She looked at me when I told her I taught for a living and that I administered a small alternative education program.
"What do you think the problem is?" she asked. "Why are the schools doing so poorly?"
I looked her way, responding automatically: "The schools are fine."
"Then why do the kids' test scores keep dropping?"
She didn't want to know the answer to this. None of them do. Not really. I mulled over my response, then casually responded: "Parents."
"Parents. The culture. Our society. Test grades won't improve until the culture starts to value education and learning. They don't."
"I disagree, I spend a lot of time with my kids..."
"You're one parent. The majority of parents spend little to no time working with their kids. We live in a culture when kids are bombarded by all sorts of media. They are bombarded by videogames, internet surfing, music, etc. It's about values. If students are given a hard work ethic, then how can they be expected to do well in class? They do what is easy. "
"So, you're saying teachers bear no responsibility?"
"There are good and bad teachers. More good than bad." I thought about my answer for a second. "There are good and bad parents. More good than bad."
"So what's the answer?" she asked, sounding frustrated, wanting to hear a quick fix.
"Maybe to stop blaming one another and to work together. We've got to change the culture or we change nothing."
She walked away. I looked after her and thought about the testing we're doing this week and how it seems curriculum has been molded so that kids improve test performance. Teach to the test. Teach to the culture. I turned back to what I had been doing.
RENEWAL assignments are due tomorrow.