Why Parents Must Be Unrelenting
Yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to speak on African New Dawn Radio, WSRU (http://wrsu.rutgers.edu/) on educational issues around the country. No matter the issue, however, we seemed to continually circle back to parental participation and parental responsibility. I am about to go out on a limb, and what I say may seem a little harsh, and perhaps even controversial, but I’m ok with that. Here it goes….I am convinced that the problem with schools is actually the problem with parents. When a school is failing, the parents have been just as lax, and perhaps more so, than the teachers.
It is already common knowledge that many of the new-wave teachers have not gone through true teacher training. Many use teaching as that fallback job one takes until something better comes along. Sadly, parents see the schools as a babysitter, charged with taking care of the child while a parent works. As many of you know, I work in an urban school (codename for a school where basically only African, African-American, and Latino students are taught, perhaps with literally 1 student who is White or Asian). I have often heard teachers complaining of the amount of homework other teachers give, or how challenging the work is for students. I then hear the parents of these students complaining about the same thing. I guess it would be ok to side with a teacher on amount of homework, or the rigor of the work, if the reading and math proficiency for Black and Brown students wasn’t 14% and 13% respectively, according to the National Association for Educational Progress (NAEP.org). So, if the teacher is pushing to dumb down education, and the parent is in agreement, what is a child to do?
No child requested to brought into this world. No government should have to legislate proper and equal education for all citizens. At one time, it was the responsibility of parents to educate their children. Don’t get me wrong, I do not agree with the Rick Santorum’s of the world who think that schools should be abolished and that children should be homeschooled (which would overwhelmingly be left to women, taking women out of the workforce……but I digress). However, parents have to realize the obligation they have to do more than they have done. So I will end with the same advice I give on WRSU’s African New Dawn Radio last night:
1. If your child does not pay rent, you need to go through their bookbags to see what they’re doing.
2. Talk to your child and ask the tough and uncomfortable questions. Make sure you LISTEN TO THE RESPONSES!
3. Pop in to your child’s school and speak to the teacher. Any school/teacher that has a problem with that needs to be questioned. Trust that private schools and public schools of children whose parents are in the financial higher echelon will visit.
4. Ensure that the teacher has all of your contact information and that you have theirs. If you contact a teacher and they do not get back to you within 2 business days for a minor issue, or within 1 day for a major issue, a meeting should be immediately called.
5. Volunteer when you can. Volunteering does not have to be constant presence, but can be photocopying assignments or accompanying on a trip.
6. Teach your child something the school has not. Go to a museum, go to the library, or to a crafts store and be present in your child’s learning experiences.