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Parental AYP


After reading a Washington Post article about a failing school in Mississippi, The Daily Grind reacts to some particularly vexing excerpts. In noting NCLB’s failure to secure quality teachers, as well as teacher difficulties in managing the classroom, he insists a crucial factor has been omitted from the discussion:

…My first thought was not about how NCLB has failed to get high quality teachers into low performing schools. Instead, my thought was, whose kids are these?

He expresses frustration with how critics are quick to blame teachers and schools for low student achievement, but seem reluctant to hold parents accountable for attitudes and behaviors that impede learning.

Why won’t we ever take on poor parenting?
Instead of punishing schools – and yes, some need to be punished – why not punish parents who don’t teach their children how to act with civility.


It's awfully hard to see how the Daily Grind got from the Washington Post article to blaming parents. The Post article described a school bereft of the most basic resources (paint, linoleum, experienced teachers able to demonstrate adequate content knowledge). Top it off by the realization that this school is in a state (Mississippi)that is actively leading the race to the bottom by setting low standards. Add in the de facto segregation of this public school (all the white students in the town apparently attend a private school).

I found one of the student misbehavior examples the Grind cited (a teacher whose first graders were talking instead of doing their fill in the blank). Even though I read through it twice, I couldn't find the other--a teacher who had arrived at this school after having been dismissed when he was found hiding from the paper wad attacks of his third grade class.

The school in the Post article does get big time points for making the most of the little it has (soliciting prisoners to paint, writing to Oprah for support, organizing the community, a second career teacher whose was successful in improving student achievement). Particularly moving is the teacher who bought a dryer for the family whose kid kept coming to school in wet clothes.

All in all, it is a sad, sad story, and one that indicts us all as Americans living in a country where we allow such conditions to exist in a public school.

But to move from that to why don't the parents care enough to teach their kids how to behave, doesn't speak to an unspoken element in the discussion. Rather it points to a scapegoating knee-jerk reaction that is not going to help us face the problems of the schools we are leaving behind.

It is interesting that you mention the parenting AYP. Many parents in poorer schools are often not adept in effectively negotiating for their children. This is further complicated by a system that often renders them incapable of fully being present to manage their children's education due to extenuating cicumstances such as job scheduling and a lack of a family support structure. While cliche', knowledge is power. Taking the time to fully educate parents and being willing to meet them where they are at, will all be vital to "closing the gap" that persists in education. This is not to say that teachers should fully shoulder that responsibility, however, decisionmakers have a charge and responsibility to create laws that enabale ALL parents to be active participants in the educative process. As long our system seeks to exploit these differences, REAL issues will go unaddressed, and skepticim will continue to cloud the teacher-student-parent relationship. We must be willing to consider the bigger picture.

I agree with Margo. Daily Grind's comments sound too much like the stereotypical whinning teacher who blames parents, adminstrators, last year's teacher, or the students themselves for: a) problems that are beyond any of their control, and/or b)ineffective teaching.

Atlanta's point is also significant. Here in the MS Delta, over 40% of adults are illiterate, but the vast majority raise very mannerable children. I'm concerned about the adults who work in classrooms where students (of any age -- Daily Grind's students are seniors) are throwing paper.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • TeachMoore/teacher: I agree with Margo. Daily Grind's comments sound too much read more
  • Atlanta Anonymous: It is interesting that you mention the parenting AYP. Many read more
  • Margo/Mom: It's awfully hard to see how the Daily Grind got read more




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