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Rise of the ‘jackhammer parent’

Kelly Treleaven taught middle-school English for 11 years in Houston and is now associate editor at WeAreTeachers.com. She says some parents have taken even that to extremes, with harmful results. She writes about the advent of what she calls “jackhammer parents” at a time of egregious political polarization in public education — and why they could drive educators out of the profession. The author of the book “Love, Teach’s Real Stories and Honest Advice to Keep Teachers From Crying Under Their Desks” gave me permission to publish the piece. It follows the story of a teacher whose curriculum was recently banned from teaching critical race theory in Texas, and her experience with a group of parents.

The jackhammer parent is a made-up, unofficial title, and I'm an expert in creating a common language for nameless phenomena in the teaching profession. I made up the acronym DEVOLSON to identify the period of time in the school year when students and teachers are simultaneously struggling the most. It may not fix the problem, but it lets the people experiencing the problem know that their concerns are real, valid, and shared by others in their community, author says. Jackhammer parents scrutinize both their children’s opportunities and challenges, intervening in schooling, grades, and friendships. They are relentless. They are loud. They’re not just interested in getting their way; they need anyone who gets in their way obliterated. Schools don’t have the capacity to

Fear is a big motivator for all of us, but jackhammer parents are particularly terrified. Schools impose plenty of guidelines on communication for teachers, but no limitations on parent communication. They undermine the value of discourse with professional educators. We’re already at a staggering teacher shortage. Too many teachers who value their time, skills, and families have already left the classroom this past year. Do we really want to see who’s left in classrooms if we keep giving Jackhammer parents control? Do we want the teacher shortage to keep up with the need to protect their ability to do their job. If work violates your values, quitting is an expression of integrity, says teacher Adam Grant, author of the book "Teacher of integrity"