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Links of the Day:

– Who’s to blame when a child doesn’t go to school?

The Buffalo school district is engaged in a fierce fight with its teachers union over whether students who don’t show up to class should be counted in teacher evaluations. The state refuses to approve the district’s evaluation plan unless it removes the attendance clause. The district now stands to lose millions of dollars.  (The Rochester teachers union quietly agreed to remove a similar clause.)

The Buffalo News editorial board says teachers should own student attendance. Columnist Donn Esmonde strongly disagrees:

As Riverside physics teacher John Bihr put it, “You can’t teach an empty seat.”

The bureaucrats at the state Board of Regents may not want to hear it. Suburban districts that tout test results to justify higher school taxes may not want to admit it. But the overwhelming factor in how well a school “performs” is not the quality of its teachers. It is the quality of its students. And that comes back to the involvement of their parents –too many of whom are too overwhelmed, uninterested or uninformed to check in.


The Riverside High School teachers I talked with said they habitually send home report cards filled with failing grades. With rare exception, they never hear from a parent. Bihr told me he makes about 50 calls a week to parents of no-show or low-grade kids. Maybe five, he said, are “positive.” The rest range from from never-returned voice mails to disconnects to exasperated parents who say something like, “I haven’t seen him/her in days.”

There’s no question parents bear a lot of responsibility, but is it productive to bash parents? Esmonde hits on socioeconomic factors that are huge predictors of educational success. Instead of suggesting ways to elevate families out of poverty or integrate school districts, he blames parents. It’s just not that simple.

– City and county officials statewide are warning of fiscal doom. Syracuse’s mayor says, “Unless Albany changes its policies, we will be dead.”

– Flight Wine Bar in Corn Hill landed on Yahoo! Travel’s list of best wine bars in the country!

– Hedy Lamarr was a screen goddess who also invented Wi-Fi.

3 Responses to Blame Parents?

  1. Yyyyyeah. I’ve said it before, I think here as a matter of fact, this whole issue is far more complex than blaming any one side. The sad part is, the two groups that suffer the most after the students (teachers and parents) are often set at each others throats, meanwhile very seldom is the issue they agree upon (concentrated poverty) very brought up.

  2. Parents have the primary responsibility in thier childs attendence at school, period. Teachers can only reinforce the positives of education if the student shows up.
    The states goals to improve education delivery for all students will not likely see any improvement by including very low attendence students in teachers evaluations.

  3. March 13, 2012 at 1:48 am Lynn E responds:

    I doubt it is the usual suburban or high income parent failing to send their kid to school. The problem is long standing poverty and a lack of hope for the future. Jobs are low wage, lack health insurance and people must work long hours for those with low incomes. There isn’t any hope in sight in fact it appears teachers will be forced to become low wage workers with little control over their working conditions also. When families have hope, see a potential for good jobs that provide for a good life for themselves and their children, they will encourage their children to attend school.

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