Education

Parental Consent

July 31, 2006 1 min read
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If, with each generation, the bar that’s set for a child’s welfare is raised just a bit higher, today’s parents may have nowhere to put it—at least in the Atlanta region. “We are living in a society where the parents want to create a perfect world for their children,” says one public school principal there. Hard to argue when you consider the Jacksons, who moved to a specific neighborhood so that 6-year-old Will could attend the same elementary school his mother, Alicia, did. The Jacksons then went teacher-shopping at Sarah Smith Elementary, looking for someone like Mom—firm yet loving. “He is just one of those that you just have to calmly correct,” Alicia Jackson explained. “If you yell or get frustrated it hurts his feelings.” Picky? Yes. But Craig Barlow, principal of Riverside Elementary School, said he’s actually been asked to assure some parents that their kids’ teachers won’t get pregnant. They’re the exception, because Barlow’s come up with a system that, last year, resulted in just five complaints among 1,000-plus parents. He has them fill out forms indicating kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Those forms are fed into a computer that suggests likely student-teacher matches, which are further tweaked by parent and educator comments. If a parent names a specific teacher, that teacher is eliminated from the list. But Barlow’s system isn’t foolproof. “Sometimes,” he explained, “we will have people who really don’t want ‘Miss Smith,’ so they will write her name.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.

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