Chicago public school teachers should not try to teach parenting in an effort to stem juvenile violence, Florence Cox, the first African American female president of the Board of Education, said late Tuesday night, January 4.
“That is not something that should be happening in the schools. Classroom teachers have an overwhelming job. They have to meet students where they are and move them where they need to be,” Cox said after listening to last Sunday’s WVON ‘ON THE CASE’ talk show.
“Many students come to school with so many deficits. If you put that kind of burden on the teachers, I think it would take away the time and effort that teachers must spend on the curriculum with the children,” said Cox, who graduated from Norfolk State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English, minoring in French.
“You have a lot of dedicated people in the field of education, and you have a lot in the classroom, and when children come to you in the morning, you don’t know what they’ve gone through to get to you,” she said.
Cox quoted one of her college Methods course instructors who told her, “Never give a child a hard time when he comes into your class in the morning because you don’t know what he had to go through before he got to you.”
“Children today are not like the children of yesterday. They suffer too many problems that have been leveled at them by society’s lack of support for them,” she explained. “To require teachers to teach parenting skills as a part of the curriculum is a bit much.”
When asked who will teach parental skills, Cox responded, “Who taught them in the past? Most of us who are parents were never taught one how to be a parent. We were taught the basics of doing things correctly, treating people like we wanted to be treated, and we were taught to be respectful. We were taught to show a level of respect to people who were attempting to educate us. Those values came from the heart. They did not come from the classroom setting,” Cox stated.
She pointed an accusatory finger at society, which Cox said has “broken down.”
“Society has broken down the family unit. When you tell parents they can’t chastise their children, and it filters down to the children to the extent that the parent in his or her own home cannot chastise their children, the child is faced with threatening to call the police.”
A Crusader reporter acknowledged her statement, recounting how she once witnessed a child misbehaving in a grocery store but when the mother threatened to spank her, the child loudly said, “I’ll call the police on you,” and the mother backed down.
If the police are called, Cox said the parents are usually sanctioned in one way or another. If the police justifiably attempt to chastise the child, he or she could lose their job.
“The children can see the parents have no control over them or the police; so, too many of them feel they can basically do what they want to do…that no one can tell them what to do, which leaves them headed down a lost road because everybody needs some direction.
“I hear often that it takes a village to raise a child. If the child’s ear is attuned to the village, that works, but in many instances, the child is no longer attuned to the village,” said Cox.
Having talked to many teachers, Cox said many have told her they give up because of poorly behaved students and parents who come to school many times to attack the teachers. “The system has broken down in that the children are suffering and so are the adults.”
Cox spoke to one teacher who wanted to bring the Bible into the classroom, but she told him, “I think you would have problems with that because you have so many different groups” who would oppose that policy.
“In past years, we didn’t have the Bible in the school, but there was a code of conduct that most people understood and lived by. We seem to have lost that code of conduct of respecting those who are trying to help you learn, how to become an active and productive participant in society. We need to revisit that,” Cox said.
Referring to many people who criticize today’s children, Cox asked, “What kind of examples have you set for them? We need to check ourselves. How can we complain about their behavior when it appears we just walked away from giving them the support and directions needed for them to become productive citizens in society?”
Cox said teachers are still spending money on school supplies, and they serve as nurses, doctors, everything in a classroom setting. “Being a teacher is something you really need to believe in. Your heart must be in it.” She said it has been difficult when teachers don’t get support from the administration or the parents.
She said parents need to take responsibility for the children they have brought into this world. “You need to know where your child is at 10 p.m.” Reminded that some may say that is old school, Cox quipped, “I say old school worked.”
Referring to the animal world and how they teach their young, Cox said, “Man is supposed to be the highest animal on the planet.”
She said it is a sorry situation when human beings cannot do what the lower animal life does, take care of and train their children.