Blaming teachers for low test scores, poor graduation rates and the other ills of American schools has been popular lately, but a new survey wags a finger closer to home.
An Associated Press-Stanford University Poll on education found that 68 percent of adults believe parents deserve heavy blame for what's wrong with the U.S. education system — more than teachers, school administrators, the government or teachers unions.
While this is not a free pass allowing schools to give up trying to improve, it certainly is a result with which I concur. I'm certain that there are significantly more requirements on my than there were on my teachers--and checking with people who taught at that time, I'm told this is so. That's not necessarily a bad thing, that teachers today do more than teachers in the past did, but it's important to recognize. Yes, we choose some stupid curricula or fads sometimes (whole language, fuzzy math), but even those stupid curricula don't matter when your kid doesn't do his work or come to school or gets in trouble all the time.
Years ago I read a comment on a blog that went something like this: "I think every child should be homeschooled. At home they should learn to be polite, not to interrupt others when speaking, and to keep their hands to themselves. They should learn appropriate language and appropriate manners. They should learn to sit still for a short time and to follow simple directions. When they've learned these things at home, then send them to me at school."
Schools are a microcosm of the families and communities from which their students are drawn. Some schools are able to overcome genuine deficits created by dysfunctional families and communities, but most are not. We in the education field should keep trying to improve our craft and educate all children--that's what we get paid to do--but it would be wonderful if it weren't such an uphill climb sometimes.