Monday, December 27, 2010

There is a problem: Is it the school or the parents?

Sixty-eight percent of respondents in a recent poll blamed parents for problems in America’s education system. More people faulted parents in the Associated Press-Stanford University Poll than teachers, teachers’ unions, school administrators or government.

Mothers (72 percent) were more likely than fathers (61 percent) to blame parents; conservatives were more likely than moderates or liberals to do so.

I realize that the respondents were prompted by the poll to place blame on someone. And maybe there’s some value in any poll or study or other vehicle that draws attention to education and the role that we all play in ensuring our children learn.

But we have to stop the blame game. It’s not productive. In fact, it’s counterproductive; at the very least, it discourages people and makes them defensive and, at worst, it angers people and causes them to point fingers all the more.

Instead of blaming other parents – because it’s against human nature to consider that we may be part of the problem – it would be more productive for each of us to take a look in the mirror and ask, “What can I do to advance the education of my child and other children?”

And instead of paying attention to a poll that may identify a problem but fails to offer a solution, let’s recall a 2008 report by Civic Enterprises, a Washington D.C. nonprofit organization. It found that the a huge majority of parents deemed it important for them to be involved in their children’s high school education, but that most parents of children in low-performing schools thought those schools did a poor job of involving parents.

The importance of parental involvement in schools is becoming clearer and clearer. Those of us who have the wherewithal to step up must not only become engaged with our children’s schools, but also must insist that the schools live up to their responsibility to engage other parents who may not feel empowered to speak up or become involved.

Enough of the blame game. Let’s stand up for each other and for our children.

by Jackie Garvey

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