saying the average teacher makes 58k. The average bonus at Goldman this year was around 500k. I guarantee the average worker at Goldman got nowhere near that amount.
    I'd love to know how you define an average person in a statistical manner.

    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    heh. Since this is a thread on primary education, let's count the grammar mistakes.
    Oh no. The grammar police are coming to get me... I'm sure we couldn't find any written mistakes in your response.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    I'm sure we couldn't find any written mistakes in your response.
    I didn't find any.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    I'd love to know how you define an average person in a statistical manner.
    That ball is in your court: you used the term "average teacher" when citing salaries.


    Oh no. The grammar police are coming to get me... I'm sure we couldn't find any written mistakes in your response.
    The grammar police
    They live inside of my head
    The grammar police
    They come to me in my thread
    The grammar police
    They're coming to arrest me
    Oh no!

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    That ball is in your court: you used the term "average teacher" when citing salaries.
    And you used "average worker at Goldman" in your response. Do you have anything of substance to add to the conversation?

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    And you used "average worker at Goldman" in your response. Do you have anything of substance to add to the conversation?
    With certain measurements, such as salary, home prices, bonuses, etc. "average" isn't a true measure of what the average employee / consumer gets.

    The appropriate measure is median:

    For example, if you had a small set of 10 employees, 1 of them received $0 bonus, 8 of them received $1,000, and 1 received $5M, the AVERAGE bonus is $500K but the median bonus is $1000 (which is what the average employee receives). Of course, if the paper reports that the median bonus as Goldman Sachs was $1000, then it's not a story.

    Now I'm not defending Wall Street because after the government ponied up a bailout, people still lost almost everything in the market, but the brokers and traders in NYC were still out living the high life. All the bailout did was keep the fund managers' and their employees' lifetsyles in the decadent realm.

  20. #20
    Join Date
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    Getting away from the salary issues that have hijacked the thread, the whole story is a terrible indictment of our society as a whole. There is very little in the way of personal responsibility these days. Everyone with any problem cannot just take responsiblility for it. No one seems to recognize that there could be anything wrong with themselves or their children. You must have a disease! You can't help it! With kids, it's hard not to believe that so much of this stems from a general sense that we will easiily bruise children's self-esteem. Therefore, there are never any losers (everyone gets a trophy), dodgeball is bad (some kids will get hit with the ball and will feel bad), can't play tag on the playground (some kids will lose and feel bad), etc. Some schools have stopped giving tests since some kids will do poorly and feel bad about it and it will stunt their growth somehow. My god, where will this go next? Parents that think the schools are out to get them and label their child as different are missing the point! There are kids with issues! There are parents with issues! Maybe both need help. I put my kids in private school to avoid some of these issues but they exist there too. Thanks to the teachers who really care and are trying to fix the problems but my god, good luck! With the threat of getting sued for attempting to help kids, who's going to go the extra mile to do that? Hard not to believe we're not doomed.

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