Do Teachers work for the Parents?

<p>I am a teacher and I thought this would be an interesting question to ask here. I'm not interested in debating good vs. bad teaching nor do I want to invite teacher bashing. I have recently gotten into several discussions with individuals in which they indicate the attitude that public school teachers "work for " the parents in their school system because they are tax payers. How do yo feel about this and how much accountability is appropriate in regard to the teacher/ parent relationship. Should the parents have more say in the hiring/ firing of teachers? Is there a place for parental evaluation of teachers and how would that work? </p>

<p>I am, of course, a parent as well as a teacher and I have some complex feelings about this issue. Tell me what you think.</p>

<p>Tough question. I would say there is more accountability to parents in lower grades, when kids can't be expected to advocate for themselves. It would make sense that parents are more involved when a child is young. But I'm stuck on the whole taxpayer thing. I mean, my taxes pay for cops. Do they "work for me"? In a global sense, yes, but teachers have more direct contact with families so I think it would be easy for families to cross the line and not treat them like the professionals they are.</p>

<p>That said, I absolutely think there is room for parents to have a say in the evaluation of a teacher. Often, parents know the real score of what is/isn't happening in the classroom.</p>

<p>Yes. I agree about the taxpayer thing. This question came up with a parent whom I respect and she is frustrated that she "sees" things about some teachers that her kids experience or report experiencing and she thinks that families should get to fill out an evaluation at the end of the year. I was taken aback a bit because I saw the potential for abuse on several levels. As a parent, though, there have been times when i have really, really wanted to report something and I have stopped myself for one reason or another.</p>

<p>Teachers work "for" their students. By which I mean that only one person can be the priority and it must be the student instead of the parent, the principal, the tax-payers, and so on.</p>

<p>I'm very wary of parents getting to evaluate teachers. Some of the worst things I've heard said about teachers came from some of the worst parents I know. Which isn't to say there are not real problems. Heck, we took our kid out of school and home-schooled him because his teacher was so bad in fourth grade. Maybe if enough parents contact the principal or write a letter of concern, that should be noted in the teachers file...something like that.</p>

<p>As a taxpayer, the government works for you. The government hires teachers. That does not mean the teacher works for YOU.</p>

<p>Think about it this way: you hire an electrician. The electrician pays someone to clean up their sidewalk and backyard. This does not mean the cleaning person works for you, even if indirectly and some way down the line your money ends up in their pocket.</p>

<p>Of course, I'm a student and I wouldn't know anything. :)</p>

<p>I am encouraged by your answers. Why is it that I hear this sentiment expressed a lot? The "I pay your salary" attitude. People don't say it directly to me but sometimes in a group of people the subject will come up and someone will forget I'm a teacher and express this sense of entitlement. It is disconcerting since I agree that I work for the student in the way that i was trained to do. The parent is most likely not trained in my teaching field and yet, feels equipped to critique teaching methods, curricula, etc. </p>

<p>On the other hand, I understand the desire to communicate dissatisfaction with the system, especially when you feel that the administration does not seem to be holding a teacher accountable.</p>

<p>Many parents hesitate to talk to administrators for fear that it will come back to bite their child on the behind.</p>

<p>No, teachers do not work for parents, anymore than they work for themselves. Just like all the parents in the room, the teacher pays taxes, as does the bus driver, the janitor, the lunch lady. Do they all get to evaluate the teacher? And the parent -- where do they work? Do you get to comment on your bankers annual performance review? Fill out a form on your dental hygienist?</p>

<p>EPTR posted: I have recently gotten into several discussions with individuals in which they indicate the attitude that public school teachers "work for " the parents in their school system because they are tax payers.</p>

<p>I often hear comments like this, and I always wonder, does the public think teachers are aliens who come out of a space pod every morning to go to work? I am a public school teacher, but I am also a taxpayer, so do I work for myself? I am also a parent of two children who attended the public schools I teach in. No, I don't think that I work for the parents if you mean that they are my boss and should make decisions about hiring & firing. As one poster said, taxes pay for police, but also firemen, librarians, etc. I have not been trained as a policemen, a fireman, a librarian, so it is silly to think I know better than they do how to perform their job. I can have a opinion on their job performance, but not an expert opinion, just based on my desires, and that shouldn't determine if they are hired or fired. The same is true for teachers. Most parents I talk to are very reasonable, but some parents think a good teacher is one who lets their student turn in assignments late for full credit, gives loads of extra credit when their child didn't do regular assignments, or who doesn't dare discipline their child when they misbehave. Talk to a teacher - some of the conversations they have had with parents would make your hair curl (like the student who told one of our chemistry teachers "F*** you", because she dared to tell her she had to wear safety goggles in lab. When her mother was told of this, she laughed). Now absolutely parents need to hold teachers accountable for excellent teaching and professionalism, and they should address it with the teacher and higher ups if necessary if either of these things is lacking.</p>

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Now absolutely parents need to hold teachers accountable for excellent teaching and professionalism, and they should address it with the teacher and higher ups if necessary if either of these things is lacking.

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<p>But how does the parent know what is and isn't excellent teaching?</p>

<p>If a school is keeping ineffective teachers then hopefully there is a principal or somebody that is responsible for weeding them out. If they are not, then it is the parents job to bring it to the attention of the school board or whoever needs to know. I do think the public school teachers work in essence for the public. They aren't getting their paychecks from the toothfairy.</p>

<p>I don't think parents always know what excellent teaching looks like, but we know what it doesn't look like. Ex: Ds's world geopgraphy teacher last year showed so many movies ds should have gotten fine arts credit for film history. The guy didn't show up on back to school night for three years in a row. On the first day of class, he told the kids he wasn't going to work as hard as the other teacher. He had MY ds grade his classmates because the teacher was going to be gone to a meet (yes, he was a coach). How was this guy able to keep his job????</p>

<p>But how does the parent know what is and isn't excellent teaching? </p>

<p>Very good question. I know I have had to address this only once in my children's educational careers, but it was blatant - grading that was unfair and showed favoritism to some students. I think parents have to talk to their students & find out what happens in the classroom. Is it chaos everyday? Are a lot of movies being shown rather than instruction? Take a look at the work you child is doing - does it look challenging? I think parents have to be informed. Our state has very specific standards for all courses and grade levels, and these are given to the parents. But I admit, as a teacher, I'm sure I know what to look for and what to worry about, and some parents may not know when they should be concerned.</p>

<p>^^^
Right. For example, my D had a kindergarten teacher that clearly favored some children over others. She was passive aggressive in subtle but hurtful ways. My D, who has never been a people pleaser, had a rough year. I had to confront this teacher several times but I will admit, I hesitated to report her because most of the behavior was so passive, i would have had a hard time making my case and it would definitely been taken out on my D (don't worry, I dealt with it in person). This woman has since retired and when her name comes up in some circles there are parents that praise her as the best teacher they have ever seen. Huh?! I can only think that it's because she was "old school" and the parents related to her style as familiar and comfortable to them. Never mind that she was a lunatic (okay, in my opinion, anyway).</p>

<p>Teachers work on behalf of their students. And actually, I think most students can be trusted to identify the good and great ones as well as the mediocre and poor ones. Students don't necessarily respect the easy graders and pushovers, and they can tell who cares. I would say strictness is respected as long as it is not arbitrary and punishment is not dispensed unfairly. Off hand, I would say that some parents are blind to the failings of their own children. </p>

<p>The way schools are set up, at least where I live, is not adequate to enable principals to effectively review teachers and provide feedback or to mentor teachers, especially new ones. Also, I am not sure that new principals get adequate mentoring. </p>

<p>In my community, parents have been a component in the group of stakeholders interviewing prospective principals at some of the schools, I believe at the middle and elementary school level. These administrators work with parent groups that raise a lot of funds for the school, organize and participate in work parties and various cultural events. Since the parents as a group want and expect to be "hands-on", I think it is legitimate to have principal willing to work in this type of environment. However, IMHO, parents should go to the principal if matters cannot be resolved with a teacher directly.</p>

<p>Ultimately, the school board develops the policies about teacher evaluation in agreement with the teachers union. The parents get a say in the process when they vote for school board members. If they are not happy with how things are going in the school, they need to share their dissatisfaction with an administrator first and make their way up the food chain as necessary. But no, teachers and school personnel do not work directly for the parents.</p>

<p>In my experience as a teacher, I've found that the parents who strongly felt that teachers work for them, fell into one of two categories. Either the parents were low income URM families (to use a CC term) or the parents were middle class/upper middle class first generation families. I'm not sure why this is exactly, but it has been something that I have experienced. My best guess is that it has something to do with a sense of powerlessness in society. The schools/teachers are one place where they are listened to.</p>

<p>^^^
Interesting. Do you mean first generation as in they had immigrant parents?</p>

<p>Public school teachers are government employees, and as such they are public servants who are accountable to the voters residing in a school district, and are hired and fired by school board members who are elected by the people.</p>

<p>The people have lost most of their authority over teachers due to teacher union contracts that limit the ability of anyone to terminate a teacher's employment. But ultimately, the people are also responsible for tying their own hands in this regard, as they have elected the school board members who negotiate with the unions, who remove the power from the people.</p>

<p>Imo, teachers should be directly accountable to the voters for their performance. They have a duty to society to educate children to the best of their ability, and every voter should have the right to voice their opinion about a teacher's performance.</p>

<p>Oir schools depend on parent volunteers A LOT to help out the elementary school teachers and middle school to some degree. I think that the parents that are able to volunteer their time get a more realistic view of what the teachers deal with every day and therefore have realistic expectations from the teachers. I do believe the teachers work for the public, and as parents of course we have a more vested interest in how the teachers perform. Do we hire and fire? Of course not. Do we have a right to speak up for our children? Yes. Do some parents take that too far because their little angel coudn't possibly be lying about a situation in school? Absolutely. Having to deal with unreasonable parents may be the worst part of the job (next to grading papers on nights and weekends). :)</p>

<p>I had an amusing email exchange with my son's guidance counselor. I asked "How do you solicit feedback from the parents or the kids on your teachers?". I said that my son had many excellent teachers and two really bad ones. The ones he loved really weren't the ones where he'd had the best grades. He graduated last year, so I thought maybe she'd be interested in my(our) opinion...haha...she said "Umm, we don't really DO that." She said they love getting positive feedback and parent emails/letters were often read in the staff meetings, but she said if a parent had a problem with the teacher they were urged to go directly TO the teacher. I said that I would never do that (unless it was really horrible) for fear of retaliation and besides..my kid was graduating. I was just offering to comment for the good of the future students.</p>

<p>Anyway, I gave up, but I hope that none of the loser teachers keep their jobs during the current layoffs and that all the great teachers do!</p>

<p>Clearly, she didn't believe that I was an "employer" :-).</p>