Teachers used to be the people that students looked up to. They used to be strict disciplinarians as well as being someone a student in trouble could seek help from. Teachers used to be the standard for how to dress and how to comport ones self. Teachers were older than their students and so were seen as wiser and more knowledgeable about the world at large. When a teacher said “be quiet”; everyone closed his/her mouth. When a teacher said “you’re in detention”; a student knew he would be punished at school and then again at home.Teachers taught because they felt they were called to provide an excellent education. A teacher’s word was LAW. No one talked back to the teacher. No one cursed in class when the teacher was present. No one told the teacher “where to shove it.” Teachers expected students to work for good grades. They taught; students learned.
Today’s public school student is not the student of ages past and neither are the teachers. Things like computers have made it easy for students to solicit someone to write their papers for a small fee. Sometimes they are also able to answers to exams through sites that sell them on the internet. Today’s student can “google” the laws that will protect him/her if the teacher doesn’t knuckle under and do what he/she wants. In classes with troubled teens today there isn’t any Mr. Kotter to tell them jokes and set them on the right path.
When something goes wrong in class today there will be a conference about how it is going to affect the school if there is any adverse publicity. Parents apply pressure to the principal, threaten to go to the school board about something that he has done in his private life and the kid gets to slide. Once this happens, the student knows that the teacher doesn’t have the power he/she pretends to have. In public schools today, the students have all the power. If they don’t want to do their work, they don’t. They can hold the teacher and his/her job hostage by exhibiting less than acceptable learning curves. The teachers cannot afford to lose their jobs so they find themselves giving into pressure to give them at least a passing grade rather than an outright failing one.
Students today are using some tactics that would never have been used in the past. A student knows he or she can always control the teacher by telling his parents or principal that the teacher made unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances to him/her. It doesn’t have to be true; it just has to be said out loud. Students also offer to sell their bodies to the teacher in exchange for an A in a course. Athletes are often given passing grades because the stats of the team are more important than the integrity of the classroom.
We can stand by and say “the teacher ought to stand up and fight” but many of the ones who have done this have been on the receiving end of a student who seem to have no problem with using violence to get what he/she wants or pay back the person who kept him/her from getting it. Violent school scenarios are more common in the larger cities that have inner city gang problems but there are troubled students in every school district. It takes a person who is dedicated to teaching and willing to fight back work in these schools. Today’s students have a better chance at having the teachers of the past if they are in a private school where the students are taught good manners and respect. The private schools have rules that have to be followed or the student will be asked to leave. Students wearing pants that show their butt crack, tattoos, multiple piercings, gang colors, and blue hair already show a lack of respect. Disrespecting their teachers by wielding the power of violence, blackmail or outright lies shouldn’t be a surprise.
We as parents give these students the power they have over their teachers. We should take it back; now!