Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stop Paying for Teaching Assistants!

I recently read the Parent-Paid Aides Ordered Out of City Schools from NYT > Home Page by WINNIE HU that states,

“As classrooms grow more crowded, New York public schools have been told to stop independently hiring teaching assistants with money raised by parents.”

For me, this brings up a lot of questions and concerns. I am a big advocate of having parents in the school as much as possible. Of course I know that many teachers and administrators will slam me on this but I feel the good will more than outweigh the bad. By encouraging parents to be involved in the school day, we can build community support and understanding. So many teachers keep complaining that parents don’t understand what it is like in the classroom, so I say we let them see what it is really like. I don’t understand why the department of education is so against these aides because the parents are paying for them. Are they afraid the aides will report something to the parents? If we are doing our jobs, we should not care how many people are observing us and seeing what we are doing. We should be transparent to all the stake holders which will help when we ask for more money to do the things we believe we need to do in order for our students to be successful.

I would love to have more aides available in the school. Why should I care who pays for them? I remember when I was in high school (many many years ago) and there were parents all around the school. My friend’s mother was the bathroom monitor at lunch to keep girls from smoking in the bathroom. I have no idea if she was paid for this duty or just volunteered for this horrible job but she was there every day. Each year it seems as if teachers are required to do more and more paperwork in addition to the other time consuming tasks as well as teach quality lessons. If there were more aides to take some of the load off the teachers, maybe the teachers would have more time to be creative and innovative rather than burned out. I have had an aide who ran off papers, organized materials, and filed papers as well as reinforcing skills with individual students.

The article goes on to say:

“Supplemental fund-raising from parent groups has long raised questions of fairness. While the ability to provide extras — teaching assistants, books, computers and art supplies, enrichment programs — has helped keep middle-class families in urban public schools, it also can make it more difficult for schools in poor neighborhoods to compete.”

It seems to make sense that if the parents are paying for aides in some schools, then there would be more money in the pot to hire aides in other schools. Once again the government doesn’t seem to be doing what is in the best interest of the child, and is more interested in politics. I have no problem with the aides (no matter who pays their salary) having to undergo security and fingerprint checks at all.

Maybe I’m missing something here but this seems like a step backwards for our students and not forward. Having more aides would allow students to get more attention, more help, enable the teacher to do more things, lower teacher burn out, and improve the school community. What do you think?

Original image: 'Stop' by: Thomas Hawk


Steven W. Anderson said...

You make a great point. Parents should spend more time in schools and schools should do more to invite parents in. However, I am troubled by schools paying parents to be assistants in school. Parents should want to volunteer in their child's school because it is the right thing to do...not because they are going to get a paycheck. So perhaps the argument needs to be made with employers to allow parents of school aged children to spend more time in the schools. Then the money that is spent on paying these "assistants" could be better spent on supplies or technology that will have a much greater impact on the students.

Mitch Weisburgh said...

NY also vowed to make the subways and the commuter railroads more equitable. They did this by lowering the quality of the commuter railroads until they were as bad as the subways.

Similar, right?

loonyhiker said...

@Steven I'm not sure they are paying parents to volunteer. I think the parents have raised money to pay for the assistants (who also may be parents). I would expect at that point they become school employees and have to follow all employee rules. I would love to have parents volunteer to help, like you mention, so we could spend taxpayer's money on other necessary things.

loonyhiker said...

@Mitch Yes that is very scary. That is also why I'm worried about the government wanting to take control of my healthcare. They can't even take care of the government and run it into the ground and now they want to take care of my health?!