On a map, draw a 10-mile radius around Camden (“N.J. to take over Camden schools,” March 25). It will include Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and Moorestown — three communities with excellent school systems, each of which spends far less per pupil than Camden (thanks to massive state aid) and with far different outcomes. Now, why is that?
Well, it’s not the schools. It’s the community the students come from. How many of the Camden students come from homes with bookcases filled with books? How many of their parents will tuck them in at night by reading them stories? How many will sit at the kitchen table helping students with homework? How many Camden parents will meet with their child’s teachers, not to complain about how their children are unfairly treated, but to remediate any behavioral problems and assist their children in becoming productive students?
These are venerable, proven methods for youngsters to come to understand the importance of schooling. These students’ parents expect and insist upon their children being attentive and diligent pupils. Parents in suburban schools, and also in inner-city charter schools, have these same expectations, and their children grow up in an atmosphere of literacy and learning. If New Jersey officials hope for Camden’s students to do better, they might want to try working on parenting skills in the home. Then, the schools will take care of themselves. Otherwise, just archive the recent news reports and republish in 10 years.
Kevin McGonigal, Moorestown, firstname.lastname@example.org