Day 3 with FedUpMom

(I’ve given FedUpMom, who has written several guest entries in the past, free rein to speak her mind for the next week here on stophomework. Today is her third post. If you’d like that opportunity, too, please email me.)

Guest Post #3
by FedUp Mom

FedUpMom’s IEP

I wonder how teachers see mothers. To the extent they think about us at all, I think they see a faceless mass of willing volunteers, always at the ready to organize and supervise our children’s homework, track down and buy obscure supplies, and explain difficult concepts that the teacher neglected to address. With a miraculously open schedule and wallets to match, we are an army of Everymoms at their beck and call. This describes the “good” Moms, of course.

While most schools at least give lip service to the idea that different kids have different needs, there is no such leeway for Mom. No matter how busy, tired, stressed-out or opposed she may be, she is never allowed to shirk her duties as homework cop.

A child might get an IEP for her special needs, but where’s Mom’s IEP? If we ever return to the public schools, I want an IEP of my own. It might go like this:

“FedUpMom suffers from Battle Fatigue and Overloaded Irascibility Disorder. If she shows up in your classroom sounding off about homework, the best strategy is to back away slowly. Keep your hands at your sides and avoid sudden movements. Accede to all of her demands. Do not antagonize. Any false move on your part could result in FedUpMom pulling a nice package of test scores (her daughter) out of the district.”

14 Comments on “Day 3 with FedUpMom”

  1. Disillusioned says:

    FedUp- In affluent districts with many stay at home moms, I think they see us as unpaid assistants. The mothers in our district grade papers, make copies for homework, volunteer to drive on field trips, teach art classes, file papers, work in the front office, etc., etc. etc. What confounds me is how willing the SAHMs are to play this role. They view motherhood as a job (with no benefits, time off, respect, or salary). Why would the teachers respect them?

    I don’t want to fuel the fire between SAHMs and working mothers. However, the subservience of the SAHMs towards the teachers frustrates me. It seems as if they willingly accept their roles as second class citizens.

    April 9th, 2010 at 9:06 pm
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  2. Anne says:

    SAHMs are made to feel guilty for being so lucky as to stay at home, and from about all sides of society…..so they are easier to emotionally manipulate ….When I was growing up, a woman had to beg to work outside the home. Now she has to beg to stay home. This is not progress

    April 10th, 2010 at 2:01 am
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  3. Disillusioned says:

    “They are easier to emotionally manipulate.” How true. Also, many of them haven’t really been in the world much (or have forgotten what it takes to make it in the real world) and have a pretty narrow world view.

    April 10th, 2010 at 12:28 pm
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  4. FedUpMom says:

    Well, I support anyone’s decision to do as much or little paid work as they want and can afford. I’ve had minimal real-world experience myself (not a big fan of the real world.)

    Disillusioned, I’ve never seen a situation as bad as the one you describe, but I know the kind of thing you mean. The closest I’ve come is encounters with PTA Moms. It’s a strange dynamic, and I can’t pretend to understand it.

    I remember when my older daughter had just started preschool. I went to pick her up one day, and the teacher handed me a slip of paper with a big smile on her face. The paper told me that I had been selected to bring in certain groceries (one can of green olives, one can of black olives) for a project the next day. I was dumbfounded. Did the teacher think this was my idea of a good time? Like I didn’t have enough errands to deal with? What the …?

    I’m willing to donate my time to the school in ways that make sense to me. For instance, I ran a chess club at my daughter’s school for two years. I enjoyed it, the kids enjoyed it, it was a reasonable use of my time and talents. But to do a teacher’s copying for her? Why would I do that?

    April 10th, 2010 at 1:31 pm
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  5. Disillusioned says:

    FedUp- I agree. Any volunteer work at your child’s school that is fulfilling is a great idea. I think the mothers who do the teachers’ clerical work think their child will be given more individualized attention.

    April 10th, 2010 at 2:30 pm
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  6. Annie says:

    Wow, some pretty anti-SAHM comments on here.

    Do you ever think that maybe they have good reasons for doing what they do? Maybe they are worried about their kids, just like you, and just by being in the building they can perhaps get a feeling for what is going on and keep an eye on things? I know a few moms who work as aides in the lunchroom for example (paid) and the reason they got into it was because their children were having issues and they wanted to be more involved and that was one way they were allowed.

    As far as the real world, what is the “real world”? SAHMs live in the real world just as much as anyone else.

    April 10th, 2010 at 3:05 pm
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  7. High School Junior says:

    “I wonder how teachers see mothers. To the extent they think about us at all…”

    While I in no way mean to challenge your experiences with teachers ordering moms around, I would like to take a small exception at the generality of your statement. As I estimate it, at least 40% of the teachers at the schools I have attended are moms or dads themselves. They also have kids who go to school and come up against many of the same problems talked about on this site. While I have no doubt that there are teachers who take moms (and dads) for granted as a free source of labor and expect them to do all sorts of work for them, I really think indicting teachers in general of this is not entirely fair. Full disclosure: my dad is a K through 5th science teacher (he taught me when I was in 5th grade too), so that is a potential source of bias. But it’s also a potential source of insight–I know my dad has been asking parents at his school for more help around the classroom this year, but that’s because, with the budget cuts, they took away his teaching assistant this year; it’s hard to put together fun, interesting, valuable lessons AND correct assignments AND manage email from parents/administration/staff meetings/science teacher events/kids asking for help AND set up and clean up the (messy) labs that they do in class AND eat lunch AND actually teach, all without help.
    –High School Junior

    April 10th, 2010 at 5:03 pm
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  8. Sara Bennett says:

    Are you having trouble posting your comments? If so, please let me know. High School Junior (above) asked me to post for her because she couldn’t get the submit button to work.

    April 10th, 2010 at 5:05 pm
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  9. Anne says:

    As far as the real world, what is the “real world”? SAHMs live in the real world just as much as any­one else.

    I quite agree…

    April 11th, 2010 at 12:39 am
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  10. FedUpMom says:

    That’s a reasonable point. The corporate world isn’t necessarily more “real” than any other.

    April 11th, 2010 at 7:53 am
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  11. Fred Baumgarten says:

    I think we can agree that parent involvement in school can be a positive thing, both for the school and the individual student/family, but it should be voluntary, and it should not be in lieu of the school and teacher doing the things they’re supposed to do. Far too often we are thrust involuntarily into the role of homework cop, homework helper, and substitute teacher (substituting for a poorly or incompletely taught lesson). I spoke to a mom the other night who has gone out of her way specifically to learn the things her teenage daughter is learning. I don’t know if she’s a SAMH or not, but she certainly felt imposed upon.

    Several people asked what is happening with my efforts in re: Homework. The answer is that I have eased off the pedal somewhat, in part to give the school some time to react (or not, but then I’ll deal with that), and in part to give myself some needed perspective. I ended up in a pretty heated e-mail exchange with the science teacher over the curriculum and classroom lessons, which may not have accomplished much — although I did feel I needed to express my unhappiness in unambiguous terms.

    Meanwhile, and intriguingly, a group of parents has begun a fight against the D.A.R.E. program (drug education/prevention), which incredibly is given in EVERY grade in the school from 1st through 8th. It was the subject of a PTO meeting last week. I mention this because in essence, the issue is EXACTLY the same as with homework: NO evidence can be found that shows any beneficial effects of the D.A.R.E. program, despite years of studies, yet the school continues to do it basically as an article of faith (and because it costs virtually nothing). The outcome of the meeting was that the issue was referred to a PTO subcommittee (yours truly, chair) to come up with alternatives. This is a very valuable process for me to see how a group of parents has come together around the issue, and how the school will (or will not) address their concerns. These same parents will, I hope, be valuable allies in the homework battles to come.

    Interestingly, the person most aggressively defending the D.A.R.E. program was…the science teacher (!). Her answer to issue of lack of evidence was that maybe in the studies the students weren’t getting ENOUGH. Sound familiar?

    Finally, I am reading a book (I forget whether I heard about it first here or elsewhere) called “Learning Unlimited: Using Homework to Engage Your Child’s Natural Style of Intelligence.” So far I’m about a quarter of the way through and am already convinced it was written by authors from another planet, where homework assignments move in 11 dimensions and parents have the unlimited ability to stop time to discover their children’s “natural intelligence.” I hope to write up a more detailed critique in the future.

    April 11th, 2010 at 9:43 am
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  12. HomeworkBlues says:

    Interestingly, the person most aggressively defending the D.A.R.E. program was…the science teacher (!). Her answer to issue of lack of evidence was that maybe in the studies the students weren’t getting ENOUGH. Sound familiar?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Fred, reminds me of an Alfie Kohn quote, addressing pop behaviorism. “When it doesn’t work, just do more of it.” Einstein said it even better: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    April 12th, 2010 at 9:47 am
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  13. HomeworkBlues says:

    Fred, a commenter on this blog recommended that book lately. Puh-leeze. Without even reading it, I drew the same conclusion you did.

    April 12th, 2010 at 9:49 am
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  14. HomeworkBlues says:

    Commenting further on the book you reference, Fred; I don’t need Homework showing me how to engage my child’s natural intelligence! It’s laughable, were it not so sad. When I first joined this blog, I plaintively laid out all the educational and creative paths my daughter has missed out on precisely BECAUSE of homework.

    I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. My daughter spent one afternoon reading Wuthering Heights at home in 5th grade (I didn’t give it to her. She was perusing our bookshelves, it fell out, she became intrigued and buried herself in it. After three hours, she put the book down and commenced working on her novel. None of these were homework assignments, none of these were adult directed, it was all activities she fell into, for which she had a passion, hyperfocusing as time stopped, doing what she loved. The look on her face of peace, joy and satisfaction (corny as that sounds).

    I got an email from that grim teacher. My daughter was punished much of the week and missed recess. Fred, I too had an exchange with that teacher. Message: don’t read and write, do boring worksheets, do what I say. Can’t help quoting Einstein again but he always gets it right. “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

    April 12th, 2010 at 10:00 am
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