A new poll that shows most adults blame bad parenting for the poor state of education in this country doesn't diminish the role that teachers must play in improving their schools.

The Associated Press-Stanford University poll found that 68 percent of adults placed parents above teachers, school administrators, the government, or teachers' unions as the culprits for what's wrong in American education. Only 35 percent of those surveyed said teachers were primarily to blame for academic failures.

Such surveys, of course, must be taken with a dose of reality. Many schools would benefit from programs that help adults become better parents. But many of the parents who need these skills the most won't participate. The environment in many children's homes will never improve.

Yet, the teachers' charge is to reach every child. Teachers can wish for better parents, but they know they won't always get them. Instead of just relying on parents, good teachers look for other ways to motivate a child to embrace learning. Those who are successful should be rewarded for their innovation and dedication.

This country seems unlikely to ever go back back to the days when two-parent families were the norm, and parents could be counted on to have teachers' backs when it came to insisting on their children's good behavior and diligence in school.

Such parents and children still exist, but in short supply in many schools. These schools need the best teachers. They also need the most investment in resources to fill the void left by the crippling absence of involved parents.