‘L’ is for litigation

By WND Staff

Along with the kids’ new shoes, new books and an apple for the teacher, back-to-school preparations today often include a new lawyer – just in case the teacher doesn’t give Johnny the grade his parents think he deserves, or Johnny’s principal suspends him from school for gross violation of the rules. Regrettably, “L” for litigation has been added to the ABCs. It has become a fact of life in today’s classrooms – from the first to the 12th grade.

The Fox News network recently reported that a teacher was threatened with a lawsuit for failing a student who plagiarized work and did not attend make-up sessions as required. The teacher held firm, but the school gave in and allowed her to retake a test in order to graduate.

A teacher in Kansas resigned in protest when her school reduced her students’ punishment for plagiarism and required her to change student grades. Good for her! And cheers, too, for an Ohio court that came to its senses and dismissed a mother’s lawsuit seeking a $6 million settlement with the school for giving her 15-year-old failing grades.

But the Kansas biology teacher’s “victory” was a hollow one. She’s out of a job, and future students of that school will be deprived of a fearless, honest, committed teacher. And for every Ohio court that does the right thing, there are courts in other states which allow frivolous lawsuits from irresponsible parents attempting to bankrupt teachers and administrators.

Every year, people write me about the horrors perpetrated on the schools, not so much by out-of-control kids, but more from their out-of-control parents who – far from partnering with the school in assuring their children a good education – support the worst kind of behavior in and out of the classroom and make the lives of educators a living hell.

A few years back, a public high school principal in Pennsylvania was nearly bankrupted by a lawsuit filed by the parents of an adolescent, who used the Internet to hire someone to murder his math teacher. He was, correctly, thrown out of school, but the principal was hauled into court. He was also prevented by the courts from alerting other schools about this little psychopath. So that was left to me to do. I had no such restrictions and used my radio show to let the boarding school he was attending know of the kid’s past. He was invited to leave there, as well, before he ruined the life of another teacher, his former math teacher having been so traumatized she resigned from teaching.

Fear of parental legal action if their children are failed or disciplined, fear of the students themselves – who are increasingly angry and violent, and fear of any physical contact with students whatsoever lest it be misinterpreted as sexual harassment or abuse has teachers understandably on edge these days. These very real concerns are added to the burdens of over-crowded classrooms, inadequate resources, government-mandated curricula of dubious value, and students whose grasp of English is poor to non-existent.

It’s amazing to me that anyone wants to be a public school teacher.

But, what’s up with these parents?! Maybe they are offended when someone else tries to teach their children self-discipline and accountability, thereby painfully reminding them of where they have failed as parents. Or maybe, they are so obsessed with success that they panic and are willing to lie, cheat and intimidate if they feel their kids’ futures will be negatively impacted by disciplinary measures or failing grades.

Whatever the reasons, the toxicity has spread from grade schools and high schools into our colleges and universities where grade inflation is a scandal. For example, it took years before the faculty senate at Harvard recently voted to restrict the number of “A”s given in any one class or by any one professor. Where does this coddling of our young stop? On whose desk does the buck come to rest in a culture where nothing has to be earned with discipline and hard work, where every kind of behavior is excused or rationalized, and where children are raised in an environment characterized by only praise and pleasure?

The end point, I fear, is generations of Americans unprepared for the hardships of war, for the hours of hard work, discipline and stamina required of a heart surgeon or a nuclear scientist, for the intelligence, character and compassion to be a teacher, a cop, a firefighter or a paramedic, or for the self-sacrifice, tough love and profound commitment it takes to be a parent.

So, today’s parents, who literally spoil their children by softening their cores, are not just destroying their own, but spoiling the future world for other children – raised to self-reliance and virtue – who will have to shoulder all the burdens.