New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg is angering parents again. On one of his recent radio shows, the Mayor of one of the country’s most ill-equipped public systems said that it’s not just the schools’ responsibility to keep kids in school; it’s also the parents’.
That statement has set off a lot of people who feel that he simply doesn’t understand, but I gotta admit, I think he has a point.
Like Bloomberg said, he thinks parents need to step up:
“We have a lot of kids who unfortunately don’t have parents at home when they leave in the morning or get home in the afternoon and it’s harder to supervise kids. And then maybe, you know, some people don’t care. Some people don’t understand the value of education.”
Many school advocates were angered by his assertion that parents are again to blame. One parent leader spoke out:
“There the mayor goes again, blaming parents. It’s always everyone’s fault but his. He should be talking about ensuring that there are more guidance counselors, social workers and smaller classrooms so schools can keep better track of students and the reasons why they aren’t going instead of blaming parents and families that have challenges he clearly doesn’t understand.”
Where to begin? On one hand, of course schools need to do a better job at keeping track of student absences and follow-up, and of course that means that Bloomberg has to set aside more funds for schools to hire more guidance counselors, teachers and after-school assistants. Yes, our schools are a mess. There need to be better teacher assessment and incentives, respect and professionalism all around. And the only way this can get done is to put more money into the schools, because when you give schools money, you are helping children grow and blossom. You are saying that our kids are more important than city aesthetics and quality-of-life projects. But, and here comes a big but …
Kids know from preschool what is expected school-wise and parents set the tone.
Parents need to instill the importance of getting a good education at home way before a child ever sets foot in a classroom. I understand that there are countless moms and dads who have no choice but to leave for work before their kids go to school. I was one of those kids. My mother, like countless others, was a single mother who left for work sometimes before I even got up for school. But I knew I had to go to school and be there on time or else I would get killed. Not literally, of course, but my mother just would not have tardiness or absences; there was simply no way she would stand for it. My world would have ended had I not placed school at the very top of my responsibilities. I knew this from a very early age.
Parents have to teach their kids at home from the time they are born that education is vital. And they have to place their kid’s education at the top, which means their homework, studying, and reading comes before anything else. My mother would work 12 hours and when she got home, she’d check homework (which had to be already finished) as soon as she came home. Then she’d quiz me.
Kids know from preschool what is expected school-wise, and parents set the tone. You cannot put all the work on the school and expect them to transform a child whose parents don’t put in the work at home. Any teacher will tell you they can only do so much if parents won’t do their part.
Neither side of this issue is totally right, and I don’t pretend to have the answers to solve the problem of the hordes of children who check out of our educational system. It is a huge problem that needs a mass overhaul, but one thing is for sure: if parents don’t take responsibility, how will their kids ever learn to do it for themselves?
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