Attitudes, Not Academics

What Are Your Children Learning?

During the 1960s and onwards, many TV stations such as New York’s WNEW-TV (channel 5), prefaced the 10 o’clock news with the phrase, “It’s 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?” As a child in the safe boundaries of my urban middle-class neighborhood, I assumed it was a reminder to parents that their kids might still be on the street playing hopscotch or punch ball. I discovered years later that it was actually tied into youth violence and curfews, drug use, and later used to highlight child abduction.

The fact is that for two summer months, my friends and I would head out each morning moving in and out of each other’s homes and playing in the street. In pre-cell phone days, our mothers never knew exactly where we were and simply expected us to show up for lunch, supper and bedtime. Times have changed and very few parents today would allow their children to roam free in a similar setting.

When my grandparents enrolled their children in city public schools, I’m sure it was with great gratitude. In those days, their children could acquire a free first-class education and families could supplement it with religious studies, if they chose to do so. Indeed, my mother and her siblings as first-generation Americans became educated, productive, contributing members of society while also having the freedom to remain true to their parents’ values and traditions. When September came around my grandparents knew where their children were. They were safely ensconced in the classroom, receiving guidance to help them become competent, learned, productive, and upright citizens.

The societal forces currently pulling at our children are potent and powerful. They are often so difficult to discern that even well-meaning teachers are unaware of the real messages being sent in the textbooks the schools use or the recommended literature selections. Sadly, too many of my friends are perplexed that their beloved and cherished children, even those they sent to private religious schools, have rejected their values.

As an ardent homeschooling mom, I used to say that while I loved homeschooling, I didn’t think it was an option for everyone. Today, each and every parent must assume primary responsibility for their child’s education. If the child attends a public—or private—school, the parents need to frequently and unexpectedly visit the classroom. They must also monitor textbooks and hand-outs (including ones the children are told not to bring home), and stay completely on top of all assemblies, trips, and school events. Just as it is no longer a choice for most parents to turn a child onto the street at 8 am saying, “See you back at noon,” without any idea of where they will be or with whom, there is no longer a choice to trust anyone other than ourselves with our children’s tender souls, be they entering first-grade or college.


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