Friday, March 30, 2012

Very interesting...

Southern Vermont is in some educational turmoil right now... principals resigning and not being renewed... strike votes... strikes...

In the stands during indoor soccer games, at school open houses, in the aisles of grocery stores and in similar places, I overhear conversations about how parents need to "take over" schools. I am not really sure what that means, but I am somewhat concerned.

One of the essential "things" one learns in education school is ethics-- I know that you should not make lots of copies of students' tests scores with students' names attached and speculate about the reasons that individual students are performing poorly. I know that each student is deserving of an education, regardless of the actions of the student's parents (indeed, there is a solid line of reasoning supporting the position that at-risk students have a higher threshold for their education to be considered appropriate than students not in at-risk populations). I know also the details of how brains work. I also have years of study focusing on science and math and computers and how professionals in those fields approach problems. The items in this paragraph are the definition of expertise.

Now, I understand the expertise of parents. I have been through the parenting experience (one son a junior in college the other a senior in high school). I know deeply wanting the best education for one's children. I know the what it means to help a child with the struggles of incompetent teachers and unresponsive administrators. I know what a terrific teacher can mean to a child's growth.

I believe parents should play a role in advising teachers and leaders. They should serve on hiring committees and they should have access to teachers and administrators. They should understand, however, that they are not experts. Their perspective on the school and actions within the school are deeply biased by their perceptions. Schools must be responsive to parents as a group, not to individual parents.

eSchoolNews has an article that brings some reason and well-argued points to the question of how involved should parents be in the operation of a school.

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