Have you ever tried to get involved with your kid's education? The teacherrs will treat you like you are dumb/stupid ... if you are lucky, you will get a call back from a teacher within three days of calling ... if you are lucky, your teacher will update your child's grade once a week and be able to tell you where they are at ... if you are lucky, you can arrange a parent/teacher conference sooner than twice a year.
Why?? Because the union contract says that's all they need to do.
They only have to update grades twice a semester/qtr (depending on your school's grading system) - midterm & final grades.
They only have to meet face-to-face with parents twice a year and even then for only 15minutes.
They only have to send grades via mail if a child is failing their class, but don't expect to get the report in a timely manner - there is nothing that says they have to mail out the grades right away ... we have gotten such reports almost 2 weeks after it was too late to fix the grade.
I learned all this from a resent conversation with the prinicipal from my son's school -- we are fortunate to have access online to a service which shows us our children's grades in each class, secondary-high school, so we can check to be sure that homework is getting in, that test scores are within acceptable parameters, etc.
Our district also makes webpages available for teachers - to put up contact information, assignments, study guides etc.
Now if only the teachers would USE THEM!!! Our tax money is going to pay for it, one way or another, and there are some teachers who havent updated their pages for over a year!
The conversation with the principal went like this (highly paraphrased):
me: there is one teacher who hasn't updated his [my son] grades in about 3 weeks!
principal: there is nothing I can do, they are only required to do it twice a quarter.
me: but how can we tell the kids they have to hand in homework on a specific day, when the teachers can't even get their work done in a timely manner.
principal: I totally agree - but there's nothing I can do.
me: what do you mean there is nothing you can do? you're the principal
principal: the contract the Union negotiated says they only have to update twice a quarter because we are on a quarter system.
me: Let me get this straight -- they won't post when my child is failing ... and the teachers themselves might not realize my child is failing right away - because they aren't required too?
principal: well I would think that a teacher would know if they had a child with a problem.
me: no they won't! We've been running into this at the High School - if a kid isn't acting up in class and being a disturbance, the teachers assume they are doing fine and the kid "falls throuogh the cracks"
principal: that is probably very true
me: Look - all I want is my kids grades to be updated. Surely the teachers get some office time, they can at least update them once a week can't they?
principal: It would be nice - but they are only required to do it twice a quarter.
On a side note: teachers are given a 'free hour' every week where they are supposed to catch up on such 'paperwork' ... but many of the teachers are using this time either as a 'coffee break', for correcting papers, or (in case of the high school) helping kids who didn't understand what the neck the teacher said in class.
I took this conversation to indicate that our district should brace itself for a teacher's strike in the near future.
BUT I want to know what other job in America pays full-time wages for a part-time job, and they aren't required to actually do their job but once every month & a half???
and they dare to blame the problems with the education system on lack of "parent involvement"???? How about TEACHER INVOLVEMENT?????