Dr. Stat

Dr. Stat is a Statistics Professor. This blog is his opportunity to share ideas and opinions about education (especially math education), politics, and whatever else comes up.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Power of Family

Ambra Nykol writes today in Parents who Don't Parent:

By the end of the one-hour show, the parents are in awe of the results of fairly stand standard disciplinary principles employed by the "Supernanny," as if to say, "You mean when we discipline our children, it works?"

Why yes you fools. It does.

As the days go by, I am more convinced that almost 95% of our country's problems could be solved in the family. I've said it before and I'll say it again. We don't have crime problems; we have family problems. Family dysfunction spills into the streets, and eventually we pay for it with our tax dollars and more painfully--our time. Rarely do we make that glaring connection. Instead, we collectively throw our hands up in the air, wondering where our society went wrong.


I like to criticize the schools, in particular various forms of progressive philosophy, for their failings, but I am aware that the schools do not exist in a vacuum.

It is self-evident that not all the products of the schools are educational failures. Some children come through the system fairly well, although questions remain about whether even the best are "all they can be," to borrow a slogan. In homes that support achievement goals for their children and give them sensible discipline, we find children succeeding in spite of the quality of their schools. Where schools are failing, there are also significant numbers of families that do not provide such support. This causes deterioration of the learning environment for all students. Without adequate numbers of parents insisting that the school do a good job, there is simply no way it will get done, not in a public institution at least. Church schools have an advantage here, in that they are accountable to the church, which has an important influence on the school environment. Other schools are accountable to parents and the government, so if the parents are not very concerned or involved, we are left with government. And "left" is a great word to use in this situation!

Bad schools (parents) set up a vicious cycle. If parental support is inadequate, the schools will be bad. The students will not get a good education, and most will not develop mature and success-building attitudes from either home or school. Not being "upwardly mobile," most will not leave the neighborhood, and will quickly provide the next generation of children without good parental support and with ever-deteriorating schools. On the other hand, those who do develop mature and success-building attitudes, are not likely to stay in the neighborhood and provide any counter-effect to the declining situation.

So one solution to the school problem is to change families. But don't expect the "outreach" programs of the schools to accomplish that. Don't expect the government to do it, since government interference is also a large part of the problem. Can the church be a positive influence? Yes--but not the various liberal branches, which have also had their hand in undermining the discipline and authority in the family (by starting with undermining the authority of God).

We can make schools better. But if we don't have good parents, I'm afraid the effect will be very limited.