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The Bottom Line Parents’ Imperative Responsibility


Government action is not going to rectify our failing educational system. Instead of throwing more money at schools, especially intercity schools, it is essential to have more family action within education. There needs to be a return of parental responsibility in schools. The idea that kids are failing in intercity schools simply because of bad teachers is untrue. Many intercity teachers are doing a marvelous job even in a broken educational system.

“America 2000”, signed into law in 1994 and a product of a 1989 educational summit held by the late President George H.W. Bush and chaired by soon-to-be President Bill Clinton, reinforced the importance of a child’s parents in the educational process. The report stated that “Today’s young Americans spend barely 9% of their first eighteen years in school, on average. What of the other 91%, the portion spent elsewhere at home, on playgrounds, in front of the television?” This statistic suggests that the primary responsibility for the education of a child rests with the parents or guardians of that child rather than the teacher. Furthermore, as John Medina stated in Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving, and Thriving at Work, Home and School (2008), “One of the greatest predictors of performance in school turns out to be the emotional stability of the home.” However, this does not suggest that teachers do not play an important role in the lives of young children. In fact, there must be provisions made for early childhood education for those children who will not receive it at home.

Parents are the primary educators of their children. Parents should be setting high expectations for their children rather than blaming only the educational system. Don Nielsen states in his book Every School, “A child needs consistent, nurturing relationships in order to develop. Such relationships shape self-awareness, social competence, conscience, emotional growth and more — all skills needed for the ‘total development’ of the child.” Like providing food and care, parents have a crucial role in educating their children.

In the end, society needs to take a long hard look at itself. All children need access and exposure to both learning and nurturing relationships. As Nielsen writes “we need to look at education, not as a K-12 system, but as a program of child development that goes from birth until the child is capable of becoming a productive citizen.”

Bailey Takacs

Development Program Coordinator, American Center for Transforming Education
Bailey Takacs currently serves as development program coordinator to Discovery Institutes' American Center for Transforming Education and Development team. Bailey has experiences which also include: campaign management and administrative roles with elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels of the government. He holds a B.A. in Politics and Government from Pacific Lutheran University.