By Jay Menard
I was going to ask ‘How did we all let it get away from us?’ but the answer’s painfully clear: it’s apathy. So the next question has to be, “If we’re all on board and want to go in the same direction, why can’t we just start rowing that way?”
But that’s the problem with apathy. It’s a fast-moving current – and once it’s moving against you, it’s very hard to paddle upstream.
Ten days ago, the London Free Press printed a column submission of mine examining the challenges that we’re facing with the high school system. And except for one negative comment from a woman who mistakenly thought I was passing off all parental responsibility to the school system and just assumed that my wife and I have done nothing for the past few years, all the responses I’ve received have been overwhelmingly supportive.
Parents and educators alike have shared similar stories, including a comment submitted to the Free Press by a woman who I assume is a teacher. She eloquently outlined the challenges teachers face by a board more interested in mortgaging tomorrow’s success for today’s bottom line despite direction from the Ministry of
Education to change.
There seems to be a common refrain that some parents and teachers are frustrated with a lack of support from their administration. The issues I outlined in my column are minimal in comparison to some of the horror stories we’ve since heard – teachers threatened and harassed both physically and sexually by students with no
repercussions. And let’s not forget teachers who have tried to maintain order in their classrooms being reprimanded by their administration for those actions.
The administration has the audacity to say that a teacher’s “robbed a student of the opportunity to learn.” But what about the fact that the student in question allegedly has robbed the teacher of multiple opportunities to teach?
Despite the aforementioned letter-writer’s belief that we don’t parent, we’ve actually been working diligently over the past five years trying to get our son the help he so desperately needs. We have dealt with – and continue to deal with – a number of challenges. But the default response from any of these organizations is to play the
role of an ostrich.
Organizational apathy creates a strong current. It’s hard to fight against it – and most organizations would love nothing more than to watch you float on by. Preferably moving you out of their area so that you will become somebody else’s problem.
That’s the issue at the schools. It’s not about teaching students; it’s about passing them. The two are no longer correlated.
By not levying failing grades, by not punishing, suspending, or expelling students, you almost guarantee a solid passing rate. Save for dropping out, there’s seemingly no way for students to fail. And that would probably change if the administration could have their way – “Congrats! You’ve homeschooled yourself! Here’s your diploma!”
Teachers are mad, some parents are angry (and I refuse to believe, as one vice principal told me and my wife, that “You are part of the point-zero-five per cent of parents who care. Most parents lie and want to cover up for their kids.”), and something needs to be done.
The parents I’ve talked to are livid, but discouraged. Swimming upstream is tiring and it’s about time that somebody builds a dam to stop this damned artificial education of our next generation.
Even good students are falling into these traps, we’ve been told by teachers. Can you blame them? Why should they work when they see their cohorts getting away with everything shy of murder (and, likely, they’d get a 10-minute timeout with their head on the desk – in a private room, of course, so as not to destroy their fragile psyches –
for that crime)? By serving their own best interests, these administrators are abdicating their responsibility to our children.
In the end, our kids are getting swept along in that current as well. The difference? They’re not being taught how to swim, so we know what’s going to happen to them.
If I were a provincial politician responsible for education and found out that my legislation was being so crassly ignored, I’d be livid. I guess we’ll find out soon, won’t we?