Schools v Parents: Responsibility?

When did we become a society of parenting with “but’s”? I’m sincere in my question. I’m not trying to step on toes here, but I wonder if I am wading into it a little bit…

I just returned home from my first real mommy getaway in five years. Among various topics over a glass of wine & dessert, the conversation turned to dress codes and why certain policies were changing at an upscale plaza area in our nearest metro area (for me that is four hrs away). That area borders on a lower economic area. Apparently teens are starting to flood into the plaza area, loiter, and disturb the peace. One friend suggested that the community needs someone to step up and organize activities & clubs or sports for teens, a community organizer of sorts. The other friend suggested that the school needed to intervene since the parents couldn’t handle it.

WHOA. This last suggestion hit a nerve. A BIG NERVE.

As a former teacher of the “at-risk” teen crowd, I have a bit of perspective here. In my second year in the education system, I was cursed out by an exhausted, frustrated parent at her breaking point in life about how I wasn’t keeping her student passing English classes.  Aside from assisting my students in my science curriculum class, I also gathered ALL their assignments for ALL my tutor students from ALL their teachers in every class every week. I sat with them to read. I made a list of missing assignments. My aide and I made flash cards. We quizzed with the flash cards. I made study guides if the curriculum teacher did not. I looked for other interventions that might assist attention and comprehension. I wanted them to succeed. I LOVED those students. I CRIED for those students and wiped away their tears when they cried. I STRUGGLED with and for those students. I CARED for those students. At the end of the day, I had to send those students on to their parents, grandparents, and caretakers. It was my job to SUPPORT those students in the classroom and ENCOURAGE those students everywhere I saw them, in school and out.

It was not my job as a teacher to RAISE them.

I think this is something that all those in the education system struggle with. At the end of the day, we have to draw the line and go home. We have to take a breath and turn those kids back over to their parents. It is the parents who are ultimately responsible.

My friend kept suggesting that she wasn’t trying to make me mad but I needed to see her side of the debate. No hard feelings here, but I very firmly believe it is not the school system’s responsiblity to raise the students in their care. It is the school’s job to support, educate, and encourage them.

I do not think that your economic status gives you a pass to be a parent, “but.”  On both ends of the payscale, there are parents who work hard.  Her argument was that  parents are responsible for their kids BUT can’t take off work to pick them up at the end of the day. There should be a school program for that.   —  Parents are ultimately responsible to make arrangements for that child be they rich, poor, or somewhere in between. They MADE that child. Was it convenient for my mother or father to take off work 30 miles from where we attended school to come pick us up when sick? NO. Were they ultimately responsible? YES. If they couldn’t, they had to call and find someone who could get us. A sick day is just one day, what about parental work schedules versus when school dismisses? Still the parent’s responsibility to meet the needs of his/her child.

Some around me have said that I’m full of “tough love” or I’m “too responsible” or take things “too seriously.” I don’t believe so. There are no “but’s” in parenting. It is easier to parent with a good support system of family, neighbors, and community. The old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is partially true. It is easier and smoother. Ultimately, it is still the parent’s responsibility.

As a society, we need to stop making excuses and being apathetic. We are too quick to assume someone else will stand up and take on the responsibility when we choose to turn a blind eye. Get out. Volunteer to coach or sponsor or even provide a snack if you can’t make it to the meeting. GET INVOLVED. No “but’s” about it. The next generation needs you.

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