Teaching Profession

Parents as Bullies?

By Christina A. Samuels — March 06, 2008 1 min read
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The biggest problem for teachers these days? Overbearing parents, according to a survey of teachers in a well-to-do suburb outside Baltimore.

A Baltimore Sun article cited
a soon-to-be-released survey of teachers in Howard County, Md., a district of about 48,500 students. The survey reports that 60 percent of teachers have reported harassment, primarily by parents. Those working conditions make it particularly difficult to retain special education teachers, according to the Howard County Education Association, which conducted the survey. The association is an affiliate of the National Education Association.

An official with the Carroll County Education Association, the NEA affiliate in a neighboring county, said parents of children in special education are among the worst offenders.

“A teacher is a pretty prime target when the child is not meeting their potential,” Barry Potts, the president of the association, said in the article.

Interesting thoughts from teachers are included in the article, and in the lively side discussion on the paper’s Web site, where people are posting their comments anonymously. The article left me wondering if at least part of the issue is related to technology. With Blackberries, instant messaging and e-mail, parents may expect instant responses from teachers.

However, isn’t communication with parents what all teachers want? I’ve certainly heard stories about parents who don’t bother to show up at individualized education program meetings. IDEA mandates that districts promote parental involvement, and districts are being evaluated by the federal government on parental satisfaction, among other things. No one wants a teacher to be physically threatened, as the article describes. But, how much communication with parents is too much?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.