Don't close schools. Punish parents.

Don't close schools. Punish parents.

You think the strike is over.  Well the war is just getting started.  Chicago Public Schools will face a $1 billion budget deficit next year and the first item on the chopping block will be school closures. The schools with the lowest reading and math scores combined with students making little to no progress, over a significant number of years, will be the first to close.  The other hot topic, that has yet to be resolved, is the teacher evaluation system.  How do you give a fair evaluation to a teacher serving in the most perilous Chicago communities, where one out of three students drop out of high school, versus a teacher serving students whose parents worked hard to teach their children to read and solve algebra problems before entering kindergarten?

Teachers are paid to teach, not handle stacks of mental health caseloads. And when school is dismissed, kids are sent home with expectations that adequate space, support, and parental savvy exists to raise successful students.  But instead, over 40% of Chicago Public School students come home to stupid, selfish, shameful and sorry parents with too much shit going on care about setting limits, dish out punishments,  assign chores,  hold kids accountable for their actions,  give an old fashion pop in the lip, or just show love.  I will probably ruffle a few feathers with this statement but here goes:  Poor schools are a reflection of bad parenting, not bad teaching.

I can see your facial expression, but you know I’m telling the truth.  If you have the answers to the following questions, you may prevent school closures:

  • How do you teach the Pythagorean Theorem to a hungry student who hasn’t eaten a meal since the yesterday’s school lunch, because her mother is in prison on drug possession charges and her daddy is aimlessly roaming the streets looking for more drugs?
  • What do you say to a 15 year-old student who responds to your request to remove his hood in class with “I don’t listen to my own mother, so how in the fuck you think Ima listen to yo’ bitch ass”?
  • How does the 8th grader study for the Constitution test when he constantly plots routes to and from school to avoid crossing gang territory?
  • How can a student practice balancing chemistry equations when she comes home to an empty house with lack of parental supervision to insist homework is completed?

I am a resident of South Shore, a historical Chicago neighborhood where there are approximately 7 Chicago Public schools, each within less than a 2 mile radius.  As we drive our kids far from their assigned neighborhood school to attend selective enrollment schools, we pass droves of kids walking to school.  We can only assume they are on their way to school, leisurely strolling with uniformed khaki pants, polo shirts or sweaters, neatly coiffed hair,  fancy purses on shoulders or basketballs tucked under arm, most with Flaming Hot Cheetos breath.  But one accessory  noticeably missing are book bags.   And any kid attending a school where only 16% of the 3rd-5th grade students are reading at or above grade level and 15% are performing at or above grade level in math, or the average ACT score is 14, needs to carry a book bag overflowing with homework.

Here is another question to nswer:

If I moved all of the kids from my girls’ selective enrollment school to our neighborhood school, the reading cores would jump from 16% to 99%.  What will happen if I move all of the kids from our neighborhood school to any selective enrollment school?

There is a direct correlation between good parenting and successful student achievement.

So, punish the parents.  What if public assistance checks, paychecks, and unemployment checks were not issued until mandatory parenting classes are attended and volunteer hours are served at their kids’ school.   This solution seems pretty logical to me--especially when the bad parents are victims of a vicious generational cycle of bad parenting. These are the parents contributing to drug infested communities where the populations are 95 percent African-American.  And unfortunately in these communities, neighbors mind their own business, gangs operate lucrative drug rings, homicide victims are ages 15-34, grandparents are primary caregivers, quality after-school programs are scarce, and special education and related services have been drastically reduced.

Do you have any answers?  Because a lot of teachers are about to be unemployed and the kids are coming to a school near you.

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