Some thoughts on education

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The overarching principle we have discovered and discovered again is that parents are responsible for the education of their children. No teacher, no matter how much they are paid, how small their classroom, what materials they are given or how much training they receive, can educate a child where the parent is not engaged. By “engaged” we mean how marines “engage” the enemy.

So, no education reform can be successful unless parents are put in the driver’s seat. Teachers, administrators, and even legislators and governors and presidents must be put in the back seat.

A simple reform that would drive this principle home is the “opt-in” education program. Parents choose which program their kid should pursue. If they want their kid to be ready for the top colleges in the country, they can sign off on that box. If they want their kid to be ready for some second-tier state college, they can do that as well by opting in to it. If they are fine with their kid leaving high school ready for trade school, which is perfectly honorable and highly recommended due to our glut of college graduates and dropouts, they can check off that box. But if they really don’t care about their kid’s education and just want the 12-year babysitting program with a piece of paper that means nothing, they can do that as well.

But no parent should be allowed to send their kid to school for one day without making some sort of agreement with the school.

If the kid is on track to meet their goals in the chosen program, then parents receive a report card that says as much. They can pat little Johnny and Jenny on the head and say, “Keep it up!” If, on the other hand, there are signs that maybe Johnny or Jenny won’t be able to achieve the goals that the parents have set, the parents get a letter in the mail describing the school’s concerns and recommending remedial action — particularly in the home. IE, “Johnny doesn’t seem to be doing well with math. We think this is because he isn’t doing his math homework, probably because he doesn’t understand it. We suggest an after-school tutoring program to help him do his homework and clear up any misunderstandings.”

My belief is that every parent, no matter their background, wants their kids to do better than they did. Even though they may not know how to achieve the goals, that doesn’t really matter. The parents provide the push, and the educators can provide the rest.

There is nothing like having a parent at home who asks a kid how they are doing in relation to the goals the parent has set. Yes, there is disappointment, but there are also major successes.

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