A Stupid Culture

I had the pleasure today of having a conference with Skye’s teacher to discuss Skye’s progress. Skye is doing very well. No surprises.

What troubled me about our meeting were a couple of statements made by her teacher.

She doesn’t give more homework because, quite frankly, it wouldn’t get done. The students are too involved with extracurricular activities, video games, and television. She said that for many parents academics takes a back seat to everything else in their children’s busy schedules.

She said her primary responsibility is to work with the pupils who struggle the most. Anything she does to challenge Skye and other bright kids, such as assigning independent work or helping them with advanced concepts, is beyond what is required. She has limited time and resources and is mandated to focus on the kids who need the most help. If it weren’t for her teacher making extra efforts Skye would be left to teach herself or simply go at a much slower pace than she is capable.

The slow kids wouldn’t need as much remedial instruction from teachers if parents were more cognizant of and responsible about their obligations to their children’s education. The buck must always stop with the parent, not the school or the teacher.

Skye’s teacher is wonderful (and smokin’ hot!). She cares deeply about Skye as a person and a student. She goes out of her way to give Skye challenging work and to insure she is not bored. Skye is also on the math team and in the gifted and talented program for math and reading (at a fifth-grade level)! She is getting what she needs. But we are fortunate. Skye has a great teacher in a great school. Most children across the country aren’t so lucky.

I’m glad President Obama wants to improve our education system. I’m glad he budgeted for massive increases in education spending in the stimulus packages and budget. But what we need is a fundamental change in our culture. We cannot hope to make a difference in education until we, as a nation, begin to value intellect and learning. Throwing money at teachers and books and computers is important, but it won’t be enough.

Parents and children are consumed by American Idol and Hannah Montana and it’s ruining our country. Newspapers are stopping their presses and letting go seasoned reporters. The problem with our schools is not failed programs, it’s a culture that celebrates triviality and has too little regard for intellect, reason and learning.

Parents, turn off the television. Take your kid out of all but one extracurricular activity so they’ll have time to devote to their studies. Ask them about their homework and insure it is completed. And, finally, subscribe to a newspaper, read it, and discuss it with your children. Ask them for their opinion and challenge their minds. Resist feeding them the answers. Your lackadaisical parenting is negatively affecting my kids’ progress.

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