Sunday, July 15, 2012

Underfunding of schools

The Washington Post has this article on the underfunding of schools.

I wrote this comment:

Here in New Jersey, we have the same issue: school districts that excel minutes away from other school districts that barely survive; school districts with high graduation and college admission rates, school districts with high dropout, high crime, murder and incarceration rates, with bright young people who experience no options other than to service the drug trade (often fueling the demand of those high performing districts).
Mandates without funding only worsen the problem, not just because they leave teachers without resources but they also strip teachers of their most important resource, the direct and personal connections they form with the students they teach.

This article notes the demise of an after school program run by librarians so that children of non-English speaking students have a place to do their homework. I read often of success stories, from around the country, of after school programs affording students a place to do their work, within the school, in public libraries, in boys and girls clubs, or at the YMCA. The key to all these programs is that they tap into the hearts and souls of caring adults, dedicated to helping children, and, most importantly, they allow homework to be done outside of the home.

The co-opting of the home environment for educational purposes is a back story to this article. We may erroneously look at that non-English speaking home as a place that lacks the resources to help its children when, in fact, it may be a rich and loving environment that provides its children with powerful, moral lessons, perhaps no different from what my Russian immigrant grandparents did for my parents , coming to this nation to start a new life, sending their children off to school with great hopes and expectations that they’d partake in the American dream. Sure, they may have set the tone that homework must be done, but they were never hampered by the fact that they had to work hard, struggle to manage with little, and were not directly responsible for the academic educations of their children.
We have moved in a direction of removing those components of healthy child development that call for balance: good relationships with parents free from academic demands, good relationships with teachers free from excessive outside review, safe enough schools without a virulent drug problem, over-incarceration, and the risk of a deadly confrontation.

I talk often about children being homework trapped. I also believe that teachers have become trapped by outside standards and mandates.
What do you think? Please leave your comment.

Dr. Kenneth Goldberg is a clinical psychologist with 35 years of professional experience in dealing with many different psychological issues. He is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers and currently works in his own private practice.

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