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Shopping for Teachers


Some parents in Arizona have one more thing to add to their shopping list—teachers. Moms and dads at Desert Sage Elementary in Glendale can "teacher shop"—that is, come in on set-aside days to observe their child’s possible teachers for the next year. Principal Randy Coen says the process is helpful to parents, but knows it can also be strenuous for teachers. "They're (the parents) trying to be good consumers and do their research," Coen says. "I don't disagree with that. It's just the teachers' up there feeling like they have to put on a show." Other schools in the area only allow parents to provide general suggestions regarding the type of teacher they want for their child—although many parents subtly push for specific instructors, anyway. Beth Kroeger, a parent and former teacher in Mesa, notes that the best way for parents to have a say in teacher selection is to frequently volunteer at the school—or get on the school board. “There’s a political process that goes on that’s underlying,” she says. “It’s not spoken, but it’s absolute.”


Pretty absurd. Giving helicopter parents yet another level of control can't be a good thing. Teacher evaluation should be a school responsibility not a parental one. I remember a situation where we had two Spanish teachers. One gave a lot of A's, the other more real grades. Of course, the A teacher was preferred. We bought a Standardized test and administered it to both classes. As you have already guessed, the A teacher's students did significantly WORSE that the other teacher's. Parents have too many conflicting interests to get too involved in teacher assignment ....

I recall a principal who allowed parents to request their children's teacher and it was a perfect strategy to gain the trust of a community that was very upset that their neighborhood school had been converted to a magnet school with part of the population entering by lottery. While I have certainly seen some ugly things come out of similar situations (parents working together to ensure that popular cliques are maintained, for instance), with some appropriate controls, parent input into most aspects of school are really something that ought to be encouraged.

There's really two ways to look at teacher assignments. Either it can be totally random/computer generated (like it usually is in high schools), or there can be some thoughtful matching. If the latter, the expertise of parents ought to be a valuable contribution. While PEOPLE in all positions have biases and conflicting interests (this would include principals and teachers) and never in a social situation can all parties be served with their preference, referring to parents as helicopters is not helpful. Perhaps allowing parents a voice would encourage teachers to build better home-school relationships?

Did you really say parental EXPERTISE?
By a huge margin, the most pressing problem at the school at which I've taught for 17 years is the complete lack of parental concern for the education of their kids. When roughly 50 parents from a student population of approx. 1000 show up for back-to-school night or parent conferences, it becomes painfully clear that these parents simply view the school as nothing more than a free 8 hour day care service.
Even if these parents were given their choice of teachers, many would need directions just to get to the school to make the choice.

I work at a school where we have a PTA enrollment of over 90% (which sounds wonderful) but gives parents the idea of entitlement to freely take over aspects of schooling for which they have no training. Current teachers assign their students to the teacher for the upcoming school year, because they have the academic understanding of the student, an area that many parents lack even with respects to their own child. A parent should be allowed to present ideas at the PTA meetings... since that is where they are needed and asked to volunteer. Assignments for classrooms should be left to adminstration and faculty. Most parents just do not have the daily experience in the schools to judge which teacher would suit their child the best.

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Recent Comments

  • Chris: I work at a school where we have a PTA read more
  • Lawrence: Did you really say parental EXPERTISE? By a huge margin, read more
  • Margo/Mom: I recall a principal who allowed parents to request their read more
  • tim: Pretty absurd. Giving helicopter parents yet another level of control read more




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