But, ultimately, King’s ruling is no silver bullet because it can’t be. As Rudy Crew believed, and as the failure of most reforms demonstrates, the biggest problem with education isn’t the union, the politicians, the money or the kids — it’s the parents. Everything else matters, but it is secondary in most cases.
Consider a study on absentee rates among third- and fourth- graders in New York. It found that about 20 percent were chronically absent, meaning they miss at least a month of school.
But attendance wasn’t uniform, with nearly a quarter of black and Hispanic students chronically absent, while 12 percent of whites and only 4 percent of Asians were. The achievement gap starts with attendance, and it starts early. Other studies show a link between children born out of wedlock and performance.
Given the correlation between home life, attendance and academic progress, students who miss a lot of school in early grades are unlikely to catch up. Today’s truants are tomorrow’s dropouts.
Yet when elementary children don’t show up for school, whose fault is that? While Mayor Bloomberg’s truancy-prevention program shows some success, it’s largely despite parents, not because of them.
Should bad teachers be fired? Absolutely. And there’s zero argument for leaving crooks and sexual predators in the classroom.
But we spend so much time and energy focused on these obvious things because the union is absolutist and because nobody has the guts to talk about the elephant in the room. If we want better students, we must demand better parents.
Let’s see if the mayoral candidates dare touch that one.
I am teaching a Regents remedial class.
I have some students who come to class the way guest stars used to make an appearance on The Love Boat back in the day - you seem them every once in a while.
I have called home, written home, written referrals and done all the things in my power to try and get them to my class so that I can prepare them for the Regents exam in a week.
For a core group, nothing has worked and they continue to skip school.
Under the new APPR system, this is my fault and these "failures" will be counted in my statistics.
I am actually pretty damned good at motivating students on the margins to come to class more often than they usually do in order to get ready for their high stakes exams.
But with some students, there is nothing I do that works to motivate them.
Should I be held accountable for this?
Or should the parents?
The system has decided to give the parents a pass and hold only teachers accountable.
And NYSED Commissioner John King has doubled down on that in the new evaluation plans he has approved around the state.
According to him, it is always the fault of the teacher when a student fails a high stakes exam.
But Goodwin speaks truth here in this column - "we spend so much time and energy focused on these obvious things because the union is absolutist and because nobody has the guts to talk about the elephant in the room. If we want better students, we must demand better parents."