Friday, June 20, 2008

Public High School Paula Is Not Your Kid's Parent.

While I agreed with most of the sentiments in the YMGTC Problem post, I couldn't help but bristle at Problem #4, the deterioration of K-12 education.

I am an educator in the public high school system, and I will be the first to admit that there are problems, serious problems, within the system as it stands. It is not, however, my job to teach children to balance a checkbook or be "good" citizens. That is the job of their parents. Since when in our society do teachers in the public school system have the additional obligation of being surrogate parents? My mother took me to the bank when I was a pre-teen and opened a savings account for me. I got a check register and did chores around the house to earn money. My father taught me how to change a spare tire on my first car. None of my teachers ever did those things for my generation.

I think the larger problem is within the deterioration of the family structure. Parents no longer spend time with their children. They push them into advanced classes, do their science fair projects for them, and expect high grades and college admission. If the kids can't do it on their own, mom and dad are happy to do whatever it takes to make it happen. All the while, both parents work, the kids are in extra curricular activities that take up most weeknights and weekends, and no one has any idea what's going on with anyone else in the family.

I often know more about my students' weekends than their parents (or at least I hope so, because if you think kids are waiting for college to binge drink and explore sexually deviant behavior you are wrong). You wonder why, as college professors, you have helicopter parents and whining students with elitist attitudes and a sense of entitlement? Don't look at the public school system to solve these problems, it's much deeper than that.