Can my child succeed in a poor school system?

We hear over and over again about low performing schools in mostly urban areas. The usual conversation is geared toward class sizes, teacher training and accountability, as well as resources. The most often used reason for under-performing schools is class size. This is disputed by a New York Times article and study addressing the issue of class size has shown that the school systems that often outperform American schools have on average larger class sizes then we do.


Source:Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 

YES, in a small percentage of cases it is about teacher accountability, class size and resources! However, the teacher that has the most influence over a child's successful school career does not have a room inside a government building or a desk with a shiny red delicious apple on it. The most important resource or teacher that a child will ever have will never be in the confines of a brick building with a flagpole out front. With all the government cutbacks, teachers are under paid and over worked. They are not responsible for the total success of students. If a child doesn't do their homework and parents never attend teacher conferences, how can that be blamed on a teacher?

Too many parents are sending their kids to school unprepared. When children arrive at kindergarten and can't read at least two or three letter words, their teacher has been placed in a position of teaching those things that the parents should have taught them at home. Teachers should be reinforcing what's taught at home. They are your kids, not the governments! I tell parents, "Your child is behind because of you. Don't blame it on your child's teacher. Accept the fact that it's mostly your fault." Whether you're poor, rich or somewhere in the middle, if you can read, then you can teach your kids to read. If you know how to add two apples plus two apples, then your kindergartner should come to class on the first day knowing this. The foundation should already be there before the teacher's first lesson.

Scientifically speaking, the first five years of a child’s life (before school ever starts) are critical to that child’s future successes. A study of a child's brain development at Purdue University has shown that all babies are born with all the brain cells that they will have. Some estimate 100 billion by birth. Brain cells are not doing any good if they are not connected. These connections are called synapses. These synapses connect at the most rapid rate as a child is young and slow down later in life. They are created and strengthened as a child experiences, learns and is challenged. The more connections that a child has, the more information they are able to process as new "Neural Pathways" are created. This is exciting news because it‘s telling us as parents that the influence that we have over our child’s education is critical and immeasurable. While the child is young (and we can still understand their work) is when the most critical part of the child’s brain growth is occurring. If we fail them early, then we are setting them up for failure later in life. We can’t blame the teacher if we failed to do our job. Your child’s school system and scores are an average of all the scores. If 80% of the kids in your child’s school are under performing…yes, that is bad. But, I bet that the twenty percent who didn't fail have parents that teach (and reinforce) at home. I bet that they also won’t allow their child to spend five hours at home trying to conquer Call of Duty (or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) Teachers get blamed for things that are out of their control. Do your job!

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