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Parental Consent

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If, with each generation, the bar that’s set for a child’s welfare is raised just a bit higher, today’s parents may have nowhere to put it—at least in the Atlanta region. “We are living in a society where the parents want to create a perfect world for their children,” says one public school principal there. Hard to argue when you consider the Jacksons, who moved to a specific neighborhood so that 6-year-old Will could attend the same elementary school his mother, Alicia, did. The Jacksons then went teacher-shopping at Sarah Smith Elementary, looking for someone like Mom—firm yet loving. “He is just one of those that you just have to calmly correct,” Alicia Jackson explained. “If you yell or get frustrated it hurts his feelings.” Picky? Yes. But Craig Barlow, principal of Riverside Elementary School, said he’s actually been asked to assure some parents that their kids’ teachers won’t get pregnant. They’re the exception, because Barlow’s come up with a system that, last year, resulted in just five complaints among 1,000-plus parents. He has them fill out forms indicating kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Those forms are fed into a computer that suggests likely student-teacher matches, which are further tweaked by parent and educator comments. If a parent names a specific teacher, that teacher is eliminated from the list. But Barlow’s system isn’t foolproof. “Sometimes,” he explained, “we will have people who really don’t want ‘Miss Smith,’ so they will write her name.”

6 Comments

Hah! I wish we teachers could *pick* our students like these parents pick the teachers. We don't prefer students who yell, don't like to learn, lose their things ... etc. IT hurts our feelings too!
Teacher in GA

I agree wholeheartedly. I would love to be able to pick my students as well. Let's see... I'd rather not have students who talk back, don't do their homework, bully other students, or generally behave disrespectfully. Oh, but then again, as a teacher, I don't count.

The problem with teacher shopping is that a teacher who is a parent "favorite" gets all the higher economic students and sometimes the higher ability class which destroys heterogeneity. In our building this could happen if parents fear a teacher is going to have a baby or when there is a new teacher. They don't even want to give a new teacher a try. They are not making the choice based on what is best for the child, but on rumors they have heard or on how much they like the teacher personally.

I agree with the comment the teacher in Wisconsin made. Another thing that will happen is you will get one class that has lots of parent volunteers who support the "favorite" teacher, which helps that teacher continue to be the favorite. The other teachers have less support, and cannot compete without the added financial, emotional, and hands on support.

If this idea catches on....do you think that we can take it one step further and "boss shop" when we enter the workforce?

Michele, if you are not ALREADY "boss shopping," there's no time like the present to get started! Remember, the word interview begins with INTER; this is your time to explore how much you approve of/get along with a particular employer just as it is their time to use making similar judgements about you :-)

Please sign me -- Been Boss Shopping for 30+ Years

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  • Anonymous: Michele, if you are not ALREADY "boss shopping," there's no read more
  • Michele: If this idea catches on....do you think that we can read more
  • NC Teacher: I agree with the comment the teacher in Wisconsin made. read more
  • Wisconsin teacher: The problem with teacher shopping is that a teacher who read more
  • Connecticut Teacher: I agree wholeheartedly. I would love to be able to read more

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