Friday, October 23, 2009

Parental Involvement

Lately there has been lots of talk about parental involvement as the solution to our local public education problems. But does Racine Unified really want parental involvement or do they just want a ready excuse for their collective failings?

One of the most important decisions an involved parent can make is to decide which school, if any, will be entrusted to educate their child. This decision ought to say something about what a parent values. Is it high test scores and graduation rates and college acceptance success? Is it the importance of religious instruction along with the the three R's? Is safety an overwhelming consideration?

I don't think this is what Unified means by parental involvement. Unified wants your children educated at Unified regardless of the other educational options that exist outside of Unified, and regardless of what you as a parent value.

So Unified wants a parent to be completely uninvolved in the most important education decision - who should educate the child - but to then become hyperinvolved in education once the child is enrolled in a Unified school. I am not buying it.

Presently Unified employees and their national counterparts are the only obstacles to meaningful parental involvement in education decisions. If tommorrow the National Education Association issued a statement declaring that parents should be empowered with education vouchers to choose the school, whether public or private, for their child, it would be only a matter of days before such legislation would pass nearly unanimously.

This will not happen as this type of parental involvement would seriously erode the power of public school employees.

So when you hear public school apologists lament the lack of parental involvement in schools, know that they don't mean it. What they really mean is that the lack of parental involvement, that they alone perpetuate, provides a handy excuse for the ongoing demise of our public education system.


Can RUSD succeed? said...

You are probably right on your theory, Denis.

Two things for certain regarding RUSD educational results:

1. Until the Administration is eliminated—except for fiscal purposes—and the classroom turned back over completely to the school teacher, and

2. The unions are eliminated so that a school teacher’s prime focus is on his classroom and not his pay, benefits or pension,

decent education for children will not take place there.

I have seen education take place with children in the most violent, disruptive environment. The worst of the worst students, all of them on detention (with nearly all of them gang members at a school where a murder had recently taken place on its doorstep) were put into one class to learn something.

But it was under the tutelage of a teacher that knew what she was doing, had protection from the administration, was not a union member (not even a certified teacher!), whose sole concern was that the students learned how to study.

And these gang-bangers loved her class. A real life To Sir, With Love experience.

So it can be done, even without “parental support.”

Education is fun. Everyone loves to learn. The teacher just has to know how, be willing, and be unfettered in doing it.

Denis Navratil said...

Good points Can RUSD. Thanks.

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