Teachers say parent management is a bigger struggle than finding enough funding or maintaining discipline or enduring the toils of testing. In this week’s TIME cover story, "What Teachers Hate About Parents," Nancy Gibbs reports on the growing frustrations teachers have with parents. It’s one reason, says the Consortium for Policy Research in Education and the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, that 40% to 50% of new teachers are gone from the profession within five years. Even master teachers who love their work, says Harvard education professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, call this "the most treacherous part of their jobs."
"If you could walk past the teachers' lounge and listen in, what sorts of stories would you hear?
An Iowa high school counselor gets a call from a parent protesting the C her child received on an assignment. "The parent argued every point in the essay," recalls the counselor, who soon realized why the mother was so upset about the grade. "It became apparent that she'd written it."
A sixth-grade teacher in California tells a girl in her class that she needs to work on her reading at home, not just in school. "Her mom came in the next day," the teacher says, "and started yelling at me that I had emotionally upset her child."
A science teacher in Baltimore, Md., was offering lessons in anatomy when one of the boys in class declared, "There's one less rib in a man than in a woman." The teacher pulled out two skeletons—one male, the other female—and asked the student to count the ribs in each.
"The next day," the teacher recalls. . . "