Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In case you missed it...

From the President's speech last night:

In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent, for a mother or father who will attend those parent-teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child.

I speak to you not just as a president, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home. That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That's an American issue.

On one hand, it distresses this automatic and outmoded belief that parents supervise a child's education. These days, it's so often the aunt/uncle or grandmother/grandfather. Referring to a students "parents" is a risk.

That nitpick aside, it's nice to hear Obama refer to this reality. He is entirely right. Mind you, as students age, they take a greater share of responsibility for their actions. But the choices that are made are so often rooted in the values that he or she learned...at home. And a value doesn't just mean "what is right" but also "what is important". Raising a child to value and pursue his or her own education is the single most powerful advantage he or she can have for the future, and any education system only serves to maximive, foster, and guard that drive.

Heck, Switch the staff of Newton's and New Bedford's schools, you're not going to see the almighty test scores change that much. One school system enjoys great support at home, the other works with uneven backup. That is the difference. And despite the stomping and crying, that is the hidden pillar of charter schools -- they service families who take that extra step of applying to enter, and families who ensure that student isn't sent back.

Mind you, I don't imagine we'll ever see "parental accountability" fetishized the way we've seen "teacher accountability", but at least the president is sending an important message. Let's hope the citizenry listens.

1 comment:

Charley on the MTA said...

Hear hear. Schools get blame or credit -- as they should, but they don't control who walks in the door, or who is taking care of them.

So what's the approach for those places that tend to have dicey or inconsistent parental/guardian involvement?