To the Editor:
Much like a car, the education system has several parts: educators, students, and the parents/guardians of the students; yet, we only tinker with educators and hold them accountable for the failures of our system.
We see an increasing wave of interest and pressure to base teacher evaluations and pay on student performance, but no policies that hold parents and students accountable. If you had a car and the only thing you ever did was change the oil, would it run properly? The education system is riding on two flat tires—parents and students. If we don’t fix those tires, the car (system) will not move.
Parents are not making sure their children are doing what they should—being successful students. Parents don’t attend conferences, never check their children’s homework, and don’t teach their children about the consequences of behavior, yet expect educators to work wonders.
It is time for some real maintenance. A free and public education, in these economic times, is bursting at the seams. We cannot afford a free and public education when it is not valued. Many of these students are quite intelligent, but have no discipline, no fire, no home support. Parents should be required by law to participate in their child’s free and public education (e.g., attend a certain number of parent-teacher conferences or volunteer set number of hours at school). We want to hold educators accountable; when are we going to hold the parents and students accountable?
Jennifer R. Shorter
A version of this article appeared in the March 30, 2011 edition of Education Week as We Need Accountability for Parents and Students