BY CATHERINE DAVIS (05/26/00)
It's unfortunate that so many parents equate money with an investment in their child's education. I'm sure the parent who insisted on a pizza party for voracious reading would have shied away from a suggestion to head up a reading group for students, or to take time out of his day to see if the kids even comprehended any of the billions of pages he was encouraging them to devour.
When my parents wanted to contribute to my education, they did it in the classroom. Even if it was just one afternoon every two weeks grading papers, they gave the teachers time to do what they loved, needed and wanted to do -- teach. This throw-bucks-at-the-problem mentality doesn't achieve that.
-- Elizabeth Olson
As a parent with two kids in public school, I am very glad that Catherine Davis is no longer a teacher. Her article on money and parents in schools reeks of the arrogance of which educators have long been accused. I choose the school that my kids attend very carefully, looking for a partnership with the teachers. I resent her contention that she ALWAYS knew what was better for the kids in her class than the parents. These are my kids, society holds me responsible for them, and to suggest I simply turn them over every morning and pick them up in the afternoon without showing any interest in what they do in between is just plain nuts. Davis should have viewed the parents as partners in the education process, not meddlers, and treated them as such.
Her lack of understanding of the parents' view in the labor dispute is a very disturbing example of her arrogance. Teacher labor disputes are very scary for children. I remember how unsettling it was for me when the teachers picketed out in front of my high school, and that was 20 years ago. Talks of a possible strike dominated the classroom discussions for several days and very little learning happened during that time. Davis' condescending attitude toward the parents who were trying protect their children's interests, and her lack of understanding of the consequences of a labor dispute on her students, prove that getting an education degree does not make one a true teacher. Empathy and understanding are necessary as well. With arrogance like that in the education community, it is no wonder that parents want to place their kids in private schools. If my kids had teachers like that, I'd yank them in a minute.
-- Robyn Anderson
Finally, a teacher who stands up to the sense of entitlement and privilege of wealthy school parents. I was relieved to read an article that tells these parents what they need to hear: You, despite your advanced degree and six-figure salary, are not a teacher.
As a former education reporter, I have seen this "cash-for-school-influence" phenomenon in action, both in public and private schools. It galls me that most of these parents never reflect on what they are doing. Would they tell a doctor how to treat patients or a dentist how to fix teeth? Would they want someone else telling them how to do their jobs? Why is it OK to tell a teacher how to do hers or his?
Qualified peers, supervisors and experts, not parents, should evaluate and advise teachers. This shouldn't be a radical notion. It's what the rules of the American workplace -- and common courtesy -- dictate.
-- Rachel Roberson