Our local high school held its invitational tournament for Speech and Debate yesterday. The tournament has been growing yearly. I believe this is largely due to the efforts of the director. Our son participated in Speech and Debate for all four years of high school. We believed that this was good preparation for later in life. Good public speaking skills are essential in many jobs. The ability to write well, needed to prepare a speech, is also a necessity. My wife and I have participated by judging and by preparing the food for breakfast and lunch for the judges and volunteers.
During our years of participation, we have noticed a general lack of parental participation. This is more notable when I compare notes with friends who have kids in the athletic programs at the same schools. Participation by parents, especially the fathers, is close to 100% for games and dinners to support the athletes.** For speech and debate, there is a small, dedicated group of parents who participate, but nowhere even close to 100%. This group is dominated by mothers.
When one reads a recent piece by Dreher supporting the idea that our problems with education are somehow the fault of Boomers, or teachers, or Boomer teachers, I cannot help but remember what I see very year. The parents I see, or rather not see, are in their 30s and 40s. Definitely not Boomers. What I do see is a lot of teachers putting in extra time on weekdays and whole days on weekends, including a lot of travel, to support these kids in what I believe to be a very beneficial endeavor. In the ongoing discussion about the issues with our educational system, I think we need to look at problems with our students, teachers and parents. However, I still think that issues on the parental side are the most overlooked. Perhaps because they are the most difficult to fix, or maybe because they do most of the voting.
**This is not intended to denigrate athletics. Useful skills can come from athletic participation. I am looking more at parental involvement in school related activities.