As Homer Simpson likes to say, "D'oh!"
If you've been reading my blog you know my intent, in part, is to defend good teachers--by far the majority. Still, I admit: I've seen some bad ones. I once worked with an educator who was so unmotivated, you wondered: If he died at his desk, would students notice the difference between rigor mortis and his normal level of "activity?" Or would decomposition have to set in?
Yes. Let's get rid of bad teachers. In fact, let's say you could get rid of them all today.
You'd still have the same Continental Divide in education. You can't make the Rocky Mountains disappear, no matter how hard you flog America's public school teachers. You can take away their tenure, if you like, and have all the vouchers and charter schools you want. But you still have good parents and you still have bad ones----and more than a few terrible ones--and therein lies the problem which NONE of our education experts ever address. Michelle Rhee? She says it's all teachers. Arne Duncan? Same. Joel I. Klein in New York City? Yep: teachers. Davis Guggenheim in his movie, Waiting for Superman? In his celluloid world only good parents and grandparents exist.
So, sure, the problem must be crappy teachers.
|Who'd have imagined?|
Parents who read to children at home
or make sure they have books
have children who score higher on
As Friedman notes, in recent years "we've been treated to reams of op-ed articles about how we need better teachers in our public schools and, if only the teachers' unions would go away, our kids would score like Singapore's on the big international tests....But here's what some new studies are showing: We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children's education can also make a huge difference in a student's achievement."
Again, we all know good teachers matter. Still, the evidence has been there all along--and I've been thinking about this issue since 1981, at least, when President Reagan and his advisors first started talking about vouchers and how they would cure all the problems in U. S. education.
In fact, for those who believe vouchers and charter schools are the answer, here's an old bedtime story from that era and you can read it to your children, which will help then when they go to school:
Once upon a time, when the argument for vouchers was new (January 1981) there lived a family in Augusta, Maine. There was no evil stepmother in this story. No mom, either. The father, Willard Radley, was no handsome prince. Mr. Radley had four sons. His problem was not that he required vouchers. His problem was that he produced sperm.
The boys’ problem wasn’t that they needed vouchers, either. Their problem was that Willard was their dad.
An investigation began in April 1980, after Ernest Radley, 7, was struck and killed by a car. Ernest’s brothers, ages 5 to 9, laid out a shocking tale for police. Mr. Radley had “induced his children to commit a variety of acts that would allow him to collect insurance money.”
To be specific: he ordered them to run into streets and take hits so he could take the profits.
In the real world there are no fairy-tale godmothers and vouchers are not magic wands. Thirty years later, the argument for vouchers still founders on the same rock.
TOMORROW WE LOOK AT BAD PARENTS IN RECENT NEWS AND ASK: HOW DO WE HELP KIDS WHO ABSOLUTELY NEED HELP THE MOST?
DO I HEAR: PARENTAL VOUCHERS, ANYONE????