I don’t think it’s any great Einstein-ian insight to say that public education is dependent on the community in many, many ways. And when the community surrounding and supporting public education is dysfunctional, flawed, lacking, and so on, it’s really hard to be productive, excellent, amazing and wonderful in our classrooms.
Not that it can’t be done, but it becomes exceptionally challenging.
It’s almost self-evident that the first ally in our aim to excellently educate the students of this country is always the parents. For a kid that comes to first grade knowing how to write their name, read, identify letters, shapes, colors and has been socialized to working in classroom environments by having attended pre-school, teachers and schools can be rightfully expected to well educate that child. However, for the kid who did not have the “at home” pre-instruction to instruction, the kid who can’t write their name, doesn’t read a lick, struggles with elementary numbers and has no b.g. with books nor has been socialized yet to the demands of working well in a classroom environment, our schools are just not set up well to serve that kid — especially when mixed with other kids that are both above and below their individual level.
And then, as these students move up in grade level, the gap in skills and competencies — as all the data shows — grows and grows.
So yes, we need institutional change and yes, “there is something fundamentally flawed with the structure, management and compensation of the labor force in the public education system,” as was mentioned in another post on this ning but school readiness and community support are adding fuel to the fire and lots of us are quite sick of the fact that we’re viewed as if it’s all “our dysfunctional fault” that public education is in the state it is in.
We need better support! No matter how we are organized or re-organized, until we are better supported by the parents and community we are going to be extremely hard-pressed to meet our objectives because this lack of support is very much a weight on our back, an almost insurmountable albatross in many ways. Without real support from outside the school walls and halls, it’s spectacularly difficult to create the kind of wholesale change we’d all like to see. Sure, anomalies and success stories will always disprove any sweeping stereotypes but on the whole, turning around Washington DC, Oakland, Philly, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and so on is going to take the communities of Washington DC, Oakland, Philly, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and so on. Without the parents, without the local business owners, without the support of the alumni and the local governments, schools are going to be hard pressed to achieve the results that we all want to see.
When Barack said “parents” during the campaign, he knew exactly what he was talking about. We need the parents to be more involved, dedicated and committed.