Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Parental Involvement: It's What's For Dinner!

So it seems that my conservative friends are once again beating the "public schools are all failures" drum, and the ever-present "and by the way it's the Democrats' fault" cymbals with it. I hate to upset the upstanding people in marching bands around the country with my metaphor, but I'm not part of the PC crowd, so as the Australians say, "Bad luck!"

I always find it interesting how many conservatives rail against public schools as a failure, and say that kids that go to private schools have a tendency to be more successful on the whole. Regarding the average success of the kids, you know what, it might surprise you to know that I think you're probably quite right! The problem for your "public schools suck" thesis though, is that this fact is largely irrelevant. Why? It's because you are completely ignoring the other variables that go along with it. I don't see any sane people going around saying that blacks are inherently more prone to commit crime than whites. This is because we understand that the "third variable" here is economic, and that when you adjust for that, there are almost no demographic differences there. Therefore, we correctly say that race has no significant effect. So what is the third variable in this case? Parental involvement. There are a large percentage of parents that are very involved in their children's education on every level and in most every school. Those parents are not generally the ones that have drug problems or are neglecting or abusing their children. I'm talking about everyday parents, most of which send their kids to public school. Parents that send their kids to private school and are willing to shell out the money to do it, are certainly going to fall into the motivated segment as well. If you were to eliminate the kids with disengaged parents from the public school figures, then suddenly your average is probably going to be right there with the private schools, not to mention a lot cheaper! There is not a high percentage of schools in this country that I would feel that a child of mine could not get a good education.

Of course, then there is the ideology question. Yes, there is always that. If the Sunday dose of religion is not enough for your liking, then by all means send your kids to private school. I would never begrudge you that choice. If you don't want your kids to learn evolution or sex ed or whatever you are railing against this week, then fine, go for it. If public schools are such a failure, and you aren't sending your kids there, why do you care anyway? You've got plenty of schools where you can learn your version of reality. Aren't these some of the same people that get upset when their choice of Pope was analyzed so thoroughly, since if they aren't Catholics, why should they care? The same ones that say that if you don't like the direction America is headed in, then leave? Take your own advice. Plunk down the 20K per kid to send them to private school and quit complaining.

This brings me to to the "plague of immorality" issue, touched upon in the last post. Parents today have more choices in how to raise their kids than at any other time in history. You have unprecedented geographic mobility, myriad school choices you can send your kid to, a couple dozen educational channels on TV, v-chips, web filters, movie, TV, and video game ratings, and all kinds of other ways that you can ensure that little Johnny sees the world in exactly the way that you want him to see it. Go ahead and complain that this stuff exists, but it still all comes down to parental involvement when you see how the kids turn out. The world is not falling apart nearly as much as you think it is.

Here's your nice generous helping of parental involvement. It gives you a strong brain and a healthy sense of ethics. What do you mean "why"??? It's because Paris Hilton told you it's what's for dinner! Now, eat up!

9 comments:

JLP said...

You are right, parental involvement is the key. However, what you have failed to address is what can be done to help the kids who do not have parental involvement. Throwing money at the problem is not going to solve it.

Are you a parent?

JLP

AllThingsFinancial

Two Dogs said...

I'm not sure, but I think that you just got a spammer comment. His site is "all things commercial" if you ask me.

The main thing that I have against public education at this point in time is that I have to pay for it even though I have no kids in the system. I pay through my property taxes and live in an area that has a high amount of apartments. While the owners of the rental units do pay millage, the renters don't.

Another of my gripes centers on the lack of math, science, language, and history in public school and then subsequent adding of indoctrination into the Leftist ideology. Critical thinking is pushed aside to force kids to learn ideas from the far-left.

Erik Grow said...

No JLP, I am married but not a parent yet, however I am the son of involved parents, so I'm quite aware of how the dynamic works. They helped to keep me motivated, and told me how the world work and how difficult it would be if I did not work hard in school, as well as everything else I needed to know regarding how people should be treated. I also agree that throwing money at the problem is not the answer at all. I'm a "work smarter not just harder" type of person, and while I'm not a tax complainer, I also hate wasted government funds. The kids that do not have the benefit of involved parents only have so many options. Teachers can and should also be actively motivating students as well, and this is especially important for them. No easy answers, but point taken.

DOWN Two Dogs, he's on the level. I was reading his blog a bit yesterday, and reading some housing bubble blog which was quite interesting that he had linked to. I'm trying to understand why our townhouse 20 miles from DC went from 215K to 375K in value in two and a half years. It's insane.

Two Dogs said...

I'm guessing that it has to do with the fact that the murder rate is really low and you can carry a gun. Oh and that you're close to Hell, but you only have one foot in. Bill CLinton, geeeeeeesssshhhhh.

Devo said...

Erik, I think you hit the nail pretty squarely on the head. Another variable you didn't mention, but that Two Dogs touched on IS economic too. I went to school in a pretty higly taxed district, pretty wealthy and all. The public school I attended was excellent. Many of the parents were very involved in their children's educational lives because they had specifically moved to our community to be able to send their kids to this public school (and it's a nice community to boot). So your economic third variable remains valid for this point. Compare with a lower-income, lower taxed system, and you'll undoubtedly find parents who are unable to be as involved in their kids education because they're working three jobs just to put food on the table.

I for one, am a big proponent of building quality school systems through taxation. Even if someone doesn't have kids attending the local public school, I believe that they should be THANKFUL to pay high property taxes, especially if the are they live in is the area they wish to make their long-term home, because high quality public schools turn out high quality graduates. High quality graduates tend to take care of their hometowns. It all comes full circle. So even if you're not investing in YOUR children's education by paying those high taxes, you're investing in OTHER children who may one day either become the miillionaire next door or the crackhead under the town bridge, depending on what kind of education you decide to give 'em.

As for political ideology being covertly slipped into public primary and secondary education, that's pretty absurd; but since it's so paranoid, I approve. I sure hope that's happening, though, cuz I think I'd rather be raising a Clinton than a G. Gordon Liddy anyday...

JLP said...

Erik,

Good response. The only real solution to this problem is parental involvement. It's really tragic that a lot of these kids don't have parents who take care of them or they are the product of a single-parent household and that one parent doesn't have the time necessary to dedicate to that child's well-being.

This may seem a bit radical, but I think we need a real fatherhood movement. Men have to learn to be men. If they go and get a girl pregnant, they are FATHERS whether they like it or not.

Good discussion you have going here. Keep up the good work.

JLP

AllThingsFinancial

PS - Thanks for sticking up for me. I have been working on my blog since last October. I hope my stuff is inspiring people to make changes in their lives.

Devo said...

jlp, I second your demand for a fatherhood movement. I was very lucky to have had a great father doing a lot of work bringing me up well. My fiancee did not. He's back in her life now, and trying to make amends, but for a very long time he was conspicuously absent. And it has had its effect. In this day and age, proper parenthood is one of the only things capable of saving us from ourselves...

Erik Grow said...

I think that was supposed to be part of the idea behind the "Million Man March", though I think some of it was co-opted by other interests.

I have an interest in personal finance, and have done some reading on it over the last several years. I'm currently socking away large amounts of money into my 401k, more as often as I can. I'm up to almost 10K a year now. I don't want to have to work until I'm 70. I'm shooting for 55 maybe, though maybe 60 is more realistic. We do actually have a financial planner too.

Two Dogs said...

Oh, sorry JLP, I just saw the linkfest on your blog and didn't go any further.