Saturday, July 19, 2014

An Administrator Tells What It's Like in One Sector of America's Schools

KB, a school administrator on the East Coast was provoked by a posting on Infinite Campus on this blog to reply. His observations follow:
Public education today is a nebulous Pandora's box. What makes one parent happy will make another irate to the point of a complaint to the superintendent. Some parents need to care more about their child and others would do their child the best service possible if they let the kid do their own thing for a while. I read somewhere a quote, "no matter how tall your grandfather was, everyone has to do their own growing". This is so true in schools today but many parents feel they are actually helping their 17-18yr old child by babying them, calling teachers at the slightest grade change, complaining to VP's when their child is disciplined, doing any and all paperwork/etc., related to college application, etc. They have no idea the damage they are doing to these kids. The result of this is that parents are often raising children who have absolutely no clue how to advocate for themselves or handle their own issues.

For example, I had a mom call to complain that her son (18yrs old and graduating in a month) received a lunch detention because he left wood shop class early before the bell (seen on camera, picture printed, the case was rock solid). Her rationale for complaining to me was that 1) he never received a single referral in high school and she wanted to keep it that way and 2) she was "trying to teach him how to be a man and do the right things", Hello...he's 18yrs old!! Can't he come to the discipline office and plead his case?

Just today, I had a mom come in to our main office because she wanted to pick up working papers for her 17yr old son, who she happily told us was turning 18 in a week. Isn't it possible that this near-18yr old healthy male could have ridden his bike the 3 blocks to the school and done this himself? Our entire district is about 2miles in any direction (max)

We often joke in school that we have 2 types of parents. The first are the "helicopter" parents who are constantly buzzing around the school at the slightest issue and are always "in the know". The second are called "lawnmower" parents because the will literally mow you over until they get what they want, regardless of whether they are right or not.

Our recently retired superintendent used to say, "I'm know I'm raising my kids right simply because I'm NOT raising them like these parents". I feel the same.

These (and many others) are the reasons why schools select student information systems like Infinite Campus, Skyward, PowerSchool, (and the list goes on). Tell parents that their kids need to do their OWN growing and learning and I'll tell the school to stop sending student information updates every 5 minutes.

KB, Administrator

Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
National Education Policy Center
University of Colorado Boulder

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the official position of NEPC, Arizona State University, nor the University of Colorado Boulder.


  1. does this administrator not realize a parent is responsible for a child until the child turns 18? i don't drop my kid off at the school door and think, ok my job is done it's their turn now.

    schools can't beg for parent interest when it comes time for fund raisers or classroom donations and then complain that those same interested, caring parents are lawnmowing the system to "get what they want". what was the revolutionary war cry, no taxation without representation? i am legally responsible for my child, that fact alone should afford me the right to have a say in how s/he is educated, disciplined, and treated all day, everyday.

  2. Truthfully, parents have zero say in how their child is disciplined, aside from appealing the VP/Principal's decision. Board policy, state law, fed law, control discipline in parents. As for a right in how your child is educated, again this is not accurate either aside from the fact you could certainly withdraw him/her and transfer him/her to another school. Again, states and feds dictate in large part what students must have in order to graduate (aside from electives and trivial things like that). As for a say in how their treated, I agree with you that a parent has a say in this. It seemed that this VP was giving his/her opinion based on his/her experience on the east coast. It's certainly reasonable to assume that school districts/towns and parent involvement (or lack thereof) varies greatly across this country. it's tough to make the case that what happens in Kentucky also happens on the East Coast (two different animals)