Submitted by Fred Willis, Lakewood
Last week the Clover Park School District convened a city wide gathering at McGavick Center. A well known authority on public education spoke to the full house attending. He urged forming a partnership between the district and the community. The speaker provided relevant details about what districts are commanded to do over and above teaching the three “R’s”. And emphasis was placed on bringing our community in line with the District’s stated goals.
However, at no time during the meeting was the topic of failed parenting mentioned. Developing the goal of the partnership was left to those attending. On February 7, 2018, I composed the following. I gave copies of it to several community leaders. Solving the problem of parents not parenting should be the starting point in developing the goal of the partnership.
The role of parents is to have children and to raise them to be productive adults. This assures the survival of our species. A neighborhood of dysfunction greatly hinders parents in performing their role. Crime, and parents unable to parent, are the most serious of these dysfunctions.
The role of government is to provide crime free neighborhoods so that parents in partnership with schools can raise their children protected from crime. Stationary neighborhood community security centers can greatly reduce crime. But the problem of parents being unable to parent remains.
We know that very large numbers of children arrive at the school house door unprepared to be educated because they have not received adequate parenting to a major degree before age 6 and to a lesser degree thereafter. And we know why this is true. Parents can’t and don’t parent because they don’t know how. Protecting them from local dysfunction won’t teach them to parent, but a qualified parenting teacher/social worker assigned to the neighborhood center could.
Wow! What an amazing idea. We teach our young adults in a secure environment how to be good parents.
But wait. Problems loom. How do we round up all the eligible young adults so we can teach them? How do we find social workers qualified to teach parenting? Where do we find textbooks to teach from? How do we establish the local centers? How many centers do we need to serve the whole community? How do we find the money to fund the teacher and the police officer?
If we could solve these problems, what might we expect? Truancy would decrease. Bullying would decrease. Test scores would climb. Drop outs would decrease. Drug abuse would decrease. Public health would improve. Cost of health care would decrease. Adult and child abuse would decrease. Teenage pregnancy would decrease. Court costs would decrease. Incarceration would drop. Quality of young adults seeking employment would improve.
Is it possible that the total savings resulting from all of these improvements might far exceed the cost of the program? If so, this would make the program a huge winner.
Only one way to find out. Do a field test, but that would cost tax dollars that local school districts and governments just don’t have. But if the program were presented to a large foundation, funds for testing a single parenting/security center very well could be available.
Next step. City and school district in partnership submit a grant request , extolling the merits of the program, to the large foundations known for supporting education.
This is my legacy to my city and to my school district. At age 86, I am just too old to manage this task. Now it is up to them.