Opt out or test refusal movements offer tremendous power to parents because teachers may not, in the vast majority of cases, be able to assume the risks of resisting standardized testing. The argument goes that you can’t “fire” parents and they ultimately know what is best for their children (except when they don’t).
I’ve wondered over time if there are any caveats to teachers standing behind parents, relying on the parents to fuel the resistance. But what happens when the resistance crosses their children? The rejoinder might be, “Well, we have the best interests of children in mind, so technically it never will.”
I wouldn’t be so sure.
I was reminded once again of my previous thoughts about parent-power when reading about a beloved PE teacher’s abrupt dismissal over what seems like a very spurious accusation:
Sloan, 60, a popular coach hailed as a role model for overcoming his handicap, was yanked from PS 102 in Harlem after a parent setting up for a party last year complained she smelled booze on his breath. He claims it was the alcohol-based mouthwash.
Far be it from me to rely on the New York Post for anything friendly about teachers. Yet, how could an accusation like this cause a seemingly illustrious career in teaching to take such a nosedive? Perhaps this is instructive of nothing when it comes to our relationship with parents. This might be more indicative of a broken system that permits one very small complaint to snowball into something much larger. Or, that trust of teachers is so broken that the smallest perception of impropriety is codified in stone.
Reform gives tremendous power to parents in terms of school choice and other measures, largely based on viewing parents and students as consumers of education. But then anti-reform gives parents tremendous power because they apparently know what is best for their children, and it is assumed that it is what Diane Ravitch and others have to offer. Teachers have the best interests of children in mind, parents do as well, ipso facto they are on the same side.
If we take the NY Post article at face value, here we have a parent complaint completely tanking a successful career spanning decades. This doesn’t seem right. As teachers, do we need to keep parent power in check?