An article titled “The Secret of a Charter School Success? Parents” in the Wall Street Journal reinforces something most everybody knows: parents are the key to success for educational achievement. Authored by Robert Pondiscio, he explains how New York’s Success Academy schools, while beholden to a lottery for enrollment, are able to self-select high potential students by requiring parental involvement. The formula has been a boon for low-income minority students trapped in failing urban schools.
If you have a WSJ subscription the entire article is worth reading. Below are a couple of excerpts:
This [enrollment] process, whether by happenstance or design, yields a parent body comprised largely of the most motivated parents and those with the organizational skills and resources to meet Success Academy’s high bar for parental engagement. This sets the stage to strive for—and mostly achieve—consistent and high levels of academic achievement “at scale” among low-income children of color, who would otherwise be lost to the dull hum of mediocrity in zoned neighborhood schools.
Parents are required to attend meetings, enforce school uniform standards, and commit to direct involvement with some of the school work. A lot of buy-in is required and transportation has to be arranged. More from the WSJ:
Ms. Moskowitz’s many critics will look at the small but non-trivial hurdles parents must clear as proof that she is not running great schools, merely a sorting mechanism. But this ignores what’s most remarkable about Success Academy: Its schools don’t just match those of affluent suburban districts but easily outperform them. Working with self-selected families under careful conditions, Ms. Moskowitz hasn’t merely closed the achievement gap. She has reversed it.
Success Academy serves a 90 percent minority population and 90 percent of the students are proficient in reading and 98 percent are proficient in math.
While it’s obvious that parental involvement is a key to success for education and life, this is still something that is ignored or underestimated by many on the Left. Good government and good culture always begins in the family. Clearly, many of the social problems and social decay today are the result of broken families or government promoting policies that are damaging to the family. “The family is the fountainhead of all mental and moral influence,” declared the famed abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.
I did not agree with most of the teachers at the NCAE political rallies in Raleigh on public education when they organized in 2018 and 2019. Their standard response was always centered upon spending more and more tax dollars. However, when I talked to them individually, I found a lot of agreement on the fact that schools and teachers are often asked to do too much:
Gloria Lawrence, a retired teacher in Surry County, brought up an important point. “Things have changed a lot since I began teaching. I used to teach when there were 34 and 35 in the classroom, but you didn’t have all these different labels that we put on children and we didn’t have a lot of the conditions that we have now,” said Lawrence. “I had never seen in my first 25 years of teaching, maybe 20 years of teaching, a fetal alcohol syndrome child. I had never seen one with AIDS. I had never seen a cocaine baby. I have seen those now, and I’ve seen what it does to their ability to learn.”
As somebody with an observant personality, it’s clear that so many of the problems today are because of broken families, and more specifically lack of fathers in the lives of their children. This is something that ultimately can’t be solved by more and more government spending. You can keep patching up a dilapidated house, but at some point you have to deal with the foundation and structural integrity.
There is no doubt that strong families are the key to education but strong families and a strong civil society are likewise the key building block to a free and flourishing society for all. Policies that encourage and promote that fact will be always be investing much more into a society than mere dollars.