Parental Accountability in Education

Riana at BlackAtMichigan has began a series on what I will refer to as Parental Accountability that she is calling “what the hell are we gonna do with these kids.” I left a comment, and it inspired thoughts in my own mind about how we can increase parental accountability, which I’d like to share here.

Perhaps we have approached this in the wrong way. This is not a new problem, but perhaps it warrants a new approach. I’m not a psychologist, but perhaps we are not addressing what causes parental apathy with regard to the education of their children. I don’t understand why previous generations seemed to value education both in the abstract and the practical, yet many today do not. Any thoughts on this? Is it because instant gratification has become the measuring stick for all actions/decisions? There are both immediate and future benefits to education, both personal and communal benefits, but why are the future/communal benefits often ignored?

I’m a bit confused. I’m open to suggestions and welcome the dialogue.



About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

2 responses to “Parental Accountability in Education”

  1. y says :

    Great post Garlin, you know I’m definitely feeling this post. I’ll be back to respond to this one.

  2. y says :

    I read Riana’s post as well as your comment in response to her post. Thank you both for writing about this very important issue.
    By the way, The Little Engineer That Could sounds like a great program. I have searched high and low for programs like that in Maryland and no luck. But, knowing me, I’m not done with that search.
    Kudos to Detroit!

    I’m not a psychologist either, but I definitely don’t think that we are addressing what causes parental apathy in regards to the education of their children and the problem is so disheartening. Not only do I think instant gratification is the measuring stick for all decisions and actions for today’s generations, I think laziness has a lot to do with it. My grandparents did not complete school but they were dedicated to making sure that their children DID NOT follow in their footsteps. I think previous generations valued education because they wanted better lives for their children and their children’s children. It was understood that you had to work hard and be dedicated to doing so for the betterment of your future and your kids future. Nowadays, so many parents are concerned with so many other things like getting the child on a basketball court so he’s the next Jordan. Or, teaching girls to be the next Lil Kim. What happened to feeding their minds with information to empower them. It seems like nowadays parents aren’t dedicated to the great responsibility of being a parent. One of those responsibilities is directing or guiding children in the direction of furthering their education. It should start early when children have a natural thirst for learning and a curiosity to explore. It’s not easy, it takes time and dedication. I’ve seen parents put basketballs in kids hands instead of books. Children 5 & 6 years old on a court but can’t read or tie their shoe. I have a friend who is shy of being a millionaire, just bought a Bentley, living in a million dollar home. She has two girls & one step daughter. The stepdaughter who is 16 isn’t thinking about college, but she’s starting a part-time job so she can have money to buy her school clothes in the fall. The two youngest, 4 & 8 aren’t reading well at all. The 8 year old is not reading or doing math at grade level and when we discussed the problem, the parents as though the problem is not her & her husband says, “We’ve looked for tutoring programs but they’re like $60.00 an hour, I mean do you know how many hours we would have to pay for to catch her up.” My response was, “What the hell is that????? You don’t want to invest that small amount of money into her getting up to speed? They said no, they’re looking for something cheaper. They’re not spending that type of money an hour for tutoring, they’ll try working with her at home. Now how are they going to do that if they are caught up in trying to stay ahead of the Joneses. She has been struggling for 3years and I’ve suggested different programs, and they’ve said to me, they’re too expensive. Their thought is they shouldn’t have to put money into their kids education, because it doesn’t make sense. Look at us, we turned out OKAY, is what they say. My response is why should you want your kids to be just okay. Why not want them to be EXCEPTIONAL! What’s even more frustrating is this couple has no problem with saying they know that education is an area where they sacrifice in order for them to live the type of lifestyle they want to live.

    So why have children?

    How screwed up is that thought process?
    I was just at a track meet this past weekend and this 7 year old girl(I know her age because she was in the age 7 group)stood by the fence that had a sign on it that read, NO STANDING OR LEANING ON FENCE. This young girl looked at the sign and turned to her mother who was on her cell phone and said, “Ma, ma, what does this sign say?” I was so bothered by that, but what bothered me more was the mother’s response,”What! Girl what you say? Damn the sign says—.” Now what was wrong with that picture? Now, I not able to say anything to the parent, because then people see you as insulting their parenting skills. So what do you do? I’m just as confused and I don’t have the answers Riana & Garlin, and I might have just rambled on, but I’m so disappointed, because what so many people don’t realize is these children are our future. If they aren’t prepared then your generation and mine is in serious trouble.
    Children are God’s priority, so if we don’t take care of his priority then what does that say about us?

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