While it should be illegal (it is at least immoral) for people to have children (adopt, give birth to, etc.) and abdicate the education of said child to some one else, the next best thing is to set the expectation high and wide that parents (people who have children) take RESPONSIBILITY and parent. It has been far too long in coming that our communities demand parent action. This does not mean helicoptering as that is ‘overparenting’ and does nothing to set boundaries for learning from failures and successes.
It would have never occurred to me a few decades ago that parents needed to be asked and reminded to go to parent conferences, follow through on the progress of their child or actually be told that no one ever died from not watching TV and yet these were all things I had to do my first years of teaching. I was dumbfounded. How is it my own parents, who both (one more than 40 miles from home) worked by time I was in middle and high school, figured this out? How is it my parents gave up many a night out or activity to be sure myself and my sister had library night, were involved in Girl Scouts and all manner of other activities in the community, went to some free program for kids at the museum, at the local college over the weekend, volunteered for PTA regularly, checked up on homework being done (we did not even have planners in those dark ages) and followed through on anything lower than a C grade? Anything less than a C meant two things (1) figure out what you needed help with understanding (2) locate the people/resources (teacher, tutor, classmates parent, book, etc.) to turn the problem around. In retrospect, my parents were nothing short of amazing and driven – they had a desire that their children would do well in the world and lead lives of meaning and purpose. My parents did not dump tons of money into the situation as we were not wealthy. My parents dumped TIME into the situation.
When I began teaching, PTA did not help the teacher round-up parents and wrangle with the idea of how to follow through on children, although I sure wish the organization had. This would have been the largest difference in the lives of so many children. I took on the burden many times by trying to re-think, re-plan, re-teach, tutor and so forth the students who were lagging behind. It was never possible to do that much work for 15-20 of my 35 students in lower grades or 75-90 students in upper grades, do my job and have a life – but I tried.
Thankfully amid all the ‘change’ being made in education, parents have been brought in to the light. I hope this is the deal changer. It will be many years before we know for certain as a country, however, the research has always shown great parenting conquers much more than a teacher can teach in a school year.
If you are just becoming a teacher – make sure your school puts parents into action. If you already teach, find out what needs to happen to get parents activated at your school. If you are a student – REMIND YOUR PARENTS TO SUPPORT YOUR BEST EFFORTS. For all the parents out there thinking this is ‘impossible’ – unplug your TV for six months. None of you will die and your child will be far better for it.