Yet another wake up call–testimony before Congress, as it considers reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

(Many countries passing U.S. in education)

What amazes me in this and other news stories that bemoan the state of America’s schools, is silence on the positive role of parents. While the article mentions that our students are ‘overentertained and distracted,’ and that we should do something about that, again we would be tackling the symptom, not the cause, of our situation.

The laws and policies we have expect nothing from parents, beyond making demands for information from schools, complaining if things go wrong, advocating for their children (against their schools), and (in special ed), filing law suits.. The laws do not expect parents TO PARENT their children. How amazing is that! While our President has used the bully pulpit well, reminding parents to turn off TVs, put children to bed on time, feed them well, help them with schoolwork, etc., our laws and public policies remain silent on this parental role. It’s as if we expect schools to do it all! Well, that hasn’t worked.

Rather than just comparing our nation’s schools to those of others (South Korea, Finland, Poland, as the article does), how about comparing our nation’s school-family climate to theirs. I believe a pot of gold lies in that comparison. It is time to take it on.

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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