Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Disturbing numbers? I say disturbing parents.

Yesterday the Department of Education released numbers that showed only 64% of students who started high school in 2001 graduated in four years. For New York City the number was even worse, with only 44% graduating. This number was less then Mayor Bloomberg’s figure of 53% but that’s because the states numbers didn’t take into account students who graduated a month later or those that got GED’s instead.

Whether the number is 44% or 53% they’re both unacceptable but should we really be pointing blame at our elected officials, board of education and its teachers? Now people who know me know I’m not a fan of the teachers union and I always make sure to get in a nice debate with my teacher friends when contract time rolls around but one thing we do agree on is that the failures of the students in the system is not their fault.

When it comes to schoolwork we all know that as a young adult it’s easy to cast it aside for one of the many distractions present. It’s a time in your life when friends and your popularity are more important than what you want to be when you’re 30. It always amazes me how our politicians and the media discuss the public school system as if it is failing the students. One of the greatest comments I ever heard about the system came from our former Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, who during a dinner said, “you can throw another billion dollars into the system but it’s not going to fix the problem”.

I agree that at this point, with the billions that are spent on it already, more money isn’t going to make it better. What I believe is that we have to not look at the ones who don’t graduate on time but at the ones that do. I will argue that if you look at that group you will find students whose parents take an active roll in their children’s schooling, making sure their work is complete before their social activities. As someone who had the pleasure of going to Catholic School, I will argue that the teachers in Catholic School aren’t any better than those in public. The difference is that as a parent who pays money to send their child to school, that vested interest causes them to get involved leading to the almost 100% graduation rate that Catholic Schools have.

Long Island is no different. It is said that Long Island has some of the best school districts in the country but why is that? For me it would only make sense that a parent who is paying over $10,000 in taxes because of the school system would, like catholic school parents, feel they have a vested interest and make sure their children do well and at a minimum graduate on time.

I would like to see our Mayor, City Council and the rest do what they should and finally start publicly calling parents out on how they’re failing their children and the future of this country. The city can give the teachers 100% raises and have the best written textbooks in the world but if that child goes home to a house where the parents don’t say “what did you learn today” or make sure they do their work before anything else and help them when needed, then it will be all for nothing. The ones failing the children are the ones that should be caring the most.

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