Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Schools Can Only Do So Much

Families living in the Washington D.C. area are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of cultural attractions, many of which are free to visit. So I found it incredibly depressing to read in article on two struggling government-run elementary schools in The Washington Post that the students profiled do not take advantage of these resources:

"A wall at Broad Acres is filled with student reports titled 'Places I've Been.' With practiced penmanship and admirable grammar, one second-grade child after another recounts trips to Toys R Us, McDonald's, and Chuck E. Cheese."

It just makes me wonder what is wrong with these parents. Here they are with all kinds of wonderful museums, monuments, and other attractions that do not charge any admission fees and they prefer to take their kids to a fast food place instead.

Several times in recent weeks I've noticed "tweenage" kids wearing t-shirts with anti-intellectual slogans on them. Given that they are not old enough to be earning their own spending money, the parent(s) must have purchased those shirts for their offspring. Again this raises the question as to what is wrong with some people. What kind of message does it send to the child about the value of education when the parent allows him/her to wear those clothes?

No amount of money poured into the schools is going to be able to make up for bad parenting. Politicians offer all kinds of "solutions" for the achievement gap but I haven't heard them talk about the elephant in the room: values. Regardless of race or class, parents who value education tend to have children who are educationally successful. As a society, we need to place greater responsibility on families as the primary educators of children.


30 Minute Mommy said...

I am a teacher and a new parent!
Kudos to you for teaching your kids at home. The public school system is a mess! I also agree with you 100% that parents are teachers too and it seems that many have forgotten this important fact.

L. said...

"As a society, we need to place greater responsibility on families as the primary educators of children."

But that also means we have to acknowlege that some parents are going to accept this responsibility and make questionable choices.

Benjing-Benjing said...

It's a vicious cycle isn't it. Parents who never learn how to be good parents from their parents will inturn be bad parents to their own children and the cycle goes on and on. This why we should require Parenting Classes in High School and College as a pre-requisite course. But what do I know...

Chris at

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I just can't believe how physically and intellectually lazy people are. What- are they allergic to work? Is watching Oprah the only form of mental stimulation people get anymore?

My in-laws have been upset with us for not allowing them to take our kids to movies. The reason they gave? Because they can't think of anything else to do with them. Excuse me?

The problem is that when one begins to talk about lousy parenting, the issue of how to ensure that each child has decent parents comes into play, and just how would one regulate the production of offspring, the qualifications for and licensing of parenthood, and the funds to guarantee that children's needs are met?

There are laws on the books that address many of these issues, but they are seldom enforced, and as more and more gov't programs and oversight are engaged, the problem will get worse and not better, as more and more parents abdicate their responsibilities to the state.

And what is discouraging to parents who do take their duties seriously is that excellence, morality, and standards of conduct are often viewed as being elitist and judgmental, reducing stay-at-home moms to objects of pity and scorn instead of acknowledging their choice as being responsible and honorable.

May modern day feminism die a fiery death. Somebody hand me a match.