Should parents be required to volunteer at their children’s school?
This isn’t just an academic question.
A bill was introduced in the Ohio legislature last year that would force parents with kids in underperforming schools to volunteer for 13 hours each school year--or face a $100 fine. It didn’t pass, but this year, there is a bill requiring parents to attend at least one conference with a teacher each school year, before Dec. 31, or face a $50 fine.
Today The Answer Sheet’s Group of moms takes up the issue of parent involvement in schools. Should it somehow be made mandatory?
This Week’s Members:
Linda McGhee is a psychologist, school counselor and professor, who lives in the District and works in Bethesda. Her son is in fifth grade in a Maryland private school.
Peg Willingham works for a non-profit health research organization and she lives in Virginia, where her daughter attends a public high school.
Meg Arcadia is a teacher currently home schooling a 10-year-old boy, and a mom with a 3-year-old son.
Valerie Strauss is The Answer Sheet.
I think volunteering and otherwise taking part in school activities are good ways to ensure that the entire family is a part of the school community. Mandating such participation is not problematic for me with this caveat. Care should be taken to include all parents, both working and nonworking, and to schedule events at times of the day so that working parents can participate.
Schools can’t really require this (at least public schools can’t), although it would of course be great if more parents got involved. A twist on this question is, how can we get more dads involved, and why was the ratio of moms to dads at the PTA meeting I attended last Monday 25:1? I know there will be dads who rightly respond by saying they DO go to school events, or were home taking care of the kids or taking them to Scouts or karate or music lessons or other worthy pursuits, but it still startles me in this day and age to see the gender disparity. Of course, it’s probably all my fault for permanently scaring away the brave dad who chaperoned a nursery school outing when I told him that he had put too much juice in the kids’ cups and now they were going to spill and make a mess...
I agree, you can't require parents to participate. But wouldn't it be great if they did? My son attends Geneva Day School in Potomac [in Maryland]. It is a small preschool with a great sense of community. Both mothers and fathers participate in school activities. My son is excited to go to school and feels very proud. I am so happy that he is having such a positive beginning at school. I hope that our parental involvement has helped him feel so connected to his school.
I'll say yes, they should be required to, even just once a year, even in the smallest of ways. I realize there is no real way to enforce it other than through powerful persuasion, or, perhaps, shame. But we know that kids do better when parents are involved with their education. And we know that a powerful way to teach is to model the behavior you want emulated--even if you don’t really want to do it yourself. Kids learn a lot by watching. I also like the idea of compelling parents to attend one conference a year with teachers--though I can imagine that some teachers would rather not ever deal with some particularly annoying parents.
What do you think?
November 12, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories: The Group | Tags: The Group, parents volunteering at school Save & Share: Previous: A school that wanted to sell grades. Really.
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