In a speech he gave to the American Federation of Teachers, Mr. Barack Hussein Obama actually said this:
Real change is finally giving our kids everything they need to have a fighting chance in today’s world. That begins with recognizing that the single most important factor in determining a child’s achievement is not the color of their skin or where they come from; it’s not who their parents are or how much money they have. It’s who their teacher is. It’s the paraprofessionals and support staff and all of you in this room. It’s those who spend their own money on books and supplies, come early and stay late comparing lesson plans, who devote their lives to our next generation and serve as role models for the children who need one most because you believe that’s what makes the extra difference. And it does. After all, I have two daughters. I know what their teachers mean to them.
(here is the whole speech)
Can you believe that? Quite unsettling rhetoric from Our (Potential) Great Leader.
I'll play devil's advocate for a few seconds: maybe when he said "it's not who their parents are," he meant the parents' socioeconomic status alone, i.e. just because your dad is a bum doesn't predestine you to be a bum too. Then again, what if your teacher is a bum or a sociopath?
I would say that the chief factor in determining a child's achievement is parental support, not who the teacher is. Here are a few tidbits from a study done by the Michigan Department of Education:
The most consistent predictors of children’s academic achievement and social adjustment are parent expectations of the child’s academic attainment and satisfaction with their child’s education at school. (Emphasis: JunkMale)
Decades of research show that when parents are involved students have:
- Higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates
- Type of Involvement
- Better school attendance
- Increased motivation, better self-esteem
- Lower rates of suspension
- Decreased use of drugs and alcohol
- Fewer instances of violent behavior
Family participation in education was twice as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status. Some of the more intensive programs had effects that were 10 times greater than other factors.
Here are some more links that I got from the NEA page about parental involvement. I haven't read through all of them, but have provided the links in case anyone does want to.
Parent Involvement in Education - Research brief addressing such questions as "Is parent involvement a valuable resource for schools struggling to provide state-of-the-art instruction with diminishing funds? Does it instill pride and interest in schooling?" K. Cotton & K. R. Wikelund (Northwest Regional Education Lab, 2001).
A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement A. T. Henderson & K. L. Mapp. (Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 2002) Report Conclusion.
Summary of Research on Parent Engagement - Lists the benefits of parent engagement. The full report, A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement, covers 66 studies, reviews, reports, analyses, and books. Offers concrete reasons "why" and "how" educators should involve parents in their student's education. (Center for Law and Education, 1996)