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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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Are they in this together?
Old 08-31-2019, 07:35 PM
 
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So regular followers know about my "first-world problems" vents about parents. I work as an academic counselor at a prep school (private). 80% of our families are lovely and supportive. The other 20%? Entitled, demanding, vaguely angry / annoyed at school staff most of the time without a clear reason, expecting preferential treatment and exceptions to school policies, lawnmower parents, casual relationship with the truth (will lie for their kid at the drop of a hat if they think it will get them out of trouble), etc.

I sometimes wonder if they are mounting some sort of a collective campaign, because some of them start to sound alike. It's a bizarre experience when they come in one right after the other.

This week, it was three sets of parents (unconnected to one another as far as I know) demanding meetings with me to tell me off because they were disappointed in their kids' grades at the end of the last school year and are upset (or dismayed or concerned) that "nobody from the school saw fit to call us and discuss these results or put plans in place to ensure Junior's success this year. We did not know how poorly he did on his exams until we got his report card in July." And in each case, the family seemed to think this was somehow MY failure as an academic counselor or that I represent "the school" and should therefore be held to account for "the school's" failure to communicate.

One parent said, "If you had called us and told us Junior had only gotten a C on his exam, we would have made him come back in and re-write it." I explained that students are not allowed to re-write final exams. Hence the "final" in final exam. The mom looked at me like I had sprouted a second head, got red in the face and said, "Then what exactly do you DO to support these kids when their results are so poor? That's preposterous. It's like you're saying 'Let Detroit go bankrupt!'"

Now... in what parallel universe did these parents go to high school and somehow get the idea that one can re-write FINAL exams?

And exactly how much time do they imagine an academic counselor has to call all the parents to discuss their results individually? This is high school. I don't get CCd on all the individual exam results. If a student fails to achieve a satisfactory standing, the subject teacher of the course might recommend summer school, in which case the teacher himself or herself would reach out to the family and make a recommendation (about summer school, tutoring, etc.). In all three of the cases I dealt with this week, the student had achieved satisfactory (though obviously not outstanding) results, so there was no "red flag" that would incline the subject teacher (let alone me) to reach out to the parents. And putting that aside, if I did somehow have time to review hundreds of students' individual exam results, I highly doubt the phone calls would have been pleasant affairs in which we discuss next steps. There would have been tension and anger on the parents' part, and it would not be directed at the student; it would be directed at the school, the teachers, and at me (shoot the messenger). There would have been some demand that I offer to help "fix" the situation for the student or arrange some sort of a "second chance."

The irony is that the same type of parent always complains about "too little communication" from the teachers (why wasn't I told about this sooner?) is the parent who is confrontational and bites the head off the teacher when they DO call. "You say my son has missed five homework checks. Why didn't you call me sooner?" Because the last time the teacher called you about missed homework checks when it was only one or two, you ripped into her about everything she's doing wrong, how she's not motivating or inspiring Junior to do his best work, how she takes too long to grade the work and return it, how the homework assignments don't make sense, how Junior says she plays favorites and picks on Junior, etc., etc. The purpose of calling was to elicit your support in holding Junior accountable and encouraging him to do better. You clearly have no interest in doing that and instead prefer to blame the teachers for Junior's lack of effort. So what would be the point in calling? Sounds more like Battered Wife Syndrome than home-school communication when that's the reception one gets for one's efforts.

What was particularly telling was that in none of the three cases did the parents see fit to bring the student to the meeting. One mom ranted to me for 20 minutes about how they expect better communication from "the school" (apparently me) for the money they spend in tuition. If Junior isn't doing well, they expect to know about it right away, and more importantly, what plans we are putting in place to improve the situation. Note that... what WE are doing to improve the situation. Nothing about what Junior is doing (or not doing). A couple of things... grades on assignments are viewable online. You have the same access to those as I do. You expect me, as a counselor with over 100 students on my caseload, to monitor each students' individual class results in real time from assignment to assignment, but as a parent with one child (or two or three or whatever), it is too much work for you to check in on an easy-to-use platform.

I asked one mom:

Me: What does your son say about the reasons why he did poorly on his exam?
Mom: He doesn't know why he got the grade he did.
Me: He doesn't know? No idea?
Mom: He says he thought he was prepared. That's why it would have been nice if you had reached out to discuss this result instead of blindsiding us with the report card.
Me: I don't review students' individual exams. I'm an academic counselor.
Mom: Then why didn't the teacher call us?
Me: He didn't fail. He didn't need to go to summer school. The teacher typically calls if a student needs to go to summer school. They have three days' turnaround to post the grades. They don't have time to call each individual student and his parents to discuss the results.
Mom: Well, I expect better from a school that charges X in tuition!

So let's see if I've got this straight. You're prepared to rant and rave and grill me for 20+ minutes about your son's results. But when you asked him, he said, "Gee mom... I don't know what happened. I thought I did okay." And you simply accepted that answer?

A friend posted two quotes (I'm sure many of you have seen them) that really put a segment of our parent population into perspective. They were a real Eureka! moment for me, because they so articulately summed up the situation:

"To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression." Families whose wealth and notoriety typically move them to the 'front of the line of life' so to speak are incensed when they are expected to follow the same rules and guidelines as everyone else at school.

"To those accustomed to deference, its absence reads like insult." Some of our parents really do act insulted when we (school staff) don't bow and scrape, massage their egos, and bend over backwards to accommodate them. Certain lawyers, judges, politicians, CEOs, surgeons, and celebrities have grown so accustomed to encountering deference and even sycophancy among everyone they encounter that it's infuriating and insulting to them to encounter someone who treats them and their kids just like everyone else.


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Old 09-01-2019, 05:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Certain lawyers, judges, politicians, CEOs, surgeons, and celebrities have grown so accustomed to encountering deference and even sycophancy among everyone they encounter that it's infuriating and insulting to them to encounter someone who treats them and their kids just like everyone else.
And they don’t understand why it’s illegal to bribe their children’s way to college admission.
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Old 09-01-2019, 05:54 AM
 
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Amiga13 beat me to it! Exactly what I was thinking as I read the post.

There is one advantage to teaching in a public school. When a parent proclaims his/her taxes pay your salary, you can truthfully respond, "So do mine!" One teacher I know said exactly that. She said the look on the parent's face was priceless.
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Old 09-01-2019, 10:02 AM
 
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Tiresome parents.
Really, their behaviour is so predictable.

The quotes are great.

I enjoy reading your posts.
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parents sounding alike
Old 09-01-2019, 10:10 AM
 
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I sometimes wonder if they are mounting some sort of a collective campaign, because some of them start to sound alike. It's a bizarre experience when they come in one right after the other.
I am seeing this in SPED. We'll get a rash of parent requests for assessments. It's like they get to chatting on social media and then they all think their snowflakes are in need of extra services that only SPED can provide and their child MUST be assessed immediately.



Last edited by eeza; 09-01-2019 at 02:07 PM..
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Old 09-01-2019, 11:36 AM
 
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I wouldn't be surprised in the least that multiple sets of parents are in cahoots. They may pretend at school or out in public like they don't know each other well or even dislike each other to keep up the facade, but unbeknownst to you, they're all FB friends or even "BFFs" hanging out on the weekends!

They figure if they all band together and say the same complaints that they'll get things done or make changes.
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Old 09-01-2019, 12:07 PM
 
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Oh... don't even get me started on the "assessments" thing. The bane of my existence right now is bad advice being transmitting from one parent to another.

"I know you said you couldn't do X, but I was talking to some of the other moms, and they said you should be able to." Oh... okay. Well, if the "other moms" told you, that must outweigh the professional advice I gave you.

The big one is the parents who call up and say they want their kids to get "extra time" on tests and exams. There's a suspicious uptick in these requests toward the start of the Junior year when students are preparing to take the SAT or ACT.

Parent: I'm just wondering how we go about requesting extra time for Junior.
Me: Extra time?
Parent: On exams, assignments, the SAT... that sort of thing.
Me: Well, you can't "request extra time."
Parent: Well, I talked to some of the other moms, and they said I could.
Me: They were mistaken.
Parent: No, Mrs. Smith specifically told me her son gets time-and-a-half for everything.
Me: I can't comment on Mrs. Smith's son. I can tell you that time-and-a-half is an accommodation provided to students with certain learning disabilities.
Parent: Ummmm... okay. So how does that work?
Me: Do you have reason to believe your son has a learning disability?
Parent: I don't know. I never thought so. But you can see his grades have been slipping.
Me: And what inclines you to think this is the result of a disability? What have you observed?
Parent: I don't understand what you're asking. His grades have been going down for the past three years.
Me: I understand. But there are many reasons why a student's grades have declined.
Parent: If the grades are slipping, then obviously something is wrong.
Me: Okay. So you'd like to investigate if your son has a learning disability? This would involve a battery of assessments and the development of a learning profile. If a disability is discovered, then an IEP can be written which MIGHT include extra time accommodations. It depends on what the testing reveals. Shall I refer you to our Special Education co-ordinator who can explain the process to you?
Parent: Wait. I don't understand. I just want to request extra time.
Me: A student gets extra time IF such is recommended by a professional and noted on an IEP or 504 Plan.
Parent: Why does it have to be so complicated? Couldn't you just sign off on the extra time and try it and see how it goes?
Me: No, that's not how it works.
Parent: But Mrs. Smith said YOU requested extra time for her son and he got time-and-a-half on the ACT. She didn't say anything about talking to anyone else.
Me: I can't comment on another student's case. I can tell you that I can't request extra time from the ACT or from College Board without an IEP or 504 plan.
Parent: So can't you just give him an IEP or 5 Oh Whatever?
Me: No, that's not my role. He would need to be assessed. And then our Special Ed Teacher would write the IEP if appropriate.
Parent: But that sounds like it would take a long time.
Me: Yes, it's a bit of an involved process.
Parent: But he's supposed to write his ACT in February.
Me: Even if you requested an assessment today, I highly doubt an IEP would be in place in time for the February sitting of the ACT.
Parent: But I don't understand. Why can't you just set him with the extra time now while we look into everything else?
Me: That's not how it works. There has to be documented evidence of a disability in the form of an assessment done by a professional.
Parent: But obviously something is wrong... his grades are slipping.

And I'm thinking.... what is this? An Abbott and Costello routine? What's the name of the guy on first base?
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parents sounding alike
Old 09-01-2019, 02:10 PM
 
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That's perfect, Angelo! I don't know many meetings I've sat in where I need to explain the whole process and then, when it comes down to it, the parents don't want their kid in SPED, they just want their kid to have all of the accommodations and modifications of SPED.
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Old 09-01-2019, 03:28 PM
 
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We put checking grades back on student and family by posting in a site they log in to look at. Totally takes responsibility back to the student and parent.

I had to laugh at “no idea. I thought it did okay.”
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Oh, Eeza..
Old 09-01-2019, 05:28 PM
 
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..ain't that the truth!! I don't want my child "labeled". But give me all of the accommodations. One parent told me the other day that her son is brilliant, but just needs help.


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Correction...
Old 09-01-2019, 05:43 PM
 
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Who's on first?

Sorry Angelo, I couldn't help myself. You're posts are great. At least something positive comes from your pain. Some parents don't realize how lucky they are.
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But they still don't look
Old 09-02-2019, 04:08 AM
 
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All of our grades our electronic, and the program can be set up to send you a progress report daily if you want, alerts for lower grades, etc. and we still have parents who say "I had no idea Johnny was failing!" They get mad at me if I don't call the second a student starts to fail, when they can check themselves. The kids check all the time. It drives me nuts.
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Old 09-02-2019, 09:32 AM
 
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Your posts are awesome Angelo! You are so eloquent and exactly on point with interactions like these. Do you ever get administrative kickback when you are so blunt honest with parents?
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:38 AM
 
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Dear Mom, when your son said "I thought I did okay, he was telling the truth. He did okay. He did C work. A grade of "C" is an okay grade.
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:40 AM
 
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"No, What's on second base."

I think you nailed it in your two quotations.
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Old 09-03-2019, 09:10 AM
 
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It happens in public education, too. On my very last day of teaching before I retired, I got a very nasty email from a parent about how I was unfair to her daughter and did not want her to succeed. Daughter got a D because of missing assignments (6th grade). Parent acted very surprised by this grade even though I had emailed multiple times about missing assignments and talked to the student every single day in class. Plus parents can check grades online. She basically said I was a terrible teacher and it was good I was retiring. Needless to say, I did not respond but, oh how I wanted to blast her. This parent had not once contacted me during the entire school year despite me emailing her several times. She never showed up for conferences. I said I would accept any of the assignments right up to the last day of school. Nothing. So it left a very negative end to the year and my career. I often wonder how these parents will like supporting their adult children who cannot hold down a job!
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