14 March 2010

Teach...your children well--yes, you, and yes, YOUR children

Bill Maher is frequently hit or miss, for me. He can be pretty amusing but, particularly with matters of faith, I think he takes it too far. There isn't an institution in existence that doesn't deserve some skewering, and organized religion is no exception. However, too often it seems, he veers from addressing the abuses and failings of the institution to ridiculing the believers. That doesn't open their eyes to the flaws, it just makes them think you're an asshole.

All that said, he really hit it on the head with this week's "New Rules" segment where he takes on the Rhode Island school district decision to fire all faculty and administrators at an under-performing high school:
"...We all remember high school - canning the entire faculty is a nationwide revenge fantasy.

But isn't it convenient that once again it turns out that the problem isn't us, and the fix is something that doesn't require us to change our behavior or spend any money. It's so simple: Fire the bad teachers, hire good ones from some undisclosed location, and hey, while we're at it let's cut taxes more. It's the kind of comprehensive educational solution that could only come from a completely ignorant people."
We love accountability, don't we? As long as it's someone else's, anyway. Whenever people wax apoplectic about what their children are--or aren't--hearing in school, they make it sound as if their children are isolated, empty vessels. Listening to them, you'd think their kids exist in a vacuum, and the only time anything gets poured into their waiting, vacant heads is 8:00am to 3:00pm, Monday to Friday, September through June.

What are you doing with your kids during the other 17 hours a day, not to mention the 186 or so days there's no school, at all? Do you talk to them? Do you read with them?

Or do you tell them to cut the grass and (maybe) let them know when you'll be home?
"What matters is what parents do. The number one predictor of a child's academic success is parental involvement. It doesn't even matter if your kid goes to private or public school."
That's one thing he's not joking about.

So let's stop applauding obvious stunts like this mass firing and start applying all the talk of "bootstraps" and "not getting something for nothing" to more than attacks on the unemployed. Kids spend far more time away from their teachers than with them. Parents expecting education to be limited to those few school hours are guilty of looking for the freest of free rides. You're partners in their education; you leave it entirely up to the other side, don't complain when your lack of support has consequences.

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