Transcript below the video:
Thanks for hanging around…
Last week, teachers in some Clark County, NV schools had to have a talk with their fifth grade classes. It wasn’t about academics, no reading, writing or ‘rithmetic. No, the talk was about…
Yes, fifth graders, 10- and 11-year-olds had to be admonished on the topic of sexting and its dangers. Why? Because some had been caught sexting each other.
Again, these are 10- and 11-year-olds. Look I’m not naïve. I know kids learn about sex at a younger age. I know they are surrounded by the marketing of sex, bombarded with sexual images on a daily basis. But there’s a whole other problem here, isn’t there?
First, why do these kids have cell phones to text with? They’re 5th graders. What could they possibly need to have a cellphone for? If you need to get hold of them, you call the school. If they need to get hold of you, the school can call.
So the only reason I can see is that for some reason, the parents feel they need to have a cellphone before and after school. In other words, these kids aren’t necessarily going home.
Now I understand that child care is expensive. During the school year, I spend around 10% of my take home pay on childcare alone during the school year, so I understand the cost. And I understand that many, many families need two incomes to make it. So I understand parents not being able to pick kids up after school or be home when they are. But I was one of those kids. I came home every day, and I had to be there to answer the phone when my mom called. Took about 45 minutes to walk home, so I had to hustle.
It’s not like I didn’t get to play with friends, go to the pool, ride my bike around the neighborhood. No, I got to do all those things. But I came home first.
So like I said, I’m understanding of the situation. But I think a lot of folks are allowing things like cellphones take the place of responsibility for their kids. And I hear teachers complain about it as well.
Since the ill-conceived No Child Left Behind Act, teachers have been spending way too much time teaching to tests, meaning the more advanced kids get to twiddle their thumbs while the others work on scoring well on the test. Last week, the school district in Washington, D.C. Let go about 200 teachers for under-performing. The problem? 50% of their evaluation came from a single test score. I’m all for holding teachers accountable. It’s necessary. But I don’t think a single standardized test is going to do it.
But what does it have to do with parents? Well, a big problem with why schools are failing has to do with parents. Parents hold sway over school administrators, complaining whenever their kids get an unsatisfactory grade.
When I was a kid, if you got a bad grade, you didn’t want to go home. But more and more, I’m hearing of situations where the kid gets a bad grade, and the parent comes in to blame it on the teacher. They move the kid to a different class, ask for extensions on home work beyond the deadlines, ask for accommodations of every sort. And they get them, leaving teachers wondering what excatly they’re supposed to do. They are supposed to get these kids taught and have them pass standardized tests, but the kids get excused by their parents for their failure to work.
Remember when you actually worried about not passing to the next grade? Not anymore. No, apparently kids are no longer held back. It might hurt their self-esteem.
Did you catch that? It might hurt their self-esteem. Because it doesn’t hurt your self esteem more when the other kids are brighter than you are or can spell and read and you can’t. But they don’t get held back anymore. I’ll give you a guess where the whole self-esteem thing comes from.
These are the same parents that have removed scoring from little league games, or soccer games. “They’re ALL winners”. No. No they’re not. Some kids are not going to be the next Landon Donovan. They don’t have the coordination. And that’s ok. But there are winners and losers in life. They’ll be good at something else, I promise. It’s not fair to them to give them a false sense of their abilities. It’s also not fair to the kids who are good to not be able to celebrate it. And how do you teach sportsmanship and being a good winner – if you don’t even have the chance to win. Or to be a good loser. Most importantly, the kids KNOW who won or lost. Do we really think we’re fooling them?
But of course, this came from parents. I’m sure it was well-meaning. No one wants their kid to feel bad. But it’s the wrong extreme. And so it is with not keeping kids back when it is warranted. If they’re held back, it’s for one of two reasons – they either are having learning problems, and need some additional help and time to catch up, or they have behavioral problems that are causing them to miss work or not pay attention.
Are there mitigating circumstances? Sure. Kids diagnosed with some type of problem such as dyslexia or ADHD can get accommodations and put into plans that will help them get to where they need to be scholastically. So it’s not like there isn’t a way to help those who really need it. But the kid who goofs off in class, refuses to do homework, and lies to their parent about it? That’s not something that needs accommodation. It’s something the parent needs to deal with. Instead, many of these parents are putting the blame on the teacher and are shocked to find out their student has been lying to them. And even when they do find out, they try to mitigate the consequences for the kid.
What exactly is this teaching the kid? If you complain enough, you can slack off and not have to do what’s expected? That the rules don’t apply? Just wait, these parents will be shocked -SHOCKED – when these kids have issues with authority in high school. They already know how the game is played, and they’ll work it.
So the issue comes down to parents. Look, I’m not a perfect dad. I try. Maybe it was my upbringing. Maybe I’m old fashioned about some things. But these kids are getting away with stuff we never would have dreamed of. And the parents are acting as enablers. Maybe it takes too much of their time. Maybe they’re overwhelmed. But either way, they’re doing their kids a disservice by letting them off the hook. And the teachers get to deal with it.
The sexting comes from a gap in supervision. Kids see this stuff, but we as parents can have a strong influence on where they take it. Kids might learn about it, but with good supervision – asking questions and being involved with their kids, we reduce the chance that they make bad choices.
What do you think? Should kids have cell phones? What age? Do you think parents are the problem? Leave us a note in the comments – we’d like to hear what you think.
We’ll be right back.