Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Frederick M. Hess: Parents Need to Play a Role in Their Children's Education | US News

Parents Need to Play a Role in Their Children's Education | Knowledge Bank | US News:

Don't Give Parents a Pass on Education

Hold schools accountable – but parents play a role helping their kids learn, too.

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America's schools are caught in a peculiar vise. We've made it clear that we expect schools to succeed with every child. That wasn't always the norm. Over the past 25 years, though, reformers on the left and right fought to ensure that schools be expected to educate every child. Today, we largely take that mission for granted. That represents a tectonic shift and a tremendous victory.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, American education paid a lot of attention to the quality of parenting and far too little to the quality of teaching and schooling. It wasn't unusual to hear educators declare that certain students were unteachable or that they couldn't be blamed for not teaching kids who weren't there to learn.
In the early 1990s, I was supervising student teachers for Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and I'll always recall one exchange that crystallized the old ethos for me. I was visiting an iconic Boston high school that had seen better days. The bell rang and the social studies class I was observing got started. In a room of 30 or 35 kids, there were maybe a dozen who were taking notes, participating, and paying attention. The rest were passing notes, staring out the window and generally tuning out. My student teacher tried all manner of teaching strategies, but none made much difference.
The class finally ended and the students shuffled out. The student teacher, his mentor teacher and I sat down to talk. I asked the mentor, "So, how'd you think the class went?"
He said, "What really impressed me was how engaged the students were."
I wondered if he was kidding. He didn't seem to be. I said, "Here's the thing. To me, it looked like maybe 10 students were really involved. Did I miss something?"
What he said next has always stuck with me: "No, that's about right. But he had all of the students who were here to learn. The others, the knuckleheads, well, you just want to keep them in line."
Times have changed. Today, that kind of mindset is deemed unacceptable. If educators say such things, they mutter them privately. That shift is a wonderful thing.
It's come at a cost, though. The insistence that parents need to also do their part has been lost along the way. Talk of parental responsibility has come to be seen as little more than a case of blaming the victim. Reformers worry that such talk will let schools and Parents Need to Play a Role in Their Children's Education | Knowledge Bank | US News:
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