In an attempt to fix a failing inner-city school district, Hartford, CT has begun to make serious changes in its approach to education. The most serious question we can ask is to what extent will these reforms truly affect students' academic outcomes.
The Hartford Courant reports that:
- The trend in high school reform throughout the nation is to break up large, comprehensive high schools into small academies so teachers can get to know students well and collaborate on individuals.
- But teachers — even those excited about reform — are upset about his plan to make them reapply for their jobs.
- District officials are under pressure to improve achievement, but they say it's tricky to find a pace that affords a comfort level to parents, teachers and students.
- The idea of distinct academies doesn't appeal to everyone.
First, I applaud Hartford Public Schools for their efforts at reform. Some struggling school districts remain content to flounder well below the rest of the world in order to satisfy long-standing practices and teachers unwilling to admit that their school is a failure.
Yet, I can't stop from wondering when education reform will truly make a difference. From programs like Direct Instruction to small academies, every theorists out their claims success on a whole scale level. Unfortunately, I don't believe them all; much like I don't believe the baseball players who admit to steroid use "One time, so I could recover from an injury."
Like fixing the baseball scandal, education reform will not truly work unless honest happens at all levels. In some low performing schools, teachers admit to culpability. In others, districts admit to poor prioritization. But nowhere do we find parents taking any part in accepting blame. Instead, they point fingers at the government, the district, the school, the teachers and everyone else but themselves.
If we want our low performing schools to perform, we must be willing to call out the parents. Schools do not perform poorly. Students do. Schools are not responsible for monitoring homework. Schools are not responsible for keeping a child's bedtime.
Parents have the responsibility to read to their children when the child is young. Parents have the responsibility to teach their children social etiqutte. Parents have the responsibility to not choose their own selfish desires above the needs of their children. And when the public, the government, and everyone else concerned about education begin to address the initial cause of student failure, then I will listen to school reform theory.