March 23, 2014

"Once kids enter middle school, parental help with homework can actually bring test scores down..."

"... an effect [UT sociology professor Keith] Robinson says could be caused by the fact that many parents may have forgotten, or never truly understood, the material their children learn in school."
Similarly, students whose parents frequently meet with teachers and principals don’t seem to improve faster than academically comparable peers whose parents are less present at school. Other essentially useless parenting interventions: observing a kid’s class; helping a teenager choose high-school courses; and, especially, disciplinary measures such as punishing kids for getting bad grades or instituting strict rules about when and how homework gets done. This kind of meddling could leave children more anxious than enthusiastic about school, Robinson speculates....
So is it that parental involvement is "essentially useless" or is it that parental involvement is good when the parents give good involvement, but if you combine good and bad parent involvement, you can't detect the value of the good involvement? The author of the linked article — Dana Goldstein at The Atlantic — concludes that parents should not help their kids with their homework, but perhaps the conclusion should be: Don't help them the wrong way.

Goldstein notes that the government has been actively promoting parental involvement in education on the theory that it will "help close the test-score gap between middle-class and poor students" and says that the new study — co-authored by Robinson and Duke sociology professor Angel L. Harris — has "largely disproved that assumption."

I'm skeptical. If poorly educated parents are trying to help but providing bad help because they don't understand the material themselves or they don't have sound ideas about how to learn, that doesn't mean well-educated parents, who grew up with effective learning habits, should not help their children. It doesn't even mean that those poorly educated parents could not learn how to provide more effective help.

But, as you might expect, the sociology professors are oriented toward policies that improve the schools that are available to children who are economically deprived. This policy goal is strengthened by undermining the belief that what these children need most is better parenting.

76 comments:

great Unknown said...

Did they compare the results for Republican and Democrat families? I would love to see the cross-tab on that.

Paco Wové said...

"what these children need most is better parenting."

Not disagreeing with that point, but wondering where "better parenting" is going to come from. The gov't has one and only one solution* to any problem — throw money at it — and I don't see how that is going to help at all in this case.

--
*Ok, two and only two solutions — 1) throw money at it; 2) criminalize it.

EDH said...

But for some reason the sociological data show the overnight fuck buddies of newly separated parents are excellent home tutors for the kids. Go figure.

Hagar said...

I am not surprised. The public education system in this country today is beyond understanding by normal people, taught their "three R's" in the old-fashioned way.

exhelodrvr1 said...

It takes the responsibility off the parents and puts it on the government. No surprises there.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Perhaps some parents are giving their children "too much" help with their homework? Part of learning is wrestling with the material. Understanding comes from doing.

PB Reader said...

Here's a test: Ask someone what 9x7 equals. If they can quickly come up with 63 then they have been properly provided a solid foundation in math facts, key to many things. If they have to go to a calculator, they are a product of our modern educational system and likely to believe anything they are told.

surfed said...

Here's how parents help with homework... Facilitating homework completion - as in - "Get your damn homework done!"

Birches said...

It depends on how insane the parent is, I suppose. Tiger mom learned how to read music and all the theory behind her daughter's musical pieces so that she could properly critique them when they were practicing. As I read, I remember thinking about how much time and effort she was putting into making sure her kids were successful.

If you had a parent like that, it could probably only help...

MadisonMan said...

When I helped with homework, I had no problem saying I don't know -- look it up.

I don't see why parental involvement is construed to be helps with homework. It should be construed as makes sure the kids get homework done and keeps screentime to a minimum until it is done. I would think a Sociology Professor would understand this.

MadisonMan said...

IOW -- what's surfed said, mostly :)

David said...

"The children can not be taught because of their home environment."

This is the great excuse of the education system in the United States today. The excuse works because it contains some truth. But it's not the whole truth, and it's not nothing but the truth.

It's a cover for the deficiencies of the system. It's really another way of saying "the poor will always be with us." True perhaps. All the more reason to find a better way to provide education to those who most need it.

Gahrie said...

The two changes that would most improve the education system will never happen because of unpleasant demographic results....tracking and expelling intentional non-learners.

madAsHell said...

Sociology....is there anything it can't prove?....is there any finding that it cannot discover?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I grew up thinking reading was fun, to the point of riding my bicycle by myself to the Carnegie library in my small Iowa hometown to check out books.

My niece in Portland, Oregon has been assigned by her school a certain number of hours a week that she has to read. So she has to read for a half hour before going to bed every night. She is being taught that reading is a chore.

elkh1 said...

Uninvolved parents are blamed for their kids' failure, involved parents are blamed for their kids' failure. Where are the teachers?

Michael K said...

Larry Elder, a black libertarian radio talk show host in LA used to talk about the Korean kids in the library near his home while black kids outside the library were practicing skateboarding. Black activists tried very hard to force him off the air.

From an essay by a white teacher on black schools in Alabama:

At some level, my students understand the same thing. One day I asked the bored, black faces staring back at me. “What would happen if all the white people in America disappeared tomorrow?”

“We screwed,” a young, pitch-black boy screamed back. The rest of the blacks laughed.

I have had children tell me to my face as they struggled with an assignment. “I cain’t do dis,” Mr. Jackson. “I black.”

Unknown said...

My dad, a career Navy man, was faced with having to pass a Navy algebra course in order to satisfy the requirements of his fitness report.

He had dropped out of school at age 12 in order to support his large Irish family and, though very good at arithmetic, he was daunted by algebra.

So I, at age 10, took and passed the course in his name (which was my name too). I learned a lot of algebra, but of course I got no help from my parents.

That was the same year I found a beautiful bamboo and ivory slide rule in the alley trash that changed my life.

YoungHegelian said...

This policy goal is strengthened by undermining the belief that what these children need most is better parenting.

Well, if better parenting isn't going to fix the problem, I guess that just leaves the teachers' union on the hook to fix these kids up. The same teachers' union that is always telling us that the problems lie with the parents.

So, where does that leave these poor kids? With parents who can't help them effectively & teachers who think that the families need to be fixed before they can help the kids?

How much longer before society discovers it has no clue what to do with these kids & just sends them to the salt mines en masse?

cubanbob said...

Did they compare the results for Republican and Democrat families? I would love to see the cross-tab on that.

3/23/14, 8:39 AM"

A better cross tab would be comparing public schools and charter schools and private schools.

john said...

When my kid told me he didn't know what I was doing with all this borrowing and carrying, I knew my days helping with math homework were over.

Regrouping, my ass.

cubanbob said...

"How much longer before society discovers it has no clue what to do with these kids & just sends them to the salt mines en masse?"

Actually the question is when will society finally discover that Great Society construct of the Democrats is a failure and severly curtails it? People react to incentives. On e the "safety net" that allows the screw ups to get by is yanked they will stop being screw ups.

YoungHegelian said...

@cubanbob,

Actually the question is when will society finally discover that Great Society construct of the Democrats is a failure and severly curtails it?

CB, I think that if it comes down to the choice between the liberals admitting social democracy is a failure & sending the "failed experiments" of SD down to the salt mines, I think the latter choice will win out.

cyrus83 said...

The best sort of education in my opinion is the one-on-one kind, personally tailored to a child's strengths and weaknesses. There's a reason why rich families in the past paid for a private tutor and why they continue to pay for private education - it is better than they themselves can provide, and they tend to get what they pay for in terms of quality of education.

The government isn't yet at the point where it can hire private tutors for the less privileged, although it is getting close to the point where it will be cheaper than the present system: the local city presently spends more than $24,000 per kid per year to fail to graduate half of them. Give those parents $24,000 per year to spend on their kid's education and I bet you'd see outcomes soar.

Seeing Red said...

Now the educators deliberately speak educator to parents to enhance the divide.

rubric is a word they're fond of. My middle school decided to go to block teaching, they added 6000 minutes of math good! But when they chose the math program, I asked at the board meeting if they went online to see what the parental feedback was nope! They know best.

I was talking with my best friend a few years ago about this because her kids were older and had been thru this crap. They were both being taught the same thing yet used different terminology.

The ivory towers come up with this crap because they need to publish and keep their jobs.

Take phonics , it comes, it goes, then that whole language crap and now kids can't spell. My mom can't spell because they got rid of phonics back in the 40s. I had phonics, my niece 10 years ago started kindergarten and they decided to bring back phonics as an experiment. It's ridiculous.

Seeing Red said...

For the young uns out there McGuffey reader is your friend.

Joe said...

In an attempt to show whether the kids of more-involved parents improved over time,...

This makes the entire [meta]study a joke.

How can solid A and B students, whose parents were involved their whole lives, measurably improve?

It also ignores the fact that middle school is when children start puberty and basically lose their minds. Maintaining grades is seen as a victory. Hell, helping some of your kids slide only half a grade is a victory!

(My ex and I failed as parents with our youngest. Her 4.0 GPA slid to a nasty 3.87 GPA by the time she [just] graduated. Then there's our oldest son who wouldn't have graduated at all had we not been involved. Our bad.)

Seeing Red said...

I'm a product of new math. My parents laughed their asses off when I brought that home. I might hate math partially because of that brilliant idea.

Then new-new math cos new math failed. And the brilliant idea of no physical walls between classrooms - open classes.

MORONS!!!!

Carol said...

I know legally we're supposed to blame some Adult, but really the burden is on the student. God bless the child who has his own inner drive, who gets it implicitly, and makes his own way.

A certain teacher or a parent may have touched off the spark at some point, but I don't think you can make that happen.

Alex said...

Well reading is a chore when your options are playings games on iPad, Gameboy, XBox, etc...

Kids have to be forced to spend time with a book for at least an hour each day.

ABCs and all that.

cubanbob said...

The government isn't yet at the point where it can hire private tutors for the less privileged, although it is getting close to the point where it will be cheaper than the present system: the local city presently spends more than $24,000 per kid per year to fail to graduate half of them. Give those parents $24,000 per year to spend on their kid's education and I bet you'd see outcomes soar."

An astonishingly good idea Strangelove. Eight grand for private parochial school plus six grand for year long tutoring and save ten grand in the process.

Hagar said...

I was fortunate that my primary and seoondary education took place in Norway back when Norway was a very poor country - strictly cod, herring, and potatoes - so the public schools were poorly equipped and our books behind the times what with WWII and all, but blessedly devoid of educational theoristers.

I took my first year of college at U of Wash. and had to take some sort of exam first, which was a bit of a puzzlement as I had never seen such as thing as a multiple choice test before, but they explained to me about filling in these little ovals with a #2 pencil and it went well. In fact, I was told that I scored in the 96th percentile on the English portion of the test, and I wondered how that could be, since I had only been in the country about a month and still had a hard time making myself understood, or even understand what I was told, with the peculiar way of pronouncing the English language common in this country.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

There is no time that parents should be doing their children's work. It is not their responsibility, and it is not their development which is at stake. Each person needs to face challenges and develop their own, unique solutions to surmounting them. We ignore individual dignity at our peril, and at the cost of advancing human civilization.

Parents need to provide oversight, regulation, and moral support, with a progressive reduction of physical support. That's it. Otherwise, they will sabotage their child's physical, mental, and character development. The will, if perhaps unwittingly, sponsor a progressive "spoiled child syndrome", a degenerative disorder, where each succeeding generation is more entitled and less capable.

Hagar said...

Over at Lem's Levity someone posted an excerpt from the new "Common Core" project that is all the rage in educationist circles now, and it seems that "New Math," or some new version of it is back.
This looks like a "wolf in sheep's clothing" to me.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Well reading is a chore when your options are playings games on iPad, Gameboy, XBox, etc.

If you want your kids to be great in math, get them to play games like EVE on-line.

Even simple games like World of Warcraft require some math skills to be sure that you are equipping yourself with the best gear.

Even if you are an electrical engineer, you can't help with Common Core math.

Our children are screwed.

Freeman Hunt said...

We went to an open math competition last week. We were the only people of Western European descent there. All parents were involved types. Indians and Asians seem less inclined to go around pretending that parents don't matter.

But what a convenient thing that must be for a parent to believe!

AReasonableMan said...

Freeman Hunt said...
We went to an open math competition last week. We were the only people of Western European descent there. All parents were involved types. Indians and Asians seem less inclined to go around pretending that parents don't matter.

But what a convenient thing that must be for a parent to believe!


Freeman, I was curious what your take on this study would be, given that you have committed strongly to the opposite point of view. I have vacillated between being very involved at times on certain things and leaving my kids completely alone on others. My wife is currently very involved with my youngest (7).

I think it is very hard to give a good education to your child if you are not already well educated and have the time to give. My youngest was reading 'Little Women' yesterday and came across the word 'betoken'. I gave her a pretty reasonable definition, looked it up in the dictionary online and used the word in a few different contexts. My wife and son then joined in and discussed the meaning of the root 'token', we talked again about how currencies denote value and how subway tokens work. Then she went back to reading. She leads a very privileged intellectual life where every query gets a solid airing from someone in the family.

I am going to get the book. It is a very depressing message, if true, because it suggests that, at best, parental involvement simply reinforces existing class barriers.

Julie C said...

A movie came out a few years ago called "Race to Nowhere" about the pressures parents are putting on kids to succeed in school and get into good colleges.

They've shown that documentary many times around here, and then have these group discussions with parents and others, trying to convince all of us that we need to stop putting any pressures on our kids to be successful in school.

I told my son that when the Asian parents sign on for that, I'd consider it (jokingly) but that in the meantime, get back to your homework!

Julie C said...

This gets back to the notion of "helicopter parents". Provide support for your kid to get the homework done - a quiet place to do the work, time to do it (don't overschedule your kid), and answer a question if asked. But if you are regularly correcting all the work before it gets turned in, are you really helping your kid? A friend told me about someone she knows whose college kid sends her papers to her mother to correct before she turns them in. What the hell?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

We went to an open math competition last week. We were the only people of Western European descent there. All parents were involved types. Indians and Asians seem less inclined to go around pretending that parents don't matter.

In my experience, the "involvement" of white parents often is of the whining, 'why didn't you give my child a better grade' variety while the "involvement" of Indian and Asian parents is of the "can I have extra work for my child to do after he gets his regular homework done" variety.

AReasonableMan said...

Julie C said...
A friend told me about someone she knows whose college kid sends her papers to her mother to correct before she turns them in. What the hell?


I don't have a problem with this. One of my sons was outstanding at math/logic and I never gave him much help after the first few years at school. He was much weaker at writing. I would correct papers for him in high school and the first few years of college. I have some editorial experience, although not a professional by any means. Ultimately he has become a decent writer, but it took a long time. At this point he is very balanced and can do pretty much anything he puts his mind to.

My youngest is relatively weaker at maths, and we put effort into strengthening this side of her work. She is already a very good writer. No one size fits all. If I were to identify a suitable role for parents in teaching it is to identify and correct the specific weaknesses of the child, if you have the capabilities to do so.

Kirk Parker said...

MadMan,

I had a particular song and dance with our kids, most notably with math homework where it's all about learning new techniques of how to solve progressively more-advanced problems.

Kid comes to me and says, "I can't get the answer for problem 123 [the first problem in the evening's homework assignment]."

I look at it, and being away from anything fancier than plain algebraic factoring for quite some time, say, "Well, doesn't the section in the book that talks about this, have a sample problem or two that they work out for you?"

Kid: "Huh???" [Yes, not just in middle school but even in 9th, 10th grade the still have not had the epiphany that the homework is about exercising the stuff that this section of the book is trying to teach you!]

Me: "Well, see, here's the explanation, right at the top of the section, of what they're trying to teach you, and right below that are a few examples. Go read that again [I put in that last word just to be charitable] and see if that gives you what you need to figure out how to do the problem. If it doesn't, come on back and we'll look at it some more."

They rarely ever came back ... that night. But the next day or two, we'd have the same exact conversation, only the problem numbers would have changed.

Seeing Red said...

NCLB had funding for tutors. schools had to apply for it.

SOJO said...

My dad was an engineer. I went into his den to ask an algebra question in 7th grade and he kept me in there three hours drawing graphs until he had explained trig and some calculus. Hahahahaha. (Great as far as environment, but not directly helpful to the problem at hand.)

But seriously, unless you keep up with it every day and basically co-attend school, the parents are usually tangential - like reading a book on the same general subject that isn't assigned and then trying to take a test. Even parents who are teachers are lost outside their subject matter.

Modern parental help tends to come in the form of parents navigating the administration for the kids, standing up for them, getting them special consideration for this and that, getting even bright kids tutors or put into special college preparatory scholastic, elective, and athletic programs both in and outside of school. Very few parents in my day did that, now it is nearly everyone. It astonishes me how little free time kids have.

Hagar said...

I think this is all B.S.
If the schools required the students to learn the subject matter, the kids would learn it.
Teach down the middle, so the slow ones will have to sweat a little. The quick ones can float, but then, those are not the ones you need to worry about. They will find ways to learn what they want to learn and get ahead with or without you.

And for myself, my father died when I was five, and I certainly would not have taken any "involvement" on the part of my mother in what I was doing at school, or any other place for that matter.

You want to teach your children, you do that by setting them a good example (and don't try to kid them, they know exactly who and what you are!). Parents should be parents to their kids, not "best friends."

Birches said...

In my experience, the "involvement" of white parents often is of the whining, 'why didn't you give my child a better grade' variety while the "involvement" of Indian and Asian parents is of the "can I have extra work for my child to do after he gets his regular homework done" variety.

+1

I remember my first week student teaching, some dad came in for a "conference" because his daughter had received a B in our class. The conference basically consisted of him throwing around HIS degrees as reasons why his daughter was fully capable of A work. That girl did nothing in our class for the three months I was there but draw anime pictures. They were good. She probably had a talent for art, but dad was convinced she was going to be a scholar and the B she earned was going to ruin her life.

Birches said...

@DBQ

That math problem you linked to isn't really Common Core math necessarily, it's Everyday Math, which is Common Core compatible. Schools can still teach regular math in the regular way and be Common Core compatible, but so many districts are looking for the "Next, Big Thing" so they go with the fancy, new stuff.

I don't think Common Core is nearly as bad as it's made out to be, but there are a lot of districts out there who have no idea what they're doing. They probably would not know what they're doing absent Common Core Standards too.

AReasonableMan said...

Birches said...
@DBQ

That math problem you linked to isn't really Common Core math necessarily, it's Everyday Math,


This has come up before. Everyone hates Everyday Math.

It should be noted that:

a. Everyday Math was a product of Cold War competition initiated by an ardent anti-communist who got the Amoco Corp. to give $6.4 million to the University of Chicago to create a new curriculum that could make the U.S. competitive on the world stage.

b. A large number of generally liberal math and physicists, including Steven Chu, signed a petition opposing its adoption.

SOJO said...

@Birches said

"it depends on how insane the parent is"

Hahaha. Yes it does. How are severely economically stressed parents supposed to have the time for the Tiger Mom brand of 'insanity' anyway?

My favorite "mom" story would have to be Stephen Spielberg's mom who thought nothing of letting him destroy her kitchen cabinets to make his little boy (9-12 yrs old IIRC) movies. That would NEVER happen in most homes.

I'm quite envious. ;)


Birches said...

Yes, there's one thing liberals and conservatives can agree on: We all hate Everyday Math!

Hagar said...

Both of my sons decided they did not like their math classes, nor their teachers, so they just quit going to class.
I never knew and the Albuquerque Public School system apparently did not notice either, since I never heard about it until years later when the boys told me.
And I still do not understand how they could have passed through the system and graduated that way, but both did.

Hagar said...

Oh, and today they both have Masters degrees - from UCLA and Hogwarts de Santa Fe, no less!

Freeman Hunt said...

A friend told me about someone she knows whose college kid sends her papers to her mother to correct before she turns them in. What the hell?

If the mom is good at proofreading, it would be foolish for the girl not to send them to her first. People used to ask me to read their papers all the time in college because they figured I could proofread them. If your parent is the best proofreader you know, send your papers to your parent.

Freeman Hunt said...

The quick ones can float, but then, those are not the ones you need to worry about. They will find ways to learn what they want to learn and get ahead with or without you.

This makes school hell for extremely intelligent kids. It's also not true that they will usually go on to achieve all they could have without the guidance of older, wiser people (often parents.)

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

Now I would agree that in the race for ever more impressive college applications, there is a small subset of students who are pushed inappropriately into more and more advanced study at the cost of not really mastering the fundamentals. That's a house of cards version of an education, I think, but it's a very small problem overall and likely to work itself out anyway.

Hagar said...

Public schools are hell for extremely intelligent kids (and no fun for the merely intelligent ones either), if you lean into them to be "engaged" with a system calls in the cops on them if they are found with a dangerous weapon, such as nailclippers, or harmful drugs, such as "Midol."

Freeman Hunt said...

You've got me there.

cubanbob said...

We went to an open math competition last week. We were the only people of Western European descent there. All parents were involved types. Indians and Asians seem less inclined to go around pretending that parents don't matter."

Do the college tour and see all the foreign students, especially the Asian kids and you will realize how much parental involvement counts.

My anecdotal experience: older daughter by my ex did the IB program in high school ( my pushing) but her mom wasn't as hands on so she wasn't tutored in the areas she was relatively weak at ( math) costing her the opportunity to go to an Ivy League school. Mind you this a girl who read Homer for fun in the 7th grade and got an 800 score twice on the verbal portion of her SAT but only got a 580 on the math portion. Finally my daughter realized that Dad wasn't wrong about everything and took my advice to go to a small woman's liberal arts college in Western Mass that was willing to take a chance on her instead of state school. With a lot of work, she had the gumption to take the hard courses in the areas she wasn't naturally talented at along with excellent professors she graduated with a double major: financial math and economics. What was an eye opener when I visited her was the number of Asian woman graduating with double majors in math and hard science.

Younger daughter with current wife: hands on mom who spared no expense that younger daughter gets all of the help we could provide. Again like her sister a wiz on the verbal portion and so-so on the maths. Both have essentially the same IQ but the younger daughter with the extra help ( and determination on her part) took the ACT exam instead and got a score of 34 out of 36. She is of to an Ivy in the fall. When her mom and I started the odessy we thought USC was a reach school. In the end she choose only a certain number of schools that offered what she wants to major in and eve though she applied ED to the Ivy she was notified by all of the schools she applied to that she was accepted prior to or on about the same time she received her Ivy acceptance notice. Being involved with your kid and being realistic of your kid's abilities makes a world of difference.

ARM invest as much of your time and resources that you can in your kids because at the end of the day that is the most you will have in life. Sure it isn't fair but you can't save the world but you can save your kids.

Hagar said...

You want to save your kids, send them to a Catholic school with strict nuns.

Dumb Plumber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

That math problem you linked to isn't really Common Core math necessarily, it's Everyday Math, which is Common Core compatible. Schools can still teach regular math in the regular way and be Common Core compatible, but so many districts are looking for the "Next, Big Thing" so they go with the fancy, new stuff.

@ Birches

I don't care what you want to label it. Common Core. Everyday Math. Common Core compatible.

It is absolute and utter bullshit.
Math is difficult for many. But to make it so incredibly convoluted that it takes 15 steps to subtract three digit number from another is LUDICROUS.

The math that most people, ordinary people use, has been proven to be adequate. for hundreds of years...thousands. Why the fuck do we need to make it so onerous and difficult that it turns off young children?

If you want to cripple a generation or tow....teach them this bullshit.

@ Freeman. There is nothing wrong with your mother or someone else proofreading your papers. HOWEVER ...to do so for your children WITHOUT telling them what they have done wrong... you might as be a spell-check and grammar-check robot. They learn NOTHING.

You do your children NO good to correct/fix their mistakes without feedback as to why they made a mistake in the first place.

Michael K said...

"while the "involvement" of Indian and Asian parents is of the "can I have extra work for my child to do after he gets his regular homework done" variety. "

My ex-wife was a teacher in the LA City school system in east LA. which was, and is, mostly Hispanic. She had to be careful at parent conferences to avoid telling parents that the kid wasn't applying him/her self to the class and homework. They would come to school the next day black and blue.

Needless to say, that was a long time ago.

She was a big supporter of public schools. After the divorce, the kids went to private school. She went back to teaching for a short time 25 years ago after a bank layoff. She said she was appalled at the changes and that, if she were to do it now, she would homeschool the kids.

Teachers are now the bottom 20% of college students. A lot of the changes in things like math are the result of boredom by teachers who don't want to spend time with the kids. Multiplication tables were an early victim.

Carol said...

You want to save your kids, send them to a Catholic school with strict nuns.

LOL wut. Those days are long gone. Not even sure most the teachers are Catholic now.

Carl Pham said...

There is no justification for homework before high school anyway. They're there 6 hours a day. I could teach algebra to a horse if I had him captive 6 hours a day, five days a week, ten years in a row.

The only reason homework exists in the lower grades is either as bullshit busywork, or because the school is actually teaching nothing and needs the parents to teach what should be taught in the schools at home. I've seen both.

Gahrie said...

She had to be careful at parent conferences to avoid telling parents that the kid wasn't applying him/her self to the class and homework. They would come to school the next day black and blue.

Did they start doing the work?

Gahrie said...


I don't think Common Core is nearly as bad as it's made out to be


I do. I went to another Common Core training last week. I was told (as a history teacher in a room full of history teachers) that content no longer mattered, and if I spent the whole year in the first five chapters that was OK. Instead, I was to teach skills. I was the only one who objected.

At an earlier training last year, I was told that as a history teacher I shouldn't be grading punctuation, grammar or spelling, only content. Again I was the only one who complained. In fact the consultant talked to my principal who called me on the carpet for my poor attitude.

Birches said...

@ Gahrie

That does sound appalling. But it's all in the delivery. So you've got some lousy administrators who decided that content doesn't matter anymore, but I can't see how most academically minded schools could suddenly turn from content just because the standards don't focus on that anymore. Because Common Core.

As has been discussed before on these boards, Ed Hirsch's Core Knowledge has been adopted by some schools because it is Common Core compatible. Core Knowledge is probably one of the most content rich, traditional curriculums out there (especially for history). If you want your kids to learn American history, you'll want them in a Core Knowledge school.

I know there are a lot of problems with Common Core, but it has turned into a bit of a boogieman as the catch all for why schools are failing. We didn't send our child to the neighborhood school because they taught Everyday Math and "how to get along with each other" and "Water efficiency" instead of real learning. Instead, child goes to a traditional charter that teaches Saxon Math (very traditional), Core Knowledge, phonics, etc. One of the schools is Common Core compatible (the charter), one is not (the neighborhood school), so I have a hard time seeing how those standards are responsible for some of the boneheaded curriculum decisions teachers and administrators make. My kid is learning so much; has all the Presidents of the US memorized (only in 2nd grade). So that's where I'm coming from.

Freeman Hunt said...

"I do. I went to another Common Core training last week. I was told (as a history teacher in a room full of history teachers) that content no longer mattered, and if I spent the whole year in the first five chapters that was OK. Instead, I was to teach skills. I was the only one who objected."

I second what Birches wrote. Sounds like your administration is interpreting Common Core in the worst possible way. Hirsch has been advocating for a Common Core type approach since at least the 90's. His idea was heavy, heavy, heavy on content.

Hagar said...

You want to save your kids, send them to a Catholic school with strict nuns.

LOL wut. Those days are long gone. Not even sure most the teachers are Catholic now.


God is a Scandinavian Lutheran.

But the Catholic Church has the right idea about how to run schools. Or did, anyway.

carrie said...

The less involved parents were probably less involved because their kids were doing well. Many of the more involved parents were probably involved because their kids had specific issues that they wanted addressed and knew that they would not be addressed by a teacher if the parent wasn't involved. The argument that parent involvement doesn't help probably applies to kids who do ok on their own or who do not have any special issues that need to be addressed.

I agree with the comment about Catholic schools too. My kids went to Catholic school for grades k-8. The nuns are mostly gone (there was one nun still teaching at my sons' school), but at least you knew what the school's agenda was and you knew that a teacher who strayed from that agenda would be put back on course. Catholic schools can also deal with disciplinary issues more directly and quickly than a public school. In the public schools, your kids are at the mercy of their teachers' own personal agendas (my kids went to public high school in the Madison, WI area, so teachers did have their own personal agendas and impose them on students), the teachers' unions that prevent lousy teachers from being fired, and a school's fear that it will be sued if a student is disciplined. Oh yeah, and if you go to a public school in the Madison area, you will probably be ridiculed and discriminated against if you are open about being a practicing Catholic--it is PC in Madison to put down Catholics.

carrie said...

The less involved parents were probably less involved because their kids were doing well. Many of the more involved parents were probably involved because their kids had specific issues that they wanted addressed and knew that they would not be addressed by a teacher if the parent wasn't involved. The argument that parent involvement doesn't help probably applies to kids who do ok on their own or who do not have any special issues that need to be addressed.

I agree with the comment about Catholic schools too. My kids went to Catholic school for grades k-8. The nuns are mostly gone (there was one nun still teaching at my sons' school), but at least you knew what the school's agenda was and you knew that a teacher who strayed from that agenda would be put back on course. Catholic schools can also deal with disciplinary issues more directly and quickly than a public school. In the public schools, your kids are at the mercy of their teachers' own personal agendas (my kids went to public high school in the Madison, WI area, so teachers did have their own personal agendas and impose them on students), the teachers' unions that prevent lousy teachers from being fired, and a school's fear that it will be sued if a student is disciplined. Oh yeah, and if you go to a public school in the Madison area, you will probably be ridiculed and discriminated against if you are open about being a practicing Catholic--it is PC in Madison to put down Catholics.

Herb said...

i would guess that the problem with parents helping is that the kids are very good at getting their parents to give them the answers and they never learn the material.

Unknown said...

I have a Master's in engineering, can't always help my HS kids with either math or science because they are sometimes teaching different stuff, many times different methods.

Sam said...

It's true that poorly educated parents may misguide kids. Such parents can take help from tutors either from their school or online.
http://classof1.com/online-tutoring/school-math