If parents set real limits, students will succeed

This is a piece by high school teacher social studies teacher Marc Urbach. The piece will appear in the Monday education page but here is an early look.


By Marc Urbach

Students need great teachers in the classroom but that is only half the story. I only see my students for 50 minutes a day while their parents see them for several hours. What do they do with all of that time?

Over the years, I have asked my students and the answers have stayed the same — watch television, listen to music, play games and now YouTube and Facebook.

Do any of these activities help with their schooling/studies? No.

Why do they do all of these activities? Because “they want to” and because their parents let them. Many parents do not have the courage to set limits with their children. If parents are serious about their child becoming successful in school and in life, they will implement the following rules.

No television, computers, video games until you are earning all A’s.

No listening to music until you are earning all A’s.

No playing sports until you are earning all A’s.

No going to the mall or friends’ houses until you are earning all A’s. Now you might say this sounds a little tough or rigid but in my world it is perfectly normal for the children and parents.

I belong to an Orthodox Jewish synagogue and this is how many parents interact with their children. Do the children complain? Not at all. They are perfectly happy with their situation. In some houses, there is only one television set and the child only watches it when the parent says so.

The children go to school at 7:30 a.m., get home at 4:30 p.m., play outside for an hour and then do homework for four to five hours with a break for dinner. Some play sports and have to adjust their schedule and study extra hard to maintain A’s. They become doctors, lawyers, engineers; this has been the culture for many Jews for centuries. (I was not raised this way and I have suffered from being raised in a secular environment)

Why are these students different? Because their parents set limits for their children and greatly care about their children’s future. Some parents are the opposite and allow their children to play sports even when they are earning only C’s and D’s.

Ask yourself this question, why does the average student in a private school score higher on the SAT than the average student in public school? You might say the parents are wealthier or have a better house, computers in the house or two parents at home. But I would say the biggest difference is the students’ brains.

Why are the brains different? Many religious-schooled students do not watch television, listen to music, spend hours on Facebook, get involved with boyfriends/girlfriends, play sports (limited, maybe only one) or waste their time at home.

I have been teaching for 11 years and I have never seen anything from the county that outlines basic common sense guidelines for parents to get involved with their child. Nothing.

And this is another fault with public schools: lack of leadership. We have complete secular leaders who do nothing to help these children. They don’t even have the courage to explain to students why we have a moment of silence in the class. They don’t have the courage to send home a letter to parents outlining the steps that parents should take to help make their children successful.

The problems seem to be getting worse. In my time teaching, student writing abilities are declining. Their reading abilities and comprehension are declining. The 2011 critical reading scores on the SAT were the lowest in 40 years.

The students are much more distracted with all of the electronic junk they bring to school and the computer distractions at home. They are more distracted with all the garbage on television. Pumping billions more into the system is simply a waste if parents fail to do their part.

Marc Urbach lives in Dunwoody with his wife and daughter. He teaches Social Studies at a public high school in metro Atlanta.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

151 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

November 13th, 2011
4:33 am

“In some houses, there is only one television set and the child only watches it when the parent says so.”

ONLY when the parent says so? What kind of abuse is that? The horror, oh the horror!

Somebody call Amnesty International.

long time educator

November 13th, 2011
6:24 am

Amen, and amen! This is how I was raised. I was expected to make all A’s; I was not rewarded for doing so. There were consequences if I did not. This was true for all my siblings and cousins. My children and their cousins were raised the same way and are all self-supporting homeowners with professional careers who are raising their children the same way. This is not bragging; it is a formula that works. It can work for anyone.of average to above average ability. My family is also very involved in church, not Jewish Othodox, but one that values discipline and hard work. The different outcomes in school are cultural and this is THE SECRET!!!

Secular teacher

November 13th, 2011
6:31 am

I would ere on the side of ANY parent who is interested in their children’s future would set limits, not just the religious ones. My children did not get exposed to tv or unfettered computer time in our house for years. TV was mind numbingly ridiculous and anything I could stand to listen to was available at the library on DVD. Yes, what I could stand to listen to- I did completely limit what they watched out of pure and selfish reasons. Most TV shows were and still are inane and time would be better spent reading a good book or being outside and besides, I hated explaining why the women advertising world wrestling federation shows had practically no clothes on and no that was not something that was okay in our family. My family is not religious at all but that does not mean my kids weren’t raised with values.
When we relocated here my younger kids were required to be online much more than I was comfortable with due to school assignments. It was not for any religious reason but common sense- it had more to do with avoiding the whole ‘ Garbage In then Garbage Out ‘. phenomena. I selfishly wanted kids who had more to think and talk about than idiotic tv shows and mind numbing computer games.
My kids have been raised with out any organized religion at all- they are all very moral, worldly global citizens who actually read national newspapers- the ones without the comic sections. We moved from an area where religious associations were not so front and center in people’s socializing and daily life but all of my friends, secular and religious alike, have raised their children similarly. I contend that it is not religious associations that allow for boundaries for children. The over the top culture for sports in parts of the country ( here as well as other places) seems almost a parody and as a former athlete myself, I hate how organized sports have morphed into something else. It seems that american culture taken to extremes and I would agree with the poster that limited the sports participation predicated on grades should be a given.
No my children did not suffer for their limited access to culture but I was spared the non stop demands for advertised goods or the whole cloth swallowing of values around athleticism and sports participation at all costs. I am now reaping the benefit as my oldest child prepares to go off to college with near perfect SATs ( missed one question having not studied for them at all), more Facebook friends than are reasonable to have but also someone who is a global citizen.
We did this all the while not having any religious affiliation at all.
Before the hammer of damnation rain down on me for that declamation-I was raised in a religion that treated women vastly differently than men, turned a blind eye to the abuses of their own clergy with children, still has more financial capital in priceless art while asking increasing tithing of their own to keep their religious schools open and involves themselves in the governmental affairs of more than a handful of countries. This is what my own children have been able to stand apart and evaluate from the perspective of their own moral compass. These are the questions of WHY that they have raised themselves concerning religion. I contend that one does have to been religious to be moral, or raise a moral family. I also contend that having limits on children is what all mindful parents do regardless of their faith system. I have faith that my children will be part of the solutions in this world and that is enough for me.

long time educator

November 13th, 2011
6:49 am

I agree that religious affiliation is not necessary to raise disciplined children, it is just easier because you are supported by other families with similar values. This is not about religion; it is about discipline.

long time educator

November 13th, 2011
7:01 am

In thinking about this topic I was reminded of the story of Ben Carson, a gifted nureosugeon, who was raised by a poor single mother who was determined that her children would have a different life. She achieved her goal by using this SECRET. Here is an interview he did about his mother:

long time educator

November 13th, 2011
7:04 am


William Casey

November 13th, 2011
7:43 am

Mr. Urbach is correct about the need for parents to establish limits and standards for children for the simple reason that they are the only ones who can. The only thing that I would add is the need for parents to interact with their kids rather than simply sending them off to their rooms to study. I’ve got to believe that the hours his mom and I spent with our son in intellectually stimulating activities (including games) has something to do with his current academic success.


November 13th, 2011
8:18 am

I agree completely.

I would respectfully add two other things: Successful students have responsibilities to their families, what we used to call “chores.” These are activities that they don’t get paid for, and don’t directly benefit them (like hanging up their own clothes or cleaning their own rooms, which benefits the child), but things done for the FAMILY unit, as a member of that family. Small children can unload the dishwasher or set plates on the table, for example. It needs to be something that MUST be done on a regular basis, that benefits the family, and the parents must insist it be done–no excuses other than severe illness.

Second, successful students frequently do things for others. It might be mowing an elderly neighbor’s yard (for no money), or helping weed the flower beds at church.

Both these activities increase a child’s sense of efficacy: I can do things that benefit others. I am a part of a larger group than just me. I can make good things happen.

If you want to raise a lap dog, buy a lap dog. If you want to raise a child successfully, HAVE REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS OF THE CHILD.


November 13th, 2011
8:22 am

Okay, I gotta say it: Involve the family in something worthwhile, like a religious organization or environmental group or something that acknowledges something more than just “us.”


November 13th, 2011
8:31 am

Only a small minority of students are capable of earning all A’s. If the aptitude is not there no amount of disipline will result in these kind of grades. Parents need to be realistic about their children’s abilities. Raising a child and expecting all A’s when the child simply can’t do it will result in a very unhappy childhood and, when grown, a resentful hostle adult.

long time educator

November 13th, 2011
8:48 am

You are wrong;public school is so dumbed down, that anyone of average abililty, which is most children, can make A’s with the kind of effort Mr. Urbach is talking about. If the child truly has less than average ability, the expectations can be adjusted, but this child will also have to earn a living and needs to make use of all the ability he/she has. You are handicapping your child yourself if you expect less.

[...] If parents set real limits, students will succeed I only see my students for 50 minutes a day while their parents see them for several hours. What do they do with all of that time? Over the years, I have asked my students and the answers have stayed the same — watch television, listen to music, … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Tad Jackson

November 13th, 2011
9:01 am

In my experience, I’ve seen that parents aren’t necessarily afraid of their children … they’re afraid of their child’s reaction to some sort of discipline or disagreement … and know, deep down, they’re unable to handle the fury of the reaction. They know they don’t have the self control, perhaps, or know the best words to say.

Anyhow, not always the case, but I’ve seen it and discussed it with other parents and fellow teachers and it’s certainly something that happens over and over, and guess who wins? The child, or young adult, usually, to the detriment of every person concerned.


Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

November 13th, 2011
9:03 am

Limit-setting and encouragement-giving Moms and Dads are a key.

long time educator

November 13th, 2011
9:05 am

Successful discipline begins very young and is consistent. Trying to impose discipline on an unruly teen who has had very little discipline before, is very difficult, almost impossible. That is what is so tragic about this; we have lost an entire generation to overindulgence.


November 13th, 2011
9:06 am

“The children go to school at 7:30 a.m., get home at 4:30 p.m., play outside for an hour and then do homework for four to five hours with a break for dinner.”

Because – this makes them happy? I think you’re kidding yourself.


November 13th, 2011
9:09 am

@long time educator:
naaahh, it’s actually a very capable generation. Up until now, they’ve been very patient with the rest of us. That might end.

long time educator

November 13th, 2011
9:10 am

It doesn’t make them happy short term; it makes them successful long term. As long as all you want for your child is that they be happy short term, I hope they will be happy cooking fast food in the long term.

Good Mother

November 13th, 2011
9:19 am

I agree with other posters that religion is not the key to successful students. We’re Christians but not zealous about our religious beliefs, meaning, we socialize with and respect people of all religions and atheists and we welcome and include the gay and lesbian friends in our lives.

I have one 17 year old TV in my home and it is watched rarely. My children have no cell phones, no computers, no computer games. I don’t use Facebook or any other social media other than this blog.

Education is priority one in my home and yet — my children don’t make all As. I think that is a mistake by the author of this piece.

It is also disappointing that the author wonders what families do “with all that time” with their kids.
My pediatrician says my children need 10.5 to 11 hours sleep per day. That means they have to go to bed by 7 p.m. I get off work, have an hour drive home and when I race to get there, I am home by about 6 p.m. and so is Daddy.

I have exactly one hour to prepare a very simple meal, do homework, give them a bath, teeth brushed, and prayers before bed.

Needless (or it should be) to say, one hour is never enough to get it all done. In order to rush through homework, sometimes my kids don’t get a bath at night, Just a quick wash of the face and hands and slammed into bed.

It really is unfortunate that the author of this piece chooses to vilify all parents and treats all parents as bad ones.

I would for once like to see a teacher actually thank the parents who volunteer their time and money to support the school, spend hours in the classroom helping with projects and chaperoning field trips. I would like any author to acknowledge there are many good parents who make sacrifices in their own lives in order to give their child and other children a shot at a good education.

Parents are like teachers. There are good ones and bad ones and some between.’

Painting all parents as low life couldn’t care less individuals is a mistake. It alienates the very people teachers want cooperation from.


November 13th, 2011
9:25 am

long time educator – 8:48

If your reading comprehension skills are any indicator, it’s easy to see why public schools have become do dumbed down. I said a parent should encourage their child to “make use of all the ability he/she has “. Some children are A students, Others are B & C students. Trying to force an honest all C student to be an all A student will never work. Nothing in my post suggests you should “expect less” than what your child is capable of. I hope you were never a classroom teacher.


November 13th, 2011
9:28 am

Don’t forget the cell phones…

I agree with Secular Teacher that religion isn’t necessary, but discipline is. Agree with catlady that children should be raised to see more than “me.”

carlosgvv, I agree that not all students are capable of earning straight A’s, at least if the A’s mean anything. However, I rarely see a student who couldn’t achieve much more if more were expected from him/her at home.


November 13th, 2011
9:29 am

Overall, great article! As mentioned by carlosgvv, not all students have the aptitude to make all A’s. But their chances will improve with some of the guidances outlined above. I also agree that plethora of technological gadgets and websites have become distractions to learning the core content. However, I do think 4-5 hours of homework is excessive and wonder why school has been made so difficult than in the past. I think it’s good to have well rounded students – academic, social, and physical.


November 13th, 2011
9:33 am

Long time educator: I don’t the curriculum has been dumbed down. It has gotten more complicated and pushed down to several grade levels. What I learned in pre-algebra in 9th grade is now taught in 7th grade. High schools have advanced trig, calculus, and statistics that was the domain of colleges not long ago.

long time educator

November 13th, 2011
9:36 am

Good Mother,
The key to your schedule seems to be 3:30 – 6:00. Where are your kids at that time? If it were me, I would ask the caretaker to see that they played outside and did their homework before I picked them up. It sounds like you are a good mother and I don’t think the author is saying otherwise. He is just sharing the SECRET of why some group’s children seem to have higher than average achievement. Only one hour a day with your kids is a big sacrifice for working at the job you have. I don’t want to get into a big argument about working moms vs. stay at home moms, but there are lots of options in between. I don’t think the author is criticizing all parents, but sharing a SECRET that works. Life is full of choices, each having consequences, and we each have to choose based on what we think is important.


November 13th, 2011
9:37 am

I think if we try very very hard to see our children as people in their own right, and not a neurotic means to our own self-satisfaction, they will know that the relationship is real. I think that more than anything else, our children deserve to be themselves, living their own life, and not someone else’s.

[...] If parents set real limits, students will succeed I only see my students for 50 minutes a day while their parents see them for several hours. What do they do with all of that time? Over the years, I have asked my students and the answers have stayed the same — watch television, listen to music, … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

I Want to Learn

November 13th, 2011
10:11 am

Students can still have and use all the things listed above. The bottom line the parents have to control the surroundings. And today too many parents are concerned about themselves instead of their kids. Parents are too often having fun or hunting things to keep their kids busy so they won’t have to do anything with them. Many parents today have no morals. They will lie and let their kids lie inorder to get what they want. Now not all parents and students are like this. Those are the ones that get the education that is offered too them. They don’t make excuses and take responsiblity for their actions. Those parents and students are to be congratulated and they are the ones that will make contributions to society and not expect everything to be handed to them.

Beverly Fraud

November 13th, 2011
10:14 am

I am VERY disturbed by this teacher’s words. What this teacher is suggesting is dangerous; he is suggesting that no less than the PARENT be the SOLE arbiter of what’s best for their child in the home environment!


I think it sets a dangerous precedent for the parents to make decisions WITHOUT depending on government guidance to do so. The government has layers of bureaucracy and REAMS of documentation of “researched based best practices” and as such our parents should be encouraged to defer to the government in such SCHOOL matters as how to best raise children.

Can we trust parents with THE single most important task of any parent–making sure schools meet RTTT standards? It’s sheer folly to think they have anything more than a tangential importance to a child’s welfare and education. The research show it-the teacher is THE most important factor of all.

This idea of PERSONAL responsibility as somehow being a replacement for government wisdom, should be curtailed at all costs.

I’m appalled the AJC granted this “teacher” an audience.

College Professor

November 13th, 2011
11:15 am

The teacher is correct in emphasizing the role of parents in a child’s academic development. The responders are also correct in asserting that religion is not a requirement for academic achievement. But I think we are missing the point here. We are all preaching to the choir; i.e. we set limits for our children, we discipline them, and we expect academic excellence from them. The problem is two fold. First, parents who are not involved with their children and who see school as free day care are not going to read this letter much less act on it. Secondly, liberals like Maureen are always inventing excuses for these parents relieving them of their responsibility to raise their children. We have all hear it before: The parents can’t because they are poor or minority or minority and poor or they don’t speak English or some other platitudinous excuse from the liberal litany of excuses.


November 13th, 2011
11:18 am

Good Mother, I know we have a terrible economy, but I think it’s very sad that you only get one hour per day with your children.


November 13th, 2011
11:30 am

There are not a lot of options between working and not working. I left my last job because, although they had a whole diatribe about part time workers, they had not one part time worker. That was a fortune 1000 company…So I asked to have shorter hours, and basically what they did was say, sorry. Then hired a contractor – for more than they negotiated an hourly rate with me for – who knew NOTHING. Not – less than I did. NOTHING. I still know what’s going on there.

Mr. Urbach isn’t completely out of line, but he’s not completely telling everything. In any event, some of what he says is true. For any child – 4 to 5 hours of homework is a complete waste of time. If after 8 hours in school a child STILL needs to do homework there is something wrong with the school or the homework. There is absolutely no reason for it.

We always limit the amount of screen time. My kids never do any of it without asking. I always ask what they’ve done to ‘earn’ it, and even then, it’s not infinite. It’s very difficult in a world where, no, there aren’t other kids out playing. i can’t just say: go outside and play. Because no other parents are doing that. So they’d be alone on the streets. I definitely wish that we could go back to the days when I would go outside to play and there’d be other kids out there. But parents have become utterly frightened – for no reason, mind you – so no kids go outside to play. And then…well, kids don’t know how to entertain themselves, because they typically have an electronic device to help them out. Which is why we limit screen time (did you do your language study? did you practice your instrument? Did you do your handwriting? because no, they aren’t getting very much homework, as well they shouldn’t. but we supplement. And keep supplementing. It is not easy).

To Long Time Educator from Good Mother

November 13th, 2011
11:30 am

You ask where they are from 3:30 to 6 — on some days they are in the very best after care they can afford, where there are 2 to 3 caregivers for 30 to 40 kids. They don’t get homework done there and unfortunately, sometimes those caregivers when they try to do the homework with the kids, actually get it wrong. They are in one big overcrowded incredibly crowded room.

On a couple days a week we hire help to bring them home to give them a nap and then start homework. On those days, the homework is getting a better job of getting done.

I read to my kids as much as possible and I work with them as much as I can, I bought a chalkboard and taught them phonics — so they can learn to read.

What is unfortunate is that the teacher in this blog is actually clueless how little time we parents have with our kids — and paints the picture that he has only 50 minutes with them — actually teachers have much much more time with my children than I do. They are there 7 hours a day. I am with them ONE hour a day and I am trying to feed and bathe them.

Two working parents is the norm — not to be wealthy but just to make ends meet. I sacrifice so that the teachers can have supplies in teh classroom and help in the classroom. It is disheartening and so discouraging for this social studies teacher to have no clue what happens to kids outside his classroom.

We parents are struggling financially and bilogicially. I rarely get enough sleep. I am bloggin here between loads of laundry, housekeeping and cooking trying to catch up just a little on all the things I can’t do during the week. I dont’ get off work at 2:30. I get off of work at 5 or 6 or later and many times work at home and on the weekends. That’s why I am blogging now. I am doing work at home on my laptop on a Saturday while doing the other things I’ve mentioned while Dad is wth the kids…
and many Dads aren’t. Divorce is common and many women don’t have the “luxury” of doing housework and work work while Dad is caring for the kids on Saturday.

This teacher needs a wake up call; he has obviously no clue what it takes to earn a living and care for a family.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

November 13th, 2011
11:31 am

@Woody “I think that more than anything else, our children deserve to be themselves, living their own life, and not someone else’s.”

Careful there, Woody – that kind of thinking can be problematic. Children are CHILDREN; they are not always capable of knowing what is best for them. Given a choice, most of them would choose to take the easy route – the fun route – and not necessarily the one that will serve them best in the long run. I have seen you attitude expressed in parents who claim, “Oh, but Johnny just doesn’t WANT to do his homework. It is so hard to get him to stop playing World of Warcraft and work on his math facts. We don’t want to stifle his creativity!” Yes, let little Johnny “live his own life” and then wonder why he is still unemployed, stitting on his parents’ couch at age 35 playing video games.

@Goodmother “I would for once like to see a teacher actually thank the parents who volunteer their time and money to support the school….”

Such comments have been posted here numerous times. In fact, you have even thanked various educators (including me) for making such comments, so I think you need to revise the “just once” litany.


November 13th, 2011
11:35 am

and, well, blaming parents isn’t the right thing to do either. My parents saw my report cards, and that was about it when I was in school. NOW it’s like every day I have to sign something else to go back to school.
IT IS CRAZY. Totally ridiculous. the TEACHERS are the ones to blame for that, Mr. Urbach (and I know who you are). Or the administration. They are kowtowing to the parents. STOP making the parents so involved.
ALSO STOP giving homework that the kids CANNOT do without the parents. I already passed elementary school. If the kids can’t do it without the parent don’t assign it!!!
Like, in kindergarten when they would get homework. But they couldn’t read yet!! seriously. Craziness. Why did they do it? because idiot parents were asking for it. The K day is long enough anyway, why is there homework?
All this all does it to teach the kids that they need their parents to do their homework with and that’s just crazy.

To Science Teacherfrom Good Mother

November 13th, 2011
11:36 am

I agree but that is normal for everyone who does not work for the government. Government jobs have more flexibility and school teachers are particularly fortunate.

It makes me want to go into teaching. I certainly have the motivation, the education, and am considering getting the teaching certificate just so I can have some real time with my kids.

But don’t pity me, science teacher. Most working mothers ahve it worse than I do. Many work two part time jobs because greedy corporations won’t give them full time work. Al those big box retails stores. Many women have no fathers to care for the kids.

Teachers just ahve to realize we working parents have it rough and we need to be treated with compassion and kindness instead of ridicule. After all, we working parents pay the taxes that pay for his salary. we are the volunteers that help him in the classroom. We are the parents who give and give and give….we deserve better than the scorn from this teacher.


November 13th, 2011
11:39 am

But I do have lots of friends who are amazed when i tell them that the kids make their own lunches (with a bit of supervision) that they empty and load the dishwasher, that they set the table, that they put away their laundry (and help me do it sometimes), etc etc etc.
We’re going to hopefully get the 9 YO to mow the lawn next summer (then he can start his own business :) . But most of my friends ask nothing of their kids, it is very true. I think that many want their kids to have it ‘easier’ than they did. The end result, though, is that the kids don’t know how to take care of themselves. It’s really a crying shame.

Longtime Blog Reader

November 13th, 2011
11:57 am

Another litany of woes from the Good Mother troll.

“I rarely get enough sleep. I am bloggin here between loads of laundry, housekeeping and cooking trying to catch up just a little on all the things I can’t do during the week,” the supposed “Mother” writes. Ha. You blog constantly on “Get Schooled.”

I suggest that all of you taken in by these fictions read the exchange on the earlier blog about the schoolteacher Ms. Silveri, from 4:08 pm, Nov. 12 on.


November 13th, 2011
12:08 pm

Freak alert! GoodMother has been outed already as fake. Plus, it ends its sentences with a preposition.
Perhaps DumbMother would be more appropriate.

Secular teacher

November 13th, 2011
12:29 pm

I realize that it is easy to pick up someone else’s moniker and post ‘as if them’ so I won’t comment on the imposter status of Good Mother. I will speak volumes though to the idea that teachers are somehow clueless about how much time working parents spend with their children. Teachers are usually working parents as well. Somewhere in the fantasy land conjured up by some members of the public there are teachers that skate home at 2:30pm and don’t contemplate work again until 8:15 am or so.
Most parent/teachers are coming home to their own children having spending all of those 7 hours with your child. Not possible that these teachers had IEP meetings, parent meetings, tutorial sessions, bathroom breaks that are hard won sprints to use the lav during bell changes and this is part of their job. They have paper work to fill out for field trips, behavioral referrals, updates to grades and to notify various parents about the good and the bad things going on in their child’s class. This is their job and most don’t complain about it but it begs the question about those 7 straight hours being the influence on your child.
I speak as someone who does just that- parent. I do it solely as my children lost their father before they even entered school. Yes, I am one of those parents- a single parent who is castigated as being amoral, a glut on society, the very reason for educational failure. No hand outs no complaining and no bemoaning your fate- get to work is my philosophy and one that my own children experience every day. My child didn’t even mention the solo parent household impact on their college application because it seemed like it was making and excuse.I chose living very close to pay to pay check when they were very young specifically to be there to raise them. It was after all, my responsibility and no village was coming in to help get the kids fed, homework done or baths finished. My kids had strict bed times and yes were read to but I never once begrudged teachers for the time that had my children. I blessed my kids elementary school teachers for the incredibly exhausting job they had. I had three at home- they had 25-27 in a class all day.
So please before you tell me that teachers have more of a moral responsibility to raise your child, please remember that teachers are also influencing your child but only you should be raising those children.


November 13th, 2011
12:31 pm

To Beverly above – loved your “tongue-in-cheek” comments. They were “tongue-in-cheek”, right? Sometimes it pays to say so – especially in a case where you’ve expressed your point(s) in writing and there are no body language antics or wry smiles or special winks of the eye to differentiate fact from fiction. I mean, some people will actually believe that baloney and feel you are serious about it if you don’t hit them between the eyes and tell them otherwise.


November 13th, 2011
12:41 pm

I don’t believe that kids should do 4-5 hours of homework…matter of fact I do not think that homework is necessary. If a student pays attention in class and is in school daily, they will have success in that class or subject. Just remeber to that we live in the “Entitlement Period” in history right now. It started under Clinton with everyone being able to buy homes and cars, now look at banks and the economy situtaion. It has happened in education too with students not being kicked out for discipline issues because admin is worried with AYP and other state numbers! So because the bad apples are in class teachers are being required to change the way we have taught in America for decades…I think most of our generations are fairly successful…but we change teaching because we are scared to discipline studnets now days!


November 13th, 2011
12:43 pm

Love this article, couldn’t agree more. I think this is the REAL difference between our schools and other countries where the scores are much higher. It all begins, and ends, in the home.

Longtime Blog Reader

November 13th, 2011
12:45 pm

@ Secular teacher: “I realize that it is easy to pick up someone else’s moniker and post ‘as if them.’ ”

Yes. But I’ve noticed on these “Get Schooled” blogs that when happens there is an immediate blog entry complaining about the “name hijacking,” for usually the imposter has stated something really opposite to what the original owner of the moniker believes. There’s been no such disclaimer on the earlier blog abt. Ms. Silveri…and what “Good Mother” dwelt upon there was pretty vile and unlike what a real mother would state.

Secular teacher

November 13th, 2011
12:49 pm

Good mother I wonder what lesson your children are learning when you demand compassion from people whose salary you pay with tax dollars. You chose to have children and you must be an adult who shoulders those responsibilities. Yes, school asks things of parents with the goal of making each child’s future better. Sometimes the means are misguided but to demand understanding from teachers for your hectic lifestyle choices. I admit to something that is culturally impolitic- in most cases, having children is a choice. Having two working parents is a lifestyle choice and it is beyond what is reasonable to ask of teachers to have compassion for your lifestyle choice. How about being part of the solution and not someone who is saying they are entitled to understanding? Exhaustion comes with the territory of parenthood- imagine the parents of special needs children if you think you are exhausted. 24/7/365 days a year. Life is not fair and from the earlier posters link to the neurosurgeon’s recollection of their mother, you have to deal with the cards you are dealt.

Secular teacher to long time reader

November 13th, 2011
12:58 pm

Yes, not being a regular reader I don’t always get the feel for people’s online ‘voice’ and protocol. I agree- vile comments. Why so much vitriol is hard to understand. Maybe instead of blogging that poster should be having a nap.

To Secular Teacher from Good Mother

November 13th, 2011
1:02 pm

I don’t have hectic lifestyle choices. I have a hectic lifestyle demands which are out of my control because I have to put food on the table. Not working is not an option. I have to put a roof over their heads.

It is very telling that you choose to criticize my lifestyle because in essence you are criticizing the vast majority of all your students’ parents. We work because we have to.

It is also very telling that you choose to criticize when you have such a flexible schedule and lots of time away from work.

I don’t want or need a teacher’s “compassion” or “pity” what we working parents do need is respect.

All of the comments blaming parents for everything is ridiculous. When a teacher has to work the same hours we in the private sector do, then you have a right to speak intelligently about what goes on in other people’s lives.

This is a rotten economy and we parents are struggling to survive, to heap on more criticism on us and more whining about us is more than a little unfortunate. It is no wonder many parents don’t respect teachers. All this whining and complaining just isn’t heard in the private sector. We go to work, we soldier on without complaining and we count our blessings every day that we have a job to go to.


November 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

I can see the point of the author, but I disagree with some of the major points. I very FIRMLY do not believe in four to five hours of homework after a six-hour day at school. I am a veteran teacher (25+ years) and I have gone back and forth on the homework question. However, as soon as I step out of my teacher shoes and put on my parent shoes, I see the difference. My two daughters make, and have always made, all As. They are expected to do homework immediately upon arriving at home. And then? They actually get to be kids. They get to read, play, watch a little television, etc., until it’s time to help with dinner. Both are heavily involved in outside activities (soccer, choir, basketball, etc.) and still have time to do all of this and make As. However, if they got a B it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Life is stressful enough for all of us – why can’t we let our kids actually enjoy life a little before they have to start working hours on end to make ends meet? It’s possible to do all of it.

Secular teacher to long time reader

November 13th, 2011
1:17 pm

Somehow this became a castigation or a tirade against working parents, it is not. I stand by original statements that being a parent who sets an example for their children, who expects hard work and diligent effort from their children is not only the product of a religious household but can be possible of a secular one as well. I stand by my respect for all parents- parenting is hard work and personally exhausting. But, I think it is too much to ask of teachers, who are by the way parents as well, that they have compassion for you, the adult. Adult choices. I don’t care if you don’t respect teachers, who you seem to think have an incredible life of ease, but I do care that you are teaching your children by example to have contempt for the very people who are so much more of an influence on your children’s life than you are. Strange dichotomy there and not one that will work out well in the end. Hand over responsibility for influence to the very people who you do not respect. Why not be part of the solution?

Secular teacher not to long time reader but good mother

November 13th, 2011
1:18 pm

I apologize, the post was to be directed for comment to good mother.

Longtime Blog Reader

November 13th, 2011
1:37 pm

@ Secular teacher. A hallmark of the “online voice” of Good Mother is that he/she will use the word “whining” to describe any negative comments that teachers make about their job. Note that the 1:02 pm post above by GM uses “whining” twice.

Also, GM always contrasts his/her life of hard work and pain with the teacher’s cushy “part-time” job. Here we get, “you [teachers] have such a flexible schedule and lots of time away from work.” Speaking of “vitriol”….a frequent GM reaction to a blogger-teacher “whining” (mentioning classroom discipline problems, etc.) is to advise said teacher to leave the profession.

As I said, a troll.