One Reply to “EEP!”

  1. There are many factors that mitigate against improving education for all our children, but one of them is this often misunderstood “fact” (as stated by The Education Equality Project):

    “An effective teacher is the single most important factor in boosting student achievement.”

    The complete quote should read: “An effective teacher is the single most important SCHOOL factor in boosting student achievement.”

    Although many people understand that the teacher is the most important factor in school, many others interpret this research to mean that the teacher is more important than the parents. She is not, nor should we expect her to be. This might seem like a trivial misunderstanding, but it leads many parents to think that it’s “the school’s” job (alone) to educate their child and it leads politicians to believe that “the school” can close the education gap without much help from the parents. It cannot. Fortunately President Obama has demonstrated his understanding of this critical factor (parents) and is already sharing this important message with his “take time to be a dad” commercials.

    Here are two examples from my various experiences:

    One child was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 13. His parents were extremely conscientious and obtained the best possible medical care for their son. As a result, the young man has had only two insulin reactions up to his present age of 38. He rarely missed school and received his Ph.D. from Stanford. He is now the “principal scientist” for a large firm that supports our troops overseas. He is married with three children.

    The second child, a girl, was also diagnosed with the same disease at about the same age. Her single mother found it very difficult to help the child with diabetes management. The girl did not have a blood monitor or frequent blood tests. Sometimes she “forgot” to give herself insulin. Consequently the girl missed many days of school and suffered many reactions, which might have caused minor brain damage. The girl seemed “slower” in high school than she had earlier. Discouraged, she dropped out of school in her junior year. She’s now in her late twenties, frequently ill and married. She stays home, hoping for a baby.

    These stories are true. Should “the teacher” get most of the credit for the boy’s success? Should “the teacher” get most of the blame for the girl’s failure?

    To many of us the answers are obvious, and yet we are going through a silly phase now where “the teacher” is expected to do the whole job. Well, she can’t.

    But teachers are still powerful change agents and have lobbied long and hard for major changes in education that would dramatically boost student achievement. To many of us that means social and parent supports, health care, preschool, after-school enrichment AND excellent teachers. Teachers, of course, have long battled the status quo, but opposition forces are very strong. (Just getting enough books and materials has been a major battle; forget the school nurse!)

    Those who support teachers and parents, support the children in their care.

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