How Do We Fix the Blame Game?

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Canter-c120x148Formerly a teacher, now an administrator-in-training, Chris Canter blogs about his yearlong assistant principal internship at Fulton County Public Schools in Atlanta, Ga. Chris was a 2010 ASCD OYEA honoree.

We’ve heard all of the excuses before. Students can’t succeed because they don’t want to, their parents aren’t doing their jobs, we don’t have enough resources, and the list goes on and on.

During my brief stint as a leadership intern in four different schools, I have noticed one common trend: there is little continuity between the schoolhouse and the home. In today’s society, teachers (and schools) have more duties than ever. There is an increase in single parenthood, meaning working and absentee parents are on the rise. Poverty is rampant and drugs and crime are affecting even the high schoolers I see every day. Our issue is not one of test scores; it is one of culture and society.

What we need is a generation of parents who support one another in parenting and schools systems that do the same. Not only should we ensure that schools make the community part of its culture, but we should also ensure that the school is made part of the community. We need a symbiotic relationship, rather than serving as a warehouse for children until late afternoon.

It’s very easy to say this with mere words, but how do we make it happen? What are some methods we can use to infuse our community (especially in low-income areas) into our school? How do we get families in the doors and partnering with faculty to ensure their children’s success? How do we assess the needs of the community and help meet those, if possible?