I had a draft of this post in the works a few weeks ago, and lo and behold the day before I was going to finish it up, there was an absolutely, amazingly, excellent article in the new issue of the New Your Review of Books. Read this now. Diane Ravitch tears Davis Guggenheim and Waiting For Superman four or five new orifices. It's better than anything I'll contribute below, but my thoughts actually follows on nicely from Ravitch's discussion of teachers and charter schools.
The unspoken elephant in the room for education reform is that a lot of people know who the real culprit for underachieving kids is but can't do anything about it. And those culprits are the parents. But I want to propose that we can do something about the parents, a carrot and stick system that would work better than firing "bad" teachers or even paying kids for bad grades. Give tax refunds, or additional charges for parents who are basically making it impossible for teachers to do their job.
We should be paying and fining parents for their childrens' homework completion and for their childrens' behavior in class. We need to make it clear that a child who hasn't been read to, or a child who isn't being help to complete their homework, or a child who keeps acting out in class is in large part a problem of the parent. If a child gets to fifth grade and can't read, how the hell do we blame the teacher for that? If the kid goes up two grade levels then that teacher should get a medal.
But what about parents working two jobs, or immigrant families, isn't this kind of harsh? Well, yeah, that's rough, but letting your kid fail is a hundred times rougher. America in 2010 seems to be a land without tough love. Instead we have a lot of papering and negligence, not just in families but everywhere in government, in businesses and everywhere in between. But things need to start in the home, and at this point families need some tough love to make sure that they're giving that tough love themselves.
And so we witness the end.
3 years ago