Saturday, July 7, 2012

Your Child's Education: Whose Responsibility Is It?

Let me ask you a question: If your child is doing poorly in school, whose fault is it? The school's? Your child's? Yours?

Perhaps a better question would be: Who is responsible for your child's education?

I for one know that I didn't have two kids just so I could send them off to school to sink or swim and wash my hands of their education. In our family, my kids know that education is extremely important. And they know that my husband and I will do whatever we have to do (within our power) to give them a great one.

The fact that we homeschool is a result of circumstance. I live in a failed school district and we chose not to send our kids to schools that are barely passing their students. Yes, we do have a private school nearby, but sending them to it would have required my going back to work and at the time, I still had a little boy who was not old enough to go, too. I was not willing to leave him with strangers. So we decided to give homeschooling a try.

We are lucky because even though we are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, we're able to make it on my husband's salary. Yes, this means we don't get to enjoy a lot of the "extras" that other families do. I don't own a smart phone and we don't have cable/satellite/dish or whatever. My kids are not wearing the latest fashions or playing with $300 toys. But what they do have will last a lot longer.

And even if my kids were in a traditional school setting, I know that their academic success would ultimately depend on me and how involved I am in their education. Studies have shown that parental involvement is one of the keys to academic success. And over the last few years, I have learned about numerous families who have proven this to be true.

Luis Duran, Mariela Dabbah, Luis Duran Sr., and Maria Duran.
Take, for example, the Duran family. A little over a week ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Luis and his parents at the Latino Rumbo al College webinar in Orlando. Originally from El Salvador, Maria and Luis Sr. fled the country in 1989 during its civil war. They received political asylum here in the United States, and settled in Arizona where they own a small recycling business. Both of their children, Luis and Jennifer, were born here.

The Durans have been richly rewarded for their involvement in their children's education. Even though they speak very little English, both of their kids received complete scholarships to cover the cost of their college educations.

Luis was the recipient of the $100,000 RMHC/HACER Scholarship in 2009, which is covering his college tuition and helping him earn his degree in housing and community development. Jennifer attended college as a Gates Millenium Scholar and doubled majored in Supply Chain Management and Global Health. She just recently finished her International Business Certificate while studying abroad in Italy for a semester. Her scholarship covered her college expenses, and paid for half of her Masters' tuition. Luis credits his parents for his academic success and claims their involvement and expectations made the difference. His mother always made time to get involved at her kids’ school. She talked regularly with their teachers, sometimes using Luis as an interpreter when the teacher didn’t speak Spanish. She also volunteered for class field trips and other functions so that she could build a relationship with the school staff and stay aware of what was happening in the classroom.

Mrs. Duran says that children have to be programmed. And since they were very young, she always referred to her children as "little lawyers" or "future doctors" to help them see the possibilities in the future and internalize the importance of their education.

So next time you are talking with your children about school and education, be mindful of your words...then do what you can to help them succeed.

Con mucho cariño...


  1. If a parent homeschools his kids the onis is on the parent. So, wouln't it follow that a teacher who teaches in school is vastly responsible. Besides the fact that's what he/she's paid for, they're the ones who spend all day with our kids. How can I as a MOM do in 1 hour what a teacher can't in 6? ALSO there is a lot to be said about dead wood. No one cuts corners at the private schools!! Oh No. Lazy teachers get the boot, so everyone hustle. The ultimate responsible is the principal. The captain of this ship.

  2. Interesting. Since all the research points to the importance of parental involvement, I'm afraid I have to disagree. Yes, teachers and principals share a hefty portion of the responsibility, but too many parents - especially Latino parents - feel that they have no say in their child's education and that the school knows best. They aren't willing to go and find out what areas their child is struggling in and ask how they can help. Those kids frequently don't thrive and I would bet a large number of high school dropouts don't have parents who are active in their education. How does a principal know if a specific teacher isn't doing his or her job? And please don't say test scores. Sometimes an involved parent is the principal's helper in determining who is an effective teacher and who isn't.
    The point is: If you're going to have children, you are ultimately responsible for their education. We are the parents who are ultimately responsible for our children's success in life. We are the only ones with a vested interest in their happiness and success. The school only has to worry about that particular child for a few years, while we have to worry about them their whole lives.


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