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As an educator for 32 years, I have been reading with interest various articles about New York State taking a look at tougher licensing for teachers. This is understandable in response to a number of factors, including test scores that are "less than desirable."

I certainly must agree that today's teacher preparation is woefully inadequate, but steps are being taken to address this issue. My concern is not to speak to teacher preparation but rather to the push for tougher licensing.

Demanding higher standards for students and teachers has a place in effecting meaningful change, but one-third of the equation is being ignored. Higher standards for parents must be addressed and demanded before true change can take place.

Assigning blame for poor results on educational institutions and the teaching/support staff fraternity are convenient targets - but no bull's eye. I have never met a teacher or worked in a school district that was "satisfied with failure."

The best teachers and the highest standards cannot ever take the place of effective parenting. The raising of children has been relegated to a sideline and is not a full-time endeavor for too many parents. The ensuing results of this laxity are all too obvious. From kindergarten through high school, so many of the children come to school ill-prepared and ill-mannered. Disrespectful behavior that used to be the exception 30 years ago is, now, sadly, prevalent throughout the schools and elsewhere in our society.

Meaningful teaching has become more and more difficult, if not impossible in some situations, as these neglected, disruptive and needful children fill our schools.

The very best teaching practices in the very best schools with the most money available cannot single-handedly repair a crumbling foundation that lacks the mortar of values, respect, hard work and tolerance.

Higher standards for teachers and students is doomed to failure without a demand and a plan for higher standards for parents.



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