Well probably because he doesn't want to. In high school, there are so many things more important to students than learning. The system is not set up in a very productive way. There are three groups of people who are stuck in a place where they do not want to be- prisoners, mental patients, and students (got that from TV, but it's true).
Even we as adults can remember the priorities we had as teenagers. There was food, sleep, hoping we weren't regarded as a Nerd, driving a car (one young man told me today, "I am a man- I got my driver's license this morning."...how cute is that?), the opposite sex, body obsession, and even grades. Not learning-- but grades. I believe that finding the high school student who is content to go to school for the joy of learning would be as easy as finding a specific dust speck on a specific clover in a field of clovers (thanks Ted).
We as parents and teachers attempt bribery, punishment, threats, praise...yet all those nasty children seem to care about is their own physical and emotional comfort. Unlike adults, who can forego climate control, leather seats, a 15 minute break every 2 hours, cheesecake, entertainment, sex, and the internet. Why is it that teens can't or won't just stop complaining, try their hardest on every subject for 7 hours every day, do their chores and homework without being told, take whatever we can afford to give them or get a job to afford more, and ignore the need to be heard, appreciated, taken seriously, thanked? Why? It seems so easy when adults perform at those standards!
Are you getting some idea of what your child's teachers are up against? They are doing a job that will benefit the entire country if the students are successful, have more degrees than most people on Earth yet make a mid-line salary, they help raise other people's children, and are then villified by the uneducated, uninformed public whose kids fail the state test.
Studies have shown repeatedly, for years and years, from the fields of education, psychology, and sociology, that the most successful students have smart, involved parents. If you are a parent who views school as a free babysitting service, or if you are so worn out from raising kids for 14 years that you use the convenient excuse, "he has to learn to take care of himself" to feel less guilty about not fulfilling your parental obligation to the kid's education-- then fine. The teachers and the school will discipline your kid then argue back with you about it. They will teach your kid manners, industry, kindness, self-awareness, birth control, math , and English while you sit around and bitch that they don't deserve another dime of your tax money; that $500.00 you paid last year over the course of 52 weeks to have help with your child, for the benefit of society.
Can you read this? Thank a teacher.
Did you learn in a public school? Thank your state Boad of Education.
Are public servants collecting welfare and food stamps? Thank the Unions.
Just think- you can pay for schools now or prisons later. (i know i know...the racists will say 'prisons later'...)
Now. Is your child getting enough healthy food on a daily basis? School lunches are mandated to meet certain nutritional criteria - unlike the twinkies in your pantry.
Is your child receiving enough love and emotional support at home? Teachers are required to show their students respect - unlike the mother who yells and hits every time she feels her fat ass has not been sufficiently kissed by her kids.
Teachers are required to refer at-risk students to the guidance counselor or school psychologist - unlike many parents who have to work long hard hours to get food on the table and gas in the car and are then too wiped out to listen to their kid's needs (which admittedly often sound like hostile bitching and complaining, but so did you at that age). Yes its admirable that you work so hard, but it does not negate your obligation to your child.
Now then, to solve the problem as a pragmaticlander:
1. Make tenure renewable every 5 years instead of every lifetime.
2. It is important that teachers have access to legal representation in case they get sued by a moron who needs a scapegoat for their own failure.
3. Can parents be held accountable for homework and behavior?
4. More vegetables and less soda = improved focus and attitude.
5. Meet your child's teachers. Email your child's teachers. Check your child's grades.
6. Call the cell phone company. Pay $5 a month to have your kid's phone shut off during school hours. They can call you when it comes back on at 3:00.
7. Set the example. If learning appears to be important to you it will become important to them.
Remember-- teachers, social workers, and cops save lives every day. Pay them like doctors, soldiers, and politicians.