Parent involvement

Dear Editor:Last week I had the opportunity to listen to a speech by Dr. John Deasy, the new superintendent of LAUSD. While his problems may be different than those in Downey, he spoke about the same type of challenges that every school superintendent probably faces. He said that he has to negotiate with 14 different unions, implying that it is a contact sport, he commented on the political pressures he faces with many other people wanting to influence him, he offered to demand accountability from teachers and to offer "meaty" subjects to students to make school challenging and provocative and to provide a disciplined environment for students among other things. I sincerely hope he accomplishes all that he has set out to do. If he does it will be the first time in the history of the county, and probably of the nation, that school reform is accomplished on time and within budget. As an engineer and an involved parent in the Downey school district, I don't feel very optimistic about Dr. Deasy's success mainly because I think that he, like most school administrators is addressing the wrong symptoms of the problem. In my humble opinion the problem is not with the teachers, or the students or the unions or the administrators. I grant you that there are some bad teachers and some bad administrators in every school system but that is no different that in most other businesses. The main reason why studenst don't perform as well as we expect them to do is very simple: lack of parental involvement. Before I enrolled my children in Downey public schools I researched all schools available within driving distance of Downey and I found out that many religious schools don't pay very well, their teachers are not credentialed, they are overcrowded and don't have very good facilities and yet their students do very well in required tests and are fairly successful in college. It was then that I first realized why those students did well even under adverse conditions. Simply, the parents are involved in their children's education and do not expect the teachers to carry the total burden. So I have discovered the problem. Unfortunately I don't have an answer to solve the problem. Hopefully some talented individual will figure out how to get parents involved in their children's education. When he does, he should be awarded the Nobel prize for education. -- Jorge Montero, Downey

********** Published: August 04, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 16