Teachers can only do so much

Posted: June 16, 2009

I'M A GRADUATE of Philly public schools and have a child in a public school who's had six years of amazing teachers.

PFT President Jerry Jordan missed a few things in his recent op-ed, which focused on what the city can do to keep teachers. Equally important is what parents can do to make teachers want to come to teach in our schools. Based on what my parents did, and what my wife and I are experiencing, parents need to . . .

Be involved in your children's schools. Get to know the teachers. Volunteer to help out. Schools can be great resources for our community but they need us to be resources for them.

Be a partner to the teacher. Playing an active role in your child's education by keeping on top of what they're supposed to be learning can help identify areas needing attention long before report cards come home.

Teachers see our children just six hours a day. They can only work with what they're given. Our children's respect for themselves, their peers and their elders is something that needs to be taught at home. Be the adult that you want your children to become. No matter how tired we are at the end of a long day of work, from housework or looking for a job, we still need to be parents to our children. We need to listen to them and to give them the love they deserve.

Make sure your kids have proper nutrition, enough exercise and enough sleep. Kids who are healthy and alert are better able to learn and concentrate.

Read in front of your children and with them. Studies show that parents who read have kids who read.

Remember the computer adage "GIGO" - garbage in, garbage out. Parents need to make sure that the TV and movies their kids are watching and the music they're listening to convey the kinds of messages that will help their kids down the road.

Movies and music glorifying drugs, crime and promiscuity do nothing to help our children develop in a positive way.

GIGO applies to us as parents as well. Our kids need to see us eating the right kind of food, being physically active and spending our time enjoying things that are good for our souls.

All of this will help our children arrive each day at school with the proper respect and a desire to learn and grow.

How could someone not want to teach a group of kids like that?

Michael A. Ginsberg, Philadelphia

'Pension by cop'

Michael Smerconish's June 11 column appears to ignore the obvious. If convicted at 59, armed robber Jerry Lee Stanton will have achieved "pension by cop" (as some depressed people achieve "suicide by cop" by creating a situation where the perpetrator must be killed to avoid innocent death).

Such desperate acts are the result of deteriorating pensions, an impossible medical care situation, and fragmented families - increasing the possibility that an elder (criminal or not) will live past the time that he is able to support himself. Smerconish's optimism - that age and maturity will solve our crime problems - appears to be based on the Reagan assumptions that a constantly rising economy will provide for our aging population, even if 60 percent of our income goes to service the offshore bank accounts of self-serving CEOs and their minions.

Ben Burrows, Elkins Park

Judging Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor recently met with Senate Republicans. They said she's a delight, but they don't know if they'll vote for her. They don't have the richness of her experience as a wise Latina woman, so they'll have to make their decision by examining all the evidence.

Keith A. Barger

Philadelphia

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