There was so much PASSION at the conference around helping kids succeed in school and life. And so much talk around about how to work around inadequate parents. Most of the many "parent engagement" workshops I have attended over the years are historically weak, and the efforts ultimately futile because the goal with parents isn't ever to teach them how to be good parents, but how to do specifically what the school wants them to do for their kids at a moment in time. We want to give parents tasks instead of tools. And we don't start early enough to teach parents how to be good parents. The current drive for more pre-K programs is a painfully inadequate response to all the not-ready-for-Kinder 5-years olds showing up in public schools. In a few years we will start to look backwards even more to develop a program in response to all the 3 and 4 years olds showing up not ready for pre-K.
We've let the education system get this bad by refusing to accept that the root cause of student failure is actually insufficient parenting. It's not the teachers, or the textbooks, or the facilities or the school polices or student motivation that is the real problem. If we resourced all the reasons parents lack parenting skills at the same level that we have endlessly and fruitlessly resourced the education system, things might be different. Why don't we see this? This is what I need to research and think more on, but I suspect it is a combination of helplessness and judging. We develop school based programs because we can control what happens in the school. We don't develop home based programs because we have so little control over what happens there. Control and access. Plus we tend to ruthlessly judge poor parenting - as if everyone should just know everything the minute that baby arrives.
Shortly after I attended this conference and was struck by a desire to learn more about the breakdown between parenting and the education system and write about it, I saw a video on Facebook called “Technology has high jacked family dinnertime. Watch Pepper hacker reclaim it.” Basically, the parents in this video appear to have no authority over their kids’ use of smart phones and tablets at the dinner table so they must resort to using a device that surreptitiously interrupts service - a device disguised as a pepper shaker. Pepper shaker as parent. It is no wonder that schools are having to feed, clothe and discipline kids today. If parents can’t make kids put away their phones during dinner, how can they be expected to make them do their homework? Or even go to school at all? If this is the future of parenting, America is doomed.