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Many poor students are not teacher’s fault

March 21, 2012
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

You can hardly blame Buffalo school teachers for digging in their heels over the issue of having the academic performance of chronically absent students count against them in federally required evaluations.

The state suspended millions of dollars in grant money to the Buffalo schools in January because the district had not yet created at acceptable plan to evaluate teachers. As the Associated Press reported, the school district and teachers have a plan now, but state officials say they won't sign off on it because of a clause that excludes the performance of certain students based on their poor attendance.

Some $9.3 million in state aid was put at risk last week when, no matter what the state was saying, the Buffalo Teacher's Federation council of delegates voted against removing that clause.

And, really, who can blame them? Teachers do not have control over student attendance.

Chronically absent students aren't the only problem. Teachers in some classrooms have to deal daily with students who come to school distraught because mom or dad is in jail or hungry because no one fixed them dinner last night nor breakfast this morning or they got kicked out of their house and don't know where they are going to sleep that night and on and on.

The best teachers in the world sometimes utterly fail to reach those students.

Seems to us we are closing in on a time when we can't keep ignoring the larger issues of why students either don't go to school or are not ready to learn when they do.

Holding teachers and schools responsible for things over which they have no control will not make up for bad parenting - whatever its root cause might be - nor for cultural or economic pressures nor for whatever else is ruining a child's life before it barely begins.

We all know it. We have known it for a long time.

And we just go on ignoring it.



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