Re: Problems with Schools
The point is that we expect the schools to intervene when there is cause to do so. If anything, your examples prove my point about the demands we place on teachers. You aren't criticizing the school for getting involved in the practice of social work but rather criticizing the school for not being good enough at the social work component of their job. So not only do they have to protect students who are "obviously" in danger, they must also be able to differentiate between those who might be in danger from those who are not in danger, all the while not ruffling any parental feathers. This particular challenge is extremely difficult to navigate.
I don't want to get too side-tracked by personal examples, but I'll share this to illustrate just how difficult it can be. When I taught, I typically had 25 students per class, 6 classes per day. That's 150 individual human beings that I saw for an hour every day for 180 days. Consider the difficulty of tracking and remembering the individual possible signs of trouble for 150 different students over the course of 180 days. Trouble rarely presents itself two days in a row, so you have to be able to remember all the stuff you've observed about each student over the course of the year. The enormity of the task makes identifying "obvious" abuse or neglect an extremely complicated endeavor. Based on my experience, knowing what I know now (and this is just my personal judgment), I'd "rather be safe that sorry." I'd make that phone call after only one incident of a child complaining about anything at home. If parents get mad, fine, but I'll know that I was looking out for their kid.
Mwill, I think we are basically on the same page regarding this. Nobody is perfect, and I don't expect teachers to be guardians on a full time basis. Teachers have a hard enough job as it is, and are not even close to being compensated for their efforts properly.
I will say this, if a parent gets upset because a teacher asks questions about some injury and the child complaining of hunger, then shame on the parent. And that leads back to what I said in an earlier post, that the problems in todays schools are root caused not at the school, but at the home. Any parent that gets all freaked out because a teacher asks about the nature of a serious looking injury (my son looked like he got punched) is missing the exact point you make, that the teacher is just looking out for the kids. Exactly when that teacher asks the questions is something that only the teacher can decide upon, based on the nature of the injury and the history of the child.
Also, just an FYI, there are a number of schools, both public and private, who have only one or two teachers per grade, so the student/teacher interaction is much higher than what you have stated. In examples such as that, the teacher gets to know the child much better, and as such has a better foundation with which to judge things of this nature.
I teach karate. Definitely not the same job as what a school teacher has, but I understand the relationship a teacher has with students. And unlike school teachers, I have to face the parents of my student almost every time they are in class. Most often, when the child is having a problem with something, the parent(s) are at the heart of the matter, either pushing the child too hard to get their next rank (which seems more important to the parent than to the kids most times) or not working with their child at home enough. Often times, the parents will get upset at me because their child isn't advancing fast enough for their likings. Me not being very diplomatic, I tell the parents that their children aren't going to learn respect, discipline and all their techniques from just seeing me two hours per week. The parents have a responsibility to reinforce what I teach their kids, at home. I have, on more than one occasion, told a parent not to blame me for their own shortcomings. They don't like it, and some have taken their children out of the class because of it. Tough. And in reality, school teachers should be able to tell parents the exact same thing. Unfortunately the administrators tend to be more driven by the numbers of students rather than the welfare of said students. Teachers aren't allowed to criticize obviously poor parents. And that is a shame.