The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Obama’s Attack on Working Parents

Feb 7, 2011

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. ... We need to teach them that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.”

Yes, it’s true that many children are raised in households that don’t give them an adequate preparation to be able to do well in school.

But why?

Obama is pushing a story that turns reality upside-down. He’s telling us that kids enter school without the skills they need to do well, that they do not or cannot do the work asked of them, because their parents don’t discipline them enough or value education enough.

What kind of reactionary garbage is that!

The problem is not the parents’ attitude; the problem is the realities of the class system we live in.

How can someone deprived of a decent education themselves be able to give their kids the foundation for their own education? How could they help their children with the homework they have? How can someone who must work 12 hours a day to keep food on the table and a roof over their family’s heads be able to “make sure the TV is off and homework gets done”? How can they even begin to search for the resources that will allow their kids to get a decent education–or even know where to search?

Twenty-one% of U.S. children live in poverty. How are their parents supposed to turn things around simply by a fresh attitude?

After attacking the teachers for two years, Obama is now offering a sop to the reactionary attitudes some teachers have: Yes, he says, teachers deal with unprepared students–but because the parents are bad, not because the poverty level is bad.

If Obama were to truly address the conditions creating a poor education for many students, he would push to give schools serving the poor many times more resources than they currently receive. It’s the only way to begin to address the cycle of poverty. But instead, his administration is doing the opposite.

And by telling us the problem is bad parents and bad teachers, he’s telling us to expect that nothing will change.