I'm pretty tired of blame being laid on any one party when a school isn't performing.
The fact is that everybody involved has some measure of responsibility. That includes the teachers, the students, the administrators, the parents and the community at large. Each one of them has some responsibilities to each other, and I felt strongly enough about it that, when I started writing, I realized I needed a chart.
I don't know if that means I have convictions or if I'm just overly-opinionated. Probably both. But the fact remains that if any of these links are missing, the quality of any school will suffer. Often, it seems, this ends up in ridiculous law suits, unfair expulsions, ridiculous firings, sub-par education, or all of the above. If you would like to challenge or add to the list, please do email me at steve at impulsenine.com
So for the sake of getting it off my chest, here are where the responsibility lies:
|Teachers' responsibilities||Students' responsibilities||Administrator responsibilities||Parents' responsibilities||Community's responsibilities|
|To Teachers||Teachers are responsible to themselves to be well-trained, aware of their individual students' needs, and dedicated to staying in mental shape. Must adopt a routine that works for them and keeps them sane.||Students must be able to trust the teachers to build curricula that will actually help them in life in some way. Students also have to trust them enough to report suspicious or other questionable activity without fear of reprisal or shame.||The administration's role for teachers is to keep the school running (budget, supplies, janitorial, etc.), act as a medium between teachers and parents or students when problems arise, make sure state standards are met, and generally keep the place together.||Parents must attend parent-teacher conferences, and be prepared for the possibility that their child isn't perfect nor perfectly terrible. Be prepared to take suggestions, offer their precious time to help school activities||Community should recognize the teachers' contributions to their children and area. Should treat them with respect, and help when it's needed.|
|To Students||Teachers must find ways to accommodate and teach a wide variety of students. Must integrate state-required testing.||Responsible to themselves for learning how to learn, how to have fun without doing obviously destructive things (although you'll never prevent certain childhood shenanigans), and have fun.||Administrators must understand how much their decisions affect their students' lives, and meter punishments that will actually help the student, not just shunt them off to some other school.||Parents should keep track of academic progress, help their kids study and generally be seen as much a helper as an enforcer.||Community should come up with programs that adapt to 'kids today' - if they want to skate, build a skate park. If they want to draw graffiti, hold public competitions.|
|To School Administrators||Teachers have to be willing to bend a bit with their precious curricula to suggestions and requirements set by the administration and state, and help out with various extra-curricular activities such as coaching teams, recess duties, and so on.||Students must respect the power the administration has over their lives and understand why the rules are in place.||Responsible to themselves for finding the most efficient ways of operating a school, keeping lines of communication open for everyone, and enforcing rules in ways that benefit all parties||Parents have to be reasonable, understanding and communicative with the administration. Sometimes kids do bad things, and problems will only be solved when everybody talks about it - lawsuits aren't a very good form of communication.||Community should be active in choosing school board members, voting for people that will help the school, and remove those who actively hurt the school. Ultimately, the community has the most power in supervising the administration.|
|To Parents||Teachers have to be able to draw the line between teaching and parenting; and increasingly difficult skill. Must be willing to deliver bad news, and proactively deliver good news. Must at least attempt to communicate with parents, and ruthlessly rat out the parents that don't care.||Students should keep their parents advised of how they're doing, and bug them about extra-curricular stuff (even if it's not with school).||Administrators must realize that few parents are going to have a realistic picture of their children and do their best to mediate conflicts. They also have to make sure they don't act as a barrier between any two parties, especially parents and teachers. The temptation is to shield teachers from irate parents to avoid conflict or lawsuits, but closing communication doesn't help any.||Responsible to themselves to know what it means to be a good parent - finding out the right medicines, knowing when stuff is going on, and actively finding new and better ways to improve as a parent.||Community must understand that schools don't just pump out Harvard graduates without a lot of help. Teen moms need help, not guilt. The star quarterback probably needs tutoring. Car pools keep everyone a little more sane (at least on the days they're not driving!).|
|To the Community||Teachers should realize they don't operate in a vacuum: they're part of a community that may or may not appreciate them, but definitely needs them.||Students shouldn't become a nuisance in their community; instead should try to either help it or at least not hinder it.||Administrators can do a lot of good for their school by making an effort to involve the community in their endeavors - fundraisers, community events, sports, car washes, etc.||Parents should anticipate being part of the community that makes their school work and be willing to do their part. They don't have to build the new gym themselves, but $50 or a few hours would help make it happen.||Responsible to itself for creating and sustaining programs that help the school function (scholarships, fundraisers, going to the car wash, whatever).|