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Better education begins at home not in the classroom

Caricature of SteveThe Ames public school system is grappling with a problem endemic to America—how to close the educational achievement gap between white students and their black and Latino classmates.

Among the solutions proposed here is a new $95-million high school.

The structural imperatives for the existing building are apparent but actual educational improvements from a new edifice cannot be predicted despite the hopes of advocates.

Unsaid here is a basic truth. Educational achievement is directly proportional to the amount of time and effort parents invest in their child’s future.

Good educational performance begins at home not in the classroom.

There is a culture of poverty in America and that has to be acknowledged and addressed before any achievement gaps can be bridged.

Good students come from families who know how important education is. Kids from homes where parents play with them, talk with them, read to them, take them on stimulating outings and nurture both their minds and bodies.

Poor students lack that home environment. And no multi-million dollar new high school in Ames or millions of dollars invested elsewhere in America on educational programs, modern equipment, teaching strategies, or administrative studies will make any difference.

Many of today’s best public school teachers are the product of poverty. In the case of Kandice Sumner, her parents valued education and enrolled her in a desegregated school an hour from her poor neighborhood. A school with all the advantages that her friends did not have back home.

There are no poor neighborhood schools in Ames. So the educational achievement imbalance cannot be blamed on lack of resources. The problem must lie elsewhere.

Community and local educational leaders can dance around political correctness all they wish with institutional jargon and lofty proposals. But unless you change the culture of poverty in the student’s home, there will be no improvement.

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