Now, in the nature/nurture debate, I keep a foot in both camps. I think that bad parenting can trump good genes, and sometimes vice versa.
In the classroom, you confront the results of other folks' parenting decisions every day, for better or worse. Author/activist David Macaray describes it thusly:
In contrast to private schools, where entrance exams are required, tardiness and excessive absenteeism are not permitted, and recalcitrant students are routinely booted out of class, public schools are all-inclusive, warm body institutions. Attendance is not only free, it’s compulsory. It’s mandatory. Which means that many of the less motivated, poorly prepared students are going to come to regard it as one cut above prison.
Because public school teachers have to play the hand they’re dealt, what are they supposed to do with a classroom full of uninspired, truant, tardy, undisciplined kids who are there only because the law requires it, and whose parents offer little or no support or encouragement? What are teachers expected to do with students as unprepared, and unreceptive as these?
Macaray has a modest proposal for dealing with this entrenched societal problem, and its not mandatory parenting classes or birth licenses. It's not the Swiftian solution either, though it's likely to be similarly unpalatable for many. What is it? It's a click away.
...Ask any public school teacher, and they’ll tell you that their “dream class” would consist of students who had gotten sufficient sleep the night before, eaten a nutritious breakfast, completed their homework assignments, and are sitting at their desks, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready and relatively eager to learn their lessons. The students don’t need to be budding geniuses or Junior Einsteins. They don’t even need to be above average. All they need to be is relatively prepared.