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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Finding new ways to involve parents

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Like a broken record, I try to preach the advantages of parental involvement in a child's education at each and every turn. Statistics may indeed lie on occasion but when it comes to education, the numbers are clear. Without parental involvement, the chances for educational success are severely limited. That much is abundantly clear.

At the same time, I have never been a fan of the National Education Association (NEA) for a variety of reasons. I hold firm convictions that the NEA is an ultra-liberal teachers' union and I share very few beliefs with that organization. But I'll give them credit - the NEA is at least addressing the issue of parental involvement and they're doing so in a unique way.

The NEA is proposing that since too many parents won't attend parent-teacher conferences or become involved with their child's education, teachers should go to the parents. They want a policy where teachers go to the workplace or to a neutral location, i.e. restaurant, etc.

, and hold out-of-school conferences with the parents. Maybe it's time we simply give up in this country and accept the fact that a large percentage of parents could care less how their child advances in school. As long as the police or school officials are not at their doorstep, many parents treat public education as a daycare provider. That dismal fact is all too clear. Just ask any educator.

So maybe we throw our hands in the air and accept that fact. Maybe then taking the conferences outside of school isn't such a bad idea. We've almost reached a point where we either involve the parents or we turn out uneducated truants who have no chance for success in the real world. What a sad point to reach but reach it we have.

Some parents are intimidated by the school setting and others put no premium on involvement because their parents were not involved. By continuing this generational apathy, we doom more students each and every day. In a perfect world, these drastic measures would be unnecessary. Alas, it's not a perfect world and unique approaches are sometimes warranted.

The NEA plan also includes some provisions I believe are unnecessary and involve parental leave with pay from work and volunteer projects, etc. These feel-good attempts do little to improve education for kids in my opinion. But the one aspect of taking teaching into the workplace may have some value.

There's nothing easy about education today. But one thing is for sure. If we don't solve the problem of parental involvement the road ahead will be worse than the one we've traveled.

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