Parent Control of Administrators

Louis Cheney
Critical Analysis

Parent Control of Administrators

In education there are myriads of problems, issues, and concerns that teachers face each day. The issue that I would like to discuss is the problem that rural school districts face of having too much parent control and influence in the decisions that teachers and administrators make. Parent involvement in the school usually is a good thing, but there are certain situations where the parent elicits too much influence and control.

Let us define and be more specific in what I mean by too much parent control. I believe that parents cross the ethical line when they are influencing administrators to tell teachers to modify grades of children who are participating in athletics. I experienced this issue first hand while I was teaching at Pima Jr. High School located in Pima, Arizona this last school year. Pima Jr. High belongs to Pima Unified School District which is very small. The Pima School District only consists of approximately 785 students who come from one elementary school, one Jr. High School, and one High School. In addition to the district being very small, the community of Pima, AZ is also very small.

Now that we know the student population size of the district, let us examine why an administrator would tell a teacher to try and keep the athletes eligible so they can participate in sports regardless of the students’ effort. Let us remember that this actually happened to me while teaching at Pima Jr. High School. The administrator needs to keep the parents of his student population somewhat pleased with the school that they attend, or the parents will withdraw their kids from the school and attend elsewhere. Once the student leaves, the district will lose funding for that student. The recent events in the economy have made financial matters tight within school districts. To illustrate the budget issues that Pima Unified School District was facing, I will share a somewhat embarrassing fact: I was asked as a contracted teacher to vacuum my own room. The school had made cuts to the janitorial staff due to lack of funding. I was required to vacuum my room once a week and I received criticism from an administrator if this task was not completed.

A request for a teacher to keep athletes eligible raises many issues in the equity department. What are the non-athletes supposed to say to this? Is this really fair to the students who aren’t having their grades influenced by administrator comments and suggestions? How is a new teacher supposed to try and please his administrators while trying to run a classroom that is equitable and fair? These are some of the issues that come when an administrator gives a suggestion to appease the parent population.

In conclusion, I feel that if rural schools districts were afforded the funding that some of these issues would not be a problem. Parents would be less likely to elicit inappropriate control of administrators.

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