The schools’ answer to parental involvement: parental busywork

Research overwhelmingly shows that parental involvement in education leads to greater student achievement. In fact, in his 1984 review of 29 studies of school-parent programs, Herbert J. Walberg found (PDF) that the family’s involvement in education was “twice as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status.” More intensive programs lead to effects ten times greater than other factors.

The Parent Teacher Association of Connecticut defines parental involvement thus:

Parent involvement is the participation of parents in every facet of children’s education and development from birth to adulthood, recognizing that parents are the primary influence in children’s lives.

The more involved a parent is at all levels of educational desision making, the more successful the child is in school.

With the number of studies into the postive benefits of parental involvement, not to mention the fact that it just makes sense, it is a difficult area for public schools to ignore. Many districts now have parental involvement offices and some sort of programs to assist in increasing parental involvement.

However, not all programs are created equal. And many receive credit for generating parental involvement when they are doing little to actually foster involvement in the decision making aspects of their children’s education. These programs are nothing but “window dressing” which treat the parents as pawns.

Ordinarily, parental involvement translates into sheer window dressing; feel-good activities that let parents do fun things with their children, but that in no way interfere with a school’s daily operations. — Cato@Liberty

If parents “in no way interfere with a school’s daily operations,” they aren’t really involved. They’ve fallen victim to the myths of parental involvement which foster a distant relationship directed primarily by the “experts” in education rather than those who know their child best. They are not recognized as the primary influence in their children’s lives and they are not often viewed as siginficant contributors to the discussion of a child’s education.