Parents, step forward
by Amelia Newcomb, Christian Science Monitor, October 1,
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When I moved to Washington, D.C., a number of years ago, I
learned one thing very quickly about the school my children
would attend. Get involved, neighbors told me – but don't
overdo it. The reason? The principal was not of a mind to
spend time each day fending off overeager parents – something
she could easily have done in that section of town had she not
gotten the word out about behavioral guidelines.
It was a management challenge many principals would love to
have. Even as research points to the close link between parent
involvement and student success, teacher-parent meetings go
unattended and PTAs attract the usual suspects in many
So perhaps it's not surprising that this year, like many
others, advocates are trying new tacks to help parents close
the gap between themselves and schools. In Miami recently,
national PTA representatives kicked off a Hispanic Outreach
Initiative – also targeting San Diego and Brownsville, Texas –
to boost the number of Hispanic parents in the organization.
The Miami PTA also sponsored a conference to address, among
other things, the special need for fathers to play a larger
role in children's education.
Meanwhile, National Urban League president Hugh Price maps out
his goal for African-American parents in his new book
"Achievement Matters." Mr. Price wants an "achievement
culture," and tells readers it's not dependent on parents'
educational levels. What counts is the sheer force of
involvement – of feeling that parental engagement can have an
Schools with active parents are often schools that thrive.
They may not be perfect – but open doors and engaged parents
almost always create a winning combination.