Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Penny the Parent? Now a Pinata!

We've never had an outpouring of mail like this. We're over 800 pieces of mail in less than 8 hours, and it's not slowing up. Penny the Parent has certainly touched off some issues, and we only regret that our reduced moderator staff will make it impossible for us to do our normal editing and cleaning up. Below are the "best" items we've seen, and we've only had a small chance to go through what is still piling up in the sand outside the compound's door. (See, the mythology still lives.) Penny the Parent? Here you go. Oh, and one extra delicious detail. It's a TUESDAY afternoon class this week that's causing these problems.
  • Let’s replace Thanksgiving with a Pity Party for poor Penny the Pissed-Off Parent. The folks who pay my salary are hassling me to have their kids learn less? To let them skip class? Hassling me to fall down on the job by blithely canceling class when it conflicts with their offspring’s delayed process of differentiation from their own over-protective psyches? Bwah hah hah hah. You jest, surely. It’s the registrar that schedules the class sessions, not me. I am required to be there. You’re worried about your truant teenager’s grade? I am punished salary-wise if I miss that afternoon class. If I don’t require – really require – attendance on that last day before Thanksgiving, they will not show up, and I will be left lecturing to an empty hall. Not a cozy holiday feeling, let me tell you. Apropos of which, I’d like to get out of state to visit my parents on Turkey Day too. They are getting on in years, you know. Do you know how I make your slacker spawn show up? By making the essays due in class that day. Oh, cruelty! Oh, wait: that means they’ve been freed for the holiday from the Term Paper of Damocles while I brace myself for the massive impact of 80 idiotic incarnations of "X and Y are similar, yet different ... different, yet similar". He’ll sleep on the bus; I’m grading on the plane.

  • If Penny Parent got wind that any prof was regularly cancelling classes, arriving late, skipping out early, taking vacations during the semester, she'd want that prof's hide. 'How dare that prof not respect the fact that I pay his salary? I want what I'm paying for - classes for Kiddo!' Penny reveals what she really wants -- puppetmastery. Profs should only cancel classes or suspend attendance policies when it makes sense for family planning (I mean, employer planning, oops).

  • When your child picks a college, look at the schedule before sending your deposit. If the college is open that day, the professor has the obligation to have classes. End of story. Since when is a fascist someone who has class on a scheduled class day? Geez, mom. Every frigging day I think of the tax payers that are paying my salary. Every day. I make sure my students meet the course objectives. I flunk them when they don’t. My colleagues and I are educational bargains as state employees. Our salaries divided by the number of hours we work each week is a great deal. I think every day about the current and future tax payers my students will be serving as nurses, teachers, engineers. I want these future employees to to be educated. That is my job and I do it well and proudly. Students can’t learn if they go home early to give thanks. Wake up and take responsibility. You should have seen this coming. My son wasn’t home for 4 college Turkey days. We knew Thanksgiving wouldn’t be an option when he chose that school. I missed him so much it hurt. I gave him an extra hug at Christmas and cherished the time together even more.

  • Get over yourself, would you? It is very clear that you believe your child's life revolves around you. Are you really concerned that they won't have a good Thanksgiving because it's going to take some time for them to get home? Maybe you need to ask yourself the question, "Why did my child want to go to college so far away from me?" The answer is staring you in the face. Attendance is part of going to college. Going to class is not optional. First, you complain that we're going to make them come to class and not waste your money. Then, you complain that they can't come home early enough to spend as little time with you as possible, find their high school friends to hang out with, get drunk and then go back to college to complain about you. And, by the way, our salaries come from a variety of sources: endowments,grants, and tuition (which is often subsidized by sizable financial aid packages including scholarships, grants, loans, etc.). In other words, any actual amount of YOUR money that lands in MY pocket is minimal. If you don't like our "product," go elsewhere.

  • You mean—class is scheduled and the professor actually wants your student to COME? Or there will be CONSEQUENCES???? OMFG! Call out the marines! Get a clue, lady. It’s on the calendar the university/college/whatever publishes long before the beginning of each academic year—heck, my college publishes its calendar long before I get one from my “real” job that tells me what holidays I get off if I’m lucky. Speaking of which—will you be freaking out if your little one gets a job out of state and has to work the days before and after Thanksgiving—or *gasp* on Thanksgiving itself? Try looking at the calendars and planning your lives accordingly, then get a clue.

  • If there is a place on God's green earth where what you have to say--you Pissy, Privileged, Poor-ass excuse of a Parent--"may actually make a difference," then I hereby resign from said green earth. Where the fuck do you get off? Yes, I teach to support my _______________ habit. You got me. With all this dough rolling in, I can afford _____________ up the wazoo, as long as ______________ refers to tap water, white bread, or dented cans of soup. I want to work extra, not blow off class, and stare at the sleep-smeared face of your obtuse offspring because...oh, wait. If I were doing this only to support a ______________habit, I would probably just not give a fuck, and your student could go spend his day with his fam at the "crossroads of America" (isn't that Indiana, by the way?) where he would never have to learn one god-forsaken thing. (But if he didn't have hot, fascist professors, you might have to start blaming yourself for that snotty, self-absorbed little attitude of his - and who wants that?) So maybe, just maybe, your logic is a little flawed. Maybe we care more about your precious progeny's future than you do. Maybe we don't want him to grow up to use commas in his contractions. Maybe we want him to be able to sustain a logical argument. And maybe we are trying too, too hard to keep him from becoming a frightfully self-absorbed atrocity of a human being. So sorry if this ruins your day of thanks. I, for one, am thankful that despite my students' many flaws this term, I haven't heard one sound as disrespectful and ungrateful as you.

  • You're right. Your kid is not getting your money's worth. But not for the reasons you think. Your kid is not getting your money's worth because you are bent on passing on the idea that education is something that someone is supposed to ladle into her little brain while she sits around passively accepting it -- and when it is convenient for her to sit there passively accepting it. And you can't get an education that way. You get an education by fighting for it. You claw at the books to get everything you can out of them, and you sit up front so you can hear everything the lecturer has to say, and you do problem after problem in the skills classes and write essay after essay in the theory classes, and not because these things are assigned but because that's how you learn. And that's even before you consider the many people who have to work 40 or 80 hours a week to be able to afford to go to school in the first place, before you consider the many people who cannot go to school at all and spend hours searching through sites like MIT's OpenCourseWare to figure out what books are within their intellectual grasp but will extend their reach.

  • You ask whether we at state schools think about our "employers." I assure you we do. We are paid to show up and teach a class session on the day before the break begins. Good taxpayer money funds our salaries as well as the support services needed to keep those buildings open and running. You paid tuition for a set number of contact hours designed to achieve measurable learning outcomes. How can we possibly be good stewards of the public's funds if we don't do our jobs on the days we are scheduled to work? If I'm scheduled to be there to teach, Snotley is scheduled to show up to learn. Did you ever for a minute think that some profs might want that day off for travel to visit OUR families but won't take it because we take our responsibilities seriously?

  • Since my Dean has said on more than one occasion that there is no correlation between increased enrollment and faculty compensation, I have a hard time believing that Penny's ilk essentially pays my salary. Even if you buy into the consumer model of higher education, why are you insisting on getting LESS for your money? Speaking of the Dean, if Penny is looking for a special outlet for her bitching, why doesn't she join in with the rest of the PTA and call him/her? She seems to have a cursory knowledge of the workings of academia, I thought she'd have thought of that. In the meantime, she and her snowflake-in-waiting can suck it up and honor their end of the academic agreement. While the professors and the mass transit authority seem to be conspiring against you, Penny, it could be a lot worse. There are plenty of folks who DON'T get to take 5 days off this week.

  • I must say that after inflation (mainly in her opinion of herself) Penny's two cents (or sense as the case may be) are not worth much. Bad puns aside, I can't imagine what hell she and her brat create for the profs, but I've had similar little bastards who are the spawn of similarly deranged helicopter parents (seriously, referring to yourself as "the parent" over and over?). If I understand it correctly, momma's little snowflake wants to duck out early, get wasted, and take the typical snowflake schedule (i.e., wake up at 1, arrive late to classes from 1-3, leave early to take nap 2-6, drink thereafter...), and momma both bemoans the teachers for not teaching and for wanting her brat around to teach. There's a reason no one picks up a Penny off the street anymore--they're worthless. University positions are not the "service" industries you believe. Only half of my time is contractually bound to teaching. The other half is to research--with a third of my total time to service too (we know it doesn't add up, but quacks like Penny who sat on advisory boards somehow made 50% + 50% + 30% = 100%). Guess what the most important part is and what I actually get evaluated/promoted on? Here's a hint: it's not dealing with you or your high-school grade inflated B student (who's failing now by the way). At any rate, the truly insane part of your post is that by all accounts the teaching is up to snuff. You're not complaining that the teaching is bad...you're actually complaining that they're trying to give you what you, yourself, bitch about paying for? Wow, just wow.

  • Thanks for teaching your little bastard snowflake to take revenge and throw a tantrum when one of us actually does our job and teaches. Good values you're imparting. I'm guessing that whole hit them in the "$$ book" comment is indicative of both how you taught momma's angel to spell and write and also how to fill out evals if you don't get to skip class. By the way, we know your snowflake is not a "rocket scientist," we were just hoping "the student" could at least master hygiene--next class we teach tying shoe laces. I guess "the student" will miss that one to ride the bus--at least you can give it a bath when you see it.

  • We of the faculty are so sorry that your special little snowflake will come home surly because THEY HAD TO GO TO FUCKING CLASS LIKE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO! Oh boo fucking hoo! It is parents like you that make “Intractable (but hot, according to RMP) fascists” like us want to jam dull butterknives into our ears so we don’t have to listen to shit like this. As for some of the “points” you bring up I will answer in kind. “Maybe the Professors would like to ponder this. Do you ever think about the folks who essentially pay your salaries?” The college or university where I am employed pays my salary NOT you. That is unless you are the president of KissyFace U. and it is your lovely signature I see on my paycheck. “Do you have any feelings for your "employers" and their offspring (besides contempt ?) I mean, do you like being a College Professor ? (I admit it, I read just some of the blog...)”. To reiterate, I am employed by my college or university. My students and/or their parents ARE NOT my employers. Get a dictionary or just talk to someone in higher ed to find out these simple facts. Maybe the hippie school of “Love, Peace, and Unicorns that shit Skittles” that gave you a degree (I’m making a big assumption here because I usually type the contraction for the words do not as don’t) let you run the show but that isn’t (notice the proper contraction usage) what it is like now. By the way, I LOVE my job but I HATE hearing from parents who think they know what should go on at all levels of a college so that their special water molecule (note the snowflake has melted because of the big, bad fascists have made it gain some surliness and in the process it melted) can show up all happy and shiny with tales about their 3.5 GPA that they may or may not have really earned. Since you only read some of the blog, try some more and then maybe you’ll get an idea of what it is like for those of us “teaching” right now. If you STILL don’t (damn, got it right again) get it, watch Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” and then come back and read some more. And last but not least, “Can you honestly tell me that we are getting our money's worth, or do you teach to support your_______________ habit ? “ My “habit” seems to be a concoction of eating, sleeping, teaching, preparing for classes and labs, grading absolute shit that single-celled organisms think is pathetic, and occasionally seeing my spouse and our pets. I lead a pretty fucking boring life because of my “teaching” habit. I think that I speak for almost everyone who teaches on this site when I say that, “Yes, you are getting your money’s worth”. The bigger question that you have to ask yourself is does my precious water molecule own up to the dumb shit that they do? It is always around this time of the semester that terms like “extra credit” and “bonus points” start to grate on me but I’m sure your drip isn’t one of those now are they?