Friday, September 9, 2011

Ron Clark Bashes Parents

What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents, by Ron Clark.

Ron Clark is an A-1 creep; a sadistic, self-promoting control freak.

From a review of Clark's book, The Essential 55:  An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child:    

What really turned me off from this book was that it is painfully Anti-kid and Anti-teacher. Instead of raising child self-esteem and documenting actual achievements, readers are treated to a continuous line of Mr. Clark's unregulated stunts. Nowhere else have I seen an educational author earning money from his experiences of humiliating both students and teachers. Until now.

According to pointless RULE 9, Mr. Clark will take back any gift you don't thank him for in three seconds. After one little girl won a set of books from him, our heartless author states on page 24, "The little girl was so excited that she was jumping up and down." Guess what. She forgot to immediately say thank you, and her gleeful classmates pointed it out. Mr. Clark then took away her earned reward and traded it in for lasting humiliation. He was then kind enough to share this humiliation with the world and profit from it in this very book. Have you thanked her for that Mr. Clark? Can you give her that excitement back? His excuse on page 25 was, "... I had to remain consistent." If you are wondering readers, this type of behavior will consistently transform employed teachers into unemployed ones.

It became obvious to me, that everything Mr. Clark did in his classroom (including going to teach in Harlem) he did to eventually make part of a future book; this book. Take RULE 16 on page 56. "Homework will be turned in each day..." In this section we learn that the amazing Mr. Clark got 100% of his class to turn in their homework for 62 days in a row. Something smells fishy here when he uses the phrase "homework participation," instead of homework completion. To get this 62 day run of whatever it is, he uses "peer pressure." This is code for bullying. If he doesn't like a kid, he turns the class loose on them stating "Well, I let the class lay it on thick." If the kid is his best student who is reduced to tears because she is the one who forgot her work on day 63, then Mr. Clark says, "Class, we need to have a talk." What happened to taking back books on page 25 and, "...I had to remain consistent."? Again new teachers, if you want to be fired, be like Mr. Clark.

Mr. Clark actually hides behind RULE 49 "Stand up for what you believe in," after giving a detention to a model student on page 139. Her sin? She had forgotten to bring to class a piece of blue paper. Really, how important are homework streaks when homework consists of carrying a colored piece of paper to and from school? The once happy, well-adjusted student, "...had cried all night long" because of this undeserved detention. Are we seeing a pattern here folks? Mr. Clark then refused to remove his martinet policy or the detention. If not for his preposterous fame, I don't see how he would have kept his job. Instead we read, "...that class went on to have twenty-three days in a row..." of what? successful colored-paper carrying? I am curious, what story of child humiliation arose at the end of that streak?


  1. I found this article so annoying.

    "One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, 'Is that true?' Well, of course it's true. I just told you."

    Classic authoritarian mindset. If you expect parents to just shut up and never question anything you say, then you *should* find another line of work.

  2. Preach it, Chris! I had the same problem with this article. That and the fact that this dude assigns summer reading and then CRITICISES a family that had a crisis in July because they gave their kid time off in June? WT???? They should have seen a crisis ahead of time and prepared? What?

  3. Suburban Chicken FarmerSeptember 10, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Clark says, First parents should recognize each and every teacher as an educated professional.

    I'd love to and I try, I really try. Yet, every year, when my kids bring home teacher-produced homework instructions and/or materials, it often has basic grammar mistakes. This year, one teacher consistently sends home poorly copied worksheets, margin letters and words cut off.

    Of course, other evidence abounds:
    From Teacher-trainer extraordinaire Chris Rekstad writes on the subject of teaching writing.
    "Oral Writing to Genius does it all work?
    We have talked about several aspects of writing, but now how do you implement them and in what order? It's always good to get good ideas, but then we take them home and wonder, "how does this really look in my room...tomorrow?"

    So this is how it feels to me right now. Don't forget that this is a totally new, fluid process, this is right now, but that may change in the next few months."
    To quote Bill Murray: It's your professionalism that I respect.
    I support teachers, but I also am my sons' advocate. And you know what? If there is a rare conflict between those two- I must choose being their advocate over supporting teachers. Because, see, I've been knocking around this ol' world for quite awhile now, and I know a little sumpthin about sumpthin. Teachers do not love children as their own parents do. (Clark should be ashamed to put forth such balderdash) There are teachers who do not even like kids. You do not know your students as well as their parents do and furthermore you put up barriers, devices of every sort, to ensure you will not ever know them nor they you.
    You are a part of a mighty institution and it a part of you when you act upon my kids. But that's not enough for you?
    Nope, Clark's anonymous "administrator of the year" would prefer teaching orphans because "the parents are killing us!" (disturbing peculiar imagery, eh?)

    To recap: I can't trust teachers to be experts when they consistently show or reward ineptitude.
    I can't rely on only a teacher's viewpoint in any matter because I know you do not love or even know your students very well.
    So, pardon me, but I'd like my child's viewpoint as well.
    You've got the school, the district, the state.

    My kid has me.

  4. Suburban Chicken FarmerSeptember 11, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    When you don't have enough facts to back up your claims, just write some apocryphal story to show just how parents push around well-meaning professionals-
    Clark writes' "My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"

    I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow's outstanding educators."

    Sounds horrible! Professionals getting canned over washing kids' faces! Parents, you've got to back off! Right? Except of course, it never happened.
    The real story where this seems to have emanated from is a tad different, errr.. I mean A LOT different-

    A daycare teacher scrubbed a three year old's face with a bleach wall cleaner. The parent wasn't too happy; her child had chemical burns on his face... and the parent had to fight the daycare to release the video to her.

  5. Teachers love to say things like, "We're preparing students for the real world" when they humiliate kids or impose Draconian homework policies.

    Guess what? The real world of work and college can be forgiving, for the most part. In college, I forgot to buy a "blue book" before an exam to write out my essay questions. I told the teacher, and he told me to instead use regular paper and write out the honor code that we'd normally sign inside the blue book. I've had family crises that have prevented me from getting my work done, and I've told my boss, and he understood.

    I think the lesson we should be teaching kids is to talk to their teachers and parents when there's a problem, not that everything is rigid and inflexible. In the "real world," if it's that inflexible, people usually start looking for another job.

  6. @Megan - I completely agree.

    In my job I can go to the bathroom when I need to. If I'm tired of sitting down, I can stand up and walk around. If I forget to bring something to a meeting, I just walk back to my office to get it.

    It is critical to my job that I know how to find, evaluate, organize and make use of information. The things I need to remember I learn by constant use. I don't have to memorize anything.

  7. Suburban Chicken Farmer, thanks for the research. I'll post a true link:

    Update: Former Daycare Teacher Found Not Guilty on Abuse Charge

    Yikes. The teacher showed terrible judgement. The child spent the rest of the day crying from the chemical burns on his face.

    @Megan & Matthew, there's a terrific essay floating around the web about why school is worse than any adult job. I'll see if I can dig it up.

  8. I was tempted to reword the end of the article like this:

    If your child's teacher said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, go and talk to your child and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something your teacher said took place in your class, because I know that teachers can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me."