An Indianapolis newspapers has just run an article about an understandably frustrated teacher who want the state to mandate parent involvement in schools using the “stick” approach (I’ve previously posted about the dangers of that approach in Teachers Have Got To Stop Blaming Parents).
Thankfully, the reporter also contacted renowned parent involvement researcher Anne Henderson. Here is that piece of the article:
Anne T. Henderson, a leading researcher on parental involvement in schools who is a senior consultant with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, said good outreach to parents — along with training that teachers like — are two of the most important factors in gains in student achievement.
But Henderson said parent involvement couldn’t effectively be mandated.
“I think we need to take a proactive, preventive approach, but not a punitive approach,” Henderson said. “I don’t think that would work, and I don’t think there’s any research that shows it would work.”
But, she said, there are things schools can do that don’t involve a big stick.
Teachers must reach out to parents and meet them face-to-face, either by meeting them in the afternoon car pickup line or going to their homes. They must stay in touch with parents when things are going well, not just when there is a problem. And they must send home learning materials that parents can work on with children.
“What’s important,” she said, “is that the culture of the school is family-friendly.”