Like most kids, my daughter hates doing her homework. Hates it. Loves school, hates homework. Tuesday, she came home from school anxious to get started on it. Given that this attitude is a departure from her usual attitude toward schoolwork -0I decided to ask why.
"The President told us we need to do it," she said.
I had listened to both sides of the debate over having the President's speech shown in classrooms across the country. I didn't really understand the opposition; I felt if the sitting President -0regardless of his political affiliation -0 wants to tell my child to stay in school, all the better. I hadn't had an opportunity to actually watch the speech, so I went back and watched it online and read a transcript of what he had to say to students like my daughter.
Some of those who have commented on this blog in the past have taken issue with my stance on the achievement gap. Some have even suggested who is to blame. In the end -0everyone is right; there is plenty of blame to go around. But, as the President said, the bottom line rests with the students themselves.
As I research contributory factors to the achievement gap I find there are many. Children raised in single parent households are twice as likely to drop out as those raised in so-called "traditional homes." Students living in pockets of poverty are more likely to end their education before graduation than those with money. Kids who don't have parents who get involved in their education are at a disadvantage than their counterparts whose parents are involved. Ethnic/racial diversity plays a tremendous role in a child's likelihood to succeed. But, as President Obama noted , "at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -0what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -0none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying."
Those kids who didn't see the speech and opt to watch TV rather than do their homework will still be getting the message. The Gates Foundation launched a new program this week encouraging kids to "Get Schooled." The messages and program will air on channels like MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon where school-aged kids, and their parents, might see them.
In the meantime, I'll be sitting at the dinner table tonight, helping my daughter with her homework.