Sunday, June 11, 2006

Taking Responsibility

Last week, Chancellor Klein sent a letter to city parents about accountability. It's important, according to the chancellor, that schools, and even Klein himself be held accountable. I don't actually disagree with that, per se.

Of course, while Klein claimed he was accountable, he spelled out no consequences whatsoever for failure on his part. He'll remove principals and"close" schools (meaning rename them), but that's it, as far as viable consequences.

More importantly, it's preposterous to assume, as ever-pandering Klein did, that parents, and particularly students, bear no responsiblity whatsoever for academic progress, or lack thereof. And imagine my surprise when Schoolgal emailed me a link to a New York Post (!) editorial suggesting precisely the opposite. I have to agree.

If my kid doesn't do her schoolwork, I look to her, and yours truly to correct the situation. I'm her first, best, most reliable and loyal teacher, even if her schoolteachers are smarter, more competent, or even better-looking than I may be.

According to the editorial, kids who fail don't bother showing up for extra tutoring. Are you as shocked as I am (which is to say, not at all)?

There was a great episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show where an elderly man says something like "You know, there's a reason why kids don't do well in school, but nobody ever says it."

"What's that?" asks Mary.

"The kid could be stupid," says the old man.

Well, I don't know if the kids are stupid, but if they are lazy, or unmotivated, or both, they certainly won't show up. And many, if not most of the kids who fail my classes do so because they don't show up. After a kid has cut 40 or 50 times, I don't bother calling the home anymore.

It's hardly worth it.
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