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Opening Arguments

Wild in the classroom

Be careful whom you go off on -- anybody is liable to be carrying a recorder these days:

The parents of a New Albany kindergarten student who secretly recorded his teacher making what the parents say were abusive comments told their story to a national TV audience today.

Tabitha McMahan, mother of Gabe Ross, and J.R. Edwards, the boy's stepfather, were interviewed on Good Morning America about the teacher and the way their son was treated.

Parts of the recording that Gabe made in April when he went to his school, S. Ellen Jones Elementary in New Albany, with a digital recorder in his pocket were played during the broadcast.

At one point, a woman's voice can be heard describing a student as “ignorant, selfish, self-absorbed, the whole thing,” and also calling the student “pathetic.”

Teachers must be at or near the breaking point these days. There was also the Florida kindergarten teacher who had students vote  on whether a 5-year-old with a form of autism should be allowed to stay in class.


Bob G.
Thu, 05/29/2008 - 11:59am

Kudos to the teacher for calling it as it is.

The kid does (according to his mother) misbehave, and I' sorry, but iif any child is THAT disruptive (we're talking CHRONIC), then it's the parents' fault.

Don't chastise the teacher for seeing the truth, and speaking it.
(she DOES have the 1st amendment on her side anyway)

And if the parents didn't like HEARING the truth aboiut their boy (from a covert recording which has legal ramifications), then maybe they shouldn't have planted the recorder on the kid).

Every child will misbehave...that's HOW THEY LEARN...trial and error.
The problem comes with parents who can't (themselves) distinguish what the ERROR is, and how long it's allowed to continue.

"We teach by example".
-Ed Schilling used it
-Dionysis used it
-W.E. Deming used it
-Zig Ziglar used it

They can't ALL be wrong.
That quote speaks volumes in this instance.


Harl Delos
Thu, 05/29/2008 - 1:38pm

If a teacher calls a student "ignorant", then who's at fault? Isn't the teacher supposed to end the student's ignorance?

The reason so many people cheered when "No Child Left Behind" was enacted was because too damn many kids aren't getting the education we're paying for. It was a poorly designed law, and it needs a major overhaul, but for too many decades, we've ignored the fact that many teachers aren't teaching. There needs to be accountability.

Bob G.
Thu, 05/29/2008 - 1:59pm

Sorry, Harl...have to disagree on this one...

I married a teacher, taught a little myself, and she says the same thing I do when it comes to "no child left behind":
That's the greatest obstacle NEXT to parental apathy.

I'd start with PARENTAL accountability. Schools are not parents OR baby sitters.
Teachers ARE teaching.
Students aren't THERE to learn...that's all.

But still we "dumb down" the tests to accomodate them so we can have *C* class students graduating into an *A* class global economy...just what the future needs.


Harl Delos
Thu, 05/29/2008 - 8:24pm

Bob, I've taught a little, too, although on a college level, rather than in elementary school.

Preschoolers are *excited* about learning. They love to hear about dinosaurs and snakes and they are thrilled to be able to recite the alphabet. People make fun of Dick & Jane, but being able to crack the code, and figure out what those letters on the page *mean* is so exciting that "Watch Dick run. Run, Dick, run." is amazingly fun.

And over the next few years, we teach those kids to hate school.

Kids were taught better a century ago, when families typically had a half-dozen kids than they are today, when there are one or two kids. Isn't that a good argument that having *less* parental involvement results in a better outcome?

Paying teachers more doesn't appear to be the answer, either; some of the states with the best performance on SAT tests are paying their teachers below-average salaries.

If you took your car to the dealership for a tuneup, and when you got it back, it had broken windows and the tires were slashed, wouldn't you be POed? If schools aren't baby sitters, would you let the dealership off the hook because they insist they aren't security guards?

Asses in the chairs? Learning is messy, Bob. When kids learn something, they smile, they laugh, they hoot and holler when they get the answer right, they stand up and dance. Productivity and morale go to hell in a highly-regimented office, and vandalism increases; the evidence seems to say that the same thing happens in a highly-regimented schoolroom as well.

But most teachers are more concerned about containing excitement than generating it.

The fact is, some teachers are doing an exceptional job of teaching. They aren't boring the hell out of their kids; they're selling the subject matter. You're saying you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink; these teachers are putting salt in the oats.

The teachers that are getting exceptional results don't complaining about respect. They're earning the respect of the kids. What's more, they're showing respect for their students, instead of mocking them, and encouraging their classmates to respect each other instead of fostering abuse.

If an appliance salesman doesn't make sales, you don't hurl accusations at the shoppers. If a doctor doesn't set bones so they heal properly, you don't complain about his patients. If an army doesn't win battles, you don't seek different enemies. If you can't find the contact lens where you lost it, you don't look 50 yards away where the light is better.

If teachers are incapable of teaching, then there's no point in wasting tax dollars. In that case, we should bulldoze all the schools, and sell the land off to someone who wants to build whorehouses or gin mills; it'd improve the community more.

Bob G.
Fri, 05/30/2008 - 8:04am

Still...makes me long for the days when a teacher could bounce a chalkboard eraser of some dozing student's head to get him to PAY ATTENTION.
Students like that didn't wind up failing in the process, nor did they sue the teacher or the school. And the rest of us laughed our asses off, because "Johnny" was being ignorant. And school was certainly NOT the place for that, was it?

SOciety is just too damn "PC" about the whole thing anymore.
Parents need to be accountable.
Students - ditto.
Teachers teach...period.
Students learn...period.
Makes me wonder about students who are incapable of learning while teachers are attempting to teach.

It's getting as bad as having LEOs being street corner "diplomats" instead of enforcing the laws.
This is debatable issue on so many levels.

I don't agree with all you say, but I WILL defend your right to say it.
We good with that?