Breaking the Cycle
By Daron VanderHeiden, Superintendent
Educational researchers have known for many years that k-12 educational achievement is directly tied to social economic status. This data shows the more affluent students are, the better they do in school– plain and simple. This holds true at the local, state, and national levels. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, but not many. The prison systems are full of young men that cannot read; many did not graduate from high school, and most grew up poor, or in poverty. In general, parents who were successful in school tend to support education at a higher level than those who were not successful in school themselves. Dysfunction in families and school failure go hand-in-hand. I could cite countless research studies and evidence to prove to any non-believers that these are facts and this is the reality of our society.
So, is it a coincidence that poor kids are not as smart as their wealthier counterparts? Or, boys of poverty cannot learn to read as well as wealthier boys and girls? Of course not, it would be absurd to believe this. I do not believe it is a wealth proposition; I believe it is a value proposition.
As a teacher, building principal, and now school superintendent, I have firsthand knowledge of this grim educational reality at the local level. As a school district and community, we need to break this cycle for our at-risk kids. Educational attainment and achievement have never been more important to our students’ future. Public education is a means to break this cycle of poverty, unemployment, and incarceration.
As a parent, rich or poor, it is important to support and value education on a daily basis. You can provide this support in a few simple, no-cost ways.
Read, read, and read some more. This cannot be overstated, especially during the language development years of a child and early literacy stages. This starts literally at birth and extends to approximately third grade. Read to your children as often as possible, and as your child gets older, role model reading whenever you can. Fill your home with age-appropriate reading material. Those students reading at grade level by third grade tend to do well in school.
Communicate with your child’s teacher(s) on a regular basis and especially if your child is struggling in a specific content area. Share your child’s strengths with their teacher(s). Communicate early and often, before your child gets too far behind. It is important for your child to know you and your child’s teacher are on the same page, and you are both there to support them in their academic success. Support your child’s teacher(s), as they are the educational experts.
Structure: children like structure because they know what they can count on. As a parent, develop homework and study routines and stick to them. Make sure your child has a regular bedtime that provides adequate sleep. Demand and make sure your child attends school every day. Develop high expectations for the completion of homework and doing their best in school.
Value education through your actions and words on a daily basis. Kids are very intuitive and know if you are giving them lip service, or if you really believe it yourself. Your attitude toward school and learning will rub off on your child over time, positively or negatively.
Hutchinson Public Schools are here to partner with you. These simple, no-cost educational supports will make a difference for your child over time. Educational attainment is not a wealth proposition; it is a value proposition. Rich or poor, all of our kids deserve and need a high quality education. Value education and help break the cycle.