This semester Oklahoma Educators gave themselves a two-week strike to protest low wages and the general lack of funds for public education in Oklahoma. Teachers in other states across America have already staged strikes or are in the process of planning one. Teachers and their labor union, the NEA, claim they need more money in order to hire and maintain good instructors as well as funds to enrich classroom instruction.
There are excellent instructors who do a great job and certainly deserve above average pay, but classroom problems are beyond the scope of what money can purchase. Our public schools are not servicing the children who come to their classroom, because the problem lies beyond what the schools can do. Will more money assure that our test scores improve? Why should we give more money to those who are unable to produce results that show our children are receiving a decent education? Is more money really the answer?
Recently a friend loaned me a volume of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. An article in the magazine piqued my interest: “Educating the Disadvantaged – Two Models” by Amy L. Wax. How do we best educate those who are marginal, which would include those students who sporadically attend class or who have no educational stimulus in their homes? Is the answer more money to pay the teachers who serve those students or more money to purchase materials to enhance classroom instruction? No, Ms. Wax gives the answer that educators have known for years: more money does not produce better education.
The answer is fundamental to our society and has been known for almost sixty years. The findings were first published in 1966, by educational researcher, Ms. Wax states, “…in light of James Coleman’s original findings in the 1960s, repeatedly confirmed in the decades since, that a child’s economic, social, and family background – and not school composition and quality – are the most important influences on students’ academic performance. As stated in the Coleman report, “the school appears unable to exert independent influences to make achievement levels less dependent on the child’s background – and this is true within each ethnic group…”
It’s the family! The breakdown in American families is at the heart of the failure of our children to learn. We look for better teachers and tax the working public for more money in order to fund a system that is destined for failure because the root cause has not been address. The root of the problem is the breakdown in the American family structure!
It is extremely important that when we pray for education, we include prayer for the families in this country because the family unit is the bedrock of all the cultural mountains that make up our society. As the family goes, so goes our nation.