Back to School Tips for Parents
Q. I'm ready to turn
over a new leaf and get more involved in my children's schools. One is in grade
school and one is in middle school. How can I be more effective this year?
1. Join the parents' group and promise to give just three
hours. If you like it, you can give much, much more time. But at least do the
bare minimum, and your child will be better off for it. Organized parent groups
are effective in getting attention from educators and the community, and with a
group, parents are much less likely to be ignored or minimized if they have
concerns. An organized group helps spread the work out among several people, and
helps everybody be better informed, too.
2. Research the issues. School officials and district PR
should not be your only source of data. Use the Internet. Read. Network. Find
out what's going on in other schools and states.
3. Ask questions. There's too much "groupthink" in school
settings. An informed, caring, observant parent can be a breath of fresh air.
4. Find out what percentage of the student body is reading
below grade level. If it's more than 10% or 15%, your school is using the wrong
reading instruction. Change it, and you'll solve lots of problems.
5. Dump whole math. Get the math curriculum changed to a
traditional one such as Saxon. This may take years, but do it.
6. Get a group together to study the books selected for your
children to read for English. Maybe they're OK. Probably, not. Make your
group's objections known, with alternative suggestions.
7. Follow the money. Study the district's annual financial
reports and explain them to others. Keep a sharp eye on nonclassroom expenses.
Report waste and fraud.
8. Assert parental rights. Insist on respect. Opt out your
child from objectionable activities.
9. Inform your community. Align your parents' group with other
civic groups. Befriend your local education reporters. Feed the media with
letters to the editor and story tips.
10. Vote, be active and improve schools. Volunteer time and
talents on a classroom, schoolwide or districtwide basis; attend all or at
least most of your child's activities; be clear on candidates' stands on
issues, and attend at least one school board meeting per year.
Homework: Book, Helping Your Child Succeed in Public School by Cheri Fuller.