AJC series on teacher quality: Blame for low student achievement misplaced.

Is there to much focus on what teachers are doing wrong rather than what parents are doing? (AJC file/John Overmyer

Is there too much focus on the role of teachers in student achievement? (AJC file/John Overmyer)

I have been running summaries here of the first two parts of a comprehensive AJC series on teacher quality, the most recent appearing this morning. (You can see the first summary here.)

There’s been a lot of reaction to the AJC series, which examines the state’s efforts to bolster teacher quality.

Retired educator and school head Dennis Brown of Villa Rica sent me a short response this morning that I asked him to expand. He felt that the blame for low student achievement should not fall on teachers and schools, but on the home and the culture.

Here is Brown’s expanded retort to the AJC series:

Once again in the Sunday, Sept. 18, issue of the AJC, a front-page inflammatory headline (”Georgia fails at improving teachers”) lays blame on the system for the purported failure of our public schools. And once again, falling and/or non-improving standardized test scores are at the root of all the rhetoric and opinions leading to that conclusion.

First, let me say from the onset that I’m not one willing to say test scores determine, nor should determine the success of our educational system. But notwithstanding that assertion, when will we wake up?

If our next generation is to be well served by graduates prepared to contribute to a constantly improving society (rather than simply producing increased test scores), when will we stop looking at the vehicle to solve the problem, rather than the root of the cause — the changing needs of our young people coming into the system today.

More than 30 years in pre-k-12th grade education and now retired, thank goodness, has shown me one thing — home environment and involved, supportive parents do more to determine outcomes of students than all the teachers, text materials, changing curricula, technology, and other in-school factors added together.

We hear all the time of the ineffective outcomes that have been observed from the 10 years of fluctuating and knee-jerk reactions resulting from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Likewise, the tons of money squandered as a result of the prominent 1983 report on American education titled “A Nation at Risk,” published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. But again, both conclusions based on a statistical analysis of test scores.

Hey, if I had all the answers, I’d be a wealthy man. But I don’t. One thing I do know for sure. We need to attack the root of the problem, not the symptoms. Until parents and society stop laying the blame at our school systems and assume responsibility for the mores and daily activity of our young people, all the teachers, teachers of teachers, politicians, and money in the world will not help improve test scores.

And if test scores are the only measure we have to evaluate our school systems of today, then we have our priorities screwed up and perhaps should be the first step of true reform addressed.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

166 comments Add your comment

Good Mother

September 19th, 2011
1:44 pm

Oh here it comes.

Let the parent bashing begin.


September 19th, 2011
1:46 pm

Maureen — please watch the Stocill report… it’s quite interesting. I do agree that there’s much to be said for home environment and culture but there’s alot wrong with a “monopoly” system… watch the report — please! Then think about what has happened in APS and what is happening in DCSS with the fraud and corruption… the amount of money being fed into the monopoly system is really not unlike a 3rd world county (Libya, Egypt, etc.) and being siphoned off from the school system just like it is in those countries — the public schools provides an enormous pool of money for people to drain….. watch the report and just think about it based on what is currently happnening in Atlanta. Then google Roslyn, NY and look at the indictment and the case of their superintendent…see what is really happening in America.

Nick P.

September 19th, 2011
1:58 pm

Good mother, you are a joke, to think that parents have no blame or are not a variable in this equation, and solely placing the blame always, 100% on teachers’ backs is why i believe everything you say and state here on these comment boards is pure BS, and a refusal to spend a minute looking in the mirror and accounting for your own short comings in life! There are bad teachers, sure there are just like there are bad doctors, bad lawyers, get this good mother, there are bad parents, and bad mothers such as your self for not willing to see your self as part of the problem!

Ed Rigdon

September 19th, 2011
2:05 pm

Must we go over this sdame ground again and again? Of course, if we try to measure teacher influence without accounting for otehr factors, we’ll get the wrong answer. And of course, if we try to capture parent influence, the same thing will happen. And of course, if we try to measure educational success through standardized test scores along, we will again fail, because tests scores, like any single measure, have their own quirks and peculiarities.
We know how to do this right. You start with student background, because the home gets first crack at influencing students. Then you give schools a chance to predict the part of student achievement not predicted by student background. And you commit to well-rounded assessments of student learning, not one bone-headed testing regime. And then you commit to a program of intervention and analysis to find tools and techniques that help. It isn’t actually that hard, and I can tell you that blaming, grandstanding, cronyism and graft have no place in it whatsoever.


September 19th, 2011
2:18 pm

Race to the Top is going to force schools just to teach from a reading script–it has already happen for those teaching Health class–ELA 8th grade has day by day of what should be taught and how. The governments give everything in their power to prevent teachers from being teachers. It want be long before teachers open a manual and read it and it will even have the student’s response. No money for paper to do homework, lesson plans , and graphic organizers. Kick out the students that have disrupted the class for 10 years–you lose FTE. Place everyone no matter what mental ability in the classroom without extra help thanks to RTI, Takes a year to be AP certified but take a test and all sudden you know everything about Special Education. Know matter what the teachers get accused of the politician failures. I don’t know why anyone wants to be a teacher. Politicians give everything they can to prevent you(teachers) from doing the job and then blame the teachers for all the wrongs that a kid did.

Concerned DeKalb Mom

September 19th, 2011
2:21 pm


OK…yes, overwhelmingly, many students don’t come prepared when they walk into their first day of public school. Whether they are unprepared academically (never read to, can’t write their name, don’t know the alphabet, etc) or socially (never disciplined, talks back, can’t share) or physically (watched too much TV so can’t sit still), the job of the school is still to educate ALL who come walking through the door.

Parents can blame the teachers for not knowing how to handle/motivate/fix those “problem” kids. They can be disappointed that their child, who can read chapter books on the first day of kindergarten, has to sit next to Susie who can’t even count to 20.

And teachers can blame the parents for not sending the kids to school better prepared.

But it’s all IRRELEVANT. Teachers must teach who they have, not who they WISH they had. And parents need to support the teacher in any way that they can. And that may mean providing enrichment of their own when Tommy and Petunia get home.

Concerned Parent

September 19th, 2011
2:33 pm

Could you please provide the academic credentials of AdvancEd President Mark Elgart? I have attempted to locate them via the internet; however, I have been unable to find them. Many thanks!!

Mikey D

September 19th, 2011
2:39 pm

@Ed Rigdon
Unfortunately, yes we must revisit the same issues constantly because, unfortunately, those in charge don’t understand the common-sense things you’ve just written about. As soon as the “leaders” in this state and nation get the heck out of the way and let teachers start teaching again, things will get back on an upswing. But of course that’s going to mean those “leaders” putting aside their egos, so I’m not really expecting it anytime soon…

Another Math Teacher

September 19th, 2011
2:41 pm

Please don’t feed the troll, no matter how good or motherly they claim to be.


September 19th, 2011
2:41 pm

@Good Mother…the writer is correct. You are responsible for the learning of your child. It’s amazing how schools teach people to depend on government education and services. What makes you believe its the governments job to educate your child. The test children each year and find out the 75% are not reading at the appropriate level. Does the school system say “wait” all these children are not prepared, the methods we have attempted to use have not worked, lets address this issue now. No, they pass them along to the next grade with everyone else and they continue to fall further behind.

The government proclaims this to be accountability and parents eat it up as it was hot fries from McDonalds. They system is simply sorting those who may go to college, those who probably will go to prison, as they hope all will become “workers” that will not understand our system just like you “Good Mother.” If you send your child to school with a full belly in the morning, you re-enforced what they learned in school the prior day, then your child should be able to retain the rote memorization techniques used in government schools.

You’re right…take responsibility….I bet your child blames the teacher when they fail a test when the government teacher gave them all the answers during class, on a worksheet, and during a review. Still the teachers fault. It is your responsibility to educate your child. We need to remove the seizing of property taxes which fund these institutions. The problem is that many people only believe they should be expected to pay for someone to babysit you child up to the age of 5 years old and then when they are able to attend a government school, I can now use that money to enjoy a convertible or vacations or wardrobe. The government schools are not failing. The are succeeding with flying colors whereby children don’t learn a darn thing.

ITS YOUR RESPNSIBILITY TO PAY FOR PRIVATE EDUCATION. Thats the least responsible you can be as a parent. You owe it to the little snotty nose.

Inman Park Boy

September 19th, 2011
2:42 pm

To use the idiom of your correspondent in Villa Rica, “Hey, this is a load of malarkey.” Yes, I have 30+ years of experience also, and while the “home environment” is important (I would even say critical) our schools and our teachers and building administrators have got to stand up and take their share of the blame. I cannot tell you how uninformed many teachers today are today of evemn the basic political events, issues, and arguments that motivate the times. Many of them never read a word themselves outside the classroom; they are virtual academic morons. And these are the people to whom we entrust our children. God help us.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

September 19th, 2011
2:47 pm

Folks, the problem of student underperformance in our atate is so chronically pervasive and unappreciated as to defy simple explanation. Suffice it to say that there is enough academic underperformance among our kids for every group- parents, teachers, administrators, rock stars, drug addicts et al.- to get its fair and substantial share.


September 19th, 2011
2:48 pm

Well, well well, what do you know. Another disgruntled retired self proclaimed educational hero that has only found fault with parents and the home. Perhaps even a true visionary. I see a bright future in state politics for Mr. Dennis Brown. You can never have too many retired educators in state politics.

Tonya C.

September 19th, 2011
2:52 pm

Ed Rigdon and Concerned Dekalb Mom:

You have hit the nail on the head. We have those children who enter school prepared, and understand the uphill battle we must now fight to keep them motivated and ahead of the game. I can’t blame my daughter’s kindergarten teacher for the classroom full of kids who have not been taught to read as of yet.

Active engaged parents + prepared & ready to learn students = successful schools. This formula has been proven over and over again. Good teachers are paramount too, but they tend to gravitate on their own to schools where the recipe is already there. Teachers can work their butts off to make up the deficits when there are missing parts of the equation, but it will ALWAYS be met with limited results.

Good parents know this and fight to make sure their kids get a good education. The ones who NEED to know it quite honestly don’t give a care.

Good Mother

September 19th, 2011
2:54 pm

Unschooled says “It is your responsibility to educate your child.”

There you have it. The whole enchilada. The basis of the problem in public education. Many teachers believe that as Unschooled says it is MY responsibility to teach my children.

If it is my responsibility to teach my child, then teachers deserve zero pay and zero benefits.

Teaching is a teacher’s job.

A parent’s job is to send a well-rested, well-fed, appropriately dressed child to school on time with homework complete.

Whe I go to work I am responsible for my work. When all teachers have that attitude and work ethic, learning gets done.

Tonya C.

September 19th, 2011
2:57 pm

And let me add, everyone has at least a rudimentary understanding of the issues, but no one wants to be the one to commit political suicide and talk about the elephant in the room. Because it would say that diversity comes at a price, and that every child will not be the next astronaut or CEO.

Mikey D

September 19th, 2011
3:03 pm

GoodMother (LOL) and Slob = trolls
Just ignore, and they’ll go away….

Tonya C.

September 19th, 2011
3:11 pm

Good Mother:

You stated:

“A parent’s job is to send a well-rested, well-fed, appropriately dressed child to school on time with homework complete. ”

Do you realize how often that DOESN’T happen? Even in elementary school? I will restate that up until this year, my children attended schools in middle to upper income schools with involved parents and staff. In addition, the community support of education was strong. We are now in a Title I school, and I saw the difference before school even started. And now that school has begun and I find my daughter to be the only proficient reader in her kindergarten class, I understand the frustration teachers on this blog have identified.

Your child may be all you have described (I don’t doubt you at all), but they are ONE in a school full of children who may not be getting some or any of what your child is receiving in your home.


September 19th, 2011
3:20 pm

I will blame the schools, of 30 years ago. Back in those days, schools jumped on the ’self-esteem bandwagon’ and dare not say something negative or Johnny’s self-image will be forever scarred. No more red pen circling the missed problem. No more ‘time out’, now it is the ‘thinking table’ or whatever. Schools raised an entire generation to think they are so special and too fragile for ‘negative words’. Now these delicate children are parents, and their child can do no wrong. Johnny has been raised to speak out, and tell his teacher NO for lessons he deems ‘baby-ish’. Don’t dare say anything to Johnny’s parents, if he has two parents, because they will come in screaming how you ‘hurt Johnny’s feelings’. Teachers are torn, do you teach the standards which are over most of the children’s abilities? Or do you teach at the level of your class? Either way ……. you lose. I was fortunate to teach prior all these ’standards’ and NCLB. I taught preK/Kindergarten Intervention. I had just turned 5 year olds that couldn’t count past 5. Some 4 yr olds, when asked to count the crayons, said “Red”. Do I follow K standards and teach numbers over 20 to the older kids? Beginning addition? Or do I teach them standards that would be found in a 3 yr old class where the child is barely functioning at, and hope they blossom to grade level? I was able to ‘teach to the child’, unlike today where we teach to the standards. There is much blame for the parents who fail their child in the 1st five years of their lil ones life.


September 19th, 2011
3:25 pm

Do we teach Standards or Children?

To Tonya C from Good Mother

September 19th, 2011
3:26 pm

“Do you realize how often that DOESN’T happen?” (a prepared student)

It depends on the school, Tonya. I’m well aware there are many schools where what I described is not the usual…but in those instances learning can be accomplished because I am living proof.

I was that hungry kid with inappropriate clothing and no parental support often arriving late or pulled out of school early so that I could be put to work…but I learned.

I was financially independent by seventeen. I put myself through high school with an after school job and some kind stranger who let me sleep on their couch.

I was awarded a full merit scholarship and went to college and graduated…with honors while I worked full time for six years to earn my B.S.

It just isn’t true that conditions have to be perfect for teachers to teach. More difficult? Sure. Impossible? Of course not.

Truthfully, I work full time and have, at most one hour with my children before bedtime. I don’t have time to cook. Dinner is a microwaved something or other with fresh fruit and milk.

We practice flash cards in the bath tub before bed time. I squeeze every minute with my children and it amounts to only an hour, at most during the week.

Teachers have six to eight hours a day with my children. If a teacher cannot teach, they needc to leave the profession. No one has a right to pick up a pay check if they aren’t earning it.


September 19th, 2011
3:31 pm

Look – in order for students to reach full success they need both the teacher/school and the parents to be working together. It is not an either or proposition. Children and schools that have both do well, if one or the other is lacking the child’s education is going to suffer.

The people that are pitting parents against teachers are the real problem with education.

Also, In GA it there is a predominant culture of ‘it is cooler to appear or be less of an intellectual’ than in other areas or countries. Unfortunately that becomes the proverbial self-fulfilling prophesy. Until that changes we will stay right where we are.

November 6, 2012

September 19th, 2011
3:34 pm


September 19th, 2011
3:38 pm

In other words GoodMother, its ALL your fault!!

To Roberta from Good Mother

September 19th, 2011
3:40 pm

You expect kindergarten students to be proficient at reading? That’s much too advanced. I’m very certain your child can read at that early age — so perhaps you should allow her to skip a grade or do something different.

Kindergarten is for learning letters and the sounds they make. Some simple reading of bat, cat, hat and the like with no spelling anomalies is also appropriate but to expect children to enter kindergarten knowing how to read already is absolutely ludicrous.

To Yah from Good Mother

September 19th, 2011
3:45 pm

You said “Also, In GA it there is a predominant culture of ‘it is cooler to appear or be less of an intellectual’ than in other areas or countries.”

I agree.

My friends and neighbors, who are black, speak English properly. Her children are teased for “talking white.”

I was also ridiculed for good grades. The boy across the aisle was a cutey pie. I liked him. He saw my bright 100 on my paper and said with a scorn “You always get a 100 don’t you?”

He was jealous and I knew it. At that tender age, I didn’t know any better and when I got my paper with a bright 100, I turned it over so he couldn’t see my grade…but I kept learning anyway and did my best…and that boy, well, he’s working at the car wash and he isn’t so cute anymore.


September 19th, 2011
3:48 pm

Spend some of the time you spend blogging to teach your kids to read. They are an embarrassment.

Dr. John Trotter

September 19th, 2011
3:51 pm

Enter your comments here

Dr. John Trotter

September 19th, 2011
3:56 pm

I wrote my response to the ridiculous notion in the AJC that it is the lack of “quality” among teachers which is the cause of Georgia’s achievement problems.

Here is my response >>>

Educrats Continue To Ignore At Students’ Peril Trotter’s Two Immutable Laws of Relational Learning!


Also, I have written on this subject and related subject hundreds of times in The Teacher’s Advocate! magazine and on the MACE website >>>


Tonya C.

September 19th, 2011
4:02 pm

Kindergartners should be able to read. Maybe not chapter books, but at least a good number of sight words. And Good Mother, I’m happy you beat the odds. So did my husband. But you know what, exceptions does not a rule make. It’s still an exception until it can be replicated for the masses.

And that is what is being talked about here. Rttt and NCLB say that IT can be replicated, even if the child has an IQ of 40. If the child has cerebral palsy. If on test day they found out their parent just got locked up (none of these are made up scenarios by the way). I know there are crappy teachers out there. But I have seen that for every one of those, there are three or four good ones trying to forge ahead. My children will probably end up leaving the public school system, not because of the lack of great teachers but the plethora of sorry students, the testing mania, and the seeming push towards making everyone equally mediocre.

So many, on both sides, need to step out of their bubble into the reality of education today and face hard facts. Some kids will be left behind. Some children will fall through the cracks as a result of available resources. And we need to learn to live with that. Other countries have. We may lower the percentage, but looking for a 100% graduation and proficiency rate is like looking for a friggin unicorn. Besides that, when has 100% of anything produced en masse 100% top quality?


September 19th, 2011
4:02 pm

You expect kindergarten students to be proficient at reading? That’s much too advanced.

I’m glad my parents didn’t think so. But then they never would have blamed my lack of learning on any teacher or school either.


September 19th, 2011
4:21 pm

I agree with Mr. Brown when he says he doesn’t “have all the answers.” His assertion that “the blame should fall on the home and culture,” should be reversed. The influence of culture in many instances defines or certainly shapes values, superseding home life.

To Tonya C from Good Mother

September 19th, 2011
4:21 pm

You said “I know there are crappy teachers out there. But I have seen that for every one of those, there are three or four good ones trying to forge ahead.”

Exactly. I would applaud your estimate. One crappy teacher for every three or four good ones.

That’s 20 to 25% of teachers who are crappy.

That’s absolutely unacceptable when 20 to 25% of the teachers are crappy, we cannot expect our children to learn.

concerned DeKalb dad

September 19th, 2011
4:36 pm

I 100% agree with concerned DeKalb mom. Teachers’ responsibility is to teach the students they have in their classrooms. If they can teach only those students who are perfect, well, we don’t need them. Anyone can teach children if we require that they come prepared and their parents teach the kids at home.

Having said that, I also think that the problem is that some people want to measure teachers using the same measuring stick without paying attention to those circumstances that influence students’ achievements. If teachers succeed to keep a kid coming in 2 year behind in reading when they came in at that level, that is in itself an accomplishment. We would like to see the gap narrowed, but it is likely that the gap has been growing before they came to the teacher. So, if she was able to stop that, it is heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, our “teacher effectiveness” measures don’t consider such accomplishment.

Double Zero Eight

September 19th, 2011
4:36 pm

The percentage of “crappy” parents may exceed “crappy”
teachers in some instances. Teachers are not miracle

Tonya C.

September 19th, 2011
4:42 pm

Good Mother:

That’s the law of averages. I don’t like it and don’t agree with it, but when good teachers (the majority of the educator force) are continuously beaten down with the dregs of the profession, you get what we have now. Education is not the “IT” major and the students who select will only get worse as many who come from families with long lines of quality educators choose other paths with more money or less disrespect.

Right now, you come from a place of animosity as a direct result of the quality of educator your child has been ‘blessed’ with this year. You are frustrated, angry, and you want something done about it. Unfortunately, you also come off as wanting to pitch the baby with the bath water. I’m being honest. This is also the problem with current education reform. It focuses on the cure without really acknowledging the disease, its origins, or the symptoms that appeared long before the diagnosis. Your child SHOULD NOT be subject to a less than quality teacher. The ‘highly-qualified’ designation should mean that the teacher is not only credentialed, but skilled. NCLB has been in place for ten plus years now and it failed to solve the 20-25% problem. So what exactly will the new cornucopia of education acronyms do?


September 19th, 2011
4:57 pm

That’s absolutely unacceptable when 20 to 25% of the teachers are crappy, we cannot expect our children to learn.

With so much finger-pointing, blame, and expectation to raise people’s kids, I’d expect more than 25% of teachers to be crappy. The sane people jump ship when they hear “that ain’t MY job” from their 10,000th parent.

Teacher Reader

September 19th, 2011
5:10 pm

It’s not the parent, teacher, or child, it’s the system that was supported by foundations such as those created by Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller, and now Bill Gates. These people had a plan to dumb down America and begin to change how and what children were taught. If people really looked into how little their children know, they would see that it is true. Do your children really understand the Revolutionary War, what the Constitution says and means, or how our government is set up? I know that I was able to teach much less than I myself learned in elementary school (public) in the 1980’s. Shoot, most elementary teachers don’t understand the history, science, math, and reading that they are teaching.

The AJC is just rehashing the same old argument, without looking into how and why the education has changed. Teachers teach standards and not students. If parents and the public really understood how our education system has changed since they themselves were in school, they would understand how much trouble your child is in.

Schools don’t want children to think or question. Schools only want your child to know what is in the standard. Math is confusing on purpose, they don’t want children to think in that way. I remember a conversation that I had a faculty meeting appalled that the fourth graders I had had not really learned their addition and subtraction facts without using their fingers. This was acceptable and my thinking that they should know and learn their facts was the problem. These kids couldn’t do basic math, that should have been a breeze, even though I was supposed to teach algebraic properties.

If parents took a little bit of time looking into what their children were and weren’t learning, what was and wasn’t demanded of the children in the schools, and looked into education they would realize that media outlets like the AJC are not looking into the real problems with education in America, because they only want you to know what they want you to know, and most in the public are falling for it.

William Casey

September 19th, 2011
5:29 pm

Nobody seems to want to get down to the “nuts and bolts” of improving individual schools, so I’ll try. Ideas are supported by specific experiences from my 31 years in public and private schools. I’ll limit myself to high schools since that is my experience. Most of them cost little or no money.

PROBLEM 1: The principal of any large (1,000+ students) public school has a job in which it is almost impossible to achieve excellence. Bob Burke at Chattahoochee in the ‘90’s was an excellent manager. Pete Zervakos at Northview ‘01-09 was a good manager and inspirational leader. Neither could truly supervise instruction which is the school’s core function. This was covered up by both school’s demographics.

SOLUTION 1: Divide the job into MANAGEMENT PRINCIPAL and INSTRUCTIONAL PRINCIPAL with the two forming a team of absolute equals. It worked very well for the German Army 1870-1914 (I‘m a history guy.) Split the difference in pay between today’s Principal and Assistant Principal. Giving instructional leadership to an AP seldom works. “Management priorities” almost always trump instructional necessities.

PROBLEM 2: Teacher evaluation is a joke and it will get worse with the test-drive “value-added” model. My evaluations many years at CHS & NHS consisted of one twenty-minute observation by people who didn’t even understand my subject area. They weren’t stupid. They simply didn’t have experience in my discipline or how to teach it.

SOLUTION 2: Teacher evaluation must be much more intense and done by teams of people from outside the school. I won’t bore you with the hundreds of school politics/prejudices stories I’ve encountered. I will say that I watched two excellent social science teachers run out of Northview by a Department Chairman who hated men (no, I wasn’t one of them.) Expensive? Somewhat because of the increased number of observations required (at least ten full classes in a year) mitigated somewhat by the fact that every teacher wouldn’t need to be evaluated every year. Could also be reduced by recruiting retired teachers such as myself for whom teaching was a “calling” and who would do this at nominal cost. This would have to be organized along SACS lines or too many Principals would staff it with cronies as happens too often now with retiree re-hires.

PROBLEM 3: Discipline and orderly classrooms.

SOLUTION 3: Nothing will solve all such problems but this would certainly help. Restore In-School Suspension Programs to their roots in the 1970’s when retired Marine Corps Captain Boyd Morley and I piloted the program at Cobb County’s Pebblebrook HS. We designed and implemented a program that amounted to a “halfway house” in which the adolescents had to EARN their way back into the school. It was intense without being abusive. This would cost almost nothing since schools already have ISS teachers. Properly training the ISS teachers would be the only cost. Alas, over the past twenty years the program has largely degenerated into a glorified study hall and holding pen. We tried to modify behavior. All this would take is the moral courage then Assistant Principal Ralph Williams showed back then.

There’s LOTS more but the point is that these school-specific solutions are what’s needed rather than the hazy “cosmic reform” efforts I’ve witnessed for the past forty years. If this bores you, you’re part of the problem. These are all things that any school could do. B*tching and moaning about bad parents or social ills doesn’t help.

One Up

September 19th, 2011
5:31 pm

Parent bashing?? Why should it not start with the parents. You may not be in the group but there is a tsunami of lousy parenting and people having children who have no business doing so.


September 19th, 2011
5:32 pm

Good Mother:

I’m not sure if you know, but you can view the current Georgia Performance Standards that all students are expected to learn at each grade level:


Essentially, students ARE expected to read by the time they are in Kindergarten:

For example-
ELAKR4 The student demonstrates the ability to read orally with speed, accuracy, and expression. The student
a. Reads previously taught high frequency words at the rate of 30 words correct per minute.
b. Reads previously taught grade-level text with appropriate expression.

ELAKR6 The student gains meaning from orally presented text. The student
a. Listens to and reads a variety of literary (e.g., short stories, poems) and informational texts and materials to gain knowledge and for pleasure.
b. Makes predictions from pictures and titles.
c. Asks and answers questions about essential narrative elements (e.g., beginning-middle-end, setting, characters, problems, events, resolution) of a read-aloud text.
d. Begins to distinguish fact from fiction in a read-aloud text.
e. Retells familiar events and stories to include beginning, middle, and end.
f. Uses prior knowledge, graphic features (illustrations), and graphic organizers to understand text.
g. Connects life experiences to read-aloud text.
h. Retells important facts in the student’s own words.

Two important notes: one, the emphasis is on the student, as this is standards-based instruction. The child should learn the information, with support from the teacher (and parent). Two, to become a proficient reader, a child must develop a love for reading. These good habits start at home before kindergarten– with the parent reading to the child, taking him/her to the library, etc. If there is little parent support, it is not impossible for the child to overcome such a hurdle; however, he or she will be behind her peers who have ample parent support.

Curtis Rivers

September 19th, 2011
5:35 pm

I’ve worked with at-risk minority kids for nearly two decades. Family and society play a monstrous role in whether-or-not kids succeed academically. In the case of the kids with whom I work, often parents can either barely read and write, and sometimes not at all. Parents who have had little or no education are hard-pressed to understand the value of education for their children. Couple that with peer-pressure from other kids in the same group, and it is monumental to get one of our kids through High School. We’re being successful, but we watch the same dramas play out repeatedly…drugs, alcohol, tv addiction, lack of motivation, etc. Getting parents and families on board is one of the great keys to a youngster’s success, and trying to remove them from negative societal influences is ancillary to that. Good article, and good thoughts.


September 19th, 2011
5:38 pm

@ William Casey- Dr. Burke was awesome. :)

Dr. John Trotter

September 19th, 2011
5:40 pm

@ Teacher Reader: The so-called standards are like concrete blocks which have sunk our educational systems deep into the abyss. We need to get rid of these impediments and return to teaching children (1) the times tables by rote memory (yes! rote memory — the only real way to learn them); (s) the elements of speech and how to conjugate sentences and then write a cogent paragraph with proper punctuation, grammar, and syntax; and (3) all the U. S. Presidents in order (yes! by rote memory again; by the way, I made my 8th Graders at Green County High School memorize the Presidents of the U. S. in order — otherwise, how else can a student conceptually understand U. S. History when he or she has no idea if Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan was the President during the American Civil War?).

All of these efforts to “improve” public education have actually had an overall deleterious effect on public education. I have said many times (and cited studies) that “school reform” does NOT work. But, politicians have to have the general public believing that they are trying to improve public education. The first problem occurred when the Business Roundtable in the U. S. started salivating at the billions of dollars associated with public education in the U. S. and then set out on a course to undermine public education so that it could then fix it (and reap billions of dollars doing so). Talking about diabolical schemes! Bill Gates, Eli and Edyth Broad, and other so-called reformers do an unimaginable amount of harm to public education. Unimaginable. And don’t get me started on Educational Charlatans like Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Rod Paige, Beverly Hall, and Mark Elgart. Hypocrites. © JRAT, September 19, 2011.




September 19th, 2011
5:58 pm

Mr. Brown is merely trying to shift the blame away from ineffective teachers, no surprise there.

Parents are an important part of the equation, however the offspring of the world’s best parents won’t progress if the teacher’s a dud. My friends, both Tech grads and awesome parents, pulled their son out of public school because his teacher was a retard who could barely spell or speak the English language.


September 19th, 2011
6:02 pm

There’s been a lot of reaction to the AJC……..
You do know that there’s is short for there is don’t you.


September 19th, 2011
6:07 pm

This debate will never end.

It’s funny that this would be up today after the discussion I had with my coworkers this afternoon. We were comparing notes about some of the students we share. The same names came up over and over as we talked about students who were failing our classes. Here are students who have 3 different teachers and they are failing everything. Can it be that all 3 teachers are doing a horrible job? Or is something else to blame?

Question for Good Mother

September 19th, 2011
6:07 pm

Just out of curiosity, what kind of job do you have that allows you to stay on the internet all day on a media site, monitor the comments, and compose fairly long responses to those who question your original comment? And I’m not too sure I’m going to believe you if you say it’s your day off as you seem to have established a pattern of behavior here on Maureen’s blog.

Charlie The Tuna

September 19th, 2011
6:16 pm

Too many parents only concern is that their “Little Bobby Buttcrack” makes the football team, or their “Little Betsy Big Boobs” makes the cheerleading squad.

Education Insider

September 19th, 2011
6:48 pm

We have a short list of qualities that we look for in educators that we will represent to our client schools. They are as follows; 1. You must feel that you were “called” to teach. 2. You have to have a heart for childrent…really you have to like them inspite of themselves and finally when they fail you really have to question if there is anything more you could have done. Advanced degrees don’t make you a better teacher and GA policy of allowing you to be endorsed as “highly qualified” if you get at least half the answers right is why we spend loads of money teaching teachers how to teach. Education is the only business that blames it’s customers on it’s shortcomings. McDonald’s doesn’t blame vegans for slumping sales.