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[Susan notes: Thank you Sally White, a teacher who recognizes crushing problem parents have--instead of blaming them.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Thomas L. Friedman writes that apathetic parents and students may not be the "key cause of income inequality and persistent poverty," but that parental involvement and student work habits are "surely part of their solutions." As a teacher who formerly worked in New York City public schools, I can attest that the cause-effect link between income inequality and parental involvement and student work habits flows in the other direction.

The parents of my students wanted a rigorous education for their children, but nearly all of them worked at least two jobs, and many spoke English as a second language. My high school students were already shouldering adult responsibilities, taking care of younger siblings and helping non-English-speaking grandparents and relatives navigate the city.

For parents to be involved, they must be available. This is simply not possible when many of them are forced to work 80-plus-hour workweeks to make ends meet.

Sally White

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