Tony Norman’s opinion piece, “Biggest gap in black kids’ learning: parents” defends the teachers, who are being given costly, high-stakes evaluations. Norman argues that any amount of money and the best teachers in the world would not solve the problem. He says the problem starts at home. He supports his point by defending the teachers, claiming that he doesn’t believe educators have it out for their students. However, he says that a black child with an inherent desire to learn will learn despite obstacles such as bad parents, schools, and negative peer pressure. He uses black slaves as an example, who pursued education and literacy despite laws against black people learning. Without much consideration of the other side (parents), he makes the statement that parents should “stop making excuses” and “have to become involved in their children’s education.” He doesn’t make considerations about parents’ situations, which may be “excuses,” but can be limiting and crippling to parents. What about the students whose parents are undeniably involved, but their children just aren’t into education or don’t want to be an outcast in the culture of educational disapproval that seems to burden the black, inner-city community? What about the parents who have to work to keep a home for their children, and it just isn’t realistic for them to be too actively involved in their education? He makes a point that does make sense that certainly almost every parent could achieve, though: attitudes about education. If the parents inevitably have a negative view of education, though, who changes their attitudes? There is no one solution to the problem. Norman does, at the end of the article, encourage a collaboration of parents, educators, and students. Unfortunately, he does not provide how that would look or work, and he seemed to spend most of the article harping on parents instead of encouraging the kind of connection that he writes about in a sentence at the end.
The article overall is lacking. It makes good claims, but it doesn’t seem to provide much to support them. The article is sympathetic to the teachers, and I’m not sure if I agree that the best teachers couldn’t help the issue a little. If students aren’t valuing education, is it not in part that the place of learning, for them, is a negative environment? Are all teachers really trying to get through to these children, or have many of them given up? I couldn’t answer that, but it is something worth considering. For every dedicated teacher with the best intentions, there is surely a jaded person who has checked out. The focus on parents is somewhat unfair and short-sighted. Parents should support education in any way they can, but it isn’t always that easy. My point-of-view is unchanged, but I do hope to hear more about a collaboration as an entire culture to improve the educational prejudices that hold back potential scholars and socially responsible individuals.