Both the media and legislators focus their attention on educators as the sole problem for low scores in our schools. They give little attention to the home life of low-scoring students. Hardly any attention is given to the fact that students who make low scores in school usually come from parents who scored low during their school years. Often these parents have little sense of value for education. The parents of low-scoring students more than likely work in a service job like in the fast food market. Many low scoring students come from one parent homes with no role model or some one to discipline them.
It is difficult for parents in today’s society with low incomes to have the proper time to help students with homework or to encourage them to get an education. Way too common there is only one parent in the home of low scoring students. This leaves these students to pretty much raise themselves. Due to the lack of care at home, students develop a “don’t care” attitude toward all most of life, especially toward work and education. Our students are all about the immediate and care little about the future.
The focus of the media and legislators needs to be more on parents. No, this is not about shifting blame or focusing on faults, but on focusing on a segment of our society that needs help. The focus of the media needs to be on making everyone aware of the real problems faced by and influencing the attitude of students with low scores in school. The legislators need to be focused on helping the parents themselves become better educated and developing a stronger understanding of the need for an education.
Students are being left to survive in a world that has become a jungle. Their social skills are being destroyed by text messaging products that we consider signs of progress. It is time that we as a society show some “time for parents.” It is together that we progress. It is divided by technology that we fail to have a cohesive existence as a society.
Graham Scharf is a father, the husband of a pediatrician, a former NYC Teaching Fellow, and co-founder of Tumblon. He has worked in team development and taught in an urban public school. In his article: “Why Do Parents Play The Most Important Role In Education?” he said, “How we see reality defines who we are—how we understand and make our way in the world. The lenses through which we see are formed in early childhood as we become part of the story of a family and community.”
The media and legislators would have us believe that the problems with our educational systems are low achievers in the teacher pool or inaccurate management on the administrative level. Certainly some of this may be true, but it is time for parents to step up to the plate and be more responsible and accountable for the training and teaching of their children and our students.
The most important determination in a child’s educational achievement is parental involvement. Parents set expectations not by their demands, but by their example. Students will live by the examples set by their parents. How parents act out a normal day is what a student will see as normal and acceptable behavior. The problem is in a school setting or a work environment, their behavior is not acceptable. So parents, not educators set the patterns that will take students to the next level of becoming responsible parents themselves.
Parents establish the level of discipline a student will need to keep them on track, not teachers. Education requires discipline in the classroom and in study habits. The success of classroom discipline is greatly influenced on how parents support educators in maintaining class order and study requirements. When a student becomes involved in sports the discipline of following the rules and paying attention to the coach determines their success on the playing field or the gym floor. The future of a student lies with society on every level demanding their best behavior and not accepting their bad behavior.
Geoffrey Canada, the founder and leader for over twenty years of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families. He said, “It is far better to start with the launch pad—the home” in establishing a child’s success in education and chances for a better future. Education is not about our challenges; it is about the students and parents challenges. It is about the parents and students’ need to know that they are part of a community that cares. Students need to feel loved. Their need to have a friend and feel safe is almost overwhelming at times for educators. That need to feel loved and safe far outweighs their need to know how to read “See Jane run?” Legislators and others who think that the success of a teacher or student can be measured with PACT test or MAP test or what ever testing is now popular they might want to wipe a few runny noses and spend a little time listening to a student struggle with just being a child. Testing across the board? You might want to re-think that legislators.
Let teachers return to nurturing a student’s social skills and self-esteem, the learning of the ABC ‘s and 2+2 = 4 will be accomplished in the process. Have a little faith in the professionalism and the love of those who have chosen to spend their lives as educators in our public school systems. You can bet they aren’t in it for the money. This faith can become a reality by becoming involved, not by standing on the sidelines making critical remarks and hiding behind a desk. A student’s mental and emotional growth is developed and nurtured by a loving atmosphere, not by intellectual reasoning. They are not robots needing to be programmed; they are precious little people needing to be introduced to a scary world that is unknown to them and that requires a lot of love that many of them never get at home. They need to feel safe and valued as people.
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