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Parent Involvement Unwelcome


Christmas comes early for vocal parents concerned about what’s happening in their children’s schools. The Washington Post is running a series that takes an in-depth look at “interesting cases in which parents feel school officials froze them out of the process of dealing with their children's teachers.”

The first column in the series concerns Soon-Ja Kim, a teacher of 20 years from Montgomery County, Md., who was fired for “incompetence.” Kim agreed to have her file opened, giving outsiders a rare opportunity to follow the dismissal process that began when her principal recommended she be fired. The Peer Assistance and Review panel finalized the principal’s decision. They also declined to consider the more than one hundred supportive letters from parents, which called Kim “a phenomenal role model.” Notwithstanding the Maryland Board of Education’s recent parent involvement initiative, the review panel defended their decision to dismiss Kim. The panel’s co-chair, Doug Prouty, told the Post that the parent letters and student test scores were considered “secondary data sources.”


If I read the article correctly, Ms. Kim's student abuse consisted of having a "messy" classroom, passing over concepts she felt were too difficult for third graders (submersible, hydrothermal-vent,"= bathysphere and ROV) at that point in the school year, and using 50 minutes to teach a lesson that "the curriculum guide said should have taken 20 minutes". Oh, yes - she was also too "motherly".

Thank goodness we have such concerned parents becoming involved in education.

This article points up several weaknesses within the culture of education in most schools today. Certainly parents are not regarded as important stakeholders capable of forming informed opinions on any matters as weighty as hiring and firing.

The second is the lack of cohesive classroom improvement efforts on an ongoing basis. I understand that PAR is an attemt to provide assistance to a teacher in trouble--however, when it is primarily the final step before firing, it is not likely to engender cooperation. Certainly a teacher of over 20 years experience has something to fear when assigned to PAR.

I would shy away from efforts to turn hiring/firing decisions into popularity contests by gathering signatures of support (or not). However, it is possible to involve parents in far more respectful ways in ongoing evaluation and improvement efforts. These might include annual parent surveys (with some "teeth" to them--not the usual, but real questions about how often parents are consulted, how available the teacher is, etc). Another (which I have actually seen on very rare occasions) is to include parents on the interview panel when teachers are selected.

Modern management (which some consider to be anathema in schools) includes ongoing evaluation, goal setting for improvement, etc, which not only provide the employee clear expectations, but also lay a groundwork so that if an end of the road is reached, it is clear to all parties concerned.

There is something missing in this article, such as the principals agenda. As I see her/his role, monitoring the dichotomous feedback about Ms.Kim and understanding strong reaction to her was the first step. I can't help but wonder about the role of this principal, and thus goes the subjectivity of hiring and firing.

Really, the teacher became "incompetent" in her 20th year of teaching!!! The Washington Post should run a series that takes an in-depth look at interesting cases in which teachers feel that principals exercise abusive powers in dealing with teachers. It would be interesting to know how Kim's fate started and what prompted the principal to take this action (WHAT WAS KIM DOING THAT CAUSED THE PRINCIPAL AND PEER ASSISTANCE AND REVIEW TO CONCLUDE THAT SHE WAS INCOMPETENT?). NOTE: We never seem to focus on the principals. Thanks

Reference the action of the "Principal" in the August 2, 2007 article, Principal Pulls Rank, Teacher Quits. Principalship is an area in education that is unbelievably not monitored and voiced. However, we do hear about the decisions they make but not their rationale and justification (Kim was too "motherly" to her 3rd graders!!!).

I have just calld Lakewood Elementary and left a message regarding Ms. Kim. I am shocked that they ignored what the parents thought and I will be writing the school board, Congress members of MD, and deicision memebers to express my disbelieve that they ignored what the parents and community thought of Ms. Kim. Ms. Kim if you are reading they have lost a valuable teacher and I know you will definitely find work. With my one I can make a different, what will you do?

Here is Lakewood elementary's website with their phone and address. Write letters and call to express your disbelieve on this issue! It is unacceptable to let these teachers go!


There was a similiar incident in Frisco Texas at a new Elementary school that opened in 8/2006. A veteran teacher was put on paid leave and fired due to incompetence. Many parents complained and were ignored. There needs to be a policy overhaul concerning the power principals have. From what I can see and have experienced Principals have way too much authority over teachers and the decisions are way too subjective and not usually substaintiated or supported with any detail.

Then some wonder why teachers are opposed to merit pay!!!

In my experience, parents are only welcome in schools if they don't rock the administration's boat, don't ask questions, and don't notice the often unethical behavior on the part of the staff or others. If you do speak up, you and your child are at risk of ostracism. And it's worse at "charter schools" where people are told to "love it or leave it". Hypocrites!

Parental involvement can act as a Catch-22; it can be either positive or negative. In this case parents wanted to help an obviously respected teacher. Other times, parent involvement is meant to hurt an equally upstanding teacher. Either way, an administration has a difficult role to play - that is, if the administration is a good one.

Administrations should omit subjective reasoning as much as possible from making decisions such as firing employees. Sometimes, emotional reactions/decisions stem from parental involvement.

If proper and factual documentation and observations are adhered, there would not be opinion-based terminology included such as "mothering." Terms like "mothering" can be interpreted differently - what were Ms. Kim's "motherly" actions? For instance, did she get to eye level with a student who needed consoling? Or did Ms. Kim alter a student's grade in order to help the student?

Not having read the documentation, I find it difficult for an administration to relieve a teacher of 20 years on the basis of incompetence. For the sake of the administration, it better have a more valid reason. It's not like Ms. Kim was competent on Monday and by Wednesday she became incompetent.

For some reason, it is much easier to listen to pessimism than optimism, emotion over objectivity. In this case, delete the emotion (subjective) and look at the facts (objective).

Sounds like the parents are neglegent here.The poor lady with the big heart was having to spread herself too far.Buck up parents!Mother your children.Help them to be obedient,mannerful,humble,respect,passionate,hardworking,honest,helpful,EDUCATED,and most of all,to be responsible for who they are and want to be in their life.Or don't have babies!!

With that being said,the administration and principle are under pressure as far ACADEMIC EDUCATION,but you certainly don't fire your staff.The teacher obviously involved the parents and the administration disagreed.Yes, the principle and administrators need more monitoring by parents,(Board Meetings)to know if our monies are actually going towards our childrens ACADEMIC EDUCATION.I say move sports to communities,for EVERYONE CONCERNED.

Teacher, You stand up for what you believe in.You have plenty of support.Maybe in turn you could help us concerned parents with getting our principles and administration in check with themselves.You are a shining star in the sky to all of us child&parents,VERY IMPRESSIVE!!Don't walk away, we need you.Unless you have just had enough. Understandable.Thank you for everything.

Sounds like Ms. Kim was TOO expensive!

Teacher here again. Just for future reference, a school's principal is spelled with "p-a-l" and refers to the head or top rank of an organization of some kind. The word "principle" means a rule of action or conduct. We could say that the school's principal and administration were not behaving with ethical principles.

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Recent Comments

  • Teacher: Teacher here again. Just for future reference, a school's principal read more
  • SC Teacher: Sounds like Ms. Kim was TOO expensive! read more
  • Just a mom: Teacher, You stand up for what you believe in.You have read more
  • Just a mom: With that being said,the administration and principle are under pressure read more
  • Just a mom: Sounds like the parents are neglegent here.The poor lady with read more




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