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The Education Liberator, Vol. 3, No. 3, April 1997

Why can't teachers & parents be allies?

The problem is compulsion, and it's time to stop tap dancing around it

by Susan Mojica

Editor's Note: In an op-ed published in the Middlesex News of Framingham, Mass. (April 17, 1996), a school superintendent lamented the fact that teachers and parents too often act as though they were enemies. Ending with a plea to teachers and parents to recognize their common interest in educating a child, he declared, "[T]hey must become natural allies." Susan Mojica, a mother in Framingham, responded with a letter to the editor (published May 1, 1996). This article, adapted from her letter, is used with her permission.

An op-ed appeared in my local newspaper headlined, "Parents and teachers should be natural educational allies." I would say, "Parents and teachers will never be natural educational allies, given the present system."

My daughter studies tap dancing at a private dance school. Recently she realized she had forgotten a few steps of the routine she intended to practice during a two-week hiatus from class. Rather than have her forfeit all that practice time, I called the teacher to inquire about the missing steps. Because the teacher and I are, naturally, educational allies, I didn't stop to ask whether I "should" do this, I just did it. In fact, had I found myself thinking in terms of "shoulds," I would have wondered about myself and the school and our relationship, and perhaps I would have had to find another school.

Whereas I can place my daughter into dance school and just as easily take her out, most parents today have waived the freedom to be responsible for their own children. They send their children to the government's schools and believe they have no choice in the matter.

Were my daughter's dance teacher to go outside the terms of our contract and teach her things other than dance, I would have to review the teacher's actions and decide if I wanted to continue our alliance. But if I believed I had no choice about my daughter being there, then it would no longer be a contract between two people living under a system of liberty. It would instead be a situation of two people laboring under a system of slavery. And I, being the slave, would have no say or recourse in matters pertaining to my own posterity.

The government school system in operation today will never permit a natural alliance between parent and teacher because one of them knows, and always remembers, that he is in a position of being forced against his will. In this unnatural scheme of things parents and teachers must be told they "must" form an alliance.

Free men and women don't require external orders. They live by common sense. When a system requires nonsense to function, we are all well-advised to question the fundamental premises of the system itself.

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