I want to make it clear that the purpose of this
web site is not to undermine the public school
system. It's purpose is to salvage
public schools. To that end I do see merit in charter
schools, since the competition does
encourage traditional public schools to become
more responsive to parents. In light of my personal
experience with public schools including the use of a lawsuit
silence me for nearly two years, I now favor vouchers. I
do believe that separation of church and state is important,
but I also believe that the welfare of children is even more
Michigan has had several
Anti-SLAPP bills but none have passed yet. Join our
efforts to pass Anti-SLAPP
legislation in Michigan. Check
out all the legislative ideas.
Blame for the
current public school situation belongs to
parents, teachers, and administrators
alike. Most parents fail to document
problem teachers and administrators in
writing. Removal of poorly motivated or
arrogant staff from the school system can only
happen when problems are documented.
I want to
acknowledge that there are also many very good
teachers who teach because they love to learn and
love to see others learn. Those teachers deserve to make a living wage.
Some teachers burn
out over time and simply do a rather shoddy
job. Many entered the profession for the
wrong reasons, such as those in the 1960s who
became teachers to avoid the draft.
problem are washed up jocks who did not have
what it took to make the big time. Many of
them become teachers whose main interest
is sports and their motivation to teach
academic subjects is minimal.
While not fair to
those teachers who are motivated, the saying "Those
who can do. Those who cannot
teach." most certainly has
some basis. My personal observation
is that many jocks become coaches and
administrators and that many of them are more
interested in sports than teaching. This
led to my own version of the saying which is: "Those
who can do. Those who cannot teach.
And those who cannot teach become coaches and
these jocks get themselves into a position of
authority they often promote sports to the
detriment of academics. Even worse is that
they routinely promote like minded people into
school administration. The end result is most school districts are now run by this
It is my view that
as long as schools are producing children who can
not read and write, that scarce resources should
be used to address academics, and sports should be
funded by booster organizations.
I hail from a
family of teachers, and I understand schools
cannot undo the damage caused by parents who fail
to nurture. While most of my personal
experience with schools is with the Lake
Fenton district (which is located just south of Flint, Michigan), I am in communication with parents
throughout the US who are having similar problems
with their schools. Many
teachers are excellent, but in my experience 20% to
30% fall into the dud category.
Now if this was a
business and a consumer found that 20% to 30% of
the staff were lazy, rude or indifferent, they would do
business elsewhere. But schools have a
monopoly, and long established patterns of
getting away with what they want.
complain that parents do not get involved.
My personal experience is that a big percentage
of teachers and administrators only want the
public involved when they want more
I always tell
teachers I want to be told if there are
problems. I want to know if a paper or test
results in my child getting a grade lower than a
"B". If an assignment is not
handed in I want to hear about it midway between
the due date and the drop dead date. Yet I
have had an amazing number of teachers tell me
they do not have time to contact me, and even
more who never refuse, but also never
initiate contact - even after repeated requests.
On more than one
occasion I have sent a letter detailing my
concerns which received NO RESPONSE from the
school or the school board. When I followed
up on these letters I often found that the
Principal of the school or the Superintendent
were not in and did not respond to messages
for many weeks, if at all. The end result was that I simply gave up on my hope of
effecting change through those people, but not on
fixing the problem.
In my opinion blame for those
problems belongs squarely on the shoulders of school
administrators. While 20-30 percent of teachers are duds,
I think most, the majority who fall into that category would be
acceptable with proper management. Probably only a percent
or two are unsalvageable.
I have found school
administrators and some teachers are prone to use children as
pawns to protect their interests. Administrators often
try to paint school system critics as unreasonable or even as
being nut cases. The use of such tactics is perhaps the
most damming indication of just how sever the problem has
Another issue is that parents and students tend to suffer in
isolation, since all complaints are treated as
confidential. Each parent then wonders if
their problems are unique. But if parents
can share their experiences through web sites like www.QualitySchoolsNow.org
, then collectively
they can effect change. It will be
virtually impossible for school administrators to
sweep problems under a rug if the parents can
voice their concerns in a way that remains
I realize there is potential for
abuse. We do not
want parents trying to punish teachers because
little Johnny has not done his work. We do want to make sure that school staff are
doing their jobs - and far too many are not.
I believe some teachers, administrators and school
boards have fallen into a habit of simply
stonewalling parents until those parents'
children move on to the next school. They
are only interested in parents when they want
more money. They know there will always
be a new group of parents coming up through the system whom
they can recruit to push for new revenue.
This has always
worked in the past because they could turn out
parents to vote while the rest of the public were
were generally unaware the issue was even on
the ballot. But demographics has
been changing this for several reasons.
First, is the fact
that people are delaying starting families until
later in life, if at all, and they generally will
vote against increased taxes for schools if they
have not had children.
Second, is that
an aging population means many more retirees who
are vigilant about stopping tax increases.
Third, is the
fact that public schools have become so arrogant
in their handling of parents that many of those
parents are not voting in favor of increased
taxes for schools.
As far as I can
tell, one the most effective levers the public has
to effect change in the schools is to refuse to
give them more money until they demonstrate they
have made lasting changes. Another lever
which is unproven at this point are web sites
like this one and the use of Freedom of Information (FOI)
statutes to monitor schools. Freedom
Of Information Letter Generator
I understand that
withholding funds may not be fair to those
teaching professionals who do a good job.
But it appears to be one of the best tools we have which
has any chance of rooting out the bad apples.