I am in the middle of reading How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. It is pretty amazing so far - it really is a lot of common sense, but common sense that has been proven by scientific studies.
I am about 1/3 of the way through (according to my kindle) and the book is discussing the issues affluent children have in school/life. This discussion is particular to middle and high school students, but I am sure that it applies to other grades as well. Psychologists have found that affluent children have higher rates of alcohol and drug use and depression than their poor counterparts.
The book theorized that this is because parents of affluent children are more permissive of this behavior (as a group) and help their children get out of trouble so often that dangerous behavior just continues and escalates.
However, the book also asserts that the key factor in depression and dangerous behavior in both rich and poor kids is absent parents or parents that fail to connect with their children.
I read this and I thought, of course that is a problem!
I realize that some parents have to work and can't be with their kids every day after school, but this doesn't have to prevent someone from being an involved parent. My mom worked my entire life and my sister and I had to go to daycare from about 6am to 6pm, but I never doubted how much my mother cared about me and my life. I knew that I was important to my mom, and whenever she could be there, she was. This was a wonderful gift.
I don't want to sound to preachy - but I don't think that we are going to fix the education system in this country until we have every child growing up in a home where he knows how important and how loved he is. That is what we should be talking about when we say "No Child Left Behind".
I would love it if we had "school" for parents. New mothers could bring in their babies and get the support and information they need to be nurturing influences. Parents could be empowered to change their children's lives, and families could learn together.
I think that every parent and every child would benefit from more support, and then maybe achievement and test scores would go up and drop out rates would go down.