Today President Obama spoke about extending the school year so students can do better. I totally disagree with that suggestion. I think holding parents and school districts accountable will go a long way in helping solve the problem with students not doing well.
Studies have shown that students that do well have parents who support them and are very much engaged in their educational journey. You can’t expect students to do well without parent involvement. The school and teachers can only do so much to help students excel.
In the area of town where I live, the schools are known for academic excellence. Every time there are parent-teacher conferences, I expect to spend two hours or longer to visit with teachers. Usually the parking lot is so full you can barely get a parking space. Ninety-nine percent of graduating seniors go to college. To achieve academic success it must be a marriage between school, teacher, student, and parents.
I live in the suburbs, but I decided to teach school in an urban area. I must say it is so disturbing to see firsthand how very little parent involvement can make a huge difference in how well students do academically. I spend most of my parent-teacher conference time grading papers because very few parents show up. How do you expect students to do well if there is no parent oversight?
The solution to students not doing well is not prolonging the school year. I think parents should be held accountable for their children, I say some of the lazy parents should take a check-up from the neck up. Want your child to succeed, get involved in his/her life, and don’t expect the school to do your job for you.
You can’t fix a complex problem by coming up with a simple solution. So much time is spent blaming teachers and schools, very little is done to encourage parents to advocate for their children.
Another area that should be looked at is holding school districts accountable for wise spending. I have seen so much waste. Too much money is spent on high paying school officials; not enough money is allocated to the classroom. In the school district where I teach French and Spanish, I have up to 39 t0 40 students in each class. How am I supposed to teach that many students a foreign language?
I remember when I first studied Spanish in high school in New York, there were 20 students in my class. We all did very well. By the time I was a senior I was speaking fluent Spanish. The next year I double majored in French and Spanish in college.
So, Mr. President, there is a lot to be considered before making drastic changes to a very complex problem. Let’s examine very carefully why students are not doing well. Encourage parents to get involved in their children’s educational life. Encourage school districts across America to use funding wisely. Monies should not be utilized to pay high ranking school officials and instead should be used to decrease class size and provide updated textbooks for every classroom.
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