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Friday, November 21, 2014
Not a teacher? You can still help your children learn
Howard Schwach

What makes a good student?

All teachers know the answer to that question.

Parents who care and who value education.

That might sound like a no-brainer, but my 33 years as a teacher and another dozen covering the education scene as a journalist have made that truism clear over and over again.

It’s the kids, stupid!

It’s not the administrators or the teachers or the curriculum or the funding plan. It’s all about the kids.

If you don’t believe that, take all the teachers and administrators from the highest performing school in Nassau County and have them work for a year in the lowest performing school in the county.

Would the students in that low performing school suddenly become high performing students because of those teachers?

My experience has taught me that the kids would remain at the same level and the teachers would run screaming from the building.

It’s all about the kids — and, of course, their parents.

That is not to say that teachers and administrators do not matter. They do, and good teachers can make a difference and excellent administrators can shape a school or a district to do better.

But they are not the answer to our educational problems. The answer there lies with a community that values education, parents who model that value and students who have an intrinsic understanding that education means something to their future.

Part of the problem that parents have today with helping their children is that education has changed rapidly since they left school and technology will change education even more in the coming years.

Dr. Phyllis Harrington, the new superintendent of the Oceanside schools brought that thought into clear focus during an interview recently.

She pointed out that the kindergarten kids who entered her schools on Sept. 3 would be the graduating college class of 2030.

“What will the educational technology be in 2030,” she asked. “I don’t even want to speculate.”

Given that the curriculum has changed and the technology the kids utilize has changed even more, what can parents do to help their children master not only the material they need to know, but the skills they will need to accumulate that material?

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