Dear Abby

dropcap_once again Abby is annoying. There was a letter written by “Heavy Decision in Pennsylvania” and Abby provided a light-weight answer. The parents wrote in about moving their child to a more “elite” area because the current school didn’t “rate high.” The parents stated that in their current living situation, they have great neighbors, close friendships in the neighborhood (“best friends”), the kids and animals are close and they even vacation together. Their daughter is welcome in their homes and there is a feeling of “love and contentment.”

Abby basically says to move and if they are true friends, they will understand and that education of their child should come first.

WRONG! There are several issues with this answer. There is an assumption that the elite school will provide a better education. This may show a class or racial bias on Abby’s part. Sometimes, “elite” is a mask for a whiter school, or one with richer students. Also, elite students, sometime act that way, as do their parents, and you have students that feel entitled to much and can have some very shallow values.

Although there may be better academics, the environment may give a child some poor, moral education, which Abby has done many times! New students are also treated worse than those of the “elite” crowd, so a change of schools can be very emotionally harmful for kids. Those of you who changed school during the 7-12th grades might be able to relate to this reality.

There is education in the school, but what about in the home. The author didn’t give the children’s age, or what they wanted to do. Children often do not want to leave friends or a place where they feel secure. Moving and ripping them out of a stable, loving supportive environment, could do a lot of emotional damage, cause resentment and the end result being less educational achievement. Having worked in a junior high, in a community with lots of migrant activity, the older the child, the more they resent having to move for various reasons. If the children are doing well, “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke!”

The Bible says seek wise counsel and Abby give the impression that gathering information is irrelevant. How about talking to the current school counselor, or a counselor at the school they might attend. Before going to graduate school, I interviewed a student who graduated and got information about instructors. As a new student to an “elite” school, you are often given the worst teachers, because that is where the room exists, and the kids and parents who have been there longer, know who are the best teachers, and they get requested at the beginning of the year. Poor teachers in an “elite” school can lead to poor educational outcomes.

Finally, as a person who has helped many young people achieve academically, it is not so much where you go to school but how much you apply yourself. The idea behind sending the kids to an elite school is that it might maximize their current and future learning. If you want the best for your kids, as a parent, do your homework and talk to counselors to get them the best teachers, most challenging curriculum and any support activities available (SAT prep, tutoring, etc.) Most schools have many extra-curricular activities and those are powerful learning experiences and college going resources (sports, clubs, music and arts programs, student service groups, etc.)

Too often, parents who feel that learning is the responsibility of the school are wrong. It is the parent’s job to teach, encourage, enrich and motivate their children. They need to sign them up for AVID, PA coursework, clubs, band, ASES and the list go on. Unfortunately, Abby was once again advocating for lazy parenting, which is often the case in elite circles in our society.

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Jim Shinn has lived in the valley for 57 years and was home-schooled in the 1950’s. He was been a counselor at schools, health clinics, drug treatment center and is the director of the Son-Shine Counseling Center. He has written for the Alpine Sun and the Desert Voice and has published 2 books Bedtime Storeezzz and Faith and Loving on the Way to Heaven. He has taught at IVC, SDSU and the University of Redlands and writes to keep sane in a very strange world. He loves Jesus and serves Christ at Valley Baptist Church in Brawley.

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