Failing Students – Parent’s Fault?

Are our student’s failing in school because parents aren’t academically involved? Thomas Friedman’s article in the New York Times, Obama’s Homework Assignment, places the blame for failure on parents who come to sporting events and complain about bad grades but don’t demand tougher courses or more homework.

I agree that some parents aren’t involved enough in the school progress of their children. But, I don’t want to throw stones when I know many parents work two or more jobs as they try to support their families. Some parents deal with the sickness of their own parents, or children with special needs, or ridiculously long commutes. These parents want what is best for their children but they might just be trying to get through the day. They might consider a day a success if everyone has eaten three square meals and slept in a bed. Can we really ask these parents to do more?

I think it would be better if schools took on the whole responsibility of educating a child. There is a lot of talk of expanding the length of the school day. Why don’t we do that, but add an hour at the end and call it “homework and tutoring hour.” Everyone enrolls and the school hires tutors to help. Ideally, they would hire kids from the district to tutor. So, high school students could tutor elementary children and local college students could tutor high school children. Advanced kids could use the time for independent study or online courses. At the end of the day, everyone goes home completely finished with school and ready for the next day.

Homework punishes children without engaged parents. It punishes children from broken homes. It hurts the people a school should help the most. Let’s get rid of homework at home and do homework at school. If we want all of our children to succeed then schools should take on the entire burden.

I know this would cost money, time, and effort. It might not even work. Coming from a broken home where you don’t get enough sleep, you have regular access to drugs or alcohol, and you don’t eat healthy food affects schoolwork no matter what a school does. It really isn’t fair to ask a teacher to take on the entire responsibility of a child’s success. Schools can’t fix everyone.

But, what we are doing isn’t working. Why not try this?

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