Opinion: The problem with teachers quitting is parents

Mar 7, 2023, 11:39 AM | Updated: Mar 13, 2023, 2:01 pm

teacher in a calm room at sunset elementary...

A calm room at Sunset Elementary (Photo courtesy of KSLTV.com)

(Photo courtesy of KSLTV.com)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

More teachers are quitting. In fact, more teachers quit in Washington state last year than at any time in the last 30 years. Utah is feeling it, too. We’ve seen an increase in underqualified teachers, larger class sizes and a critical need in some schools for support staff.

May I offer a couple of observations from the cheap seats? I substitute teach four afternoons each week on average. I’m in elementary, middle and high classes in the Salt Lake and Jordan School Districts. I am noticing some real problems, but not in the teaching – in the parents.

“This is triggering me!”

I hear students, even as young as second and third graders, regularly saying things like this: “That’s triggering me.” “I can’t do that. That triggers me.” “You can’t make me do that. My Mom said.”

A 3rd grader is absolutely convinced that she can’t participate in her class, that I must stop class and cater to her for as long as she demands because her parents told her so.

Are you kidding me right now?

And to be clear, I’m not talking about a child in resource or the special education department. I’m talking about a regular child with no medical diagnosis in a regular class.

Enter the “calm room”

What have the schools done to address these demands?

One of the things many schools are trying, and I am absolutely sure this idea came from a good place, is failing miserably. More than a few schools I’ve been in have “calm rooms.” They go by different names, but the gist of them is they are a “safe space” where a child can go any time, for any reason, just to calm down.

On its face, that may seem like a good idea. I’m sure there are examples of this tool being very helpful, but here’s how it works most of the time: Kids line up to go to the calm room. They work the system. Of course, they do. They’re smart!

From the minute class begins, there is a waiting list for the calm room. Do any of these kids seem overwhelmed or upset? Rarely. They just want to get out of class. (Full disclosure – I’m sure I would have been first on the list to get out of class, too.) One after another, students leave the class.

Not only do they miss the work we’re doing, but other students are focused on when they get back and how soon it is to their turn. I have no idea how much actual learning is lost, but it feels considerable to my limited eye.

Teachers are quitting because of parental fails 

Teachers can only do the best they can in the 7+ hours they have five days a week. They cannot be expected to perform miracles with kids who have absolutely no respect for authority.

I have seen a kid throw a computer across the room. Kids frequently just say, “No!” to a request to do work. I’ve had more than a few “Oh yeah? Make me!” responses to a request to work on an assignment. Last week I had a girl call me a b**** to my face because I wouldn’t mark her on time when she was late. And this is to say nothing of the frequent lies: “I did it” when they didn’t; “I’m working on it” when they’re not.

I learned a few months into my substituting that it’s never worth getting into a fight with a kid, but I am shocked at how little respect and discipline these children have been taught. What they seem to have been taught is: 1) they are the boss, 2) they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do, and 3) the teachers are there to serve them, and I mean serve them like an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen.

Parents are failing, miserably, to teach their children to respect their teachers.

If we want to know why teachers are quitting, we need to look in the mirror.

Amanda Dickson is the co-host of Utah’s Morning News and A Woman’s View.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Graduation rate...

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: The Graduation Speech of the year

A high school valedictorian put it all in perspective at his graduation.

22 hours ago

speeding SALT LAKE CITY -- Drivers in the Beehive State are showing up on some pretty bad lists abo...

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Should your car bust you for speeding?

A new proposal for slowing things down.

1 day ago

Lawn Mower Exchange Program...

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: NO MOW MAY

There’s an alternative to stowing your mower for a month.

2 days ago

Elon Musk has an idea for his $6 billion AI company. His database where all the answers are gonna c...

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Artificial Intelligence, Elon Musk style

Elon Musk and his new company relies on the “intelligence” found on Twitter.

3 days ago

Cass Elliot was a member of the singing group the Mamas & the Papas. After the group broke up, she ...

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Fat shaming is not cool

Fat shaming is completely uncool. But it was not always this way.

3 days ago

The House Oversight Committee felt a bit like a boxing ring Thursday night....

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Rumble in the Congressional Jungle!

AOC and MTG square off in a Catfight for the ages.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Opinion: The problem with teachers quitting is parents