Don’t pin this responsibility on teachers

Posted by Liz D.

Listening to the radio on the way home from work a few weeks ago, I couldn’t believe it when I heard a Chicago alderwoman accuse teachers at Fenger High School in Chicago of being responsible for kids’ behavior outside of school. Not just once, but three times she declared that it was the job of teachers to raise our children to eschew violence and steer clear of gangs.

The reporter for the radio station was just as stunned. He repeated interrupted the alderwoman to ask, “But isn’t that the family’s job?” Eventually, begrudgingly, she acknowledged that it should be the family’s responsibility, but since so many families weren’t doing it, the job fell to teachers.

I hope I’m not alone in finding this an incredible injustice towards teachers. When I send my kids to school, I expect them to learn geometry and history, reading and language arts. But year after year, as parents relinquish their responsibility to raise their children to become good citizens of the world, schools have had to step up to the plate. Sex education? Add it to the curriculum. Mean girls taking over the school? Time for character education. But now we’re placing the blame on schools for kids who are outside the classroom, in the community, fighting and killing each other?

Where’s the public outrage that we, as parents, families and communities have dropped the ball in raising our kids? Is it just easier to throw it back on the schools — one more thing we can add to their workload because so many parents have failed?

I’m not saying it isn’t hard. As a single, working parent of three teens and tweens, I get the challenges we face in counteracting the crazy messages the world dishes out to our kids on a daily basis. There are probably plenty of times I don’t get it right, but I keep trying. Because until my children set foot inside a classroom how they behave is my responsibility-not their teacher’s. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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