Education Letter to the Editor

What Parental ‘Magic’ Is E.D. Hirsch Proposing?

June 06, 2006 1 min read

To the Editor:

I am displeased by an advertisement in your May 3, 2006, issue promoting E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s new book, The Knowledge Deficit. It sends a nasty subliminal political message to readers.

The ad lays out how sophisticated parents prepare their children for schooling. It then switches to an accusation that America’s teachers are deficient in their practice, unless, of course, they buy Mr. Hirsch’s book and implement his ideas.

To identify our nation’s teaching corps as deficient because many parents do not create excellent early-learning opportunities is illogical and an unfair slam against public school teachers.

For Mr. Hirsch or his publicists to suggest that somehow public schools and their teachers can accommodate for the absence of parentally sponsored enrichment services such as those described in the advertisement is unsupported by research. It also begs the question of how any public school teacher can play “catch-up” with lock-step curricula, calibrated testing, and such a wide variation in parental support as exists for our public school children.

How can teachers stand in loco parentis when students are in school less than 12 percent of a full year? How can teachers make up for early deprivation of educational preparation? What magic is Mr. Hirsch proposing?

Thomas P. Johnson

Harwich Port, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the June 07, 2006 edition of Education Week as What Parental ‘Magic’ Is E.D. Hirsch Proposing?