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Although, it should be noted that the "what did you do to my child" parents
were around back then, too. There just didn't seem to be so dang many of 'em!
My dad was (and still is) a teacher, so I have heard all of the stories (names
changed to protect the guilty, sometimes).
Unfortunately, I have to agree that it does seem like it is attributable to
the increase of families with both parents working and the increase of single
parent families. This not only affects the amount of time/energy parents have
to do their more important job of parenting, but it also affects the amount of
time they have to get involved in their child's education and their child's
I grew up in a small town where the PTO was very strong. It's just a
suspicion of mine, but I would wager that parent-teacher organizations are
fewer and less vital than they were when I was a kid. From what I have
observed, it seems that the result is that it is mainly the more zealous and
pushy parents now who are actively involved in their child's school. I just
sense a disintegration of the parent-student-teacher-administrator community
like the one where I grew up.
If a parent is not involved in their child's school, and their only exposure
to what goes on in schools is the media, it is no wonder people don't trust
public schools. If CNN is your main window on the world, then public schools
are a place where your child faces the danger of a random shooting, sexual
harassment by a teacher, drugs and alcohol on every playground and any number
of other evils every day of her or his school life. While the dangers do
exist, our media tends to overplay the sensation, to make the extraordinary
Somehow, educators and administrators have to get parents more involved, or,
rather, we have to get more parents involved. If parents become more familiar
with their child's school, if they have more of an investment in it
themselves, then perhaps this huge gulf between parents and teachers might be
narrowed a bit. If students know their parents and their teachers are
talking, this might send a message of greater accountability to the student.
For too many parents, school is just this foreign place where the bus takes
their kids 180 days a year.
How to do this? I don't have any easy answers, and I don't think there is any
one answer to it. My eighth grade classes are taking a two field trips this
semester and getting parents to chaperone such an event seems to be at least
one good way of opening the door, letting them see how much their kids are
learning and how much they enjoy it. It might even be surprisingly enjoyable
to the parent, as well!
lots to think about