Sunday, November 20, 2011

How About Better Parents?

That's the question that Thomas Friedman asks in the NY Times this week.    The reason he brings it up is a recent study by PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) which is the testing group for 15-years around the world on math, science and reading skills.  It's the testing used to compare countries' education systems.

PISA was encouraged by OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) to go beyond testing and look at what is happening in the home.  They looked at about 20 countries and parents of 5,000 students in those countries.  They then compared that information with test results and published these three findings.
  • “Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all." "On average, the score difference is 25 points, the equivalent of well over half a school year."
  • "The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socioeconomic background."
  • "Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.” 
Schleicher explained to me that “just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring. It is something every parent can do, no matter what their education level or social background.” (bold mine)

The kind of parental involvement matters, as well. “For example,” the PISA study noted, “on average, the score point difference in reading that is associated with parental involvement is largest when parents read a book with their child, when they talk about things they have done during the day, and when they tell stories to their children.” The score point difference is smallest when parental involvement takes the form of simply playing with their children.  

He also references a study by The Center for Public Education that echoes these results (and has some pretty interesting things to say).  I was particularly struck by this:

Survey parents and teachers to understand their perspective on parent involvement. Investigate how parents want to be involved, and how teachers want parents to be involved. 

and this:

Continue to survey or otherwise track the effects of involvement, in order to use schools’ time and resources wisely. In these tight economic times, focus on putting schools’ money and energy into what works best, rather than continuing ineffective programs.

Mr. Friedman ends this way:
To be sure, there is no substitute for a good teacher. There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction. But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers. We also need better parents. Better parents can make every teacher more effective.

94 comments:

Sahila said...

First we needed better teachers...

Now we need better parents...

All in the name of better PISA scores???

This is so crazy it hysterical...

maybe we'd have "better" (what the heck does that adjective mean?) parents, when we live in a world that doesnt demand that both adults in a home (if there are still two) have to go outside the home to bring in money to house, feed, clothe their children...

Nice for Friedman to put forward these ideas, which his own family can implement; rather blinkered of him if he doesnt realise that most people are doing the best they can with what they've got... and for an increasing number of us, that's not a lot...

most of us who do have jobs, have to spend the majority of our hours working for the man, rather than being at home with the time, energy and focus to give our children the quality AND quantity of time Mr Friedman demands...

seattle citizen said...

Off topic, but the Times weighs in on how to "reform" spending in today's opinion: K-12 - It's time to streamline Washington's public schools

"Washington state faces a $2 billion budget deficit and has neither the time nor the money to keep doing the same things over and over again with the same dismal result in K-12 education.
Too many kids are still being left behind. A stubbornly high dropout rate and wide achievement gap thwart efforts to spread opportunity through education. If the K-12 system is to improve, it must shed its complacency....
Ever-changing curricula and textbooks also consume vast quantities of money. Focusing on a few good paths of curriculum and instruction provides options and coherence. A streamlined system also allows for better monitoring"

uxolo said...

Is the outcome, human beings who can read, as measured by a test, something you are questioning, Sahila?

Parents who work come home and work some more. If they value the child's school day by talking while preparing a meal or folding laundry together - is that too great a demand?

If the adults cannot read, the cycle must be broken. This is often the reason why reading together cannot happen. Our adult illiteracy rate in this country has been noted at about 14%.

Sahila said...

@Uxulo... the word you are using that undermines your position, is "demand"...

creating a whole, healthy, functioning society is a community responsibility...

and when you have oligarchs squeezing the life blood out of the rest of the group, so that families at the middle or bottom of the totem pole are struggling to survive, let alone give their children more than the basics, then one part of the community - the richest, most powerful - has broken its contract with the rest...

and for that part then to chastise/complain that the most disadvantaged are not doing their best, is ridiculous...

Open your eyes and take a real look at the world around you...

What do you think the Occupy/99% movement is all about?

Or are you only watching mainstream (oligarchy-owned) media???

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

Working parents who value education and prioritize it make a way to spend quality time with their children, and are constantly teaching them (reading to them, identifying colors, counting, pointing at birds, talking to them). The problem is that not all parents value education, or at least they don't all value it in the same way.

To say that parents who work can't find the time or energy to read to their children is way off the mark. They can, and many do. If they value it. If they prioritize it. Sahila, you are a single parent (I think?) and you seem to find the time to research education issues, blog, fight the reformers, work, and raise your child. I think it boils down to parental priorities. Some make it happen, some don't. I doubt that any NY Times article can change that.

eyes wide open

OK parent said...

Sahila, are you seriously suggesting that it's a bad idea to do what we can to help our children become better at basic skills like reading and math, to stay engaged in their daily lives?

FWIW, I know plenty of lower income people who work for "the man" who didn't get great educations themselves who do exactly as uxulo suggests-have the kids read while mom cooks dinner or talk about their day while riding the bus to grocery shop. It's not rocket science.

Maybe "better" parents isn't the best choice of words, but as parents we do have to step up, even when it's hard. When I was a single parent working FT I still read with my kids, still asked about their day, still made them do their homework. When another such parent expressed amazement at my child's good grades, I asked him if he read with his kids. Never even crossed his mind. And THAT'S where the "better parent"
thing comes in.

seattle citizen said...

I take Sahila's comment to merely suggest that economic demands put people in a difficult situation; that an economy that requires some parent/guardians to work twelve hours, spend two more commuting, leaves little time for important matters such as educating our children.

I took her to mean that economic demands sap the ability to have a family life.

Of course some parents are capable of making sure that they give time to the education of their children, but not all CAN, and some of that lack of ability is due to economic realities.

Sahila said...

and for OK parent.... your argument comes apart in your last two sentences...

"It never even crossed his mind".... does that make him a bad parent????

Hasnt had the modelling, hasnt had the education, hasnt had the experience for himself maybe...

OR trusted school to take part of this aspect of his child's life - after all, the belief is that you send your kids to school to learn to read and write...

Not an unreasonable belief/expectation...

Nowhere does it explicitly say that school will only do part of that job and parents are expected to do the rest...

Just because you have internalised a different message about what being a good parent looks like, dont expect/require that all parents have the same idea... and dont judge/make them wrong because their ideas are different to yours...

Sahila said...

People here appear to be unable to step out of their own life experiences/programming and to imagine that other people/cultures/classes live/think in different ways...

Sahila said...

‘Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Have oft-times no connection. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men;
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.’
— William Cowper

anonymous said...
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emeraldkity said...

I found that community resources were invaluable when I was raising my kids & that included other kids in the classroom/families in the schools.

We can share with & support each other- but it is difficult to reach out to families who don't have education as a priority no matter what their economic status.

OK parent said...

No, Sahila, I am perfectly capable of realizing that parents from other walks of life my feel that it's not necessary/important to do simple things like take a moment out of their kids' days to see how its going. What I'm saying is that EVEN AMONG such people, and among low-income people, and among ELL people who CAN'T read English with their kids, I see that most of them do their level best to encourage their kids.

Some do not, like the father I encountered. He was not a "bad" parent, but even if he lacked 5 spare minutes in his day, he could have spent some of his time listening to his child read-in the car, on the bus, on the phone, walking to school...my suggestion to him was simply to read, wherever, whenever. You can even read boxes in the grocery store, you know.

Way to assume, Sahila. And SC-you need not assume either. I do know parents who work 12-hour days, and commute some more. And many make sure their kids have a place to do homework and keep up on what is going on with their kids' schools. They may not ever get to a PTA meeting, but they do everything they can to make sure their kids have it better than they do. I think we place a little too much belief in the lazy or overworked, uneducated parent not doing enough. Most that I know do more than some of us more privileged folks do to keep their kids on track.

Jack Whelan said...

Kate Martin should chime in here, because I think her experience with her extended family is instructive, and is at the core of her ideas about developing mentorship programs.

The problem too often is not that parents are unwilling or unable, they simply don't know what to do. Kate's idea about developing a mentorship program would be in large part a parent education program. Read to your kids, turn off the television, create quiet study space, show that it matters to you what happens at school-- very basic stuff that makes a big difference in readiness to learn.

Sahila's right that this doesn't solve the larger problem for kids most severely affected by poverty, but taking these steps at least create the conditions for success that lots of kids don't have now and would benefit from.

Sahila said...

OK Parent makes his/her own mistake... assuming something about where I am coming from...

I dont hold any stock in the "belief in the lazy or overworked, uneducated parent not doing enough."

My belief is that the majority of people do the very best they can, with what they've got... either emotionally, intellectually, materially, spiritually...

what the rest of us judge as shortcomings, are generally the result of either/or/and/also a lack of wisdom/understanding, support and resources...

which is why I object to Friedman's broad-brushed approach...

first they came for the teachers, now they're coming for the parents...

pity the oligarchs cant/wont deal with the real issue.... how our world is structured...

anonymous said...

Sahila, give me some examples of a barrier that would prevent a parent who valued and prioritized the education of their children from being involved.

Long work hours? Nope that doesn't work. There are always bedtime stories, or early morning talks or walks? Or weekend trips to the playground, hiking, biking, playing baseball - all learning experiences. You could ask Grandma or auntie to read with your child or even find a free high school tutor.

Don't speak English? Nope that doesn't work either. You can read to your child in your native language. That counts. Or go to the grocery store and try to identify items on the shelf in English, or ask your child to teach you the English he/she learned in school that day.

Don't have extra money, a computer, books? Nope, nope, and nope, those don't work either. Take your child to the library - it's free. Take them to the "free" nights at the museums (they almost all have them). Take them to high school plays (our school has a pay as you wish for families that can't afford tickets).

Where there is a will there is a way. People with the desire and commitment to do so find a way to make it all work.

eyes wide open

emeraldkity said...

I have been involved in local education for over 30years- I have seen for myself that economic diversity ( in a school community) makes more of a difference through mentorship/example to families that don't know what to do/where to start, than programs that cost $$$$ which are pushed into a school which is predominantly low income.

But we would rather divide than conquer.

SolvayGirl said...

I think one of the issues no one has brought up is that there are at least some children in our society who are being raised by children—single mothers still in their teens and in still in school themselves (maybe). There's a cycle that needs to be broken.

I agree with so much of what Sahila says, our working class has de-evolved terribly in the last 30 years because of the economic situation. Neither of my parents had a high school diploma when they married, but my dad had a great job at the local factory with good benefits and a pension he drew from until his death at 86 this past August. They owned their own house (small and in the less-desirable part of town), and my mom could stay home to care for my sister and me.

We didn't have a lot of money, but we had books, music and tons of extended family to be involved in our upbringing. It IS hard for working parents to fit everything in. BUT, as others have said, the ones who hold education in high regard make the time for it, and do what they can to help their kids succeed.

Teachers and school can only do so much if parents, and thus students, do not value books and ideas outside their own little world. Yes, for many it's part of a cycle. It's hard to be excited about the possibilities an education can bring to your life if you have no mentors or personal examples. But it really does need to start with the love of the written word.

Parenting well is the hardest job on the planet. It can be the most rewarding too. I believe our society needs to do more to discourage people from having children before they are ready and able to care for them. Once children are born, no matter what the circumstances, we need to ensure that their parent(s) have good support systems and the basic knowledge they need to raise a healthy child. Considering how quickly new mothers are exited from the hospital (thanks to our wonderful health care system), I know this is hardly the case now.

This is a big problem with no easy or absolute answers—different situations will require different measures. But I do believe parents and families need to take more personal responsibility for the children they bring into this world.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it's the reading to kids that makes the most difference, or whether it's having a sufficiently high standard of living to be have the time and the books to read that matters more. Spending quality time with your kids is the biggest factor. Parents who don't read to their kids also may not have the resources to provide quality nutrition or a stable home life.

-just wondering

Name said...

It can be helpful for an overworked parent to hear that the way they spend their precious time with their children has an impact on important skills like reading. I know I get exhausted in the evenings after working all day, fighting traffic, and then making dinner - sometimes the last thing I want to do is go over homework with my kids but I do it because my kids need to know that what they are doing and learning is important to me. Reading together on the couch or snuggled in bed is a way that I get to cuddle with my big 5th grader.

I know single moms who work 10+ hour days who still find time to read with their kids and look over the homework they did in after school. We are talking about as little as 30 minutes of your time. Don't tell me you don't have that time - its about priorities and values.

I know immigrant parents who don't speak English that have learned some English from their children just by talking to them about what they are learning at school. Those kids are getting the message that what they are learning is important.

Sahila, its obvious that education is important to you and I am sure that you spend time reading with your child. Do you honestly know any families who are not able to spend time with their children as Mr Fiedman is suggesting? And he is not demanding it, he is just pointing out facts.

Sahila said...

long work hours.... coming home either after a child is in bed, or having to pick them up from daycare/after school care at 7pm, travel home, feed them, bath them, get them to bed - maybe 9-10pm... yep, time, energy and a conducive evironment for a bedtime story..

get them up at 6am to get them to daycare/before school care by 7am... yep, time, energy and conducive environment for a meaningful, intimate early morning chat...

free high school tutors??? Isnt that too late, when all studies indicate that the best time to get children reading etc is early childhood, early school?

my family has no aunties or grandparents to provide any of the kind of support you talk about...

from another country and dont speak the language... hard to EVEN KNOW there are such things as free nights at the museum... and then you need the money for the bus!!!

drop your middle class assumptions, eyes wide open; they make you blind to what life is like for far more people than you might wish to acknowledge...

emeraldkity said...

from another country and dont speak the language... hard to EVEN KNOW there are such things as free nights at the museum... and then you need the money for the bus!!!

Yes- it is easy to come up with excuses why parenting is difficult & why economic challenges makes it more difficult.

If we want to change the destination perhaps we have to change how we get there.

Our school had book sales that raised a lot of money for books for the school library. The whole school ( K-12) participated in book groups led by both parents & teachers.

Instead of bemoaning how tough it is to get to the library- how about using the school as an educational center of the community?

Economic diversity allows families with greater resources & a stronger educational background to act as mentors to families with more challenges.

Even in this economy there are families with extra time & money available to fill this role.

Sahila said...

go check this out, for more hard stats on this issue:

CRITA STUDY

Sahila said...

@emeraldkitty...

like some of your ideas...

pity you chose to use the word "excuses" in your first sentence...

poverty is not an excuse... its a DIAGNOSIS...

Melissa Westbrook said...

For someone who claims to be so open-minded, Sahila, you can be very hard on others. You have NO idea of anyone's background but you make a lot of assumptions.

This thread is not about who is a good parent or what defines one. It is about a study saying what specific things that parents can do to help their children have better academic outcomes.

Reading a book to your child (either at home or at the library) and talking to your child about their day or yours once a day is not a lot to do except for those in the most dire of circumstances.

No one is saying if you don't do those things, you are a bad parent. It's just information.

That you take offense at any suggestion is troubling.

anonymous said...

Guess what Sahila. I'm American and only speak English, but if my family uprooted and moved to Japan tomorrow, I would do all that was humanly possible to make sure that my kids got a quality education. I would seek out community resources, social services, churches, community centers, and school support workers. I would seek out a few friends that spoke at least broken English that might be willing to accompany me when I need a translator in exchange for me practicing English with them. I would find out about all that I could, and continue reading to my kids in English, and teaching them as much Japanese as I could, even if it was just reading labels in the grocery store.I wouldn't just shrug and give up because I don't speak the language, and to insinuate that immigrants that have come to the US do that is insulting. I know several families that barely speak English, and both parents work, and they do what they need to to ensure that their kids get a great education. The excuses you cling to are more like crutches.

Parents who value education will sacrifice and do whatever is necessary for their children's welfare.

eyes wide open

Sahila said...

@eyes wide open... there you go again, not being able to create an analogy that is equal...

IF YOU WENT TO JAPAN etc - you being the person you are now, with the life experience, education, world views etc you have at this point in time, OF COURSE you would do whatever your presumed was required to help your kids assimilate...

BUT you come from a place of privilege - compared to the rest of the world... and not everyone who immigrates from one culture to another, has the same skills, advantages...

MY PARENTS EMIGRATED FROM EUROPE TO NEW ZEALAND JUST BEFORE I STARTED SCHOOL...

I learned to speak/read/write English at school...

My mother could read some English, but not write or speak it...

My father could neither read/write nor speak it...

My mother adapted better to an English speaking world than my father did (he was 11 years her senior)...

I went to school with lots of other immigrants... either "fresh off the boat" or first generation children... families from Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific... they all had similar challenges ...

You have no experience with the reality, so you are basing your expectations of others on myths and unrealistic assumptions...


@Melissa, I respect you and what you do for public education in this city...

However, in my opinion, you are not very skilled at deconstructing what is being said...

You've shown that skill lack in the past - with your longstanding refusal to accept what myself and other blog contributors were saying about the ed deform agenda that's playing out here, until you finally pieced it together for yourself... and then you didnt have the grace to acknowledge you were a little late to the party... or to apologise to those whose views you had decried ...

But - we all get to wisdom in our way and time...

If you dont see the racism and classism in Friedman's post, and the comments of some people here, then I cant help you...

The fact that you dont see it, doesnt mean it isnt there...

Anonymous said...

I do love all these anecdotes from people who knew somebody who pulled themselves up by their boot straps cuz they had spare time between paving their own roads and growing their own crops and generating their own electricity.

There are 10s of millions of households, tens of millions of families, and, just like living at the Top Tom, from a couple of Horatio Alger fantasy stories we can generalize away!

Of course, don't generalize about the stagnant family incomes for decades, propped up only because women entered the work force, and now instead of millions of family wage jobs we have millions of survival wage jobs -

the anecdotes about people doing stupid things with their limited resources are legion, and there sure is a lot of data to suggest that people do a lot of stupid things with their resources - and isn't it handy how those anecdotes are better drivers of policy than the data about the thieves at the top grinding us down?

Friedman's last paragraph has 5 sentences. The first 2 reuse and reinforce de-form lies about teachers. The 3rd sentence is 1 of those fake attempts at appearing reasonable. The last 2 sentences about parents are just like the first two about teachers - Bubble Tom From The Top knows nada about the 10s of millions of families or households, he knows nada about the millions of students, teachers or classrooms, but he sure knows how to sling conventional wisdom to keep his place in line, at the front of the trough.

Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Bootstrap Anecdotes

SolvayGirl said...

Sahila...so do you have any ideas how this problem can be solved? We can't wave a magic wand and have our entire economy and social structure change overnight (though I'm in the camp that believes we do need major changes). So what do we do in the meantime?

I live in the southend among the majority of low-income and/or immigrant families in this city. They have a fair amount of resources that many take advantage of. There are strong communities for most of the different groups. The various social service organizations and community centers make a big effort to get info out to people in numerous languages. Many of the immigrants do have extended family here, and if they don't, they have neighbors, etc. And many of the families I know have made education a priority, even if it's just the parents' expectations that the child will do well in school.

I'd really like to hear your ideas about what can be done right now, under our present structure of government and society.As displeased as I am with SPS, I was happy to see the recent levy pass as I knew it provided some of the best supports we have for struggling families. I think we need more of that. Mentoring for new parents is essential too. What else would help? Let's hear some positive ideas—keeping in mind that we can't force anything on anyone.

anonymous said...

I think it is you who is presuming Sahila. I know first hand what immigrant families face. My grandparents came to America by boat and didn't speak any English - and never learned any. They were very poor, and both dropped out of high school to work. But they wanted more for their kids. They knew they didn't like the schools in their inner city neighborhood, so they went to the catholic church and asked for a scholarship to their parochial school, which they were granted. Both of their children graduated from high school. My mother's sister also went to college, which was quite an accomplishment for a woman from a poor immigrant family in the 50s. My mother spoke English and Italian but refused to speak Italian around us children because she wanted us to be "American". Even changed our last name to "Americanize" us.

My mother made sure that my sister and I went to decent schools. She went to PTA meetings and when she didn't think they something was right she spoke out, quite loudly, in her broken English. And despite being on public assistance for most of my childhood, and us all cramming into a small 2 bedroom apt in a very rough part of town, and sometimes not having money to buy food, my mom always found plenty of time to spend with us kids, help us with our homework, read to us, and take us all over the city on the bus.

Don't presume to know what "privilege" I come from. Any privilege I have I earned, and earned it the hard way, as my parents did, and their parents did. Nothing was given to us. If our family can do it, anybody, except those in the most extreme of circumstances, can do it to.

eyes wide open

SeattleSped said...

I would just say quickly as I run out the door with my child to do the things weekends allow, money politics and jobs do not always dictate reality. My large extended family could not help my child, whose disability required expertise and therapy. Those without medical coverage, or family members who understand the ramifications of disability, are at a true disadvantage. Does Friedman understand this? Does he even try? Doubt it.

Sahila said...

might be a good idea if we stopped allowing ourselves to be diverted from the root causes of what ails public ed (bad teachers and bad parents) and the rest of society...

reality check time...

I said you need degree to get good job, so he went into debt to go to college, while I got rid of jobs; he protested #soipeppersprayedhim

I took his job away - sent it overseas - and then when his family lost their house, he protested, #soipeppersprayedhim

He proclaimed "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed" #soipeppersprayedhim

He wanted to complain about tuition increases #soipeppersprayedhim

He hadn't had a shower in 3 days and was living in a tent, for chrissake #soipeppersprayedhim

He said "MIC CHECK!" #soipeppersprayedhim

JP Moran Chase gave me $4.6 Million to do their bidding #soIpepperSprayedHim

They were gathered together having a teach-in #soipeppersprayedhim

They set up a library and were reading books! The nerve! #soipeppersprayedhim

Those kids were way too peaceful.. #soipeppersprayedhim

They said they didn't like it when we spent $hundredsofthousands on Riot Police but #closedpublicschools #soipeppersprayedhim

They were chanting about corruption #soipeppersprayedhim

They were sitting on the grass with their arms linked #soipeppersprayedhim

My brother questioned Bernanke's ability to create money from nothing, #soipeppersprayedhim

somebody looked at me funny #soipeppersprayedhim

I was handing out fliers to people as they walked by #soipeppersprayedhim

Someone shared an idea that was different than mine #soipeppersprayedhim

He was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask #soipeppersprayedhim

SolvayGirl said...

Sahila...again, we on this blog can't change society overnight. What can we do to help families and children here, now?

Should we not be encouraging parents to read to their children and spend a few moments of their day discussing how things are going at school? Is that a bad thing?

Should we not be discouraging teens still in school themselves from having children? Is that a bad thing?

Should our libraries not offer story time or homework sessions?

Come on...there's got to be positive things we can do now besides ranting about the ills of capitalism (and I am no big fan of the present structure).

Sahila said...

this is what the oligarchs have brought us... and we're buying into the "blame the teachers and parents" line???



He said they wouldn't let his special ed kid go to their charter school #soipeppersprayedhim

He said it was time for the rich to share their wealth #soipeppresprayedhim

He said he wants real change in government. #soipeppersprayedhim

He said they only let white kids go to that charter school #soipeppersprayedhim

Sahila said...

He said my kid doesn't know how to speak English so they wouldn't let him go to their charter school #soipeppersprayedhim

He said CEO's making 435x the amount of the average worker is too much 4 one person #soipeppersprayedhim

emeraldkity said...

It seems pretty easy for some of us to shoot the messenger.

Why not just say you disagree with this statement?

Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.

Sahila said...

He said Gates granted billions 2 charter schools, but the state cut public education budgets, closed schools, #soipeppersprayedhim

He said he works 2 jobs and can't pay his bills when I told him 'go get a job, take a bath' #soipeppersprayedhim

He said #ItsThePovertyStupid when they told him his public school was failing #soipeppersprayedhim

If you need more of a reality check, go check the #soipeppersprayedhim trend Twitter...

emeraldkity said...

Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.


For those who don't disagree- I have a question- is it more satisfying ( & beneficial to the student) to throw up excuses and roadblocks re: why the above CAN"T happen?

Or is it perhaps better to be more proactive and facilitate ways that it CAN happen?

Jack Whelan said...

I think a part of why might be riling Sahila is that Tom Friedman is a classic, clueless neloliberal Beltway elite whose opinions are usually hard to take seriously. I agree.

But at least in this instance he breaking ranks with his fellow travelers in not blaming teachers and unions. I say, "hallelujah". This is what passes these days for independent thinking in our punditocracy.

Anonymous said...

PTL, now I can stop feeling guilty about not wanting to be a room parent, or join the PTA, or do any other of the million and one things schools want parents to do--on the outdated assumption that one parent (mom) is at home during the school day. Fine with me if what counts is reading and speaking to the kids daily.

Maybe I'm the only one who took this away from the article, but it sure makes it easier for me to prioritize where my precious time should be spent.

-Jus Sayin

Sahila said...

You Know You're Living...

Sahila said...

@Jack... what I'm saying is that the "its all because of those horrible, bad teachers" tactic has run out of steam/encountered serious push back, so now the people bent on privatising education and sucking this last quasi governmental institution dry are trying another tack...

Now, its - oh, if only the parents were better parents...

The oligarchy will never acknowledge the real problem - the system they're controlling and the growing poverty that it necessarily creates - because that would mean they'd have to give up some of their power and a lot of what they're doing to accumulate their wealth...

emeraldkity said...

Sahila, I really don't understand why you persist in obfuscating the issue instead of answering direct question.

Sahila said...

seriously not sure many of you here will get the link between my focus on this "blame the parent" thing being an oligarchical red herring, and these questions, but...

do any of you here realise that Pearson, the testing/text book company, have been hired to create a testing framework for PISA countries?

Pearson to develop frameworks for OECD's PISA student assessment for 2015

so Pearson gets to write the curriculum and the tests, then write the text books so teachers can teach to the test, then test the students to prove that teachers have been teaching to the test...

do you know who are the directors and who owns Pearson????

Pearson Board

Pearson History

Pearson Shareholders

Pearson Holdings & Activities

and who said it wasnt all about the money and controlling public education - not just on a national, but now on an international scale?

seattle citizen said...

OK Parent - I "assume" that some parent/guardians are virtually unable to spend much time at all with their children.

Nothing wrong with that assumption; it's the truth.

I agree with others here, tho': What are some possible solutions (given that there will always be poverty and there will always be "some" parent/guardians...we can assume...who are unable to spend much time with their kids or their wards)?

I agree that Kate Martin's mentorship proposal is a dang good start, along with case-management and a robust array of services to help students, particularly at an early age.

Christina said...

I'm averse to posting on a long thread where one person is responsible for over a third of the comments but as I share other parents' interest in solutions here's an idea I'm considering for my child's class:

my child and three classmates have a "homework club" meeting at least once weekly, balanced with children who have complementing academic strengths and weaknesses but share a desire to work toward personal academic goals, lasting for 60 minutes. (Older children could take 90 minutes.) The day's homework would be worked on, children could work on problems from past MSP grade-appropriate tests, fun science projects, et cetera.

I may float this idea to our Homeroom Parent Representative. I found this idea in a book on how to motivate apathetic students into curious, motivated and creative learners, from a man who created an K-12 academy in an inner-city environment.

seattle citizen said...

That sounds like a great idea, Christina! I like the way it balances strengths, and no doubt could lead to students helping each other up with interesting studies outside the classroom setting. Sounds great.

Christina said...

seattle citizen:
My idea, realized, would be somewhere between a "common security club" for academics and Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society protagonists.

Sahila said...

how about a better curriculum:

the creativity crisis

emeraldkity said...

Not a homework club, but one of my daughters teachers in high school instituted a " quiet club".
He provides a place at lunchtime for people to sit and eat and reflect. No talking allowed.

There is a reason why we have two hands, two ears & only one mouth.
:)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for cherry picking quotes for us Melissa - here is one you missed.

“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.”

Bad Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bad Parent, I didn't cherry-pick; I never reprint articles in their entirety. That's why I provide a link.

I think that paragraph shows how you can do the most good in your own home. I missed your point.

seattle citizen said...

We don't need better parent/guardians, the Seattle Times intones on high in this, its latest opinion: we just need technology!
Technology can be a tool of efficiency for cash-strapped education budgets

"...At a recent forum, technology tools used for testing and keeping track of student data were among the many innovations discussed..."

Of course they were: Education isn't about thinking, it's about data.

SolvayGirl said...

Makes me think of the current GEICO commercial with robots working at day care centers...

Anonymous said...

Parenting does matter. My parents had 10 children. Even though my parents did not have college degrees, they knew the importance of education. My father worked a blue collar job and my mother mostly stayed at home. We qualified for free lunch until just the last few children were at home. We were poor in money but rich in parental time. My parents basically had no life outside of raising their children. The TV was on for 30 minutes a night. We were expected to do our homework, read, play games with each other, join clubs and sports, and be home for dinner each night. No one left the house after dinner was served.

Nine of the ten completed college. Four have graduate degrees.

My parents made a choice when they had ten children. My parents chose to raise their parents. We all had bumps along the way but our parents were always there.

Parenting is not for the weak or busy. School is important but it's just four or five hours of instruction for 180 days of the year. What is happening in all those other hours is far more important than the school.

Parented

seattle citizen said...

I had that very same thought, Solvay....It's the same dang thing: Like the mother leaving her child in the...claws of teh robot because "they work for free" is the same as putting your child in the hands of a "data-driven" educator, who is increasingly responsible for (and held to) mere bits and bytes, the little numbers generated by just a couple of high-stakes tests?

Robots don't care about history, art, music...the things that make us human. They care about data: input/output of quantifiable, inhuman "metrics" that purport to "measure" us.

But that's why the Times is so enamored: Technology works for free. NO more pesky humans (who have to be PAID, and a LIVING WAGE!) to get in the way of the data transfer.

Yes, the analogy between that commercial and what's happening in "Reform" education is really too dang close for comfort.

seattle citizen said...

One might wonder if the crashing of the education funding was intended to facilitate a transformation to the "efficiency" of the machines...

Nah, THAT wouldn't happen.

WV agrees that lately it's all numity.

SolvayGirl said...

Hubby and I have been streaming old episodes of The Twilight Zone—lots of references to robot caregivers (both good and bad). Seems we've been musing over this issue for half a century.

Sahila said...

@Pasrented...

you are talking of a by-gone age, in a very rich country... even if you were blue collar...

please go look at how incomes have fallen over the past 30 years, how poverty has risen, the growth in single parent families, the rise in prices for consumer goods, especially food and housing...

there is no point in comparing and trying to apply earlier values... and

Anonymous said...

Sahila-

I beg to differ. Successful children don't happen by accident. I'm a teacher in a school and I'm seldom surprised when I meet the parents of students that are rested, engaged, mannered, curious, respectful of others, and hard workers. The parents have made their children their priority and have made education a priority. Ask any teacher currently practicing and you'll hear that children that are parented are easy to spot.

Parented/Practicing Teacher

chunga said...

While I agree with some of the comments that Sahila's tone and wording is off-putting (sorry Sahila, but I think it detracts from your often valuable insights), I think she brings up a really good point. The article really jumps to conclusions in implying that if we were just better parents, then our test scores would rise. Of course, it's true that reading with your kids and generally being involved with your kids will enrich their lives and even help them academically (was this not obvious?). But to imply that parents are slacking and need to buck up is what I think Sahila is rightly taking offense to.

This is a classic neoliberal tactic of blaming the victims. Like in the 90's with blaming welfare queens for our economic troubles. Or, blaming those greedy teachers for our school's problems.

Ultimately, as Sahila suggests we need some drastic change to how our country operates (electoral reform, corporate regulation, universal healthcare, etc.).

We can also look on a more local scale. One of the biggest determinants of whether children read is access to books. Parents can't read to their kids if they don't have books. We could start by fully funding school and public libraries. Professor Stephen Krashen has been researching and speaking out about the importance of access to books for decades. Check out his site at http://www.sdkrashen.com/.

Some of the other comments offered some valuable suggestions as well about how to help such parents such as mentorships. Even if ultimately these more local efforts are not sufficient doesn't mean they won't help or that we shouldn't do them. On the other hand, Sahila offers a good reminder that we must "look behind the curtain" that many in power use to obscure the real source of many of our problems.

SolvayGirl said...

When my daughter was at Graham Hill, the PTA used the bonuses from Scholastic Books sales to purchase a bunch of books. Then, three times a year, we had Reading Is Fun Day. We'd place the books out on tables in the halls outside the classrooms (grade-level) and invite kids from each class to come out and pick a book—to keep—for free! That way, every kid in the school got three free books a year. We had special bookplates to put in them personalized for each kid. It was a great way to encourage reading.

Anonymous said...

I'm not in the 1%. But if I were, I'd be pouring my Scotch on the rocks and lighting my victory cigar as I watched the 99% finger point and tear each other apart, once again. Never fails!

Sahila: While I understand your points, you're doing the one percent's dirty work by beating up and blaming your fellow ninety-nine percenters for things they don't control. Do you really think anyone truly "privileged" would be engaging you on this blog? Why must you treat anyone who has a different take on the piece than you as an accomplice to the one percent, by calling them privileged and insulting their middle class status? You think I don't know what it's like to go hungry because I have a job? I won't bore people with anecdotes about my lifetime of bootstrapping, because it doesn't matter. We've all got our crosses to bear. Sheesh.

Reagan's fictitious "welfare queen" changed history in the U.S. So did the non-existent "poor family farmer or small business owner who had to sell the family business" to pay Frank Lutz's coined "Death Tax." Neither occurred in fact, but both caused enough middle class voters to emotionally support legislation that only benefitted the 1%. Ha, ha! They are smart, aren't they? Suckered us once again.

Yes, real wages have fallen and we now have two income households that can't muster what our one parent led households did in the 50's through the 70's. I get it, and it's real. Point taken, and I want it to change.

Meanwhile, back to the points in Friedman's article...

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an interesting set of columns!

Here we are blaming each other: it's the teachers; no, it's the parents; no, it's really the administrators. Hey, folks, how about looking at where all the money went:

The burgeoning debt has been blamed on reckless government and consumer spending; but the debt crisis was created, not by a social safety net bought and paid for by the taxpayers, but by a banking system taken over by Wall Street gamblers. The banking debacle of 2008 caused credit to collapse, businesses to go bankrupt, and unemployment to soar, drastically reducing the federal tax base. If anyone should be held to account, it is Wall Street; but the bankers were bailed rather than jailed, and the taxpayers got billed for the crime.

We have been deluded into thinking that “fiscal responsibility” is something for our benefit, something we actually need in order to save the country from bankruptcy. In fact, it has simply been an excuse to impose radical austerity measures on the people, measures that benefit the 1% while locking the 99% in a dungeon of debt peonage.


Not really off-topic. We shouldn't be arguing about a time that has past because it was stolen from us and we can get it back. But not if we fight among ourselves and let the corruption continue.

northender

Sahila said...

I have never said "successful" - another awful and completely ridiculous adjective we are applying to living, breathing, unique human beings - children happen by accident....

I am saying that the judgement being made on parents is flawed, two-dimensional, racially, culturally and economically biased...

we're back to the either/or paradigm... rather than the more expansive and/also...

it takes a village to raise a child... right now, we're saying it takes parents and teachers...

and if the parents are not equipped, and the teachers are insufficiently resourced, then where does that leave the children?

The village has refused to take up its responsibility... it appears to only make its resources available to a certain segment of the community, who are already fairly well equipped anyway...

and then the village goes back to blaming the under-resourced parents and teachers...

I am just so frustrated that people dont see this game for what it is...

Anonymous said...

I am just so frustrated that people dont see this game for what it is...

Sahila: Perhaps the very issues you've raised go a long way towards answering your question. People have been overwhelmed and many struggle just to stay put without losing more ground. What gets sacrificed is time for deep thought and critical thinking, as people struggle to feed, clothe, and educate their kids in an increasingly demanding world.

Fortunately, an awakening is occurring right now. Can we sustain it? That's what I worry about. Not that Tom Friedman had another of his legendary "gee whiz" moments he then just has to write about at dreary, mind numbing length. I like him personally, but I can't read his sophomoric, wide-eyed observations without saying "duh!" about a hundred times per article.

WSDWG

Sahila said...

I'm reposting this, from a California connection who wrote this on Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst (yeah right) Facebook page...

and I'm reposting it because he (a teacher who came to teaching as his second career) is so wonderfully passionate and articulate...

I dont know if it will make any impact on some here, but its worth a try.... many of us are screaming at you:
"Your house is on fire, your house is on fire", and it seems you're standing around futzing...

My friend wrote:
"The effects of poverty are clear. Rich kids kick butt on PISA, poor kids bomb. And it is a nearly direct correlation. Discounting deadwood (admin SNAFU) teachers everywhere do the best they can. They love their kids, work hard very day to reach them and make their lives better - yet the long history is virtually unchanged: rich kids kick butt on PISA, poor kids bomb. Interestingly enough not one fucking thing has been done to effectively address this. Yea...some kids get free or reduced lunchs and some get free dental care, but the truth remains, in a classroom, these kids largely remain lost. Rhee & Co. says beat the teachers more - that will force the hand and the kids will drool better at every ring of the NCLB bell. But when the rubber hits the road, nobody wants NCLB drool dogs - at any SES. The issue of poverty is real an it is growing larger every day. What the fuck kind of civilized country allows the inhumane treatment of kids to go on like this. Low SES kids need opportunity to thrive and succeed according to the reality of their lives. The prejudicial one size fits all - Algebra by 8th - shove it in till it rips and fractures the fabric of mind, body, and spirit mentality of NCLB and the current push of "scores before hearts" and "gains by all or pillage the schools" demoralizes these marginal kids more. Kids in poverty can learn and want to learn, just not the steaming pile of horseshit we shove down their throats every day in the Inquisition style Dungeons we call classrooms."...

and the key words for me here are:

"according to the reality of their lives"... whether they have "good" parents at home or not....

Anonymous said...

Sahila: You are aware, of course, that former TFAer Rhee is now on the "Education Expert" speaking circuit, charging 50k per speech, while demanding first class airfare, and five star hotel accommodations, right?

"Students First" is the new shell company, er, student advocacy group she founded to maintain her CEO lifestyle after quitting mid-year in DC last year when voters tossed out her political patron Mayor Fenty.

Wish the rest of us were able to "fail upward" like they do on Wall Street and in the Education Administration racket.

Anonymous said...

WSDWG

Carol Simmons said...

Thank you Sahila.

Carol

Anonymous said...

whateve sahila's message is, her condescending style is so off-putting i'll never get it.

this is a blog, not a flog.

signed, skipping her comments

Anonymous said...

And the beat goes on!

Two days in a row, and several times over the past week, the Times and the UW Bothell's Center for Reinventing Education have been in bed together pushing for more technology, not just IN the classroom, but actually INSTEAD OF in classrooms, touting how "fiscally sensible" (translation, "cheap") it is at a time of shrinking budgets and deficits.

Once again, Milton Friedman's "Disaster Capitalism" rears its ugly head, as the tech industry which funds the Center for Reinventing Ed pushes further into our schools, attempting to capitalize on the latest funding shortages by turning crisis into big profits.

Same old, same old.

Shouldn't we be starting another war soon enough too? How will the arms industry protect it's profits if we don't?

Watch the editorials pump the "regime change in Iran" stories in the next year or two.

In Big Ed, it's always "all about the kids." In Big War, it's always, "all about freedom."

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

No other industry is the target of marketing like education (and healthcare). A million here...a million there...and all because we think there's a magic answer in the next program. Amazing.

The Christian Science Monitor had a picture on the 18h or 19th of a Chilean student protesting against profiteering in education.

Just imagine what education and healthcare could look like if, like other countries, we didn't use them as vehicles to make other people rich.

northender

Anonymous said...

@skipping: That's better than censure any day. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

A couple of suggestions to help this parent support the learning:

1. put HW assignments on the source
2. return tests, quizzes, assignments timely (with in 2 weeks of turning them in) so I can go over them with the kids. This lets me know what they know and don't know.
3. on-line access to textbooks being used in classrooms. If cannnot provide on-line access, provide alternatives to help supplement at home.

Thank you,
Seattle mom

Sahila said...

@Anonymous.... yes - I know who Rhee is.... hence my sarcastic "yeah right' re her org's name...

I spend a lot of time on her various media presences debunking the crap she spews... its not hard - stacks of research and hard evidence clearly showing her and her arguments/agenda up - but it is time consuming...

Sahila said...

@skipping her comments...

well, get off your butt and go and do some research then...

figure this all out for yourself...

instead of going along with the crap that's being served up to you...

its not hard to do...

my "style" is direct and blunt and "off-putting" because for seemingly intelligent people, many of you here are choosing to stay ignorant...

and I get why that is...

IF you acknowledge what is really going on, you might have to alter course, question your choices and decisions, change your world view and DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY...

Daunting... hard work... not much fun.... scary - where will it lead?

But for crying out loud... what are you - a man or a mouse?

These are our kids and their futures at stake and most of you here seem to be willing to be led (with them) over the cliffs... in fact, many of you seem willing to help push your kids over...

I wouldn't care if it was just adults, but it isn't... and I wouldn't care if it was just rich adults and their rich kids - they have options...

But it's not... its a whole group of people - families and children - who are being exploited and dont have the knowledge or the choice to walk a different path...

So - either wake up and get with the reality and confront it and change it...

or say upfront you are going with the oligarchs' reformist agenda because there is some sort of payoff in it for you and yours (you think/believe) and to bloody bad about everyone else...

If you cant stand the heat in the kitchen, why are you here?

emeraldkity said...

its a whole group of people - families and children - who are being exploited and dont have the knowledge or the choice to walk a different path...

Oh those poor ignorant people-if only they listened to you....

I mean really said...

Oh, I'm "going with the oligarchs' reformist agenda because there is some sort of payoff in it" for me. I'll get started right after I push my kid off the cliff. There are a whole lot of ignorant people ahead of me though...

WV says something about gibber...ish, maybe?

Sahila said...

listened to me and the others working to uncover what is really going on, as opposed to the Alliance for Education and Stand for Children and Our Schools Coalition and the League of Education Voters and the SPTSA - all funded by GATES????

yep - I wish they would listen...

and no, I am not being arrogant... go talk to anyone who has contact with some of our most minority communities - ALL of the information they need to make a fully aware choice is not getting to them...

Anonymous said...

Thank you, European-born white lady from New Zealand, for moving here just to teach all of us ignorant yankee folk a lesson.

signed, one of Those Minorities LOL

Sahila said...

you're welcome, one of those yankee minorities...

and no, I couldnt leave out the word yankee cos you included it as a self-descriptor about the people of this country...

and yes, my skin might be white AND I have been a minority in most places...

Apart from having the advantage of a white skin, my life experience has been quite similar in many respects to the experiences of immigrants of colour... having to learn new language, culture, mores, how a different society functions bureaucratically...

and I've been marginalised for my difference... whites can be racist to other whites, just as blacks can be to other blacks...just as asians can discriminate against other asians - go and live in Singapore or Malaysia to see how that works...

Anonymous said...

I've always believed that the breakdown of our family units and communities are some of the largest obstacles our educational system has to overcome. No amount of resource or enough great teachers to go around will negate the affects that start in a student's home and community. I liken it to entropy.

A friend of Seattle

Anonymous said...

Of course it is parents who make the difference. It is easier for parents to fill the gaps left by school, than for school to fill the gaps left by parents.

And of course parents do the best they can. Their biggest limitations are not placed on them by schools, but by our economic, cultural & political differences.

The question is, can parents do better with help/knowledge? Or do we expect to only improve outcomes by changes in schools? Are there things that schools can do to help parents support their students? Could those investments have more effect than say, academic coaches?

If my sister-in-law moved here, she would not be a good support to her children because in her country it is disrespectful for parents to intervene at all in school or academics. She would never ask a question of a teacher, or give her child extra practice, or demand testing for a learning disability. She would not advise her children to self-advocate in a school setting. She may be the only one who needs to learn things about helping her child in our system, but I would be surprised.



-didn't go to high school

Sahila said...

thanks "didnt go to high school" for that additional insight...

much appreciated...

emeraldkity said...

If my sister-in-law moved here, she would not be a good support to her children because in her country it is disrespectful for parents to intervene at all in school or academics.

You might be surprised how fast some parents learn how to advocate for their kids when they see how necessary it is.

Sahila said...

good teachers, good parents, good schools, good neighbourhoods...

dogs, cows, stars & question marks

Charlie Mas said...

Let's remember that cultural competency is a two-way street.

Yes, the district staff and the school staff need to gain an understanding of the students' cultures.

The students and their families also need to gain an understanding of the school's culture.

Bird said...

It is easier for parents to fill the gaps left by school, than for school to fill the gaps left by parents.

Not always.

My kid is one of the language immersion programs, and I have to say that gives you a whole new level of appreciation for the difficulties faced by parents not fluent in English.

There's not a lot I can do to help my kid in the language I don't speak. To a large extent, I have to trust the teachers are doing what needs to be done because I don't have the ability to fill in the gaps or even know if the gaps are there.

Schools have to work for everyone, even kids that don't have parents who can actively watch over the schooling.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher in a school and I'm seldom surprised when I meet the parents of students that are rested, engaged, mannered, curious, respectful of others, and hard workers. The parents have made their children their priority and have made education a priority.

Gee, what about when you meet parents of those other type of kids? Are you surprised then? Have their parents not prioritized their kids? What about when you meet the parents of kids with disabilities? Are you surprised? Do those parents meet your bar? Or have they failed?

-curious

SolvayGirl said...

I have to say I find it a bit puzzling that there are some people on this thread who seem to think there is no such thing as a "bad" parent. Seriously?

What about the woman who left her two-year-old in an unlocked car while she went to get gas? What about the parent out on the street corner hustling drugs? What about the parent more concerned about those "Real" housewives? What about the teen parent who's hanging out at the mall with friends? What about the parent who might have some real mental health issues of their own that get in the way of parenting? What about the parent living with a wanted felon (a parent at my daughter's elementary school whose relationship resulted in a TV-style drama on our playground with cops with guns drawn while our kids were locked down in the school)?

There is no license needed or required test to become a parent. The majority are great and doing the best they can in what might be very difficult times for them. But there definitely are parents (of all stripes) that do not do the best they can; some don't even try.

Teachers have to work with the children of the best parents, the worst and everything in between. We ask them to be mentors, instructors, social workers, nurturers, disciplinarians, and—in many cases—surrogate parents. Expecting them to do all this for every single child, while being demonized, undermined and disrespected is a bit much.

Yes, their job is to teach ALL children—let's realize that this can be a very hard job, and give them the resources and supports they need to do the job well. That includes good curriculum, school counselors, family support workers, nurses AND a good Principal.

WV: extrus — Yup, that's what they need.

Jan said...

I don't think it is that, SolvayGirl. I think everyone knows there are people who parent badly. I think it is more a resistance to letting the outside powers come up with one more reason/excuse for blaming poor learning on factors that kids can't control.

The issue over which "society" has the most immmediate control is funding -- and, well, they don't. They don't want to. Some of them decided some time ago that they weren't "getting enough for their money" and it sure seemed to them that "private enterprise" was leaner and less wasteful. That group is being led by another group with worse motives. THEY have looked at the total dollar figures, and have decided that they can make a TON of money by getting local, state, and federal governments to give those dollars to THEM to provide the service -- rather than giving directly to the schools. The same thing happened with the military and Blackwater/Xe; it will soon happen with Fannie and Freddie -- and the same group wants to see it continue to happen with health care (thus -- no single payer or public option).

Both these groups want to spend as little money as possible on education -- and both are served by finding SOME OTHER entity (outside their payment circle) that is responsible for the kids who don't succeed. "Bad" parents make a great story for these groups. Just like inadequate health care gets blamed on the obese, the diabetic, and those with high blood pressure and bad hearts (WE don't need to provide services -- YOU need to live a cheaper life), and unemployment gets blamed on the unemployed -- even when statistics show that there are 4 or 5 candidates for every available position -- meaning that there simply are. not. enough. jobs.

I would be charmed to see schools, communities, faith based organizations, etc. all put time and effort into supporting and educating parents, encouraging good parenting skills, etc. But that would actually take MORE resources, not fewer. And at least some of the finger pointers don't want to do that. They just want cover -- a group to "blame" for the fact that so many kids are failing to learn.

I am generally happy to discuss my own parenting problems (because self reflection helps me get better, I hope). And I am happy to discuss parenting issues generally in the context of figuring out how best to deploy assets, direct funding to initiatives that will help kids learn, etc. But otherwise -- not so much.