Sunday, August 17, 2008

Educational Reform Begins at Home

One of the most fundamental problems American teachers face is unloving, uncaring and/or unskillful parents. If you are a veteran teacher, you doubtless have had this experience. On Home and School day, or whatever it is called locally, the parents of your best students show up en masse. The parents of your most difficult students typically are no where to be found. Or, if they are there, reveal through their behavior why their child is a problem to begin with.

School critics demand "educational" reform. And when they do they intend that schooling should be the recipient of their tender mercies. But what is actually required is not mere school reform, but educational reform. And, at bottom, educational reform begins with better parenting. Parents are, after all, the preeminent educators of children.

Recognizing this reality is politically "incorrect." The party line is that child rearing practices vary from group to group and no one way of raising children is better than any other. This "nonjudgmental" view is fine so long as you don't have to accomplish anything with kids in school. If you do, however, it is another matter. When it comes to a child’s school success, there is NO substitute for caring, concerned parents who do their level best to insure that their children are well brought up.

It’s not hard to figure out why the parental dimension of "educational" reform is ignored. It’s a political minefield. Imagine the reaction if the President of the United States went on national television and told America's parents something like this,

“You parents are, far and away, your child’s most important teacher. That is why educational reform must begin with you. Too often you provide inappropriate examples or fail to provide adequate love, limits, direction or support. No child asks to be born and when you bring life into this world you have a non-negotiable obligation to nurture and properly direct that life. That means you must sometimes sacrifice for your child, but that is what good parenting has always required. And don’t expect teachers, or anyone else, to do this for you. This is one job that requires YOUR best effort.”

Such a message would not be popular with many, but it is long overdue.

To examine these issues further, see articles at

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