Responsible, caring parents raise good students, writes Scott Carroll, a teacher turned IT consultant, in the Baltimore Sun. Carroll’s mother didn’t always have money to pay the utility bill or the phone bill, but she managed to pay half-tuition so he could attend a private elementary school. His father didn’t live with the family, but stayed involved in his son’s life.
. . . you do not need a college degree to know how to insist that your children read books, or at least sit with their faces in a book through some prescribed period of time every day. You do not need a college degree to read to your children persistently. You do not need a college education to know how to require your children to sit at a certain table every school night for a certain prescribed period and at least seem to be completing their assignments. You do not need a college degree to demand of yourself and of your family that standard English, or some earnest attempt thereof, be spoken in the home.
“African-American culture — my culture — has become, progressively, a culture of the athlete, the entertainer, the hustler and the laborer,” Carroll laments.
I had the privilege of teaching for four years in an immaculate building that had just undergone a $27 million restoration, a Baltimore City vocational/technical high school complete with the kind of expensive, computer-aided manufacturing machinery I had seen on campus as an industrial engineering student at Morgan State University and in industry as an industrial engineering intern. Many students showed their appreciation for the very expensive, potentially high-quality education they were being offered for free by setting that building on fire almost weekly, and by cursing freely in the vicinity of and often directly at teachers and administrators alike. When attempts were made at discipline and parents were called in, the parents often exhibited this same behavior while searching for any and every way to blame teachers and the school for their children’s trouble.
An interested, cooperative student will learn in a shack with an old textbook, Carroll writes.
But as long as we continue to send non-studious, socially and intellectually ill-prepared children into our schools — as long as we continue to expect our teachers and our schools, as opposed to our parents and our families, to rear our children — our students and schools will continue to underperform, no matter how much we spend or how many teachers we employ.
“Money is not the problem,” he concludes. “The problem is our lack of a coherent, robust and healthy culture.”
So, what do we do with bad parents’ children?