Wednesday, December 14, 2005

READER RESPONSE -- So who really is delusional?

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:14 AM |  

In a quick response to my column in today's Pioneer Press, comes this season's greeting --

After teaching a couple years long ago and having two boys in public schools here in St. Paul, I know the problem with falling scores, parents. Yes, for every one parent actively involved with their child’s education there are ten that are not. It is easy for a parent to show up at one meeting and complain, it is hard sitting down every night to see what your child is doing in school. It is hard to turn the TV, Gameboy or whatever off and make your child do the homework or read a book.

A teacher in middle school on up has your child for maybe fifty minutes along with 30-40 other children a day, do the math for how much attention can be given to any one student. I found in a discussion about education with my colleagues at work that the voucher proponents spent less time with their children than the public school proponents. So long as parents rant and rave about their "schools" and fail to even moderately follow their children’s DAILY progress schools will do poorly. Parents are responsible for seeing their children do their work and they have a responsibility to the community's children to financially support our schools.

Also wake up and smell the coffee, it is easy for a family making $100,000 to be involved but by a large margin they are not involved, so how does a family of long hours and modest means have the luxury of time and money? Social and economic ills effect education despite the belief by the public school bashers, but the same bashers are most likely clueless to their own children’s education because they care more about their money than they truly do about their children's education. So who really is delusional?
My response --

What you seem to saying is that because parents aren't involved in their children's education, public schools face a hopeless situation. Social and economic ills make it impossible for schools to do their jobs.

Although your contention flies in the face of numerous studies that have identified excellent schools -- both private and public -- that do improve performance of students in some of the most economically deprived districts in the country (how do they manage to do it?), I’ll accept for the sake of argument that everything you say is true. My question is then -- why should we continue to sink millions of tax dollars into a system that you are admitting cannot do the job?

Why have programs like Q-Comp if more effective teachers won’t make any difference given poor parenting and social and economic ills? Why, if your defeatist attitude (which I have yet to see in any private school I’ve visited) is the prevalent public education attitude, wouldn’t a system that really cared about kids support vouchers and allow families to search out better educational opportunities for their children? Why trap families that are interested in their children’s education in a system that can’t educate them?

As noted before, why can some schools make it work in conditions far worse than average while others can only place blame on parents, economics and social ills as the reason they don’t succeed?

Category: Reader Response Education School Choice