Tuesday, March 02, 2004

No. 2 in a series on parental involvement in schools:



Yesterday's story about North Platte kids who missed out on third grade content and bombed standardized tests because their teacher was used to teaching second grade brought this common-sense suggestion from a Go Big Ed reader:

Those parents should buy the book, ''What Your Third-Grader Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good Third-Grade Education'' from the Core Knowledge series by E.D. Hirsch (available for $10.36 on www.amazon.com or www.coreknowledge.org).

This is a solid, concise listing of curriculum items that should be basic building blocks for third grade. It will guide the parents to find out what their children apparently missed. You can preview the table of contents for an idea of its quality and scope:

Learning About Literature
Sayings and Phrases
Learning About Language
World Geography
World History
American History
Early Explorers in North America
English Colonies in North America

. . . and on and on, through math, science, the visual arts, music and so on.

There's one for every grade level. They are excellent and just what parents want, but there's an enormous ''disconnect'' between them, and what educrats THINK schooling is all about. Translation: forcing a false consensus, compromising longstanding moral principles, groupthink, politicized curriculum. . . .

So a copy of this book makes a great gift for a principal or a teacher, but isn't that a sad commentary on public education today -- that despite going to teacher's college, being certified, being well-paid, and undergoing countless hours of staff development, mentoring, workshops, etc., many educators don't even know what the basics ARE any more.

Suggestion: using the Core Knowledge book, those North Platte parents can ''afterschool'' their children in these essentials. That means you leave them in your public-school fourth grade so that you can work at your job during the day, and then you tutor them in third-grade essentials that they missed, in the evenings.

That cuts into your family's leisure time, but it beats illiteracy, doesn't it?

Then, and this is the most important part, you send a bill for the book, any other materials required, and for your time as a tutor -- and note that public-school teachers in that district average over $41,000 a year, so judge your worth accordingly -- to deliver this essential content to your child, since our tax dollars in the public schools was supposed to, and didn't.

Be sure to send a note about it to your local newspaper's letters to the editor, too, so that everyone will know what's REALLY going on in our public schools.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about essentials in education – and what a sad, strange ''take'' on them the Nebraska Department of Education is pushing.

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