Want to fix schools? Fix parents (or vice versa)
I glimpsed a quote from Kati Haycock, kicking off the Education Trust annual conference, saying that we can’t let “bad parenting” be an excuse for poor educational results. She’s absolutely right, of course. It’s not like our schools are running on all cylinders (especially schools serving poor kids), and if only parents were doing their jobs too, achievement would soar. And we’ve got several examples of school models that are making a tremendous difference in educational outcomes for kids, regardless of what’s happening at home.
That said, it strikes me as highly unlikely that we’re ever going to significantly narrow the achievement gap between rich and poor unless we narrow the “good parenting gap” between rich and poor families, too. (And yes, I know I’m going to catch a lot of grief for saying that.)
Petrilli's post drew this response from another Fordham guy, Peter Meyer. The headline on Meyer's post: "The Secret to Good Parenting? Good Schools." Here's a taste:
But parenting is not a problem that educators are equipped to handle – they have a hard enough time agreeing on curriculum. I think of a sixth-grade teacher in our small district who, on meet-the teacher-night, passed out no “parent contracts” and no “student contracts” – both were then the rage — and gave no lectures about student behavior and the role of the parent. He described what he was going to teach that year, what books the kids would be reading and then said to the assembled parents, “You don’t have to worry about a thing; I’ll take care of your kids.” And he did. He had the same kids from the same bad families that every other teacher had, but he didn’t complain about them – and his classroom was quiet and orderly. And because of that, his students will be better parents.