I was half way through second grade and I could barely read. I felt stupid, sad and outcast.
Fortunately, my dad just happened to be working on his PhD in education – specifically about new ways of teaching adult illiterates to read. So thanks to my mom badgering him he tested his concepts on me – and they worked!
Another neighbor didn’t quite have the same luck. His house wasn’t stocked with books liked ours (but they did have Cable TV before everyone else in the neighborhood!). He too struggled with reading but his parents weren’t able to help – needless to say he fell further and further behind and eventually dropped out of high school.
Now as a dad I see how important parental intervention is – and how much time my wife and I (especially my wife!) spend tutoring our kids in everything from English to Algebra.
Being a concerned geek, I decided to calculate what that additional hour or so a day of after-school education is worth just in terms of school days – and the numbers are staggering!
If you spend just 30-minutes a day Monday through Friday helping your kids with school you will have provided your kids the equivalent of an entire additional year of class time by the time they graduate!
So why is this important? As a parent of three children who are now all doing very well in school, I can see just how important our time and our educational background has been in our children’s’ success to date – and in other equally successful children’s education.
We, especially my wife, have spent a huge amount of time helping our kids study. Just as important as time, we have the educational background – my wife taught math and has a few masters degrees in science. We’re a trilingual household, etc… And this is all great for us and our kids as they are and will reap the rewards but what about all the children from the 80% of Americans without a college degree?
As anyone who has ever watched “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?” school is hard and once you leave school -many of the math and science concepts are quickly forgotten. I know I find myself having to review and relearn 9th grade Algebra in order to help my high schooler and I took a year of Calculus in college. (Thank god my wife taught math!)
But what if you don’t have the schooling to help your children with math and science or even English? Or the money to pay for tutoring? Platitudes about parental engagement won’t overcome the reality that many parents can’t or won’t help.
So what’s the point? All the statistics show that the wealthier the parents the better the kids do in school, but I’ve never seen any statistics as to what the parents of the most successful kids do different than the rest. And more importantly, what do we need to be doing as a society in order to level out the playing field so all kids can be successful regardless of their parents educational background?
Given the fact that our nation’s success is based on educational attainment, we need a system that provides kids whose parents don’t have the education, time or desire the resources required to succeed in a global high-tech world.
Am I completely off base? Does this make sense? Let me know your thoughts.