Public schools are failing because they’re overwhelmed with too many anti-social students from dysfunctional families, writes Victor Davis Hanson in his 2011 Politically-Incorrect Resolutions on Pajamas Media.
I went to largely Hispanic and impoverished elementary schools from 1959-67. The teachers, by today’s standards, were probably insensitive and unduly harsh. . . . In September and May the non-air-conditioned rooms were often over 90 degrees. I can remember our second grade class was 44, with 5 folding chairs that we rotated in and out of, given the absence of desks. Instruction was mostly by rote . . .
And yet there was almost no violence on campus – and no counselors, psychologists, or teacher aides. Students from dire poverty arrived clean, polite, and ready to study. Parents came to school night classes to learn English and meet with teachers. Back to school night was packed. . . . A student’s detention was considered a family catastrophe.
With well-behaved, ready-to-learn students, the public schools worked, Hanson writes. Today’s families are sending more poorly behaved children — anti-social, rude, disruptive — than the schools can handle.
Hanson dreams of creating “a shame culture in which the worst sort of social transgression (far worse than smoking) is to burden the public schools with children that were neither raised nor tamed.”
Is it possible to change parents who don’t feel ashamed of their children’s bad behavior?
Strong principals and teachers can create a school culture that values learning, cooperation and courtesy. KIPP’s motto is “work hard, be nice.” Downtown College Prep, the school in my book, pushes ganas (desire to succeed), community and pride. But it’s very hard to do if the parents aren’t on board.
Speaking of creating a culture of respect: I’ve tried to maintain a calm, civil tone on the blog without stifling comments. Lately, some commenters have taken to calling each other (and me) liars, racists, imbeciles, etc. I’ve decided to delete rude and patronizing comments and to mark persistent offenders as spammers. Please try to find ways to express your opinions without insulting others. It’s not effective in persuading people to your point of view. And it’s getting on my nerves.