I saw Bill Gates recently on CNN discussing how to improve education in America. He emphasized improving the teachers via new evaluation procedures. While I do agree with Mr. Gates about the need to improve the quality of teachers, I think the fundamental problem with our educational system lies elsewhere.
If you want to improve public education, the solution starts with the community and the parents and guardians. From a very early age students must be guided by these two entities because this is where they spend the majority of their time. Parents and guardians have to be role models. They must emphasize the importance of education and the opportunity it presents for students to help themselves become responsible adults who contribute positively to society.
There are some recurring behaviors that are present in a student who does not receive proper guidance from their parent or guardian and the community at large. I see these behaviors every day when I am in the classroom.
As a teacher, before you can properly educate students, they must have respect for you, the administration and the community that is paying for them to attend public school. And they must have discipline to persevere through the rigors of a demanding curriculum.
These are not values that are relevant only in a school environment. These values translate to the real world, and this is the ultimate goal of any school, to prepare students for the "real world." Teachers can reinforce these values, but they begin with the parent or guardian and the community. Let's start there.
The writer is a substitute teacher in the Woodland Hills School District.