Parenting #FAIL: Education

I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve encountered who bash the NYC school system for failing their children. I know schools aren’t perfect, but I also know that parents are just as responsible for the level and quality of their child’s education. You can’t just ship your child off to school and expect for them to come home a genius.

For every parent who complains about a bad school, I wonder how many have taken action to correct any educational lapses? How many of us are reinforcing what’s being taught in the classroom at home? I see way too many children on the train with PS3’s to entertain them and they can’t even read or count. High school students failing but they have on Jordan’s and Northface jackets. Fancy cell phones. Blackberries with data plans. How about they get a job? But before that, are they reading on a college level? Are they even reading at level? If they aren’t, it isn’t the school’s fault. It’s the parents’ fault. It’s a shame how we would invest money in expensive clothing and gadgets but won’t get our children a tutor or enroll them in an extra-curricular activity. Then we wonder why teenage pregnancies and criminal mischief are rampant. We’re not giving these kids anything to occupy their time or to look forward to. They have to know that there’s more to life then just what they can reach out and touch at the moment.

I didn’t spend most of my high school years in NYC, but what I noticed the most when I moved back here was that a lot of the young adults didn’t have work experience. So many were getting their first jobs well past the age of 18. I can’t even imagine life without working. I had my first job at the age of 14. I spent 6 months in a NYC high school when I was that age, and some of my peers read just as slowly as my kids did when they first began to learn to read. But you better believe these same students were up on the latest of everything else.

It’s senseless to blame the school for this because if you read to your child at home, what they’ve learned in the classroom would stick. If you can’t offer your child anything else in terms of extra-curricular activities, by all means make sure they can read and have access to books. Make use of any free services available in your community. The public library in my neighborhood did offer a reading time for the children on Saturday mornings, but guess what? Nobody would show up. I went to a library in Bay Ridge that offered the same program. The library was recently remodeled. The library in my neighborhood was old. I couldn’t gripe because what you don’t use, you lose. Many of us complain about the lack of programming in our communities but we don’t make use of what’s available. Funds are not going to be allocated for what people do not use. The Bay Ridge library was teeming with parents and children, my library was empty. Today I learned that some Kindergarten gifted and talented programs are being closed at schools in some urban neighborhoods because not enough students are passing the exam. This was unsettling to me because families will now have to travel farther when their child gains acceptance to the program and I can definitely relate to a working parent traveling long distances for the sake of their child’s education. This can be a huge deterrent and our kids are worth every educational opportunity afforded to them. We have to understand that our action and inaction have an effect on the bigger picture within our communities.

Everything begins in the home and parents have control over honing their child’s system of values. A lot of parents mistakenly look at their children as reflections of themselves who are born into this world with their same likes, dislikes and limitations. Yes, your child may look just like you, may act like you, but they are not you. It’s very important to be proactive about early education so that children will be able to flourish in academic environments. They have a life full of limitless opportunity and you are there to help them grasp it all. Real parenting isn’t for the faint.

Let these kids be great!

In support of literacy and education the Reading 4 Smiles organization offers programming to help children elevate to the next level, academically. Expect to hear more about this and other information about this blossoming non-profit. Please email me at if you would like to donate any supplies or volunteer.


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