For Mother's Day this year, The Learning Curve asked six delegates to the annual Mom Congress to send us their educational wish lists. These "mom blogs" constitute an honest look at what's lacking in our school systems, a maternal reprimand of the current discourse, and a description of the dream school of the future.
One of the most pressing concerns I have today is that students are often relieved of their academic and social responsibilities because parents, teachers, administrators and government officials are stricken with "pointing-fingeritis." Of course, pointing-fingeritis is not an actual disease, but it describes a widely spreading epidemic occurring today.
What is it?
It is a verbal and written blaming disease that has three major effects: it blinds the adults with their fixation on passing the blame, it weakens the affected students’ integrity and causes them to play the old “divorced-parent-against-parent” game, and it contaminates the academic and social growth of our society because many students are not held accountable.
In this fast-paced world, it is no wonder that most people look for a quick-fix. And it is not surprising that the visions of the diseased parents, teachers, administrators and government officials are clouded. Rather than working together to find solutions and answers, this group continues to infect others by looking for quick solutions to problems that have been growing for decades. We must realize that there are no quick fixes and that we are all collectively responsible for helping to improve our failing school systems.
The next effect of this disease is that it causes students to play the “divorced-parent-against-parent” game while taking no blame themselves. Students can be naturally manipulative. If their parent or guardian is at odds with their teacher or administrator, a door is open for deviant behavior.
Some students would rather lie or manipulate an adult rather than face negative consequences for poor choices and stakeholders are often fooled. How many Individualized Education Programs or multidisciplinary team meetings are required before someone realizes that a large population of our students do not need medication or counseling but a consistent, firm but fair approach to discipline, which would lead to a reality check for them.
If stakeholders continue to be plagued with the pointing-fingeritis, which has caused not just a gap but an entire breakdown in our academic system nationwide, then our students will continue to play the old “parent-against-parent” trick and they will continue to slip out the back window of personal, social and academic responsibilities.
Finally, if something is not done soon to help our students understand the value of a solid and competitive education, our nation will perish. No longer can our students be satisfied with being given grades because the teachers are tired of dealing with them. No longer can they be satisfied with being socially promoted because they are two grade-levels behind. No longer can they be satisfied with being placed in special education because they were too lazy to perform grade level work for 180 days. No longer should they be satisfied with getting a GED. No longer should they be satisfied with being placed in an alternative school setting because they refuse to be quiet long enough to learn.
No, their time has expired. Let’s raise students’ expectations and demand that they perform.
Because parents, teachers, administrators and government officials are pointing fingers at one another, there are no fingers remaining to point at the students. If we are to cure the dread disease, parents cannot be friends with their children. They must be parents first, and acknowledge the fact that children will lie -- especially if it will help them escape punishment.
Teachers who do not truly care about the betterment of their students need to retire or find another career. Administrators need to be realistically engaging, visible and available to students, teachers and parents to help seek solutions and answers. Government officials must understand that in the business of education, the truly dedicated educators work hard to produce socially and economically sound, productive people -- not products.
Before new educational laws are made, lawmakers should identify the true need and know that it extends beyond standardized tests and teacher evaluations. Students should be made to own up to their responsibilities. All stakeholders should raise the expectations for each student and let them know that there are no excuses for failure. This mindset should be engraved in all from K-12 through college.
But this will only be accomplished if we stop blaming each other and work collectively to find answers to questions and solutions to problems for the betterment of our students and the advancement of our future society. This is a biological and academic parental view.
Click here for more Mother's Day Wish Lists.
All statements and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors, and not of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or NBC News.