Parents need to teach respect, responsibility
The other day I read some dismal facts regarding American schools, our public education, and where American education is headed in comparison to the rest of the world. Does anyone wonder how, among developed countries, we have slipped from among the best to among the worst in the educational field?What really ails American education, from a parent’s viewpoint?The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a landmark in education reform designed to improve student achievement and change the culture of America’s schools. President George W. Bush describes this law as the “cornerstone of my administration.” Clearly, our children are our future, as President Bush has expressed.I agree with our President’s educational goals. Through No Child Left Behind, he has forced our American public schools to examine what parents of good students have been saying for years: no one is aiding these students. In fact, they are losing ground each year.So what really ails our schools, our education, and our students? Step forward in time, Public Ed, new-millennium style.Character Counts is a program utilized in many of our public schools. Character Counts has “six pillars” upon which the program rests, consisting of honesty, respect, do what you are supposed to do, do your share, play by the rules, and be kind. It’s a good example of a solid moral code of conduct being taught in our schools along with the three R’s, reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic.Our public school administrators are now the ones assigned the job of teaching morals, values, ethics, and manners. In years past, families instilled in their own children these values. Public school administrators were not assigned the duties of teaching good personal behavior back then, so why are they cast in that role now? Where did our American society, our generation, our parents, lose the way? Children listen to their parents first, their peers second, and respected adults last.The Character Counts six pillars are learned behaviors that must begin in toddler hood. These six social pillars are the responsibility of parents, who chose the responsibility of being parents, not the responsibility of our school officials who have the responsibility to educate for tomorrow’s successes.Education was different in my school days. Class sizes of 30 or more were not unheard of, nor were they a detriment to my education. The difference between now and then is simple. We listened to the teacher, we sat quietly in school, and we were punished if we did not fulfill our parents, our teachers and our society’s expectations of our behavior. There was no public school bussing to take home students who were ordered to stay after school, our parents had to claim us. The punishment received at home was far more serious than any the school doled out. Not so today. In today’s modern American educational world of worsening education and the highest public school dropout rates on record, the parents now defend the ‘un-defendable’ in their children.Case in point: right here in Eagle County: “Prosecutors decided Tuesday to charge two Eagle teenagers in a scuffle with educators,” (Vail Daily, March 30 edition).The parent of an accused boy admitted the boys may have behaved badly, but said he didn’t understand the educators’ reactions.This parent continues on: “I’m a realist and I understand my son shouldn’t have been talking back to the teachers and trying to get back into the game if he didn’t pay.”Oh puleeese, give us a break. This, ladies and gentlemen, is EXACTLY what ails America. Offensive and disrespectful behavior, unlawful actions (the students have been charged with misdemeanor menacing, third degree assault, harassment and disorderly conduct) and then DEFENSE of these students by the offending student’s parent for the above-mentioned. Excuse me … but why wasn’t this parent saying “This is all you can do to my horrendous son?”Because, quite frankly, these two teenagers are also two pristine examples of our failing public school students. Not because of failures on our school district’s educational part, but failures on the part of the parents role as the parent.Our educational failures are not a lack of resources, not a lack of fine teachers, nor a lack of teaching the three R’s as is federally mandated. Our educational failures are a lack of the OTHER three ‘R’s NOT being taught at home; Respect, Responsibility and Repercussions.Our First Lady, Laura Bush, stated: “Strong schools and quality teachers are the President’s priorities.”To that, I wish to add a third line. Parents, fulfill your duties as parents. You are not your child’s best friend. You are their example, their role model, and their advisor to whom they look up to first and foremost.Education is the key to success. Education of the educators, education of the students, and education of the parents.”All of us parents, and schools, and government must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture and to send the right messages to our children.”Guess who said that?George W. Bush. VT– Marty Lich is a columnist for MichNews, located in Michigan. This column was reprinted with permission from MichNews. She can be contacted for comments at Martyincol@Juno.com
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