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Stop Blaming Teachers When It’s the Parents’ Fault!

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Modern School Donating Member (558 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 11:22 AM
Original message
Stop Blaming Teachers When It’s the Parents’ Fault!
In today’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman had an op-ed that seems to bash the Ed Deformers and tell them to get off of teachers’ backs. However, rather than placing the blame for the achievement gap and other problems with public education where it belongs—on the defunding of schools and growing poverty among children—he places the blame on parents, as if they merely need to behave better and become more effective parents.

“Here’s what some new studies are also showing,” he tells us. “We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.”

There are several problems with this proposal. First, it conflates correlation with causation. Parents who are more involved in their children’s education tend to be more affluent. There is plenty of data correlating affluence with higher academic achievement. So is it affluence or parental involvement or both?

Secondly, can parents simply be taught, encouraged or forced to be more involved in their children’s education or is this a product of their class backgrounds? And what does parental involvement even mean?

Plenty of studies indeed show that parents who read often to young children and who use larger and more complex vocabularies with their kids end up with kids who have significantly larger vocabularies and pre-literacy skills by the time they are ready for kindergarten, creating an achievement gap before children have even started school. Affluent parents are also more likely to have the time and education to do this with their children. A parent who works two or three jobs or who is barely literate is not going to read to their children or use complex language with them.

Affluent parents are also more likely to be able to make it to after school and evening meetings, open houses and community events. They are more likely to understand how the system works and have the self-confidence (or self-entitlement) necessary to navigate the system, advocate for their children and challenge perceived injustices or inadequacies in their children’s schools and classrooms.

Schools are essentially middle class institutions that have mores, norms and expectations similar to those in middle class families. Middle class children, therefore, come to school with the “cultural capital” necessary to succeed, whereas lower income kids often must learn this culture from scratch.

In short, Friedman is correct that parental involvement is important and parents who do, or who learn to, participate in their children’s education are more likely to see their kids succeed academically. However, his op-ed piece implies that there is something wrong with parents who are not involved with their kids’ education, when in reality it is often not their faults. Furthermore, whether you are blaming teachers or parents, you are still missing the point: the most significant influence on academic achievement is a child’s socioeconomic background. So long as we continue to ignore poverty, as long as we accept a society in which a few have all the wealth and a large minority is desperately poor, neither better teaching, no better parenting, is going to close the achievement gap or ensure that all children succeed academically.

Modern School
http://modeducation.blogspot.com/2011/11/stop-blaming-teachers-when-its-parents.html
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 11:23 AM
Response to Original message
1. Stop blaming and just get the fucking job done.
Period.
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Quartermass Donating Member (207 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. It gets a +1 from me.
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 11:26 AM
Response to Original message
2. IT is the parent's fault. If they don't have the means to be upper middle class involved in their
children's education then at least they should make sure the nanny does.
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RandySF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. It's not just economics
There is a kid in my son's kindergarten class whose mom just does not even try to be involved and the teacher spends a considerable amount of energy every day to stop him from disrupting the class.
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whathehell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 05:13 PM
Response to Reply #2
12. LOL...I get your point. n/t
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bluestateguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 11:28 AM
Response to Original message
3. Friedman's point is sound
Edited on Thu Nov-24-11 11:33 AM by bluestateguy
Parents need to take an active part in their children's education. If you can't or won't do that, don't have kids. That is a perfectly respectable choice, in fact.

And we need to say it: too many people in this country have children when they are not mature enough or financially able to do so.

Of course we need to address poverty. That goes without saying, but poverty is worsened when a struggling family has children they cannot afford to raise.
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RC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. Agreed, it is the parents fault.
Parents do not have to be Well-To-Do to read to their kids. The parents can be involved in their kids education. They can let their kids know they are expected to do reasonable well in school. The parents can show up at Parent-Teacher conferences. If he school is not doing well, the parents can get together and put pressure on the school to do better. Public school education is a community affair.
For too many people school is a cheap baby sitter.
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dynasaw Donating Member (664 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 11:49 AM
Response to Original message
5. Sorry, Nothing To Do with Income or Class
There are cohorts who come from low income backgrounds whose children become academic high achievers.
A key component of these successes lies in the value families place on education as a means for social mobility. Immigrant Vietnamese families, for example, whose first generation parents work in blue collar jobs are an example of a group whose children make the jump into the professions within one generation. Collectivism, in terms of mutual financial and social support between parents and kids, older and younger siblings, have been identified as some of the factors that ensure academic success. In my own experience I have known parents with very little education themselves, who work as gardeners, house cleaners and janitors, but produce children who go on to Ivy league colleges and high level professionals. In all of these cases there was a family culture that nurtured and instilled the values of education. The immediate cases that come to mind include Michelles Obama whose father was a janitor and astronaut Jose Hernandez whose family were itinerant farm laborers.

Family cultures that don't place a value on education are more likely to emphasize the immediate need to leave school and start working.

Parents matter. If nothing else they are the stage setters--whatever their own socio-economic or educational backgrounds.
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markpkessinger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. 100% ON THE MARK! THANK YOU! n/t
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markpkessinger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. 100% ON THE MARK! THANK YOU! n/t
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HockeyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 01:11 PM
Response to Original message
8. At risk children
It does most times go hand in hand with poverty. I have worked in Title 1 schools with at risk kids. Do people really understand what these kids lives are like? Many times crime does goes along with poverty. Why didn't you come to school? Mom was arrested (again) on drug charges and he was at Grandma's, for 3 days. Why is he (12) falling asleep in class? Mom (prostitute) was out with her "boyfriend" and his older "babysitter" brother (16) took him out partying until 3 AM and he has a HANGOVER. Child doesn't come to school for months. Police and Child Protective Services find nobody at the address listed as home. Child shows up in school one day months later. The family went back to their native country to "visit" relatives. That is just a FEW examples I have seen firsthand.

What is the easy solution for this?



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whathehell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Agreed...It can be hard to be "involved" with your kids' education when you're working 3 or 4 jobs
because "living wage" jobs just aren't that plentiful anymore.
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RandySF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
11. Believe it or not
There is such a thing as a bad parent.
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 12:47 AM
Response to Original message
14. Poor parents can make sure their children get to school on time
with enough sleep to pay attention in class. Poor parents can take their children to the library and read stories to them.

My parents were far from rich, but they made sure we studied, were in school every day and worked hard. That's all it takes.

The stereotype is that people with low incomes don't make good parents. It is very, very wrong.
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DebJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-11 12:17 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Poor parents can insure that their children VALUE education.
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-11 04:25 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Right. This country was built by poor people who made sure
their children learned to read and write -- and not just in English.
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Sabriel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-11 11:18 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. Sure, I'll just take the bus for an hour each way to the library
Right after I get home from my second job and a trip to the laundromat...on the bus.

It is a fact that the poor--the working poor--have the educational odds against them.

Keep in mind that many poor parents did not have good experiences in schools themselves. How would you expect them to feel about education?

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