This letter appeared in Syracuse’s Post Standard on Tuesday, February 21. The author, Frank Antonucci, is a resident of Westhill. Thanks to Mr. Antonucci for a great letter.
To the Editor:
While Abigail Akinbamidele makes a good point about the importance of good, strong teachers in our schools, she misses the most important point, as most people do, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that achieving high graduation rates is not only the result of good teachers, but also the result of good parenting. I would argue that a stable family environment where parents place a high emphasis on education is a better indicator of a child’s education success than is the quality of a teacher. In fact, Akinbamidele points out how her immigrant parents emphasized the importance of education and worked multiple jobs to ensure that she and her siblings received a good education.
This is greatly evident in our own Central New York area schools. For example, when you compare the graduation rates of city schools with suburban schools, you find a great disparity in the graduation rate. Are we then making the assumption that suburban schools have more quality teachers than city schools? I have a hard time believing that the primary reason for the disparity is bad teachers. In city schools, where the majority of children are more likely to come from unstable family environments and single-parent homes are the norm, the chance of these children graduating from high school or even going to college is very slim, no matter how strong the teachers are.
In the suburbs, however, where a more stable family environment is likely and where both parents place greater emphasis on the importance of education, the graduation rate and the college attendance rate is much higher. Study after study confirmed the correlation between a strong, stable family environment and graduation rates.
No amount of money in the world or any teacher evaluation system is going to make a difference. We need to stop placing all the blame on teachers and their unions and start placing some of the blame on ourselves, the parents.