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Parental Involvement:

How Can Just One Person Make a Difference?

 

Q. The problems with K-12 education are so enormous, it's daunting to even think of getting involved and getting anywhere. How have individuals been able to make a difference?

 

n      Enroll your children in private school or homeschool them. Developing and strengthening alternatives to the public-school monopoly creates competition. That appears to be the best way to bring about change in the public schools. And it appears that children from private schools and homeschools have better outcomes than children from public schools, so the odds are with you.

 

n      Don't just gripe about problems - be part of the solution! Start a private school, homeschooling co-op, or specialty afterschool.

 

n      If you keep your child in public school, then equip yourself by reading books on education, attending conferences of parent advocates, and networking to become an effective volunteer advocate for your child and all others.

 

n      Befriend the principal, the school secretary, and the school janitor, not necessarily in that order. They're all well-informed and quite powerful.

 

n      If you disagree with your child's teacher on an issue, or with the school's direction in any given area, don't make it into a fight. Instead, make it into a research project for everybody's mutual benefit. Present solid, convincing background evidence for your position in writing. Bring in an expert consultant if necessary to back you up and meet with the teacher, school officials and a school-board member.

 

n      Be a leader in your PTA / PTO and change the focus to academics, not fluff.

 

n      Volunteer in the classroom for an indispensable bird's-eye view.

 

n      Serve on district committees.

 

n      Befriend your superintendent and other key officials, sending them brief articles and other data from the parent and taxpayer point of view.

 

n      Plan a year in advance to run for the school board, get elected, and focus on informing voters about key issues.

 

n      Write letters to members of your state board of education and your state legislature on education bills, and follow up on their voting.

 

n      Write letters to the editor on education topics, citing an outside source for your views to increase your credibility.

 

n      If networking and working within the system don't solve an important problem, occasionally you have to sue. Parents have stopped outrageous sex ed, unauthorized genital examinations of young girls, violations of First Amendment rights, and many other atrocities, by devoting their time and money to win justice for us all.

 

Homework: One of the most inspiring stories of one person making a difference is www.marvacollins.com

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.ShowandTellforParents.com Parental Involvement 2012

 

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