Teachers vs. Parents - Who Knows Best?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Rhonindk, May 2, 2018.


Who knows what your kids need when it comes to educational choices?

  1. Teachers

    4 vote(s)
  2. Parents

    20 vote(s)
  3. Someone else ...

    3 vote(s)
  4. Don't know or Not Sure

    4 vote(s)
  1. Rhonindk macrumors 68040


    Watching a hash of the news this morning and saw the topic "Nation's top teachers 'verbally spar' with Betsy DeVos in private meeting" a few times. Having mentored high school students and putting four of my own through LAUSD, it caught my attention.

    Headline A
    Headline B
    Headline C

    I listened and delved through the articles including the links I placed here and came to one conclusion; this was a discussion about what group knows what is best for your child when it comes to where they should attend school (school voucher programs and charter schools vs. assigned public schools) and what kind of school they should attend - in other words: Teacher / Union vs. Parents. The money received for populated public schools vs. the ability for parents to choose where to send their children.

    I came away from these and the news shows seeing the school/teachers side as saying "if students leave we will have even less to work with monetarily" and the parents side as saying "this is an opportunity to allow my child to attend a better / high performing school". As a mentor I can see the teachers concerns. As a parent I can see parents concern regarding decent education.

    My choice: Let the parents choose. The children (students) should not be forced to suffer in an under-performing school if the district has problems getting is right.
  2. hulugu macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    quae tangit perit Trump
    The point is that while some students may be able to escape an underperforming school, this also means that other students are stuck in a school so poorly funded that it's literally collapsing into disrepair.

    What you get is asymmetric schooling where wealthy parents get their parochial schools subsidized by taxpayers, middle income people struggle and maneuver to get their kids into well-funded public schools, and the people at the bottom get stuck in collapsing neighborhood schools, and get compressed into larger class-sizes as schools close.

    The thing is it costs a certain amount of money to run a school, and if the number of students drops below that cost, a district will close that school. But, that funnels students into fewer schools, which means bigger classes with decreasing resources.

    The whole school "choice" thing is a scam designed to crush public schooling into dust. The right thing is equitable funding across the board.

    Moreover, there's little evidence to suggest that "school choice" works in terms of student outcomes.
  3. Rhonindk thread starter macrumors 68040


    Great point. From a selfish parent perspective, if I could get my kids into a high performing school why would I not?
    Under-performing school? Heal thy self. I already pay a lot in taxes. ;)

    Side Note:
    Bit of a way-back to show you where I get my stance.
    Attended Public High School in a district that was not rich (population was ranch and farm lands). My graduation class had 3 Valedictorians and 14 Salutatorians ina class of 350. In order for us to get Trig, AnaGeom, Adv Physics, and other classes of a similar level (about a dozen of us - no AP back then) our parents has to sue the school district as the requirement was you needed 15 students or more or the class was dropped. No alternative options. Teachers existed who wanted and were qualified to teach the subject matter. We wanted to learn. The teachers wanted to teach. The school said it was not cost effective to teach these subjects. If an opportunity to go elsewhere had been present, most of us would have left. If our parents didn't sue, our ability to attend a college of our choice, our test scores, our scholarship choices, would have all been seriously impacted.
    I look at the kids I mentored and saw a lot of the same. Fortunately, AP classes were available even if not always effective. I saw many a student leave when the parents moved just to allow their children a better opportunity. I saw even more where the student just gave up. Or the parents.
  4. BeeGood macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2013
    Lot 23E. Somewhere in Georgia.
    Well, I voted for “parents”, but I should have read the thread first, because this isn’t an issue of “teachers vs parents”. It’s an issue of public school administrators trying to restrict choices in order to keep the public school system together.

    There’s really no good answer to this, as @hulugu has pointed out. A nationwide voucher system would literally leave millions of kids in schools that go from poor to horrible, simply because they can’t get to a better school. Watching poverty, joblessness, drop out and illiteracy rates go up isn’t going to be good for anybody.

    So generally speaking, I’m not in favor of vouchers. We already have choice. If you don’t like your school, relocate to a better discredit/cluster.
  5. Rhonindk thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nice thought but once again that restricts relocation to the more wealthy or those where their job allows this.
    Come end of the day, the solution is playing with the future of the student.
    Heck of a problem we have financed ourselves into ...
  6. BeeGood macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2013
    Lot 23E. Somewhere in Georgia.
    True, but regardless of how the system is structured, those with means will always have the ability to relocate into a better situation.

    I guess what this question boils down to is who “owns” the public schools dollars...do they “belong” to the school? Or do they “belong” to the student, which would mean that those dollars should be alllowed to travel with the kid (in the form of a voucher) wherever he/she goes.

    If we go with the latter, then we’re going to have to be OK with watching some schools fail, and I don’t think we as a nation are ready for the consequences of that. It’s definitely one heck of a mess, but I think vouchers would make it much worse.
  7. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    My mom didn't like the public school in my area. She sent me to a private school, but never complained about having to pay all my tuition, nor complained that part of her taxes were going to fund the public school I didn't attend. It was her choice to send her kid to private school, but also her duty as a citizen to help ensure everyone got a reasonable quality of education.
  8. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020


    Jan 31, 2015
    I’d argue depending on the situation, some parents know better than teachers, and in others teachers know better than the parents.

    I don’t think school performance necessarily has to do as much with how much money the school receives. I’m not sure how much teacher quality actually varies- I find it hard to believe there is some massive discrepancy there. I imagine the biggest determinant is the culture of the community and how much they value education.

    I grew up in Connecticut, a state with some of the wealthiest suburbs and poorest cities. The suburbs have some of the best performing public schools, while the inner city schools performance is quite poor in comparison. The inner city schools however get a ton of funding and are in some cases nicer (physically) than the suburban schools. That said, I once read an article stating the absentee rate was 30%... hard to learn if you don’t go to school.

    I’m not an expert in education and I’m sure this doesn’t apply everywhere. But I know we have some people who work in edu here, so it will be interesting to hear their take.
  9. Micky Do, May 2, 2018
    Last edited: May 2, 2018

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Having taught youngsters from pre-school to tertiary level for 19 years, with the past 15 years being a quasi-academic at a tertiary institution in a developing country.... I was split between "Teachers" and "Someone else". In the end I went for "Teachers", because it depends on just who the "Somebody else" is.

    In my experience, too often parents choices are based on their own expectations. While some are realistic, too many over estimate the intelligence and aptitude of their darling little Einsteins.
  10. hulugu macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    quae tangit perit Trump
    I'm gaming the system too by getting my kid into the high-performing magnet school within the district, but to me that's not a goal, but a flaw in the larger district. All schools should be high-performing magnet schools with art, music, and sports. All schools should have funds to raise chickens, build gardens, or build up student-led mariachi bands or chess clubs.

    The problem is that legislators in wing-nut states have taken surpluses and education dollars and stuffed them into the pockets of donors with the lie that we're going to get more money through magic. And, then when schools starve, they tell parents to push each other out of the way to make sure our kids get enough bread. Or, in the case of schools, enough money to hire teachers, buy books, and keep the heat on.

    Obviously, not every school will be high-performing and some schools will be better than others because of variations between teachers and administrators, not to mention parental-involvment—which at my kid's school is simply bonkers.

    But, the goal should be good to great schools, not a dozen low performing schools and one nationally-recognized amazeballs school that has a waiting list 5 years deep. Because that's what the Koch brothers and their dimwit apparatchiks like Devos are building.

    This seems like an edge case, and I don't think that blowing up the entire public school system to solve this edge particular edge case is worthwhile. Moreover, I suspect that this edge case was created because the school district was trying to balance costs. School choice will just draw money away from public schools toward charter schools—which tend to be owned by wealthy Republicans with their mitts in the till.

    For parents who really want their kid to collect AP credits like merit badges, maybe a private school is worth it. And, lots of public schools have high marks for similar programs.

    Choice within a given district makes sense, but I see no reason to subsidize well-healed parochial schools so that parents might be able to shift their kids to punish a school for being mediocre or dim. The goal should be better schools. For everyone.

    And, consider that Arizona has tried the whole charter school and school choice system and student test scores are lousy, funding non-existent and dozens of schools have closed, forcing kids into larger and larger classes.

    But, somehow the magic of the market will solve all these problems it created.

    Yeah, I'm not buying it.
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Hard to learn if you are so poor that you are hungry when you get to school.
  12. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    How do you create an incentive for schools to perform well when most of the parents have no choice but to send their kids there?
  13. jeremy h macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2008
    The secret to all this is figuring out what to measure. If the measure is simply the final exam results then any school that is selective (be that through money, religion, house prices in a small catchment etc etc) will always out perform the others. All they need to do is simply sit back and select the bright wealthy kids. They will always perform for you. However, how much are you adding? If when they enter your school they're predicated to get A's and get home tutoring etc from engaged parents then you can just coast along for 5 years. However, if a non-selective school down the road has a poorly performing intake with say predictions of E's and the school manages to get them up to C's with no help real help from relatively disinterested parents then which school is better?
  14. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    It's not a business. It's a public service, like police, fire department, sanitation, etc. How are all those departments motivated to do well?
  15. BeeGood, May 3, 2018
    Last edited: May 3, 2018

    BeeGood macrumors 68000


    Sep 15, 2013
    Lot 23E. Somewhere in Georgia.
    This is absolutely true, money isn’t the whole equation. If it were, Title I funding would have made all of the schools equal already, and clearly it hasn’t.

    My wife taught at a Title I school briefly that received a ton of resources compared to more affluent schools in the area. Extra counselors and social workers, a really nice media center, funding for supplemental after school and weekend instruction (the county buses kids right from their front door to the school on weekends for additional instruction), pretty much every kid got free lunch and breakfast.

    She taught Algebra I that year. Something like 70% of her kids had a failing cumulative at any given time. Some of them just weren’t prepared; they were 9th and 10th graders who were doing math at a 5th grade level who were just shuffled along by teachers who were low-key-pressured to pass them to “make the school look good”. Lots of them genuinely didn’t care. They’d show up to class with no paper, without their books (which they often lose) no calculator, but they always had their $600+ phones out.

    So we definitely don’t want to have the idea that throwing money at schools makes them better. Functional parenting and more importantly, engaged students are necessary for good schools.
  16. Gutwrench Contributor


    Jan 2, 2011
    Our daughter went to great public school districts because that’s where we chose to live. I can only remember two conflicts in all that time and both were in Iowa schools.

    One involved a physical education teacher who was said our daughter was lazy and rarely participated or avoided activities (like battlefield. Lol) Our daughter is now 21 years old; she’s 4’10” tall and weighs 88 pounds. She still gets seated at restaurants with a plastic cup and crayons. The other incident was some stupid teaching technique over negative numbers. It was stupid and confusing as hell! Thank god it was short lived block.

    Btw - we met with the school on both of these matters and it was resolved wonderfully.
  17. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020


    Jan 31, 2015
    These schools I am referring to offer subsidized breakfast programs, in addition to lunch. These schools from what I’ve seen also offer a wide range of social services, from basic medical to dental care to day care. I would say they are trying very hard to ensure kids have everything they need to go to school.

    That said, I suppose there are kids who drop out of school to support their families.
  18. Populism, May 3, 2018
    Last edited: May 3, 2018

    Populism macrumors regular


    Jun 11, 2014
    Society has to decide whether it is or it isn't ok for some schools to be better than others.

    If the answer is no - it's not ok for some schools to be better than others - then get honest about it and demand that the better schools funding be curtailed/reallocated until they are no better than the others.
  19. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Please add an it depends choice. Not all parents are engaged or are the brightest of bulbs.
    --- Post Merged, May 3, 2018 ---
    Betsy has your back, if you are not poor. :rolleyes: :oops:
  20. BoxerGT2.5 macrumors 68000


    Jun 4, 2008
    My wife and I moved simply because the eventual high school my kids would attend is sub-par. Right now we're in a school district that ranks in the top 10 in our state. My wife is a teacher with a lot of experience, she's worked in schools we're some "not so great places to live" fed into the district and she saw a stark difference in the majority of kids who's parents were engaged in their kids education (not just when their kids gets in trouble and a call is made to the home) and those who's parents were MIA for the entire year and who you could tell never sat down with their kid to help them with homework. Money only goes so far, it takes the parents to have an active role in their child's education and the school they attend in order to make the schools and the districts better. DC public schools are proof money only goes so far.
  21. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    Service. As a young man growing up in the city, I never fully understood the meaning of the word. We had postal service, customer service, internal revenue service and so on. They keep using the word service. I don't think it means what they think it means.;)
    Later on, while working on a farm part time (shoveling manure, which enhanced my BS-ing skills tremendously:D), I heard the farmer talking to business partner. He said that it would cost several thousand of dollars to hire a bull to service all of his cows. Instant epiphany! The word does mean what the Government thinks it means.
  22. AlliFlowers Contributor


    Jan 1, 2011
    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    If there were true equity amongst public schools, it would not be a question. But there is not.

    Charter schools are not the answer. Charters are nothing but private institutions built for the purpose of collecting federal money. They will take students, but unlike public schools, they are under no obligation to keep them if their behavior is poor or their grades are low.

    Many schools are moving to "outcome based," but we're not getting there fast enough, and high stakes standardized testing is still the general rule. This is the same as judging dentists by the health of their patients' teeth. It's absurd.

    Currently, no one can make the choice, because the choices are unfair.
  23. tshrimp macrumors 6502


    Mar 30, 2012
    I would not equate money with school success. Keep in mind that as school funding/spending has increased performance has not. Unless things have changes since I taught school. BTW...the amount of financial waste I saw when teaching was inexcusable.

    Either way. ..The parents should decide what is best for their child. They know them best.
  24. Rhonindk thread starter macrumors 68040


    Good question: Who does it belong to?
    After watching and experiencing the LAUSD and the Teachers Union, stir in a few politicos, we have a "highly educationally diversified environment". aka "a mess". Not sure if vouchers will help or hurt. I do know that currently finances drive the train. Not student needs. It is the LAUSD finances and the Teacher Union finances.
  25. Sydde macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2009
    Frogstar World B
    I understand the position that my children are the most important thing. But the impact that they have on my life is kind of small in the big picture. I sometimes engage with dozens, scores, possibly hundreds of other people in the course of a given day: I prefer that most of those people be fairly well educated. That guy that tried to mug me the other day was probably a person whom the school system failed to educate well enough, which upsets me almost as much as the near-mugging.

    Hence, I pay my taxes for everyone's children whether or not I have any children in school, because I want all of them to be as smart as they can. To write off all the other kids who are not actually yours (some of who may become your young in-laws) is short-sighted. This is our world: we should be trying to set up all the children to be making it the best possible place to live.

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