Louisiana State Superintendent John White has been applauded for visiting with teachers across the state who are concerned over Governor Bobby Jindal’s education reforms. As White answered questions a familiar theme arose: teachers felt that they were being made scapegoats for poor student performance when parents should also be held accountable. Indeed, a recent study from Denmark suggested that parental influence on test results was five times that of teachers.
Louisiana isn’t totally ignoring the responsibility of parents to aid in the process either:
In Louisiana, students are considered truant when they have five unexcused absences for one semester or 10 for the school year. In 2008, the Legislature toughened the law so parents of habitually truant or tardy children could be required by courts to complete school and community service or attend parenting classes.
However, it’s widely agreed that good parental influence extends beyond simply assuring that the child attends school. It’s arguable that even though education reforms for the classroom are important, there should also be an increased focus on making education efforts successful by improving the home environment for students.
Parents of a school due to close in New Jersey are making an extra effort and actively getting involved in their education. However, they aren’t able to help their children learn at the moment as their focus is on keeping the school itself open. They have urged Education Commissioner Chris Cerf to visit PleasanTech Charter School before it’s closed to see why the decision should be reversed and the school kept open.
A group of about 20 parents met Friday to launch a last-ditch effort to save the school. The school’s charter was not renewed by the state Department of Education and administrators were told it must close at the end of the school year in June.
The new drive to give parents a more active stake in their children’s education is extending across the world as well. Abu Dhabi Educational Council has urged parents to get involved with their ‘Parent Assistant’ program:
Developed specifically for parents and guardians, the service allows them to check their wards’ information including demography, medical, citizenship details, parent/sibling emergency contact details, school attendance, calendar, school holidays and academic progress. A messaging feature also allows parents to view the messages sent to them by the student’s teacher or other staff.
The National Coalition for Accountable Parenting has an evolved system of penalties and rewards that encourage parents to get properly involved. Their suggestions include: linking passing grades, graduation and conduct to child tax credits so that parents who neglect their children’s education take a financial hit; charging parents the cost of board for any incarcerated underage children; and linking scholarships to the children of parents who are actively involved in their child’s education by attending the requisite open days or volunteering.