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Marko 1 Alexis Marko Megan Keaton English 112-15 2 May 2013 Quit Pointing Fingers The debate over

who is responsible for a childs overall academic success has been ongoing for decades, if not longer. Many automatically jump to the conclusion that since a teacher has a degree and their job is to teach students, they are the ones that are to be held accountable. However, if one takes a second to truly think about this subject of the matter, if a child does not have a solid foundation at home, how can they be expected to do any better outside of the home? Most parents of course want their children to do well in school; therefore, their first scapegoat will be the teachers when something goes wrong. Teacher Jennifer Scoggin has a good point when she says, Ultimately, it's so easy to blame teachers because it lets everyone else off the hook (Scoggin 34). She, like many other teachers, feels that parents should start taking responsibility and quit blaming others for both the successes and failures of their students. This is a crucial topic because when it comes down to it, students today are the future of America. If they do not have a solid support system whether it is at home or at school, they will not be the only generation harmed by the consequences. Generations of the present and the future will be affected. In this paper I will first discuss the viewpoints of the National Education Association as well as Thomas Friedman, author who feels as though parents should be held responsible for the educational success of students. Following this, I will review opinions of Elizabeth Peterson and Laura Berk, authors who think that teachers have the most sway and

Marko 2 should take responsibility of their students. Lastly, I will offer a compromise that could possibly be used to resolve the continuing issue of who should be held responsible. Thomas Friedman, a writer for the New York Times, expresses that parents have a greater influence on their children than teachers, but they do not take advantage of it. He knows that teachers play a tremendous role and are very influential; however, without better parenting, American students will not be able to take it to the next level. Friedman claims, Just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring, (Friedman n.p.). It is that simple. A parent does not have to know every single piece of material that their child is learning in school; they do not even have to know any of it. By starting at an early age, and reviewing with their student the material that they just learned, a student is getting the study time in while not actually feeling like they are studying. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECP, gives a test to 15 year-olds around the world every three years to assess their reading comprehension and ability to apply what they learn in other subjects to solve real problems. Results revealed that the grades of American 15 year-olds do not compare with those in Singapore, Finland, and Shanghai. Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the OECP exams, says that 15 year-olds whose parents read books with them when they were in primary school score an average of 14 points higher on the test (Friedman n.p.). This does nothing but reiterate the fact that it is simple to help a student by involving oneself in the smallest of ways. Discovered through personal experience, that is when I learn the most. If I am talking to someone about an interesting topic, I could ramble on and on. By doing so, I not only ensure that I have learned the material, but that I am able to retain it for a longer period of time. To coincide with what Friedman has to offer, NEA also feels that parents play a crucial role when it comes to the

Marko 3 success of students. In the article, NEA states several possible factors that can lead to a parents lack of help when it comes to their students academic career. For example, some parents simply do not have the time in their schedule to volunteer. They also feel uncomfortable with the school officials, feel frustration towards the school systems, or they do not have the proper resources or know-how to help their children (NEA 2). When a parent is not involved, a student may lose interest in school, have no motivation to do their work, and also get into trouble. A lot of those reasons are incredibly common in families across the country. Unfortunately, the fact that this problem has become so common and detrimental has only fueled the fire to this debate. In fact, the lack of parental involvement is viewed by teachers, administrators, the public, and even parents of school-age children, as the single biggest problem facing our nations schools, (NEA 1). Yes, these problems are common, and yes, sometimes a childs schoolwork can be the last thing on a parents mind, but as Friedman says, a minimal amount of effort can go a long way in the mind of a young pupil. Author Elizabeth Peterson conducted a study with several colleagues with the question in mind of who is responsible for students overall success. This group of researchers asked groups of teachers who they thought should be held responsible and what factors contributed greatest to the success of their children. When teachers were asked who they think should take responsibility for student success in school there were different opinions. Some felt that a students likelihood of success was based on uncontrollable biological factors, such as ability. Other teachers felt they have more influence over students. Findings suggest that students show the greatest achievement gains when teachers take collective responsibility for student success and failure, rather than blaming the students for failure, (Peterson 3). In other words, when a teacher takes the blame for a students failures but also takes some credit for their successes,

Marko 4 students are more likely to try harder and receive higher grades. This goes to show how teachers really do impact their students and why, they too, need to try hard and take their jobs seriously. Laura Berk, author of book, Awakening Childrens Minds, takes the audience inside the walls of a classroom with a teacher named Tamara. Tamara is a teacher of a kindergarten/first grade split class. This contains a group of students ranging between five to seven years old. These students come from a variety of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. To throw even more obstacles into the mix, two of Tamaras students have disabilities in reading and one has a disability in speech/language. Several times a week therapists visit Tamaras class and assist those students who are in need. Despite the wide range of students that Tamara takes under her wing, she keeps her classroom incredibly organized and always has an elaborate plan that defines the entire day for her students. Another tactic Tamara uses would be that she incorporates mathematical, scientific, and reading problems into everyday situations. For example, she has a guest and it is snack time. Together, she and her students count out how many cups they will need in order for everyone to have snack. Berk states that the environment constantly encourages children to engage in deliberate reasoning to guide their behavior, and to stretch to new levels of thinking about thought, (Berk 185). This too is a prime example of how teachers that are dedicated to their students may lead some to believe that they hold the most responsibility when it comes to students succeeding in school. When I was in middle school, my band director, Mrs. Isenhour was my biggest role model. She was so passionate about everything she did, which is why I stayed in music throughout high school. If it was not for her, I would have given up on music. Overall, it is blatant that both parents and teachers play a very important role when it comes to the success of a student. Without the help of parents, the teacher will suffer and

Marko 5 without the help of teachers, parents will suffer. This suffering will eventually become evident in a childs grades. Although hundreds of school systems around the country will claim that the administration team has great relationships with both parents and staff members, from firsthand experience I know that this is not the case a majority of the time. In high school, I had a guidance counselor who seemed to be there just so she could relive her high school drama days. She never really offered any sound advice to my parents and me, which lead me to take classes that I did not have to take. As the NEA organization claimed, there are several roadblocks, so to speak, that cause tension between parents and school systems. This problem does not need to be taken as far as the government; in fact, it does not even have to be taken out of a childs school building. If the administration team of a school implements a plan that forces teachers and parents to communicate, meet face-to-face, and interact with their children, a students chances of success will most likely increase exponentially. A teacher should hold up their end of the deal by doing everything they possibly can in the classroom. This includes teaching everyone with the same amount of effort and not playing the almighty favorites game. If it is clear that a student is trying their hardest, yet still struggling, the teacher may offer additional help. However, if a teacher knows that a student has the capability of doing the work and they choose not to, then the parents would be notified and asked to step into the situation. At this point it would be the responsibility of the parents to find a way to make their student more responsible. To put this plan into action, administrative teams will need to meet with their staff on a regular basis, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. In their meetings, they will go over how students are doing, what problems seem to be most common, and possible solutions to those problems. The administration will also need to coordinate a schedule for parents and teachers to meet with one another, that way they are forced to be involved with their childs

Marko 6 school. No matter what the solution is, it is crucial that parents and teachers both work with students to ensure that they receive the proper tools needed in order to be successful in their academic careers.

Marko 7 Works Cited Berk, Laura E. "Chapter Six." Awakening Children's Minds: How Parents and Teachers Can Make a Difference. New York, NY: Oxford UP, 2001. 181-219. Print. Friedman, Thomas L. "How About Better Parents?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Nov. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. NEA. "Parent, Family, Community Involvement in Education." NEA.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2013 Peterson, Elizabeth R., Christine M. Rubie-Davies, Margaret J. Elley-Brown, Deborah A. Widdowson, Robyn S. Dixon, and S. Earl Irving. "Who Is to Blame? Students, Teachers and Parents Views on Who Is Responsible for Student Achievement."Manchesteruniversitypress. N.p., Nov. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2013. Scoggin, Jennifer. "The Blame Game." Scholastic 120.6 (2011): 33-35. Scholastic, Summer 2011. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.