Standardized tests are at the center of discussions about education. Standardized tests teach children how to answer. A good education teaches them the questions to ask.
The debate over our declining schools has become a circular firing squad, with everyone pointing fingers at the others involved. Parents blame teachers and administrators. Administrators blame politicians for denying them resources. Teachers blame parents for not preparing their children and giving them an environment conducive to learning. Students get lost in the shuffle. Perhaps, given the poisonous atmosphere pervading our politics, these attitudes should not be surprising. But it is no help.
We know that good teachers can inspire children whose parents are indifferent to education. We know that parents can get a good education for their children despite uninspiring teachers. We know that learning can take place in humble surroundings. We know that some children can succeed without support from parents or teachers (although such children are rare).
Time to stop pointing fingers and accept that we are all in this together--even those of us who do not have children in school. Time to stop placing blame, discuss how to increase the value we place on education, and then do it.