• Parker Beauregard

The New York Times Admits What We Already Knew; It’s About Parenting, Not Schooling

In 2020, though, concerned parenting is a sign of whiteness and privilege, and must therefore be dismantled. How dare you love your kids!

The New York Times, in an effort to call out whiteness wherever possible, accidentally stumbled upon an inconvenient truth the other day when it published an op-ed piece titled “The Latest in School Segregation: Private Pandemic Pods.” In its attempt to label good parents as white supremacists, the author inadvertently connected the dots that active parenting leads to better educational outcomes. Who knew? Well, other than most teachers and of course, because it is just common sense. 

In short, the issue is that parents are trying to salvage their children’s education in any way possible. It’s not ideal, but if schools won’t open and they need to be distanced from others, then online learning communities known as pods become the tool for connection, conversation, and content delivery. Normally, a community coming together in the middle of trying times would be celebrated, but in 2020 we decry proactive parenting while uplifting two straight months of anarchy in Portland. 

For the record, we wouldn’t even be here save for the Democrat-manufactured crisis. Seriously, you can’t have it both ways. The Left seems to think it can lock us down and then complain about the effects of the lockdown. And blame Trump for both!

On its face, the audacity of the author - a social and emotional learning specialist named Clara Totenberg Green - is quite remarkable. However, she is really just a product of the times. In our current situation, there is no accusation of privilege too outlandish and no allusion to white supremacy too absurd. More than anything, she hates the fact that schools are losing sway over kids and families.

As a former classroom teacher, I am well-aware of the mindset these education types have. Because their lives are largely devoid of meaning outside the professional realm, they must latch onto a task that offers a mission and purpose. This is not a new phenomenon, however it is increasingly compounded by a loss of formerly meaning-oriented systems like religion and the nuclear family (this is especially worrisome for young women led to believe they only need a career to be happy). Not helping is the ever-rising influence of social media addictions that leave us bombarded with a false sense of reality and someone always doing more or better than you. 

Teachers fight impossible battles, so if nothing else they need to feel like their work has some sort of payoff. Therefore, educators are always compensated with a forced sense of social progress gatekeeper. We are changing lives, they tell themselves. We are molding the future. We make a difference. Unwitty nothings dot the email signature landscape with quotes from Gandhi: “Be the change in the world you wish to see.” It’s all very surface level but people believe it and it fills their buckets.

Essentially, these people feel as if school is where the magic happens, parenting, or lack thereof, be damned. A line in the article gives away this sentiment. Referring to the learning pods, the author says “they will exacerbate inequities, racial segregation and the opportunity gap within schools.” Most rational human beings accept the fact that inequities and gaps do arise from home life. How could they not? Different families have different values, they do different activities, and they have different conversations. Even kids within the same family develop differently because they have uniquely inherent traits. 

Besides, what's the alternative, just take away everyone’s parents? The author’s logic is as out of touch with reality as it is clueless. To think the Left declares that we need more public schools employing even more Clara Totenberg Greens. That’s a scary world to imagine.

Seriously, does anyone think that if Tommy, Ricardo, or LaJonathan drop out in 10th grade it is due to a school’s shortcomings? Between social workers, counselors, teachers, social and emotional learning specialists, administrators, coaches, and lowered standards for both behavior and learning, students have every reason to succeed. What the Left hates to admit, though, is that individuals have agency. Some students choose not to apply themselves in school. What’s more, this drop-out thing isn’t exactly new. Was systemic racism an excuse when schools were all white in the 1950s? It isn’t even a parent problem all the time, but it is definitely not a school problem. 

This inflated sense of self-worth and purpose might drive people to work hard and do well, but there’s a concurrent shelf life on teaching. Within five years, most estimates say 50% of all teaching positions turn over. Speaking from both personal experience and the innumerous conversations with colleagues, the reason is simple: No matter how much time, money, and effort one puts into the profession, the results never change. Can you imagine watching your grandparents teach in the 1960s and 1970s, your parents in the 1980s and 1990s, and you in the 2000s and 2010s, and everyone is still having the same conversation on academic gaps, citing racial animus as the cause for the gaps, and then professing the next wave of professional development will be the panacea for less-than-desirable student outcomes? It’s enough to drive anyone mad. It drove me mad, and drove me out of the classroom.

The most common, and easy, complaint from the Left is that we don’t provide schools with enough. Hogwash and malarkey.

Did you know that the average per-pupil spending on education, adjusted for inflation, was under $4,000 in 1960 and in 2017 was over $15,000? All of this spending, despite the fact that the so-called “achievement” gap, which is being redubbed as the “opportunity” gap, hasn’t budged since 1954 when they began identifying such things. Moreover, the additional $20 trillion spent in various forms since Johnson’s War on Poverty has likewise affected little to no change in the realm of poor families in schools. On top of strict dollars and cents, teachers have access to more training, more coaches, and more auxiliary staff that support in a variety of ways. Maybe, just maybe, money isn’t the answer.

Admittedly, not every home situation is identical, and some create more barriers than others. No one doubts that the vast majority of parents do the best they can. Families work jobs that demand time away from home, they might have to take care of infants, or they might not be able to navigate school themselves, either from a poor experience in the past or newcomer status to the country. 

That being said, there are a few small measures that are entirely in a parent’s or parents’ locus of control. Namely, reading to their special young person. Study after study demonstrates that reading to a child for just 20 minutes a night offers opportunities currently considered white or privileged. Just check out this infographic

The famous research summarized as the Early Catastrophe and dubbed the Word Gap found that some families spoke more to their kids than others, resulting in knowable outcomes by the time students arrived in kindergarten. Amazingly, given the vocabulary of the home and the use of it by the student, researchers were able to reliably predict test scores in 3rd grade and high school graduation rates. Schools offer a lot, but if we can accurately forecast which students will be most successful by the time they enroll in kindergarten, that’s an entirely different societal challenge.

Here’s the basic truth: No amount of money will ever make a meaningful change in schools. For that matter, no amount of racial awareness and coaching up of White Fragility or other such nonsense will magically reduce the learning gap. Parenting, which includes, reading, speaking appropriately, and providing structure to kids, is the single greatest indicator of a student’s later success not only in school but adulthood. If that previous statement reflects whiteness, we must resign ourselves that only white kids will be successful. In that case, it’s no longer a white problem; it’s a black problem.

So what’s the point of all of this? As with all Leftist narratives, it is only about destruction, not creation. The author freely admits that “many will read this article and ask what they’re supposed to do instead. I don’t have the answer.” Translation: “I just don’t want white kids being successful.” If black kids can’t learn, the white kids shouldn’t either, right? Communism does love equality. The equality of poverty and destitution.

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