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The "Fathering Gap" in Education

Posted by Vincent DiCaro

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Oct 19, 2009
This article, from yesterday's Washington Post, Making the Grade Isn't About Race. It's About Parents, is one of the more powerful pieces I have read in a while. Written by an English teacher from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, it bravely confronts some of the most thorny issues around why some students do well in school and others don't.

The most fascinating thing about the conclusions he reaches about the "achievement gap" in education is that his students themselves - not the "experts" - are helping him see what the real issue is.

When he asked his students, mostly black, about why they don't study as hard as students from Africa, a student replied, "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study."

Another student said, "You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us."

When he did, not one hand went up.

Furthermore, when empirical evidence meets real world experience, you know you are onto something. Several studies, including a landmark study from the U.S. Department of Education, reflect the reality that this teacher is recognizing in his classroom - children with fathers in the home get better grades, are less likely to drop out, and enjoy school more.

Hopefully this article will help the "experts" - who like to focus on less important demographic data - rethink the solutions for helping our children do better in school. They, like this wise teacher, should start listening to the children they seek to serve.

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