March 5, 2023 - Let's Get Parents Excited About Education

Bob Barnes

Let’s start glorifying educational accomplishments

Your Turn

Bob Barnes

Guest columnist

I compliment FLORIDA TODAY for printing more stories and opinion pieces lately relating to education. Some have written letters and columns with suggestions on how to improve our educational system.

Before we can accomplish a positive change in our educational system, we must first understand that the foundational solution to childhood education lies with parents. Parents are the key to a good educational system. No suggestions, no matter how good, will bear fruit without parental engagement.

I’m referring to the type of parental excitement and engagement for scholastic work that is equal to the enthusiasm shown at Friday night football games by parents who, for the most part, do not even show up for parent night at their child’s school.

Too many adults think that the education of their children is solely the responsibility of the public school system. This is more than wrong; it is the foundational fault of many parents which contributes to the failure of so many students. If this perception and understanding of responsibility are not changed, we will continue on our current road which is lacking in success for so many of our children from lower-income families.

Let us look at the reality of our current state of education in Brevard County. Overall, it does a good job. If you don’t agree then check out the other 66 school districts in Florida. Brevard might not have the best school system in Florida but it is up there near the top. Take one more step and compare Brevard Public Schools to others around the country. If you do this then you will have a new appreciation of the fine work being done by our dedicated teachers and administrators under the most difficult circumstances.

I don’t live in a dream world that tells me all is fine with our education system. With significant numbers of minority students not even at grade level in reading, it is clear that all is not fine with Brevard Public Schools. But the solution cannot be found if parents do not understand the value of education and share that understanding with their young child.

Getting parents to understand the value of education and having them engaged with their child’s education should be the primary goal of any school system, including Brevard Public Schools.

If mom is screaming for joy in the stands when little Johnny scores a touchdown but does not show that same enthusiasm with his schoolwork, then little Johnny has learned a terrible lesson when it comes to education. When dad high-fives taller Johnny when he does well in basketball but does not do the same when it comes to classroom and homework then taller Johnny has also learned a terrible lesson when it comes to education. Someone has to explain to parents who hope their child will become an NBA superstar that the odds of their child becoming a world-famous brain surgeon are greater than their child’s chance of becoming an NBA player.

There are segments of our society, groups of people bonded by religion or culture that understand the value of education. Their success is all around us in Brevard County. We can see which groups of people are successful in the arts, culture, science, business, and professions. Have you ever wondered what commonality exists? Wonder no more. It was the direct parental engagement of their parents and it is their direct parental engagement with every aspect of their child’s education.

Let’s stop worrying about the infrastructure of schools and spend the money and time on the infrastructure of a child’s brain. Abe Lincoln did not have air conditioning. Let’s stop glorifying just sports (which I wholeheartedly support) without glorifying educational accomplishments on an equal level. Let’s stop worrying about whether law enforcement or the school district will handle discipline and concentrate on teaching our children (and their parents, when necessary) how to behave in a civilized scholastic setting.

The uneducated lower-income parent wants the best for their child just as much as the college-educated engineer does. The only difference is that one understands the value of education and one does not. Change the attitude of parents and you will change the education of our children for the better.

This is a solvable problem.

Bob Barnes is the founder of Aspiration Academy and the founder of The Children’s Hunger Project. Learn more at Barnes can be reached through the website for comments or support and is available to speak to civic groups or congregations. He lives in West Melbourne.


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