The following is just part of Navarrette's article. Kids Caught in Middle of Teachers Vs. Parents Clash By Ruben Navarette, San Diego Union-Tribune February 21, 2005 I admit it: In the age-old turf war between teachers and parents, my sympathies are usually with the parents. Having worked for four years as a substitute teacher in my native central California, I learned that in the public school bureaucracy, most of the power lies not with parents and students, but with teachers and administrators.... A recent article in The Wall Street Journal rattled off repeated instances of schools having to put up with protests from parents whenever the schools do anything to stiffen academic requirements. The simple act of requiring students to write more term papers, or longer papers, can get parents up in arms. So-called "senior projects" -- written or oral assignments required before students can graduate -- have become a sore spot with some parents who complain the projects take up time that students could use to apply to college. Some parents' responses have ranged from wearing black armbands at graduation to hiring lawyers in an attempt to change school policies. Black armbands? Now I get it. Some of these parents are baby boomers who grew up questioning authority. They're still doing that. Worse, they're trying to lower the bar to make sure their children clear it. What good does that do? No wonder Time magazine recently came up with the provocatively titled cover story: "What Teachers Hate About Parents." The head of a private school put it this way: "We hate it when parents undermine the education and growth of their children." According to the educators, there are "monster parents" who can't wait to torment teachers with challenges and complaints. There are "helicopter parents" who hover around the school, waiting to swoop down at the first sign of trouble. And then there are "dry-cleaner parents" who simply drop their unruly children off at school and expect to have them all cleaned up by the end of the day. Then the article spells out what many teachers consider the ideal parent: "a partner but not a pest, engaged but not obsessed, with a sense of perspective and patience." How big a problem is the decaying of parent-teacher relations? Big. According to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher cited in the article, 90 percent of new teachers called it a priority to involve parents in the educational process but only 25 percent described their experience with parents as "very satisfying." That shouldn't be the case. Parental involvement is fine. But parents need to know where to draw the line. They should make sure their kids do their homework, but they should stop short of harassing teachers or trying to micromanage every aspect of their child's education. It's OK for parents to focus on the big picture -- whether their children are being stuck into bilingual education classes -- but they shouldn't march down to the school every time their child gets a poor grade on a test. Teachers are responsible for teaching students all about academics. But the manner in which parents relate to teachers -- how parents treat teachers -- will ultimately teach their children about things that are just as important: courtesy, humility, deference and respect for professionals. Contact Navarrette via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .