Parental Paralysis in Education

In the debate over the U.S. educational system, one camp believes the problem is a lack of funding. However, there is a growing

sentiment that the problem is a lack of parental support, making it an important element to consider in the education crisis. By focusing on and expanding parental roles, as well as more effectively applying education funds, we can find new strategies to increase the performance of children from poor socioeconomic areas.

For years, billions of dollars have poured into education, and yet, test scores have not improved. As such, the U.S. is academically behind many developed nations.

Teachers’ unions only exacerbate the situation by demanding higher compensation without increasing the quality of their members. Existing employment contracts make it virtually impossible to eliminate teachers who are abusive, incompetent, uncooperative, or insubordinate.

More important is the social issue and the problem at home. It takes 13 years to earn a high school education and another four years to earn a college degree; students must remain focused on schoolwork for a total of 17 years. Given little parental support, how could we possibly expect good results? If parents are not continually emphasizing the importance of education, only the most self-motivated children will ultimately achieve independence from family and the state. 

Very little is spent to help parents reinforce the importance of school. When you consider affluent families’ emphasis on education, does it come as any surprise that these children achieve the highest scores, go to the best colleges, and obtain the most lucrative jobs after graduation?

The huge income gap between the affluent and lower social classes will never close, so long as the status quo perseveres. In fairness, the parents of lower socioeconomic children must work very hard to make ends meet and may not have the time or energy to encourage their children. Nevertheless, these parents desperately need to change their current attitudes.

Education funds are not always effectively applied. For decades, teacher unions have demanded more pay and benefits. Unfortunately, state and municipal entities have not strictly negotiated enough with unions and now egregious contracts are taking funds from students. Luckily, our leaders are beginning to assert inordinate pressure on the most extreme cases of mismanagement, such as the inability to terminate ineffective teachers.

There are many organizations that provide funding for problems related to our education system. Money for preschools, healthy meals, and after-school programs are helpful, but do not solve the heart of the problem. For some reason, many parents have not been able to convince their children of education’s importance. Not even the significant unemployment in urban areas served as a catalyst for getting a better education; in many cases, this only created a feeling of helplessness in the community.

One solution is to focus on community, the sense of community that would get students on track to greater educational achievement. Parents must become intimately involved with their children’s school activities by attending curriculum activities, visiting with teachers regularly, insisting that their children do their homework, and most importantly, telling their children that education is the way out of any social ghetto.

Similarly, all public schools should hire the parents of their students for non-educational jobs; giving these positions to those outside the community makes no sense. If more parents went to school with their kids every day, it might instill a new sense of excitement for education. This solution would also curtail the community’s job shortage.

Our leaders have not been thinking outside the box; there have been very few revolutionary proposals to improve education in this country. On the brighter side, private schools and universities offer billions of dollars to qualified and needy students. The problem is that we must generate more qualified candidates from poorer neighborhoods.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Sal Bommarito

I spend most of my time writing a screenplay based on three of my published novels.

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