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How About Better Parents? by Thomas Friedman

How About Better Parents?

As educator and speaker Stephen Covey promoted, first listen to understand.  We must manage our human habits to communicate and be good citizens.  The topic of education is riddled with emotional complexities, such as who is responsible for student learning.  Listening to, reading about, and discussing topics related to education is key to building strong communities and healthy learning environments. 


Thomas Friedman's article links student learning to parents.  All too often politicians, pundits, principals, and school boards get caught up in blaming teachers for the decline of the culture.  Some of them too afraid to look in the mirror or hold a mirror up to those that vote for them.
Not all scholars and political scientists may always agree with Friedman, yet he does have keen insight into education.  Learning does not take place in the vacuum of a classroom, it is in as good of shape as a society's current political system, civic virtues, families, businesses, entertainment, and mindset.
Perhaps long ago when our culture was different in many ways and more homogeneous we could have put most of the blame on too many inadequate teachers.  We have changed our culture and and allowed our culture to change in far too many ways for that to be true any more.  Below is an excerpt from his article.


How About Better Parents?

In recent years, we’ve been treated to reams of op-ed articles about how we need better teachers in our public schools and, if only the teachers’ unions would go away, our kids would score like Singapore’s on the big international tests.  There’s no question that a great teacher can make a huge difference in a student’s achievement, and we need to recruit, train and reward more such teachers. But here’s what some new studies are also showing: We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.

The study, called “Back to School: How parent involvement affects student achievement,” found something “somewhat surprising,” wrote Barth: “Parent involvement can take many forms, but only a few of them relate to higher student performance.  Of those that work, parental actions that support children’s learning at home are most likely to have an impact on academic achievement at school.

“Monitoring homework; making sure children get to school; rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of going to college.  These parent actions are linked to better attendance, grades, test scores, and preparation for college,” Barth wrote.  “The study found that getting parents involved with their children’s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending P.T.A. and school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fund-raising, and showing up at back-to-school nights.”   There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction.  But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers.  We also need better parents.

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