Letter: To improve education, involve parents
After reading your articles on the need to fix our schools, I will try to explain why we cannot do much. The first problem that stands out is your article. The one paragraph says it all: “Along with the experts, we’d like to hear from you, from teachers, parents,” etc.
Those experts you refer too probably never spent a day in the classroom! As a 30-year veteran of teaching I have seldom been asked by an expert what can be done. In my opinion, these so-called experts never get to the heart of the problems we face. I also hear a lot from politicians who try to fix the problems but they seldom ask the teachers. Even the teacher supervisors spend little time in the classroom. However, these experts are quick to say money isn’t the solution.
Look at a social-economic graph of income of families and test scores and there is the answer. It’s a 45 degree angle. The higher the economic level of a community, the better the test scores! We first need highly skilled teachers to improve our children’s education, so in the past decade what have we done? We have cut or frozen teacher wages and benefits and put greater demands on them. So how do we attract top teachers to this profession doing this kind of damage?
Let us look at our reading skills decline. We have young children that get little reading from their parents. Experts will tell you that this is important to develop a child’’s learning.
How does a child get this reading when there is no time to do this?
Many times there is only one parent in the home (I taught in Detroit), and parents have to work 12 to 14 hour days? Day care could be a help but it’s getting too expensive for many to use it.
Next, when I assigned reading assignments in my classroom many did not have even a newspaper in their home. At least half of the students had never been to a library (ninth-graders). There isn’t enough time for a teacher to get these skills supplemented in a class full of children (30 or more). Now, the next big problem is using social media as a babysitter.
Television does little to teach. Being on a cellphone or computer without guidance does not help the child.
So here are some solutions to our failing academic system. Attract good teachers. Keep student class numbers down. Get tutorial programs to catch students up to grade level. Try to get parents involved in raising their children mentally not just physically.
Find a way to cut back on cellphones and push reading from grade one. Also, have the parents cut TV exposure.
Now excuse me for using a dirty word here but many of these things require money to get the job done. If we are not willing to spend this money on education then maybe we can find a wizard and with his magic wand he will solve our problems.