Want to know how to fill your in-box with more whines than a classroom full of second-graders given homework over February break?
Write about how everyone's bailed on a dysfunctional Hartford school for troubled kids.
Follow that up by writing about how very wrong the teachers' union is to oppose a parent trigger bill that would allow parents to petition to reform a failing school.
As I wrote last week, parents don't just need a voice, they need power.
To quote myself, no teacher or school committed to educating children should have anything to fear in giving the largest stakeholders the power to replace a principal or even close a school that's not doing right by their children.
I mean, come on people — isn't it time we stop talking about the state's embarrassing record-high achievement gap between minority and white students and actually did something about it?
Apparently not. Readers (and by that I mean teachers, union types and, by the looks of it, all of their friends and relatives ) were disappointed, angry and downright apoplectic that anyone would dare criticize teachers. Or — gasp — suggest that the union might be more interested in protecting jobs than children.
"Spend one day in my shoes," one sanctimonious Hartford teacher wrote. "We're underpaid, underappreciated and now, under attack."
From another reader: "Those same inner city parents that you so dearly want to exert power are the very parents who can't get their own children to even attend school."
And then this gem, from a forwarded mass e-mail written by a teachers' union organizer: "This attack on the teachers union is outrageous, unwarranted and outright offenssive(sic)."
Nowhere in that rant, by the way, was there any mention of students.
Look, I agree with a lot of what readers said about limited resources for overburdened teachers forced to be both instructors and parents. It's unfair, unacceptable and has been going on for far too long.
Parents in many of the state's failing schools have been negligent no-shows. And, yeah, some of that is because they have to work or are too intimidated to get involved.
But a lot of it is because they just aren't interested. Sad, but true.
Except here we have parents finally stepping up — in schools, at board of education meetings and legislative hearings — and people who are clearly afraid of accountability are crying foul.
Well, too bad — the potential and long-overdue sleeping giant of involved parents seems to be stirring, and that's a good thing.
And, no, it doesn't mean that parent involvement is a fix-all. It just adds up to one more ally in the fight to finally close an achievement gap that's claimed far too many generations of students.
In response to the union organizer's e-mail, parent leader Gwen Samuel put it best. To paraphrase, she said: Stop the blame game. Accept the fact we all dropped the ball and let's get on with real change.
"We are the adults," she reminded the pouty union guy. "... let us act like the role models."
And role models, by the way, don't whine.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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