Monday, June 19, 2006

Surprise, Surprise! Homeschooling Parent Blames the School

Aargh!!! That scream you hear coming out of northern Minnesota is from me after reading Thomas Croom's blog, Homeschooling: It's More Than an Education Alternative. Croom is a conservative blogger who's child (actually his wife's nephew) was expelled from his school. He blames his child's school for the lack of discipline and the teachers for a lack of concern that ultimately led to the boy's expulsion, and he is perfectly willing to generalize about it. He says about his reasons for homeschooling the boy that they "are the culmination of what would happen to any child not properly excised from public school at an early age."

Conservatives do not tend to be fans of public education, and neither do parents of kids who have managed to get themselves expelled, so no one should be surprised by Croom's disdain for public schools. Nevertheless, his tying the experiences of "any child" to the experience of what was obviously a very troubled young man is hard to take. Croom doesn't say exactly what the child he was caring for did to get expelled, but the fact he did separates him from the typical public school student. I can't speak for other states, but I do know that in Minnesota it is almost impossible to get expelled. According to Jay Greene--not exactly a public school advocate--less than two percent are expelled nationally. This alone puts the kid in a very "select" group.

In all my years of teaching, I've never seen a situation resembling the one that Croom describes. Teachers and schools are far from perfect, but any students I've seen who have managed to get themselves expelled or suspended have clearly brought it on themselves. Although Croom acknowledges that his wife's nephew had problems in his "private life," and he even concedes at one point that not every teacher compounded his problems, his piece gives the perception that the young man's problems were mostly the fault of the school system. Maybe they were, but I doubt it.

Most parents are reasonable, but all teachers, who have been at it for awhile, are aware that there are parents of troubled kids out there who can't wait to blame any problems on them. Because of that, we have to spend a ridiculous amount of our time doing things to make sure our backsides are covered when those accusations are made. I don't know how many hours I've spent during my career after school and on weekends making and answering phone calls and emails, and filling out deficiency and discipline slips, because I know that if I don't, that parent will probably be the one who says, "Why didn't you tell me there was a problem?" Maybe Croom is correct about some of his criticisms of the school, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there's another side to this story.


Blogger the anonymous teacher said...

that's exactly what i was thinking as i read the story.

it takes a heck of a lot to get expelled...and i have this sneaking suspicion that it had more to do with the child than the school and teachers.

just like you, i feel like maybe he's one of those "parents" who wants to find anyone else to blame...because obviously it can't be even partially his own fault.

6/20/2006 6:13 PM  
Blogger Deb Sistrunk Nelson said...

If you find out what the other side of the story is, I am sure you'll tell us about it!

6/20/2006 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liz here from I Speak of Dreams--so as I read this, I was thinking, Thomas Croom is somehow in loco parentis for his sister-in-law's child.

Croom's nephew to me sounds like a kid who has been coasting on his intellect and ran into trouble based on his home life.

I believe my nephew’s primary problem in school was a lack of focus,

Wouldn't that be a problem for the parent(s) to solve in collaboration with the child?


again, isn't the parent(s)' duty to develop the child's direction


OK, so the school could be chaotic --but isn't it the parent(s)' responsibility to empart self-discipline?


OK, so finally we have a piece where maybe the school's expectations of the child were too low


parents or school?

or responsibility (if those things can be summed up into one primary problem!) that collectively allowed him to fall behind his peers academically and intellectually, while maintaining his “proper” grade assignment with his age cohort."

So Croom's ranting because his SIL wasn't carrying the can, and instead of looking at failures in his wife's family, he's pointing the finger at the school only.

6/28/2006 8:19 PM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

It's an interesting, but sadly typical take. The new deputy chancellor in NYC's mantra is "no excuses." That is, kids are in no way responsible for their progress or lack thereof.

If they do well, it proves the mayor's plans are working. If they do poorly, it proves that union employees are no good.

Heads I win, tails you lose.

8/26/2006 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait! It does not take much to get expelled at some schools. One need only forget to remove one's pocketknife (or even a plastic knife, Advil, etc.) from one's pocket or car.
Some schools give no consideration whatsoever to past behavior or any other mitigating factor.
In fact, some have even been charged with felonies over a pocket knife.
I would home-school a child if he/she lived in a district like that. I would not want to risk him/her suffering the stigma and/or criminal charges.

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