2007-01-11 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

What If We Gave A Tutoring Party And Nobody Came?
By Charles Rogers


Department of Education statistics released last month indicated that only about one fourth of students who were eligible for free tutoring under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act have taken advantage of it. Maybe "eligible" is the wrong word; perhaps "needed" would be more accurate.

The NCLB Act is five years old this month and, if it works the way it's supposed to, it would be one of the great (few?) successes of the George W. Bush Administration. Of course, it's up for review for refunding purposes now by the new Democratic-controlled Congress, but apparently there is no reason why it should not be continued. Just because three quarters of those who need it don't use it - even if it's free - doesn't mean those who advocate a better way to educate students shouldn't continue to try every means possible.

Apparently there are private tutoring companies, private tutors, school-sponsored tutors and even teacher-tutors available, but, for some reason, they are not being used.

Why?

A report in the Daily News last week said that only 27 percent of students who attend failing schools in poor neighborhoods have signed up for the program. Could it be that they don't know enough about it? Could it be that their parents have not been properly informed about it...or not informed at all? Could it be that somebody just doesn't care?

As we all know, a great part of the problem is the parents and their involvement in their child's education. Herman Badillo, the Hispanic politician and statesman, recently came under fire by New Yorkers of Latin descent because he said Hispanic parents rarely get involved with their childen's schools. True or not, it emphasizes the fact that parents are the key to the furtherance of education. It has nothing to do with ethnicity, either.

In order to go into other reasons the program isn't working at full steam, we would have to address some of the other economic and sociological reasons; of which there must be many.

One of the problems, besides the parental connection, is, of course, the child himself (herself). There are too many instances where he is already involved in other pursuits, like extracurricular activities, thus leaving him no time for tutoring. The obvious answer is to replace, say, football, with tutoring. Do you think that would work?

Yeah, right! I'm sure there are cases where it would. But I'm sure there are many occasions where the lines are drawn, especially nowadays when it seems being a pro football player is one of the great professions in the country, if not the world - to be followed by basketball. Never mind what it takes to get there.

A sidebar, of course, is that so very many college athletes veritably hunger for tutors because if they don't keep their grades up - they can forget about pursuing any kind of sports in the future, professionally or otherwise! Tell that to the kids!

It seems there are a myriad of excuses when it comes to skipping anything having to do with extracurricular activities that aren't out-and-out fun!

Another problem would be how you would know the tutor is going to do an adequate job? I suppose the proof would be in the final exams, but that may be too late. Just because the student goes to a tutor doesn't mean he has learned anything. And, yes, that's another problem to be surmounted by the parents. Incidentally, one must not forget that, in today's world, those hard working parents don't have a heckova lot of time to look over a tutor's shoulder to see if he or she is doing it right.

Happy birthday, NCLB Act. Let's hope you can get more publicity for your tutoring program. Something's got to work!

Being an educator nowadays is indeed tough. Being a student is tough. Being a parent is tough.

As Mayor Bloomberg says, "It's a tough world. Live with it."

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