2007-09-14 / Columnists

It's My Turn

The blame game is a game without winners
By Bernard Gassaway

BERNARD GASSAWAY BERNARD GASSAWAY Bernard Gassaway is a distinguished educator. He is a former superintendent of alternative schools and programs in New York City, a Charles H. Revson Fellow and author of "Reflections of an Urban High School Principal". He was the long-time principal of Beach Channel High School in Rockaway Park.

For sure, the one thing most people in the United States of America can agree on is that we are currently faced with an educational crisis. Our children are being outperformed by countries with fewer resources. Children are dropping out of school in record numbers. While schools are failing children across this country, prisons are swelling. So, who is really to blame for our current conditions?

Blame children. "Children fail in school because they do not care! They do not value education. They do not respect authority. They do not respect their parents. They do not know God."

Blame parents. "They do not have control over their children. They expect schools to raise them. They do not even join the PTA."

Blame teachers. "They are responsible for teaching our children. When children fail, teachers fail to teach. They only care about their next pay raise and having summers off."

Blame principals. "Principals are not doing their jobs. Schools are out of control and children are not learning. They are afraid of the teachers' union."

Blame politicians. "They do not care about children because children do not vote. Politicians are crooks."

Blame universities and colleges. "They fail to adequately train teachers. They are not held accountable to schools, students and families. They analyze the problems and write reports. They do very little to solve problems."

Blame the clergy. "Where are the churches? God needs to be in these schools. Churches can do more."

Blame the system. "The system is corrupt and broken."

Blame money. "If we spent more money on education, children would receive a better education."

Blame racism. "Jim Crow is alive and well in our schools. Black and Latino students are taught to be subservient by a Eurocentric curriculum. That's why there is an achievement gap between whites and blacks."

Blame sexism. "Girls are not expected to do well in the sciences and


Blame drugs. "Children born of addiction cannot learn. They cannot sit still in class. They have attention deficit disorder."

Blame poverty. "Poor children receive a poor education."

This is the final round of the blame game. Remember, the only rule in the blame game is to blame someone or something other than yourself.

Parents blame teachers. Teachers blame parents and children. Principals blame parents, teachers and children. Superintendents blame principals, teachers, parents and children. Politicians blame superintendents, principals, parents, and children. Clergy blame politicians, superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and children. Everyone blames children. Children blame no one.

The blame game is not fun. I do not want to play anymore.

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