The Need for Reform
Every 26 seconds, another high school student drops out of school. The loss of 1.2 million graduates annually imposes unquantifiable costs on every family and every community across our nation. Even though policymakers continue to seek improvement in U.S. schools by increasing government control, decades of increased spending and increased federal control have yielded little improvement in student performance. The harsh realities of these drop-out rates will continue to impact the cycle of poverty in our nation. Students that drop out are:
- 8 times more likely to go to prison;
- 50% less likely to vote;
- More likely to need social welfare assistance;
- Not eligible for 90% of jobs; and
- Paid 40 cents to the dollar.
Even among those students who do graduate from our nation’s high schools, a significant number receive diplomas without possessing the necessary skills to succeed in life. This fact represents a considerable impact on the economy and the health of communities and families across the nation.
In her compelling statement before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Anne T. Henderson, Senior Consultant at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, emphasized that “Over 40 years of research has demonstrated that engaging families in their children’s education improves student achievement, attendance, and behavior, and increases graduation rates. Children spend 70% of their waking hours outside of school, and how they spend that time is critical to their success in school. Modest investments in increasing families’ knowledge and skills to support learning can leverage our larger investment in teacher quality and school improvement.”
Geoffrey Canada’s remarkably successful Harlem Children’s Zone is built on the understanding that parental support and involvement is fundamental to academic achievement. Hence, the GO FOR IT! Institute and other education reform experts agree: Empowering families has been the missing connection to achieving this societal shift.
To succeed, education reform must have three strong legs to support it. Students, schools, and families need to stand equally in their effort and responsibility:
- Families provide life skills, values and discipline;
- Schools provide academic knowledge; and
- Students come to class prepared to learn and achieve.
Most conversations on this topic in our country have overlooked the responsibility families have to teach their children life skills, clarify values, and provide behavior boundaries and the motivation to achieve. This responsibility has sadly been placed almost solely upon our schools – a situation that, over time, has eroded the inherent importance of creating and maintaining strong family ties and values.
From our perspective in classrooms across the nation over the past three decades, we have seen first-hand that our country’s decline to the bottom of the achievement scale among the developed nations of the world is directly tied to the lack of family involvement in the process of educating its children. This lack of involvement is NOT because parents don’t care. It is due, in part, because they lack the tools required for providing the non-academic learning required for reaching human potential.
Based on the opinion of thousands of classroom educators, school administrators, parents and students themselves, we believe our book – GO FOR IT! Family Program — provides the missing link in education and can, indeed, provide a better tomorrow to families who choose to make this information available to their children.
This is the paradigm shift being called for in our society today. We invite you to join us!