Have American parents outsourced educating our youth?

As a parent and a bystander, it is very convenient to watch the debate brewing these days in the education arena. Blame is being thrown around regarding who is responsible for poor standardized test scores, school violence/bullying and low graduation rates. “It’s the Teachers,” some say. While others exclaim, “It’s the Curriculum” or “It’s the School Leadership.” It reminds me of the “Looney Tunes” cartoons where Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny fight over which one of them is in season at the moment. The rabbit tells everybody, “It’s Duck Season!” The duck tells everybody, “It’s Rabbit Season!”

Some of us parents are relieved to be “below” the line of fire so we can continue to work, manage our households and, of course, find time to tweet and update our Facebook status to say how proud we are to be able to balance all aspects of our lives. We are so immersed in our work, the national economy and our own “personal recessions” that we are starting to manage our families like a business.

This is America after all, and most functions can be done by others. Major organizations, for example, outsource their customer service, human resources and technology departments. It is only proper that we explore the opportunity to do the same at home by outsourcing our laundry, housecleaning or even meal preparation. Who has the time to “do it all?” When you think about it, we even outsource our children’s education for 8-9 hours a day to the local Board of Education.

Every solid outsourcing arrangement has Service Level Agreements (SLAs) on how you expect your “outsourcer” to perform and educating our children is no exception. So, when our children can’t read or don’t make the grade, the Board of Education is in direct violation of the parent/school outsourcing arrangement and must certainly fix it…right? WRONG!

We parents ought to be ashamed of ourselves and the “minimal” role we are playing in the fight to remedy the state of education in America. The sad reality is that many parents put more thought and effort into planning their baby shower or designing the baby’s room than they put into reading with their children or introducing new vocabulary. Why should we? We pay taxes. Isn’t that what the teachers are for?

Money is being spent on research and methods to make schools more parent friendly and to entice parents to be more involved in their child’s school. WAIT! You mean to tell me we’re sending our kids somewhere on a daily basis that we don’t want to be? We are PARENTS and it’s time to take an active role in truly educating our CHILDREN! It is OUR responsibility. The line for parent teacher conferences should be out the door. The email accounts of our children’s teachers should be flooded with requests for updates on our struggling child’s progress and what we can do to help things along. Educators’ concerns should not focus on using valuable and limited resources on changing the schools for parents to feel more welcome, instead they should be working collaboratively with parents, teachers and students to nurture goal oriented children.

If parents spent more time reviewing homework with kids and actively participating in our children’s education, our teachers would have a much easier burden to bear. A 2009 study by the National Center for Education statistics reports that just 65 percent of 9-12th grade students had their homework checked by an adult, compared to 95 percent of K-8th grade students. Before you get excited, please note the study qualified that “checking” referred to checking work for completion. That’s it. Most parents will ask, “Did you finish your homework?” to which a child will reply, “Yeah” or “I didn’t have any.” At which time both the parent and child will breathe a sigh of relief. The child is relieved that you dropped the subject and the parent is relieved that their evening is now their own.

Children emulate what we DO. If we have a lackadaisical attitude towards school, they will adopt that same attitude; no matter what we SAY. Ever try to get a child to eat something that we ourselves turn our noses up to? It doesn’t happen.

THANK YOU! to all of the parents who are truly engaged in their child’s learning. Your actions will absolutely have a profound impact on your child’s education. What I am rallying for is the need for ALL parents to get involved so that we can see a profound impact on the education system.

Even corporate America has recognized that not every function can be outsourced. “Essential” activities must stay in-house. YOUR house and I don’t know what could be more essential than a parent taking “ownership” of their child’s education.

Until parents begin to view education as a critical need and place a priority on being a “participating party” in educating our youth, the situation will NOT improve.

As a fellow parent, I’m pulling back the curtain in Oz and exposing the real parent behind it. There is no place like home, and once we accept that “home” is precisely where education begins, we’ll realize that our school system is an extension of a parent’s teachings and NOT an outsourced replacement.

Jackie P. Taylor is a youth success coach and author of Success Ladder: Strategies for Motivating Today’s Youth due in the spring of 2011. Mrs. Taylor is also a mother and foster mother.

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