April 25, 2007
Working parents leave much in hands of education system
School dropout rates and uncompetitive test scores are frightening? Who's to blame?
Students today have a mixed blessing of technology, television and free time. Challenge No. 1 is the real crunch placed on dual-income earning parents, scrambling to make ends meet while striving to provide essential "modern" electronic tools for their children. Many hard-working adults do not provide adequate supervision, especially after school. And way too many parents don't grasp the risks of Internet predators and pornographers. They do not restrict Internet access to a central home location.
Because many children are not participating in school-sanctioned sports or other after-school activities, opportunities for trouble proliferate.
Already-harried classroom teachers are expected to combine the talents of world-class educators and perceptive therapists with emergency medical responders skilled at conflict resolution. These educators do this simply to survive a day with hungry, frustrated and sometimes frightened children. Simultaneously vying for mindshare with parents and teachers are merchants of filth, on television, at the movies and in the streets. Gangs proliferate to fill the emptiness of youth, providing the hope of "belonging" to an estranged segment of young people.
With this backdrop, consider answering these five questions:
- With whom does your child sit at lunch and what kind of a person is he or she? If you don't know, you can be sure your elementary child's teacher does.
- Who are your child's study pals at school?
- Who are the positive influencers in your child's class and with whom do they associate?
- Who are the parents in your child's class who poorly supervise the activities of other children who visit in their homes?
- Which classmates are the most likely skilled at overriding the "blocks" on television programming and the computer, in order to view materials you would prefer your child not see?
When you can answer these questions with confidence and satisfaction - perhaps with the assistance of your child's teacher - then you will know where the responsibilities of parents and teachers intersect constructively. Until then, and before judging educators, do your homework and know what is needed by your child to more fully utilize what is available in and through schools, public and private.
Successful education, including valid test scores and meaningful graduation rates, is a team effort involving parents, family, teachers, administrators and leaders throughout the community. Toys and noise are not legitimate replacements for reading, writing and arithmetic. Turn off the television and turn on the study light. Offer encouragement. Responsible parents will take the initiative to reach out, listen, support and monitor the educational process. Integrity and consistency begin at home.