Treating teachers like #&*$!
Earlier this week I posted about the increasing amount of cursing that students are doing in school. That very day, a student was talking to me about bands that he likes, and in ONE sentence, he used three rude words for anatomical parts of the body and one curse word. I want to give him credit that after I gave him "that look" he immediately stopped, realized what he had said, and apologized. But for the rest of our conversation about Stevie Ray Vaughan, he had to keep catching himself.
Then a colleague told me about a parent who called him up and began remonstrating with him about giving her child a detention for an obvious violation for which he had been warned beforehand. This student and two other classmates were given detentions at the same time. As this parent continued to talk, she got louder and more overblown in her rhetoric and vituperation. Within three or four minutes, she was shouting into the receiver, claiming that her child was being singled out and discriminated against, and about how my friend obviously was racist. This tirade went on for a few minutes, until finally my friend realized that the longer this woman talked, the more out-of-control she was going to become, and mildly suggested that this woman should call the assistant principal. My friend them hung up the phone-- while the woman was still shrieking and cursing.
Luckily, he gave the assistant principal the heads-up, and sure enough, the mother called her up and began the same pattern: first simply complaining, the getting louder, then shouting into the phone and making all kinds of absurd claims and creating hypothetical situations, and so on. So the assistant principal eventually stated that the conversation was over and hung up on this woman, as well, after suggesting she call the head principal. She then called in the kid, who admitted that he had violated the rule and that he had been warned. He felt that the detention was justified, and wasn't all that upset about it.
The AP told the principal the story, and a few minutes later the mother called the principal. Same story. Forceful language, rage, threats, shouting, loss of verbal and mental control and finally random barrages of verbal abuse, until finally the principal stated that the conversation was over and had to hang up on her. I am sure within another 40 minutes, the mother had called the assistant superintendent and the superintendent and followed the same pattern. Perhaps she got to some of the school board members before the day was done-- who knows?
This woman spent more time yelling, screaming, and cursing about the consequence assigned to her son than the son is going to spend in detention. And untold professional people had to listen to her insanity so that later they wouldn't be accused of refusing to listen to her side of the story, so that her voice would be heard. And a rude, abusive voice, it was.
When teachers are expected to endure any sort of verbal vomit from the public, it is just another example of how the level of discourse in our society has been degraded. It is further proof of the point in the previous discussion about how these kids are hearing and seeing this kind of self-expression modeled at home, and not just from parents, but from video games and movies and their MySpace pages and on and on.
The problem is when parents like these feel that they are entitled to speak to teachers and administrators that way. Her child was spoken to politely but firmly throughout the entire experience. Imagine if a teacher had unleashed a fraction of her rhetorical spew upon a student-- or simply betrayed a similar amount of emotion towards her or her child. Such an action would be unprofessional would be condemned, and rightfully so.
But I have a feeling that having to tolerate this kind of behavior simply encourages it and even drives it to further extremes.
Labels: parents gone wild