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Politicians Blame Teachers, Teachers Blame Parents

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Politicians Blame Teachers, Teachers Blame Parents

By Linda Dobson

Exam parentsIf you haven’t been living under a rock, as a parent you’re aware that the political powers are blaming teachers for everything that’s wrong with schools today. Thanks to a post in Psychology Today’s “Raising Readers, Writers, and Spellers” blog titled “A Lack of Parent Engagement Helps Create Failing Schools,” we see that teachers are doing a pretty good job of blaming unengaged parents.

There is enough wrong with schools today to have plenty of blame to pass around. “While teachers have become the scapegoats for America’s failing schools, maybe it’s time to shine the light on parents,” says the blog post. “Since research shows that the parent is even more important to student success in school than teacher quality, should teachers be grading parents instead?”

This is how far reality has spiraled out of control; the kids’ test scores now “grade” teachers, and it’s suggested that teachers grade the parents. Great. Now tell me, how is all of this helping your child learn how to read, write and spell? The article’s author seems upset that proposed legislation in Florida that would have required grades K-3 teachers to include a parent grade on the kids’ reports cards didn’t pass.

See also "At a Glance: The State of U.S. Education"

The post shares some statistics to prove the problems are the parents fault:

  • Nearly one-third of students say their parents have no idea how they are doing in school.
  • About one-sixth of all students report that their parents don’t care whether they make good grades in school or not.
  • Only about one-fifth of parents consistently attend school programs.
  • More than 40 percent never do.

(From Beyond the Classroom: Why School Reform Has Failed and What Parents Need to Do by Lawrence Steinberg, pages 19-20)

More telling – or at least more interesting, is the anecdotal evidence shared from the teacher’s perspective – one teacher, to be exact.

His observations supported the disturbing statistics cited above: “Parents don’t read at home. They buy the kids iPods, expensive phones, and all kinds of electronic gadgets, but few parents are modeling reading. Even the kids on free lunch somehow find the money for a three hundred dollar iPhone, but not a free library card or an eReader.”


My teacher friend went on to say: “In my suburban high school of twenty-two hundred students, the typical yearly Open House/Back to School Night only brings in ten percent of the parents. Students who are in academic jeopardy seem to have the parents who are less likely to attend. We made the mistake of scheduling one parent meeting during the American Idol Finals–roughly two dozen of the five hundred invitees attended.”

How Did Parents Get This Way?

Ahem. Where did these parents learn that what’s happening on American Idol is important, at least more important than their children’s school experience? Where did these parents learn not to worry about anything because the schools will take care of it all? Where did these parents learn that they should sit down, shut up, and just do what they’re told? Where did they learn they should depend on “experts” to take care of any problems they may have?

They learned this wherever they went through a school’s conditioning program. If this generation is more poorly educated than their parents as the blog states, we are, in fact, reaping what we have sowed.

What the Article Says Parents SHOULD Be Doing

In an attempt to help parents get engaged, the post ends with a list of what parents can do to be more engaged. [Editor’s Note: List has been edited to include the responses of Jen Garrison Stuber with her kind permission.]

  • Teach your preschooler to read before entering school. [So your kindergartner can be bored until second grade?]
  • Team with the school, be an advocate for your child, and monitor your child’s progress.
  • Praise your child’s effort (not achievement); celebrate success. [Don’t praise your child’s achievement? Who writes this kind of stuff?]
  • Have heart-to-heart discussions at home about successes and/or problems in school.
  • Investigate your child’s academic problems before assigning blame.
  • When possible, encourage and/or help with homework and encourage your child to prepare for tests. [Help the school impinge on home time? Get your child excited to be punished by rewards?]
    Get to know your child’s teachers.
  • Pay attention to your child’s absentee and tardy rates. [Because it’s all about compulsory attendance]
  • Make school a priority. [Because having your kids for the best 8 hours of their day isn’t enough?]
  • Discuss realistic long-term school and life goals. [I can see the importance of this one for maintaining a tracking system that sorts students into the “dull” ones and the ones who will “make it” from the time they’re little. Don’t want Johnny to get any untoward ideas that he deserves better.]

Guess what? You automatically accomplish this entire list – and much more – when you homeschool. You get to know and guide your children and you know their teacher – because it’s you. You by-pass the harm of the schooling complex and its blame-throwing. Homeschooling is your last best shot at breaking the cycle that created the situation in which the school system finds itself today. You’re the only one who can put your children’s education first, because nobody else is.

Linda wrote The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child to help your family get started homeschooling, and to enjoy it, too! One reviewer states: “This book helped me get over that self doubt hurdle of starting homeschooling! It’s full of sound advice from an author who is unbiased as to HOW you homeschool, and just passing along why homeschooling is so beneficial to families and how to get through your first year without getting burned out. Add to that all of the added testimonials from parents about what they wish they’d known their first year and fun blips of lesson ideas, and you have a perfect book for the parents who are on the fence about homeschooling and just needing that little nudge to take the leap!” Consulting services are also available.


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