What the hell is wrong with our elementary school? In general, I support all schools and teachers. I have deep respect for the hard work they do. But when something happens or is said that I disagree with, I stand up and speak my mind. Isn’t that my right as a parent?
We have butted heads repeatedly over the years over a few issues: supervision and homework (or lack thereof). Every time there is an issue, my concerns fall on deaf ears. The only way I’ve gotten any concerns addressed is to go above their heads to the district.
Yesterday, I went to school for Special Friends Day with my second grade son. I was excited I could be there since the past two years I was a working mom and had to miss it. My mom in law was there too. We had lunch with him outside and then he started playing soccer with other boys since it was their recess time. My mom in law and I got to talking, and I didn’t see what happened, but he came out upset and crying saying the other team was cheating and that one boy gave him a red card and kicked him out of the game. I told him there are no referees in the game and that another kid can’t just kick him out. I told him to go back and play and that I would stand up for him if the boy started messing with him again. So I started paying more attention to the game.
A few minutes later, that same boy started fighting with another boy. They were kicking each other repeatedly, punching each other and slamming their bodies into each other. I watched and looked around for a teacher, but nobody else was watching. I stood up, called my son over, and broke up the fight by telling the boys to stop it. My mom in law took away the soccer ball because they were fighting, not playing.
I thought the school should know there was just a fight, so I sent my son over to tell a teacher who was watching the playground (with her back to the soccer field.) In the past when I was working as a teacher, no matter what school or what state I was in, there was zero tolerance for fighting. Kids had consequences. I figured the teachers needed to know so they could handle it. I watched as my son told the teacher, and I watched as she dismissed him and kept chatting with a mom with her back to the soccer field. My son came back to the blanket, and I asked him if she was going to do anything about the fight, and he said he didn’t know. My mom in law and I looked at each other in disbelief and sat there watching the teacher and wondering if she was going to act on the information she had just received. No such luck, she continued to stand there chatting with a mom. So, I decided to say something to her myself.
I walked over to her and excused myself for interrupting her very important (not) conversation with this mom and asked her if she was going to do anything about the boys fighting. At first, she said she was just told about it and would deal with it later. I repeated my concerns wondering if she was going to do anything about it at that moment, since there were adult witnesses and the boys were now dispersing. She mocked me, slapping her hand on her thigh and using a fake voice to say, ‘well, I will just get right on that! I will do something right away.’ Then she turned to keep chatting with the mom who was standing there. I stood there giving her a hard stare until she took some action. She called one boy over, and I heard him say, “I wasn’t really fighting.” So I replied, “yes he was!” Then things took a turn for the worse.
The teacher then turned around and came at me with her finger pointed, raised her voice, and got in my face telling me that I have ‘no control there’ and that ‘if I wanted to continue talking to her about this incident that I needed to go inside because I was embarassing her.’ She told me I needed to go inside so we could talk with an administrator, to which I replied that I’m sure it was very embarrasing for her since she was the only teacher on duty and kids were fighting and she wasn’t doing anything about it. Like this conversation with this mom standing there was more important that the safety of kids who were beating each other up??
So, I gladly obliged. Sure, let’s go inside and talk to an administrator, why not. We go inside, and we find an administrator, and we sit down, and the first thing she says is, “I’m so pissed.” How professional? Let me get this straight. Two boys beat each other up. No teacher is watching. No teacher does anything about it. When I tell a teacher and ask her to act on it, I am the one at fault and am sent to the office. SHE is the one who is angry, and MY behavoir is inappropriate, not the behavior of the fighting boys. Really?
She is the first to speak and unleashes with lies. Apparently, I walked up to her and started yellling at her. Apparently, I attacked her, and this is her defense. Whatever. I got a chance to speak my side of the story, and after I explained the urgency of the issue in my opinion, the AP replied with, ‘well we aren’t into public humiliation, and we aim to preserve the dignity of the child, so I’m going to go on the assumption that you (the teacher) were going to look into it later.’ To which I replied that not issuing immediate consequences gives a couple messages: that if you get in a fight at our elementary school, nothing is going to happen, and that the conversation with the mom was more important than the kids’ safety. I didn’t understand how they expected to get to the bottom of things later in the day once the adult witnesses were gone and the kids were going to lie about it.
It was clear the teacher wasn’t going to do ANYTHING about the fight. She was too busy chit chatting with another mom to even care about what just happened. The AP pointed out that we have a philosophical divide – that I expected immediate consequences, and that’s just not how they do things at our school. She did assure me there were consequences for fighting, and that they would look into it. She did her best to defend her teacher, which is what she should do. But, in my opinion, there is no defense of a teacher who turns her back on the report of kids fighting and who acts so unprofessional to a parent with a concern. All she had to do was excuse herself from the mom she was talking to, call the boys over and deal with the conflict. Is that too much to ask?
Instead of the boys getting in trouble for beating each other up, I was the one who was out of line apparently. I was the one sent to the office. I was the one she was “pissed” at. What message does that send to the children? She is the most unprofessional teacher I have ever dealt with. I have never seen a teacher wag her finger in my face and yell at me over something the kids did. In my opinion, she is the worst teacher I’ve ever met. It makes me sick that the administration backs this and other behaviors in the past. We still have three more years at this school, so wish me luck. I’m going to keep being myself and standing up for my kid and for what I think is right for kids in general.
Here’s a quick recap of past conflicts:
1. No homework. They formed a committee of parents and teachers who decided homework isn’t beneficial unless it’s purposeful and meaningful (duh). So instead of assigning purposeful and meaningful homework, they decided no homework. I fought the battle again this year when my son’s second grade teacher wrote home saying there wouldn’t be any homework. I opposed, and she replied saying they adopted the district guidelines. I searched the district guidelines and sent them to her and the principal. The guidelines are about high quality, meaningful homework, not NO homework. The teacher and principal stopped answering me and told me to talk to the district. I did. The district said they are NOT a no homework district, and they tried to tell me my school is aligned with their guidelines. Once I sent the email saying there is NO homework, she said it must be some kind of misunderstanding. In the end, she offered to send home a workbook that goes with the math series. That’s all I wanted in the first place. I can’t believe it was so hard to get some homework for my child when it was clearly available all along. I don’t appreciate being lied to either. I don’t appreciate that the teacher and principal stopped being responsive. I don’t appreciate that they lie and do what is easiest on them. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
- Instead of hiring substitute teachers, they let parent volunteers manage classrooms for half days while the staff meets for PLCs (Professional Learning Committees). Parent volunteers are only background checked in the state of Texas. So a child molester from another state can easily be in charge of my kids’ class one day just because my elementary school wants to save some money and not hire a sub!
- When my middle daughter was in third grade, her teacher left the class alone so she could take boxes out to her car. It was toward the end of the year, and she was moving classrooms the next year. So she decided to ask a couple kids to help and she left the class alone. Well, my daughter had to go pee. She is a rule follower and didn’t want to leave the classroom without permission. So what happened? She peed her pants! Then the kids went running next door saying, ‘we need a teacher, she peed her pants!’ My daughter came home humiliated. When I talked to the principal about it, she tried to appeal to the fact that I’ve been a teacher before, and she said you know there are times when you have to leave your classes alone. OK, like maybe in an emergency, or maybe if you are having a bathroom problem, or something I can see running out for a few minutes if you have to. But you are supposed to get coverage. You are supposed to reserve those times to absolute emergencies. You aren’t supposed to leave your class alone to take things to your car. That is NOT an emergency!
I’m sick of lazy teachers. I’m sick of lazy administrators. I’m sick of people around here being fake! Do what’s right for kids. Watch them with your eyeballs. Try to challenge them. Teach them study habits. And act when something goes wrong. That’s all I ask.