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EDUCATION: Parents play key role in success

Letter by Marilyn Martinetto, Steilacoom on Dec. 28, 2010 at 4:40 pm with 32 Comments »
December 28, 2010 4:40 pm

Re: “School resegregation: We’re going back to the future” (TNT, 12-28).

Parents have always been moving their children to what they think are better schools. Parents most likely to be able to afford the “best” schools move their children. Even the Obamas enrolled their children in the “best” school in D.C. that educates children of all races.

The real reason for high achievement is parents who value learning and have books and educational materials in the home. The best example I saw while teaching were the post-Vietnam War refugee children. I had to force them to leave the classroom to go out to recess. They were hungry to learn, and they and all the other students worldwide are who our children will face. Race is irrelevant.

Mainstreaming has severely damaged U.S. public schools. Mainstreaming began as a theory to end differences in achievement. The idea was to place underachieving kids in with high achievers. Mainstreaming and lack of hunger to learn are the real culprits. Today’s classrooms are the result.

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  1. cclngthr says:

    RE: Mainstreaming..

    Do you want all kids separated by ability, or perceived ability? That cannot happen, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in several cases, including the 1953 case involving arguments of separate but equal.

    The real issue of schools is they have dumbed down the curriculum rather than forcing kids to perform. When kids are not required to work, they won’t.

  2. bobcat1a says:

    ccingthr, please explain how we force kids to perform.

  3. cclngthr says:

    Require minimum grades to pass the class and set minimum mastery standards for each lesson. Instead of a D- as passing, set that minimum standard as 80% mastery for each objective for each lesson. The kid will not go forward until they reach that 80% mastery level. That same level is the end grade for that course, and if kids don’t achieve that, they remain where they are. Teachers have to figure out why the kid is not performing, and must teach in the way so each kid reaches that level.

  4. Novelist3 says:

    They tried that with standardized testing, cc.
    Instead of actually studying, the stupid/lazy kids and their idiot parents decided that it was more productive to whine and complain… until the tests were removed. Just goes to show you the kind of generation that’s growing up in our nation these days.

  5. blakeshouse says:

    The very best way to improve the school system from the indoctrination camps is to allow people to open charter schools and private schools. In the system we have now it is little more than overpaid babysitting and warehousing.

    Between dumbing down and the indoctrination to far left ideals, public schools are one of the biggest financial fiascos facing us today. Not that it is needed but add to the mix the complete domination over the socialist/ neo marxist legislature and governors office by the unions, and you have the no win situation that exists now and for the foreseeable future.

  6. truthbusterguy says:

    Good letter by Mrs. Martinetto.

    Get on netflix and order “Waiting for Superman”. This tells the story in our system. We can restore our greatness but not until the teacher unions, who is the blame for our failed system, is de certified.

    When will people wake up and end the failing system we now have. I agree with blakehouse that charter schools and vouchers would be a good start.

  7. No one is forced to send their kids to public school. There are good, affordable, private schools. Rather than whine and complain about public schools, take some personal responsibility and enroll your kids into a private school.

  8. “The real reason for high achievement is parents who value learning and have books and educational materials in the home.

    That’s a big part, but peer pressure has a much greater effect on educational success.

    Interestingly, when folks move to a good school district, they are also changing a child’s peers to one’s who are more likely to value education.

    If you want to fix under-performing schools, you need to address peer pressure. In low income schools, I would want to try a pay for grades approach to counter peer pressure.

  9. nonstopjoe says:

    If the parents are slothful, stupid and unmotivated, how on earth are their kids going to be any different. It’s all a matter of inherited traits – dolts don’t beget geniuses. That’s why smart people gravitate to the intelligent and slugs congregate with dullards.

  10. “Require minimum grades to pass the class and set minimum mastery standards for each lesson. Instead of a D- as passing, set that minimum standard as 80% mastery for each objective for each lesson. The kid will not go forward until they reach that 80% mastery level.”

    That would increase the value of a high school diploma. But it wouldn’t address the dropout rate.

    “Teachers have to figure out why the kid is not performing, and must teach in the way so each kid reaches that level.”

    That’s easier said then done. Teachers have little to no control over peer pressure and parenting. Nor are they going to have the time to offer significant one-on-one instruction.

  11. nonstopjoe says:

    More money isn’t going to make unmotivated dumb kids smart. Its akin to shoveling sand against the tide or making water flow uphill. Ain’t gonna happen.

  12. Unmotivated kids are not necessarily “dumb” — just as gifted students are not necessarily “good students.” The labels applied to kids are part of the problem, but I will only add this one other thing to the discussion…it IS the home environment and the attitude of the parents towards learning that is the deciding factor in terms of kids growing into the person they were designed to be. Schools are important, yes, but it’s all about what’s happening at home in the end.

  13. MarksonofDarwin says:

    Polago,

    I agree that people who have the means can send their kids to private schools.
    This is the status quo, the starting point, the place where all discussions of change begin. I know there are many, like you, who believe we should just keep things the way they are….there are many others who believe our schools can and should be changed.

    Fatuous,

    Hammer, meet nail…you’ve hit it squarely on target!
    Parents definitely have more influence than teachers, but our kids peers are generally who they want to “fit in” with. I’ve known many parents who have moved their kids to schools outside the boundaries of where they live for this very reason. Beyond that, I am at a loss as to what else parents can do in this State….we can’t ALL move our kids to the same school.

    Vouchers and charter schools, while no magic bullet, have been very successful in places where they are allowed. Washington State is behind the curve on this subject, and tenaciously conservative where education is concerned.

  14. cclngthr says:

    fatuous,

    Eliminate the possibility of peer pressure by making school a place to focus on work. If students have any free time, they will have peer pressure. By filling their time wisely, they won’t have the time for it.

    MarksonofDarwin,
    Vouchers and Charter schools may not always do what you want them to do. There are charter schools that do fail, and this is directly related to how they are operated.

  15. spotted1 says:

    cclngthr, you are kidding right? Eliminate the possibility of peer pressure? Show me one example of a place of employment where peer pressure does not affect the person in some way. It ain’t going away, nice try.

    Now, define 80% mastery of the standard. What standard? We have an excessive number of standards at the state level. The only way this happens is to have a national curriculum that clearly dictates what students learn.

    Japan has a national curriculum, tracking based on performance on a national test, and clear expectations of standards. Top colleges take from top high schools only, which is determined solely by test scores alone.

    Japan also has a high teenage suicide rate because of these tests.

  16. “I know there are many, like you, who believe we should just keep things the way they are….”

    That couldn’t be further from the truth, MarksonofDarwin. I want our public school system to be the best that money can buy, which means constantly upgrading this ever-changing system to meet the growing demands of today’s marketplace.

    As the title of this letter suggests, parental involvement is the key to a child’s scholastic success. If that parent thinks that public school will fail to properly educate their child, then that parent has an obligation to provide that child with an education that fills the bill. Those who complain about public school, and object to it’s perceived socialistic nature, yet continue to send their offspring to public school are hypocrites.

    Then there are those who think that they can take public money and apply it to their child’s private education through vouchers or charter schools.

    I say, put your money where your mouth is. Suck it up and pay for the education of your choice. And, BTW, I know what I’m talking about because I’ve been on both sides of that fence.

    What I see are parents who teach their kids, by example, that monster truck shows, or worshiping sports figures, is much more important than scholastic excellence. The resulting lack of education becomes obvious.

  17. The shame of it is that parents today are unwilling to make those necessary sacrifices.

  18. commoncents says:

    You don’t need to move to a “better school” or “better district”. What you need to do is emphasize school and performance expectations to your children prior to their first day of school and every day afterwards. There are some kids that are self-motivated but most try to please their parents – As a parent you should show that their success is important to you and you will be rewarded with their success. Show them that your time and energy (and theirs) is better spent on topics other than school and you will be rewarded similarly.

  19. MarksonofDarwin says:

    Polago,

    I apologize if I offended you. Perhaps I should have worded that differently.
    I understand that you want the best education for all children. On that, I think we can all agree.

    When you say things like: “I say, put your money where your mouth is. Suck it up and pay for the education of your choice.” that comes across as dismissive and closed off to any suggestions for change.

    The reality is, I am already paying for my kid’s education.
    I paid before I had kids, and I will continue to pay for education long after they have left enrollment. That’s how it works. I have no problem with it, but when someone insinuates that I should pay twice if I don’t like what the government monopoly provides, I find that insulting. That money doesn’t belong to the school district or the teachers to do with as they wish. I have every right to demand accountability, and if they can’t deliver, I should be able to take my contribution and put it to better use.

    I qualified my suggestion of vouchers and charter schools with the caveat that they are not a magic bullet. They are, however, a better answer to the status quo, and telling parents to just suck it up.

    Centralizing education in some massive un-involved bureaucracy will only exacerbate the existing problems of inefficiency and failure.

  20. letsworkitout says:

    Blakehouse, I know you won’t respond as you never have, but could you please give detailed systematic examples of “indoctrinating” thanks.

  21. letsworkitout says:

    nevermind. I do not know why I would even ask the question. I even wonder what the point of posting here is anymore as each person has their set beliefs and I have yet in many years seen someone actually change their perception. In fact I would say quite the opposite is true.

  22. MarksonofDarwin says:

    LWO,

    I know your frustration, but I have seen *some* people’s perceptions and opinions change over the years. For instance, I know that I can be very stubborn and set in my ways, but there are many subjects that I have learned something new, and that has changed my perspective….even if it’s not something that is readily apparent in my comments.

    I like reading your comments, and even when we don’t agree, I think it would be a loss to this forum if you bowed out for good.

  23. “When you say things like: “I say, put your money where your mouth is. Suck it up and pay for the education of your choice.” that comes across as dismissive and closed off to any suggestions for change.”

    When I say things like that, I mean it to be a suggestion of empowerment, Marksonofdarwin.

    Parents, today, are locked into the mindset that they have to send their children to public school. To do otherwise would mean that they won’t be able to afford that new car, or the expensive vacation to which they feel entitled. If you chose to send them to public school then get involved. Make it a better place for your kids. But many chose to stand back and blame the teachers. They want to rob the schools of needed resources so that their child will get special treatment (vouchers and charter schools) at the taxpayer’s expense.

    Public schools are required to teach anyone who shows up. As a society, we need that so that we will have citizens who can, at least, read and write, do some basic math; the basic skills necessary to function in today’s society.

    But those who want more than that for their children, sacrifice, so that they can pay for that higher level of education, that personalization that may be missing in the public schools.

    We did, and I’ll never regret it.

    I will always be a strong supporter of public schools. I want public education to get all the funding that’s possible. I want smaller class sizes, and more teachers. I don’t want that precious funding lost to the selfishness of vouchers or charter schools.

    That’s why I insist that parents take personal and financial responsibility for their child’s education, make it a top priority, and don’t leave it up to someone else.

  24. MarksonofDarwin says:

    I see where you’re coming from Polago, and I’m glad that worked out for you.
    You see vouchers and charters as selfish while I see them as empowerment.

    When parents get involved within the existing structure, they are helping to lift ALL student’s achievement, not just their own children’s. To opt out of public schools is just not an option for most parents. You were happy to pay for public schools without using them, and then pay again for private school. To demand that everyone else should live by the choices you made isn’t helpful, nor particularly meaningful.

    It seems we both agree with the premise of this letter…namely, that parents play a key role in the success of their children’s education.
    We can’t then have it both ways.
    Meaning, we can’t hold parents responsible for their kids education, and then deprive them of all power to control what that education entails.

  25. Parents relinquish their individual power when they send their kids to public school. Parents are most empowered when they chose a private education, whether it revolves around their religious beliefs, or, their desire for smaller class sizes, etc., because the money comes from their own pockets. They now have the ability to take their money elsewhere if that education doesn’t suit their needs. They’ve taken personal responsibility for their child’s education.

    That may sound like a plug for vouchers, but the reason why it doesn’t work for vouchers, is that we all pay the taxes necessary for public education to exist, and someone who takes tax money away from the public schools in the form of vouchers is doing the public a disservice for their own personal gain.

    I disagree with the last part of the letter which is critical of mainstreaming. Public education is all about mainstreaming. The purpose in public education is to provide an education to anyone, a cookie cutter education. That way, the state can require every child to attend school, without requiring their parents to pay.

    So, that’s why I don’t mind paying my fair share of the cost of public education, even though I, personally, opt out, but I do mind seeing public education money misused for someone’s private education.

    I believe that most parents can afford private education. If I can afford it, so can they. It’s all a matter of priority and a little bit of sacrifice.

  26. I don’t understand how the concept of vouchers fits in with the right wing concept of less government, privatization, and taking personal responsibility.

    Wouldn’t any self respecting conservative be in favor of private education? After all, the more people who opt out of public education, the less of a tax burden it becomes for all. But somehow, it’s OK that the government provide vouchers for private education. Isn’t that a misappropriation of public funds?

  27. MarksonofDarwin says:

    P,

    I don’t really understand where you’re coming from.
    It sounds like you’re criticizing public schools & disparaging parents who enroll their children there on one hand…but then claim to support this sub-standard education, provided it is only from a government monopoly. And that’s good enough for those who don’t make as much as you do. It sounds very draconian, and frankly, not like you at all. (the little I do know of you!)

    I don’t want to mis-characterize your position, and so I will leave that aside until I have a better understanding.

    Your concern about tax money being funneled away from public schools is a valid one. That isn’t necessarily a side effect of vouchers per se, but rather how education is funded, and individual decisions made by school districts.
    Any enactment of school vouchers must provide at least the same amount of funding for public schools that they currently receive. And yes, what I’m suggesting is more money being allocated for public education along with vouchers.

    I’m not sure why you would think vouchers should be shameful for conservatives, when they already are participating in the collectivist system that’s been set up. There is no choice but to participate….why so hard nosed about this? I don’t think less of progressives who work for corporations, or purchase products on a free and open market…..

  28. MarksonofDarwin says:

    The one immediate benefit to vouchers will be smaller class sizes for ALL schools. This is something that everyone agrees is a problem and needs to be achieved.

    When we look around the country where vouchers have been implemented, there has always been a net benefit to the quality of education to be had by both the public schools and the private schools. Rather than withering away from neglect, public schools have seen test scores rise.

    The most dramatic benefit has been in the achievement gap for non-asian minorities and low income families. Mainstreaming is achieved at a higher level with vouchers. In the early years of education, there is a good representation of these populations in public schools, but as kids get older, the drop out rate dwindles any meaningful integration. In private schools with vouchers, the percentage of non-asian minorities and low income are much larger than in public schools. More of these kids go on to graduate, with all of the potential for advancement that comes with a high school diploma.

  29. Do we agree that whatever voucher money is granted comes from the public school’s allotment, Marksonofdarwin, or do you suggest that voucher money comes from somewhere else, and public schools will not lose any of their funding? Because, if voucher money reduces the money public schools receive, by that same amount, I cannot see how class sizes can remain smaller in public schools as that funding dwindles.

    How are parents who presently have their children in private school supposed to react when their neighbors put their voucher children into that same private school, at the public’s expense? Won’t this create a situation where most children, presently attending private school, become eligible for vouchers?

  30. MarksonofDarwin says:

    P,

    Yes, we agree that voucher money should *not* affect the level of funding that public schools are currently receiving. I know that there’s an attitude out there that only wants to “punish” public schools. I do not belong to that camp, and I find that attitude counter productive to the desired goal of enhancing education for all students.

    The first step in this goal is to put aside some of the pre-conceived notions that “every body knows” about the superiority of private schools to public schools.
    Many of the studies that have been done don’t look at the whole picture, and are skewed to favor public schools or, on the other hand, vouchers.

    Many studies that are designed to favor vouchers, don’t take into consideration that public schools take “all comers”, and the notion that vouchers “skim the cream” of available students can be very real. This skews student test scores in favor of private schools….and it doesn’t tell the whole story.

    Then there are the studies that claim public schools are superior, because the student test scores are at par, or actually higher than their private school counterparts. Again, the numbers are skewed because they don’t take into account the sad, but real fact that the low achieving students in public schools drop out at a much higher rate, and their predictably low scores aren’t included in the public school’s tally.

    All of the honest studies I’ve read on this subject take both of these realities into account to come up with a surprising result:
    When all of these factors are taken into account, there is VERY LITTLE difference between the test scores of students in private/public schools.

    This is why I brought up the achievement gap that non-asian minorities and low income students are facing. They are the ones that are falling behind, and not graduating from High School. This is also the group to most benefit from vouchers….not just because their test scores rise (they do) but because they actually FINISH SCHOOL.

    If I had my way, we would begin a pilot program in this state that focused on these students, and we will identify them by the drop out rate and low test scores in their communities. The students that are struggling the most are in over crowded urban schools. That’s where we should start.

    And no, I don’t think every student enrolled in private school will qualify (not at first)….nor will every private school itself qualify. Just because a school is privately funded doesn’t ensure that they are better educators. There are some crappy private schools out there!

    There should be stringent curriculum qualifications that a private school will need to meet before they qualify for any voucher program. I think it would be fairly easy to demand that the curriculum meet the very same measures we put on our public schools. Any curriculum should also be strictly secular. If parents want their children to have a deeply immersed religious education, those schools won’t go away, they just won’t be eligible for vouchers.

    So, bottom line, I’m all in favor of spending more money on education in this state….but we need to do it honestly and intelligently.

    The studies also show that schools have less than 50% influence on student’s achievement. Parents, and the community where they live are bigger factors than teachers in the schools. The biggest factor by a wide margin is……yep, their peers.
    If we can lift some students out of their environment, and introduce them to new ways of thinking and living, that goes much farther than even smaller classrooms.

  31. I think you’ve summed it up quite well, MarksonofDarwin.

    I would only add that parents need to start from day one, reading to their children. The example they show at that early age sets the stage for their child’s appreciation of education. They need to understand that they are the primary educator of their children.

    Some school districts have pull-out, and/or self contained programs to help struggling students catch up and keep up with their peers. I think that the job can be done in house, but maybe there are a few students who would benefit from a voucher program.

    Many have said that the public education should have to compete for our tax dollars. I disagree.

    Thanks for this stimulating conversation.

  32. MarksonofDarwin says:

    Thank you P.

    As always, it’s been a pleasure.

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