Alexander B. Dolitsky

Alexander B. Dolitsky

Opinion: Success at school begins at home

Studies show conservative moral values play an important role in educational achievement.

  • By Alexander B. Dolitsky
  • Saturday, February 18, 2023 11:52am
  • Opinion

Education and knowledge translate into power. Education does not parallel economics or politics, but is the moral compass and soul of the society; it is more fundamental than either of the others. Education determines people’s moral values, appearance, eating habits, and the role of citizens in the society; it shapes behavioral and subsistence strategies.

Today, unfortunately, there are several weak areas in the primary and secondary education system in the United States and in Alaska in particular: i.e., the absence of a unified methodology for teaching, a lack of consistency in school policies, a weak academic curriculum (compared to other technologically advanced countries), and an often–unsavory school environment.

In addition, some researchers suggest that the U.S. educational crisis is more social than academic, including a remarkable indoctrination of our youth in the divisive “white privilege” and “critical race” doctrines, the 1619 Project and “gender identity” issues.

Some educational experts recommend American schools adopt aspects of our Asian and West European counterparts—a longer school year and more rigorous requirements — in order to raise the scholastic level of U.S. students.

Researchers also indicate that recently immigrated children of Asian and European origin are able to excel in the American school system as it exists. Despite hardships and limited knowledge of English and American cultural values, these children quickly adapt to their new school environments and rapidly excel within the first few years of schooling.

In the late 1990s, the California Achievement Test, for example, demonstrated that the performance of newly arrived students from Asia and Europe was exceptional. Their mean overall score on the CAT was in the 54th percentile, placing them just above the national average. Evidently, the lowest scores were found in the language and reading test, not surprising as English was their second language. In this case, the mean score was slightly below the national average.

How can we explain the remarkable performance of newly arrived immigrants in a foreign social and economic environment? What social stimulus forces newly arrived immigrants to perform better in school than those who have lived in this country for three or four generations?

It appears some factors were parental encouragement, dedication to learning, family pride in educational excellence, a clear realization that education is the most important instrument for success in the highly competitive American society, collective consciousness among members of the nuclear family and, most importantly, sustaining conservative moral values in the family.

Studies showed that conservative moral values play an important role in the educational achievement of children. In my 18 years of teaching at the Alyeska Central School (a former correspondence school affiliated with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development), my best and most outstanding students were from conservative, religious and traditional values-centered families.

On the national level, among Southeast Asians, for example, the Confucian and Buddhist code of behavior (harmonious relationships between parents and children, subjects and rulers, men and women, rich and poor) is a main source of motivation and direction in their life. The family is the central institution in these ethnic groups, where achievement and knowledge are admired and encouraged.

Nowhere is the family’s commitment to education more evident than in time spent on homework. During high school, Indochinese students spend an average of three hours per day; in junior high, an average of 2.5 hours; and in grade school, an average of 2 hours per day. In contrast, research in the U.S. shows that American students study at home about 1.5 hours per day at the junior and senior high school levels.

Studies also found that parents who attributed greater importance to fun and excitement than to education had children who achieved lower GPAs, 2.90 as opposed to 3.14 for children whose parents and family members valued education. The result for children of parents who valued material possessions more highly than education were similarly low: GPAs were 2.66 versus 3.19 for children whose family members valued education.

It is essential to remember that school is not an entertainment center, but an institution where teachers share their knowledge with students in the most harmonious, professional and effective way. A teacher is the fundamental “instrument” of education. No brilliant policy, effective administration or sophisticated technology will ever replace the harmony of teacher — student relationships.

If we want to deal effectively with the crises in America and Alaska education, we must address the problem of those educators who serve as frontline social activists for radical political groups and seek to indoctrinate and brainwash our youth in neo-Marxist ideology—such as today’s popular and divisive “white privilege” and “critical race” doctrines and “systemic racism” notion.

Social engineering to create a new identity by imploring radical socialist ideology in our school system does not work; nor does meaningless concepts in education such as “gender identity,” “white privilege” and “critical race” doctrines or “critical thinking”— if thinking is not critical, then it is not thinking.

My mother was an outstanding primary school teacher for 32 years in the former Soviet Union. She taught basic and fundamental skills to her students; and none of these bumper–sticker nonsenses. If our teachers just do that, we would be in a much better place in our education system today.

For American schools to succeed, parents, families and communities must become more committed to the basic education of their children. Families, especially, must create within the home an environment conducive to learning by participating in the educational process so that their children feel comfortable learning, and then go to school willing and prepared to study.

On the other side, schools must reach out to families and engage them meaningfully in the education of their children — identifying cultural and moral values and educational methods for success that might enhance students’ scholastic achievement. Schools must empower families by directly involving them in the educational process, providing support and training to parents when necessary.

Unconventional means of schooling such as correspondence studies with emphasis on home schooling should continue to be applied effectively in Alaska as a viable and family-controlled educational system that provides students with excellent instruction, a safe study environment and parental involvement that is a critical key to children’s educational success.

Learning takes place when students from homes that value education are placed in a classroom with an impartial teacher who loves and is proficient in their subject and who enjoys teaching. Everything else is “window dressing.”

Parents, especially rational, values-centered and conservative parents, get out of your closets, be courageous and make your voice heard. This “gender identity,” “critical race” and “white privilege” madness is not going away by itself. Teachers and school administrators who advocate neo-Marxist ideology in the classrooms must be challenged by you.

Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He has earned numerous degrees and worked as an educator abroad and for the University of Alaska Southeast. He has lived in Southeast Alaska since 1985. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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