Monday, August 29, 2005

Cut The Cord, People!

This AP report tells us that colleges are now having to face what we schoolteachers have had to face for years: over-involved parents.

Before the shots start flying, let me state up front that yes, I know that they're your kids, not mine. Yes, I know that you have every right to be concerned about the quality of education, their grades, etc. Yes, I really do enjoy and see the need for parental involvement in schools, not just pay it lip service. Remember, I'm a parent first and a teacher second.

But you have to remember some things, too, parents. Yes, I really do know what I'm doing. No, I don't have it in for your kid. No, yelling and dropping the f-bomb on me will not make me more amenable to agree with you. And f*** no, threatening me, especially with lawsuits, will not cause me to cower; quite the opposite, in fact.

So what are over-involved parents? I won't address the situation at high school. Anyone who's overinvolved wouldn't see him/herself in the description anyway. And besides, using actual tales, even without names, has the potential to create problems I don't want to deal with. So go read the AP article on what some parents are doing at colleges. Some of the problems cited:

1. parents' calling college administrators to complain about their children's dorm assignments,
2. parents' calling college administrators to complain about their children's roommates,
3. students' calling mumsie every night before going to bed,
4. parents' arguing with college administrators, arguing that paying tuition entitles them to whatever they want, and
5. (one I read in another article) students' handing a cell phone to the guidance counselor during class registration and saying, "Here, talk to my mom."

I like this response from an administrator:

"We get quoted the price tag frequently," said Dean of Student Affairs Jim Terhune. "But what you're paying for is an education, not a room at the Sheraton, and sometimes that education is uncomfortable."

Cut the cord, people.

Some day perhaps I'll tell the story of my first day at West Point.


Phyllis S said...

Will they call their bosses as well?

Suzi said...

In Texas college teachers are not allowed, by law, to discuss the student with the parents. This is sometimes easy to remember and sometimes difficult. (Obnoxious parents make it easy. Parents of students with obvious difficulties sometimes might make me want to forget.)

It's been the law for a long time. But once, at one university I taught at, the dean called and informed me that the Ambassador from X wanted to know what his daughter was making in school. I told the dean I couldn't tell the man that. It was illegal. The dean insisted that I do. Finally, I told the dean that I would tell him what the girl was making, if he asked. (He's my superior. He has a legal right to ask and know.) Then HE told the ambassador. And, yes, I knew he was probably going to, but that way I didn't do the wrong thing.

And I expect that, unfortunately, they will call their bosses as well. Until the first time that gets their child fired.

Darren said...

It wouldn't surprise me if it's already happened--with the result Suzi identified!

The Smack said...

I would like to hear how your first day at West Point compared to my first day here at USAFA. It is a day I won't soon forget...what a bad day. It's a funny thought, I should have my mom call the squadron commander to complain about having to do facing movements in the hall or calling minutes. Education...can be very uncomfortable

ns said...


You MUST tell us about your first day at West Point now! I am all atwitter with excitment!

No, really, I DO want to know about your first day at West Point.

Darren said...

OK, My First Day At West Point.

Now, you're not going to hear about the lines, equipment issues, drill practice, etc. You're going to hear only about the part that relates to this post.

It had never occurred to me to have my parents escort me to West Point. In fact, I just naturally assumed that everyone would show up as I did, alone. In the acceptance packet were offers from several hotels in NYC, each offering us a room, a tour of the city, and a bus ride to West Point on July 1st. I booked one of these hotel packages.

I don't remember how I got from the airport to the hotel on June 30, but I apparently did so. The next morning there were several buses lined up in front of the hotel, and hundreds of us boarded for the hour-plus drive up the Palisades to West Point. We were dropped off at Michie Stadium (pronounced "Mikey"), the first place I saw parents. We were welcomed with a couple speeches, and then the "new cadets" were invited down to be taken to the cadet area.

Like I said, it never occurred to me to have my family there. I was shocked to see people saying good-bye to their families, moms crying, etc. I had said good-bye to my family at the Sacramento airport.

As soon as we walked into one of the tunnels under the stadium, the smiles on the faces of the seniors disappeared. I remember clearly, "From this point forward there will be no talking." That's the last thing I remember *clearly* from that day. The rest is only a blur.

Several years later, and several years ago, I had the strangest experience. It was in the early 90's, and I had purchased a package of undershirts. When I ripped open the plastic wrap the smell of those white cotton shirts hit me--and instantly I was transported back to that first day at West Point. In the several seconds that the sensation lasted I experienced the sights, sounds, and even emotions of that first day. I've heard that smell is a powerful key to unlock memories, and I have no doubt that it's true.

The Smack said...

I too said goodbye to my family at the Sacamento Airport. I really don't think anything I could have been told would have prepared me for what I was about to go through. We were met by smiling happy cadets processing our paperwork, then we went over a bridge and were loaded onto the buses. When the doors closed the atmosphere changed. I quickly learned to sit at attention as orders were barked in my face. Then we got off to screaming TI's who taught us the correct position of attention. After that is all blurred together, lots of yelling, running, and standing in line.

Looking back I can laugh at it, but it was so overwhelming at the time. It is true what they say, I really do feel like I have accomplished something by making it through my first summer. Being a 4 degree is tough, stressful, and overwhelming at times, but I feel like I'm part of something bigger than myself. It is an awesome feeling to be a part of this Academy. Instead of looking for others to be proud of me, I'm finally proud of myself.

Darren said...

Smack, now imagine being a beanhead in Viking 9, and having a West Point exchange cadet fresh out of Airborne School in your squadron.

Creepy thing is, you weren't even born yet. Gawd I feel old sometimes.

Ok, time for another story. It was probably my first day there, and one of the beaners walking by in the squadron noticed that "one of these cadets is not like the others" (sung to Sesame Street tune). He made a snap decision and greeted me thusly, using the appropriate squadron greeting: "Valhalla, Midshipman Miller. Proud Viking 9!"

For those of you who don't know, a midshipman is an attendee of the Naval Academy. He guessed my uniform incorrectly. Or, as the knight said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "He chose poorly."

"Irwin!", I called out. "Do I look like I have 8 arms and 8 legs to you?"

"Sir, I do not understand!"

"Do I look like I have 8 arms and 8 legs to you?"

"No, sir!"

"Then why are you calling me a squid?!" Light hazing ensued. Irwin survived :-)

Polski3 said...

My Mother-in-Law is a counselor at a university in the Pacific Northwest. "Helicoper Parents" are her departments #1 headache.
Recently, she said it was getting worse every year.