Survey: California Parents Cite Time, Money As Obstacles To Involvement

A recent survey of California parents illuminates how they get information about their children and school, with direct conversation with their kids being the most common avenue.

In a recent statewide poll, parents expressed that they wanted to know what their children were up to. Despite some finding it difficult to contribute, parents wanted to be involved in their children's education. The poll was conducted by nonpartisan Edsource, and it phoned 1,003 California public school parents.

"Overall, the survey found that California parents are very involved in school activities and issues, have a high opinion of their local public schools, and feel welcome there," the report summary said. "However, parents with different levels of household income show significant differences in parent involvement. The data also show that parents rely heavily on their children as conduits of information from the schools."

Overwhelmingly, parents received information from their children through direct conversations. The report showed that by talking with their children, 97% of parents learned about issues at their children's schools while nearly 9 in 10 learned from from information that was sent home with students (87%).

"Nearly one-third of parents (31%) agree that only a small group of parents are offered the opportunity to participate in school decision-making, while most are excluded" as the results found out.

According to Greg Cappis of Redlands Daily Facts, Parent Teacher Associations are seen as a group that shuns working parents by some Redlands Unified School District parents. Meanwhile, others had nothing but praise for their experiences in the group of parents and educators that host fundraising events, book fairs and carnivals during the school year.

The biggest obstacle for the parents was lack of time, according to the study.

"Parents are more likely to cite a lack of time, rather than a lack of interest or a system that is unreceptive to their input, as an obstacle to greater participation in advising and decision-making," it read.

Lack of time was rated as at least a "minor obstacle" by 69% of those polled, and conflicts with work schedules (66%) were also cited as problematic. Income, too, appeared to have a strong impact.

"There is significant variation by income level in parent engagement; fully 39% of those in households with incomes of $100,000 or more describe themselves as ‘very involved,' whereas at the other end of the spectrum only 24% of those in households with incomes of $30,000 or less report the same level of involvement," the report said.

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