Blame Shifting

The latest trend in education seems to be shifting the blame for the failing public school system. A myriad of studies has been conducted over the past thirty or so years that typically find fault with differing areas. One study says teachers are the main force behind teaching our youth. Another study will prove that it’s the family that has the largest affect on a child’s future. Other studies show that it is the socio-economic factors that play the largest role in school failure.

In 2004, a joint study between the Public Education Network, and the Finance Project found that:

Quality teachers are the single greatest determinant of student achievement. Teacher education, ability, and experience account for more variation in student achievement than all other factors. Studies have found that 40 to 90 percent of the difference in student test scores can be attributed to teacher quality.

According to the New York Times, in 1966, Prof. James S. Coleman published a congressionally mandated study on why schoolchildren in minority neighborhoods performed at far lower levels than children in white areas. To the surprise of many, his landmark study concluded that although the quality of schools in minority neighborhoods mattered, the main cause of the achievement gap was in the backgrounds and resources of families.

The Times article also points out “A growing body of research suggests that while schools can make a difference for individual students, the fabric of children’s lives outside of school can either nurture, or choke, what progress poor children do make academically.”

I believe the problem stems from the fact that the local governments and public schools systems took the responsibility of teaching children from the parents and miserably failed. Now they do not know what to do with the awful mess that they created and want to give the responsibility of teaching back to families and communities to fix.

This is not a Democrat or Republican, white or black, poor or rich problem. Low academic achievement affects all Americans at one level or another. Most people would agree that there is a problem. Now it is time to work toward a solution.

Perhaps a mixture of solutions will work best to help revamp the nations failing schools. The No Child Left Behind is a good start to addressing the academic needs of the Country’s most challenged students and school systems. Maybe adding vouchers into the mix will enable some families to succeed if they are willing to move their children out of the neighborhood schools, while driving them to and from their new school five days a week, and making other sacrifices. Helping families to value education and strive to reach their goals might positively affect generations of people. Encouraging hard work and individual industriousness could give kids an edge in their local market and globally.

The potential solutions to the problems are endless. One thing is for sure-the problem could be solved once we can stop shifting the blame and take the responsibility to work together for the benefit of the children.