In my experience, gone are the days when a phone call home from school meant twice as much trouble at home as the punishment from school. Today, unfortunately, many parents are as likely to blame the teacher or school for a student's misbehavior. Operating in such an environment, where the school and parent are no longer in sync, how much responsibility does a school have for student achievement?
I'd say, more than we accept. We want to do all sorts of other things for children (including, in California, letting them leave campus for an abortion without notifying their parents)--we feed them breakfast, teach them about condom use, provide mental health services--but scream when the government that pays us wants to find out if the children are learning anything. Amazes me. I'm not saying those things are bad, but academics should be our primary focus.
What prompted this little venting was a newsletter I received from an organization of which I am a member. It contained the following tidbit:
[I]n our nation today, 58% of all high school students are not qualified (because of medical conditions, or poor academics, etc.) for service in the military. Not for admittance to [West Point] but for service in the military in general.
Ponder that statistic, provided by the West Point Director of Admissions. Almost three in five students aren't qualified to be in the military. I guess that of all those parents who cry about the NCLB requirement that military recruiters be given the same information about students that colleges and businesses are given, three in five have nothing to worry about.
I'd like to know the reasons and percentages for disqualification from military service in order to try to ascertain how much of the issue can be resolved by a greater emphasis on academics in the public schools. But three in five are unqualified? That sounds like a looming national security crisis to me.
How many teachers want to help resolve *this* crisis? Can I expect the NEA to step up to the plate on this issue, and soon?
I'm not holding my breath.