Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Middle-class mediocrity

On page A20 of today's WSJ: "Worse Than You Think" (Review & Outlook). The second paragraph says it all...

Conventional wisdom holds that upscale communities tend to have "good" schools, and parents often buy homes in expensive neighborhoods so their kids have a shot at a decent public education. But the PRI [Pacific Research Institute] study, which focused on California, found that in nearly 300 schools in middle-class and affluent neighborhoods, "less than half of the students in at least one grade level performed at proficiency in state math and English tests."

Finally! Something about the middle class. This is partly why I stick with the Republicans - although I agree that the Democratic focus on the poor is laudable, I believe it is overdone at the expense of the rest of society. Granted, the meek will inherit the earth. But Jesus never condemned the middle class for earning more money than less-privileged societal strata.

Unfortunately, it's still bad news about the middle class. The problem of schools that stink is not limited to California. It's even rampant in my home state. The community college district in which I live has the same circumstances: McMansions (a term I think is from CNN), lots of middle-class residents (reportedly the living wage in a nearby city is $14--!!), and far too many remedial classes. This is at the nation's largest community college. I work with many of these students to improve their writing and reading skills, and the general lack of knowledge about grammar and so forth is shocking. Even some ESL students have a better grasp of these concepts and rules.

There's another facet to this problem that the article doesn't mention: Might the parents and their children themselves be at least partly at fault? Let me toss out some phrases: lack of responsibility, no self-motivation, entitlement generation. Yes, there are exceptions (case in point: The Stiletto). Decide for yourselves whether I'm complaining about the schools or about the culture from which these students and parents come.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The Stiletto was fortunate to have highly educated, cultured parents who supplemented her public school "education" with trips to museums, the opera and Shakespeare festivals. Without involved parenting, kids will leave school nearly as ignorant as when they entered - with luck, they will be able to do the simple math it takes not to get ripped off by a cashier and will be able to read well enough not to overdose on their medication.